Pick a story from any of the lists below

open all lists    close all lists     A quick review of all the content

The Murrays of Missouri River Montana

James and Ann Murray c.1898

As told by Dave McEldery

 24 August 2013 Plains, Montana


My connection with Carluke is through my gt-gt-grandfather, James Murray, and his wife, Ann Wood, b.12 May 1822.   James was born in Carluke in 1828 and married Ann at Kirkton United Presbyterian Church in 1848.    James was a shoemaker, as was his father, also James Murray (b.1799 in Carluke). Sometime between 1851 and 1855, James, Ann, and their two children moved to Longridge in Whitburn Parish, West Lothian to continue as a shoemaker and it was there that most of their children were born, and where James soon made a career switch to learn dairy farming.

My gt-grandmother (Grace Wood Murray), the last of James' and Ann's children, was born at Longridge in 1870.  Then, after 1871, but before 1881, James bought or leased a 42 acre farm near Hamilton, just across the river Clyde from Motherwell on High Stonehall Road. Grace completed the 8th grade in Motherwell, the first in the family to have that level of education. One of James' older daughter's married in Scotland and emigrated to the USA in 1882. She wrote to the family from Oregon, the usual "land of milk and honey" stories, extolling the virtues of the U.S. Homestead Act.

As a result, James and Ann, my gt-gt-grandparents, boarded the SS Furnessia in April 1884 and left for America.
With them were their daughter Grace Wood Murray (age 14 b. 1870  near Longridge, West Lothian), sons John Murray (b. 1863 near Longridge), daughter Jane Hamilton Murray (b. 1852 at Carluke) and her husband, George Murray (not related, or at least not closely). James' and Ann's oldest daughter Jesse (born Janet Rankin Murray, 1848 in Carluke) and her husband Joseph Thom.

Joe Thom was an ironmonger who became well-known throughout the US. He was the leader of men who assembled the huge Ferris wheel at the Chicago exposition. The Thoms left the family train in 1884 to live for awhile in Chicago. I suspect Joe had some connection or contacts there. They moved west around 1886 to live near Jesse's parents and siblings. They tried ranching and farming near Hauser Lake, Idaho, just across the Washington/Idaho state line. I think that Joe Thom was born in Airdrie.

They took an emigrant train from New York to Cheney, near Spokane, Washington, where they met their daughter and son-in-law. By horse drawn wagon they proceeded east along the Spokane River for several days until they were near the border between Idaho and Washington. They took up homesteads on the north bank of the Spokane River near East Farms and Otis Orchards. Some of the family started a resort at Newman Lake, Washington as well.
Today, Murray Drive and Simpson Road  near the river in Spokane are named after our family.
When Grace was 16, she met my gt-grandfather, Jim McGuire, the son of Irish famine immigrants. He had lived in Montana for several years and decided to set out on horseback via the Mullan Trail to see the Pacific Ocean (he'd been born in Iowa and lived in Minnesota and Montana - all landlocked!) He was watering his horses on the river below the Murray cabin, when James saw him and told Grace to go down and tell him that he was trespassing and to leave at once. Grace took one look at Jim and invited him for lunch. Jim met Graces sisters and brothers-in-law, and offered to go over to their farm near Newman Lake and help them put up hay. He then returned to Montana, never having made it to the ocean. A year later he returned and married Grace, then took her to Montana. He had a homestead on the Missouri River north of Townsend. She bore Jim McGuire two sons, including my grandfather, and one daughter who died at 8 mos. old. In 1893, a month or two after her 2nd son was born, she died of complications from childbirth. She was only 23 years old.

Grace's parents, James and Ann, had been a bit long in the tooth for the rigors of homesteading, and I think they missed Scotland, so in 1893 they sold their property along the Spokane River to their son John, and took a passage aboard the SS Rome back to Scotland, where they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1898 - See the photo of this taken at the Davidson & Sons studio in Carluke.  Their graves are in Carluke Old Cemetery, the headstone erected by James Murray in loving memory of his wife Ann Wood who died 28th February 1901 aged 77 years. Then James Murray himself is named, who died 12th July 1913 aged 85 years.

Family History:
See photo - of James Murray (b. 15 May 1828 in Carluke) and his wife Ann Wood (b. 12 May 1822 in Carluke). James' parents were James Murray (b. 12 Mar 1799 in Carluke) and Jane Hamilton (b. 3 May 1805 in Cambusnethan). Ann's parents were Peter Wood (b. 22 May 1785 in Newbattle, Midlothian) and Janet Rankin (b. abt. 1783 in Carluke).
Ann Walker Murray wife of their son James Murray died at Motherwell 11th March 1931 aged 73 years. James Murray died 18th July 1937 aged 85 years. Their son William Walker Murray died 26th September 1933 aged 44 years.

Their son John Murray raised 3 girls and was prominent in the local Spokane area - Otis Orchards-East Farms, Washington. He played the fiddle at dances and was very active in community affairs. He and his sister Margaret Simpson had numerous business interests including mining properties in Idaho.  The distance between Otis Orchards and Townsend, Montana is 327 miles by modern highway, about a 6 hour drive. In 1886 via the Mullan Trail, it would have taken about 10 days with no mishaps.

Later, John received a letter from one of his sisters in Scotland and decided to travel back there - on the SS Celtic arriving at Liverpool 27 Sep 1907, and returned home departing Liverpool on the SS Caronia, arriving in New York on 18 Nov 1907. He's our John, born in 1863 but that's all anyone remembers. A number of the Murray children who remained in Scotland lived in Motherwell, and in our family there was always talk of Motherwell.   Ann and James were either there, or back in Carluke. We hope one day to find out.

Some of Grace's grandmothers had the maiden names of Rankin and Hamilton, which were bestowed on my gt-aunts and gt-uncles as middle names. The Murrays also married into the Smiley (or Smiellie, Smellie, etc.), Cassels, McGregor, Walker, and other Carluke or Lanarkshire families. To confuse things even further, one of my gt-gt-grandfather James' sons was named James, and he was also an apprentice shoemaker to his father. I think he took over the business in Longridge when his father became a farmer.

Read more stories from the People section
Past Imperfect (the next story in sucession)
A Tale of Two Clocks
Carluke Bowling Club
Carluke Execution by Hanging
Carluke, Ontario -Titanic victim
Carlukes Early Sculptors

Created before 2012