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Thomas McMurray

From the Portrait and biographical record of Hancock, McDonough and Henderson counties, Illinois : containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens of the county (1894)
May, 1894. Lake City Publishing Co.

THOMAS McMURRAY, who resides on section 11, Terre Haute Township, is a self-made man, who by his own efforts has worked his way upward from a humble position, until he has become one of the most extensive land-owners of Henderson County. He is also one of its honored pioneer settlers, having witnessed its growth and development from a very early day. As he is widely and favorably known in this community, we feel assured that the record of his life will prove of interest to many of our readers.

Mr. McMurray was born in Morganfield, Ky., January I, 1829, and comes of a family of Scotch-Irish lineage. His parents, George and Eliza (Waller) McMurray, were both natives of Kentucky. The father was a tanner by trade, but after emigrating to Illinois carried on farming. He made the journey westward by team in the spring of 1829, locating in Adams County, near Quincy, where he purchased a farm, on which was a log cabin, and there he made his home for about seven years. He then entered eighty acres of land from the Government near Clayton, built upon it a cabin home, and there resided until his death, which occurred in 1878. He and his wife were members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and, in politics, he was a Whig and afterwards a Republican. After coming to Illinois, in connection with his farm, he carried on a tannery. For several years he survived his wife, who passed away in 1873. They were the parents of thirteen children: James, deceased; Thomas, of this sketch; Wilson; John; Fletcher, deceased; George M., of Quincy; Aaron, Mary Ann, Margaret J. amd Granville, all four of whom have passed away; Ella; Joseph; and Elihu, who is also deceased.

Upon a farm in Adams County Mr. McMurray was reared to manhood. His educational privileges were those afforded by the subscription schools, and he had to walk from a mile and a-half to five miles to the schoolhouse. He continued his studies for about three months during each year until eighteen years of age, after which his entire time and attention were given to farm work. On attaining his majority, he left home, and for three years engaged in the cultivation of rented land. He then began improving a prairie farm in Adams County, upon which he made his home until 1854, when he came to Henderson County, locating in Terre Haute Township, where he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of laud. This farm he still owns, but after living upon it for five years, he removed to the one upon which he now makes his home. It is under a high state of cultivation, and improved with all the accessories and conveniences of a model farm. His landed possessions now aggregate eleven hundred and sixty-five acres, six hundred and sixty-five acres in Henderson County, and the remainder in Hancock County. Some of it is devoted to pasturage, for the owner is quite extensively engaged in stock-raising.

On the 14th of March, 1850, Mr. McMurray was united in marriage with Miss Nancy A., daughter of Lytle and Eliza (McCaun) Griffing. Her father was a saddler by trade, and he and his wife were both reared in Bourbon County, Ky. After their marriage they emigrated by team to Quincy, Ill., and after a short time removed to Columbus, Ill., where Mr. Griffing was engaged in mercantile pursuits for ten years. He then retired from business, but continued to reside in Columbus until his death, which occurred August 16, 1846. He was a member of the Masonic fraternity and of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and served in the Mormon War. His wife, who was also a faithful member of the same church, was called to the home beyond August 7, 1846. They had a family of five daughters: Eleanor P.; Frances, deceased; Nancy A.; Mary J., deceased; and Celena J.

To Mr. and Mrs. McMurray was born a daughter, Mary E., who died October 17, 1893. The mother is a member of the Methodist Church, and her excellencies of character have won her a large circle of friends. Mr. McMurray cast his first Presidential vote for Henry Clay, and was a Whig until the organization of the Republican party, with which he has been identified from the beginning. There' are only two or three voters in Terre Haute Township who were here when he located here, and he remembers the city of Quincy when it contained only two stores. He has not been a disinterested witness of the growth and development of this locality, but lias aided in its advancement and taken a commendable interest in its progress. His success in life is an enviable one, and is well deserved, for it has been secured through honest and earnest effort, enterprise and good business ability.