IAGenWeb Project - Allamakee co.

Letter from John Bertram Murray
to his father Michael in Ireland

This letter survived the German bombing of London, England while in the possession of Nell Feeney Cawley. Nell recounted to the author of living in London during World War II when one day she heard the sound of the dreaded German bombers approaching overhead. The bombs, released from an airplane, got their nickname from the buzzing sound made as they were passing through the air. Hearing the approach of the buzz bombs, Nell grabbed her children and huddled under a kitchen doorframe. Seconds later, the bombs struck across the street, destroying the row houses and killing many that lived there. Nell’s “flat” was seriously damaged during the attack. Grabbing her children and a few personal belongings (including the New Albin letter), with the help of the fire brigade, they fled the area, unharmed, never to return to that apartment. So, it is appropriate to note here, the 'New Albin letter' has not only survived the test of time but it has also survived Hitler’s bombing of London during WWII.

The discovery of the 'New Albin Letter' in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, England was followed by a discovery of a photo of the author among the possessions of the Murrays of Massachusetts, and linked in 1998 to the letter in England. John F. Murray of Careysville and Beverly carried the photo with him when he emigrated in 1915. (It was common for emigrants to carry a photo of a relative to prove their relationship to their host family). It is also thought that John F. Murray was destined for Dubuque, Iowa, and his taking up residence at his uncle (and namesake) Francis MacCarthy’s residence in Beverly, was the result in a change of plans, possibly because John found employment in Peabody upon his arrival and decided to remain in Beverly.

The photograph was instrumental in reuniting the Massachusetts and Iowa families 138 years after John left Ireland. The photo (below) of John B. Murray was preserved by Margaret Frances Murray. Written in ink on the back of the photo, in the hand of John B. Murray, is "John B. Murray, New Albin". An additional notation recognized by his daughter, as the handwriting of John Francis Murray of Careysville, are the words "Uncle John". The photo was about 123 years old when researched.


New Albin March 21st /81 [1]

Dear Father
Your sorrowfull letter of this month relateing the death of my poor mother and Uncle James has been received on St. Patricks' Day March 17th/inst. You may imagine what a lonesome Patrick's Day I spent as its' many a handkerchief I wet with my tears on that day and sien'ce When I think of my fond mother and of her infinite goodness and kindness in the days of the past. hoping now that all her goodness is recorded with an indellable mark and receive her reward beyond the grave as also that of my dear Uncle James. I am entirely dissatisfied at myself on account of not sending those pictures at an earlier day but I had not the least idea of her dying So Soon and besides knowing that there were some of them at home before There is Nothing that I would or could deny of her that she wanted and will always feell ungreatfull at myself for not seeing her before her death, with strong hopes that I may see their graves before I die and plant an ornimental tree on My Mothers grave. I am so glad that you have buried them in Clondulane as I always considered Coole Abbey [2] so dreary and lonesome looking besides so inconvenient-in many instances. . I am greatly astonished at Uncle Tom [3] wanting to have my mother buried in Kilworth [4] and don't or cannot understand his reasons for it. I consider it the Most Profound ignorance. Or a strong feeling of insanity, to even attempt to separate the wife from husband dead or alive And if it happened that his inclinations had been fulfilled and mother buried in Kilworth I do be strongly tempted to go right over to Ireland and have her taken up and put where she is now and where she naturally belongs Its bad enough to have her die and not to be taking her all around the world for sport to bury her

May she rest in Peace Dear Father

Iam so thankfull to you for paying and showing So Much respect to mother at the time of her death and extremely obliged to Aunt Kate [5] for her kind attentance during her long Sickness as I Know it must put my aunt to a great deal of inconvenience being away and Neglecting her own family So long, If my intellectual ability could only enable me to express in plain words the sentiments and expressions and feelings of my mind towards your dear Master [6] and his loveing wife [7] for their kind generocity and benevolance to the poor. I would feel so happy. Consequently in order to correspond with my simple ability shall only say that every success may attend both themselves and their family both in this world and in the next one.

I send your letter to Uncle John in Milwaukee [8] the next day after I red it. I wrote to Cousin Pat in Virginia [9] and send him your feelings and my own for his Kindness to you. When next you write - let me know what was the cause of my uncles death the day of month he died his age and c [2 words illegible due to a paper fold] mothers as near as possible about what the experiences were Connected with mothers funeral. Send me the name of the Priest who attended mother in her last moment her last words and c_ Send me the name of the firm or man who keep the marble shop in Fermoy=or in City Corke.[10] Thankfull to one and all whose sympathy was extended in the hours of affliction I remain her devoted son and yours also.

J B Murray

letter footnotes:
1. The New Albin letter was written in New Albin, Allamakee co. Iowa, by John B. Murray, and mailed to his father in the stewards lodge at Careysville. Michael Murray passed it to his son Patrick Murray, who passed it to his daughter Mary Feeney, nee Murray, who passed it to her daughter Nell Cawley, nee Feeney. Nell passed the letter to David N. Murray in 1998.
2. A reference to Coole Abbey Graveyard, where Patrick and his wife are interred, along with any other Careysville family members who died before 1881.
3. Thomas O’Brien, husband of Johanna Murray, No. 8 in the genealogy.
4. The the graveyard in Macroney Upper townland, parish of Kilworth.
5. Catherine “Kate” O’Brien, sister of John B. Murray’s mother Mary Ellen Murray nee O’Brien, who were both daughters of William O’Brien of Curragh Upper.
6. George Montgomery, husband of Elizabeth “Lizzy” Carey, heiress of Careysville House.
7. Elizabeth Montgomery, nee Carey, daughter of Edward Kiely Carey of Careysville.
8. John Murray, of Milwaukee, brother of Michael Murray, steward in Careysville, Clondulane, Co. Cork.
9. Patrick Murray, son of James Murray who married Catherine Falvey, 17 May 1870 in Alexandria, Virginia and was living in Rectortown, VA, Shepherdstown, W.VA, and Red Sulphur Springs, W. VA.
10. Indicating his intention to pay for the installation of the two Clondulane Murray headstones.

John paid to have these headstones erected in the cemetery where his mother
Mary & uncle James are buried in his hometown of Clondulane, Co. Cork, Ireland.


John Bertram Murray, ca 1873
John Bertram Murray, ca1873

John 4 Bertram Murray (Michael³, Patrick², John¹) was born in Curragh Upper townland in Clondulane, Co. Cork, Ireland. He was baptized January 6, 1842 at St. Patrick’s Church in Fermoy.

He married Catherine J. Lynch of New Albin in October 1870, at Rose Mission Church, Waucoma, Fayette co. Iowa. Catherine was born in New Washington, Cranberry twp., Crawford County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Matthew Lynch (originally of co. Wexford, Ireland) and Catherine Lynch, of Lawler, Chickasaw co. Iowa. John moved from Lawler to New Albin between August 1872 and June 1873.

John was a shopkeeper & operated a general merchandise store in 1874 in New Albin and owned several parcels of real estate there. He was naturalized October 6, 1874 at the Allamakee County courthouse. He moved his family to Dubuque in the 1880s or 90s. Catherine died March 25, 1920 and John died May 28, 1928. They are buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Dubuque, Iowa.

Their children were:
i. Mary Ellen born in Lawler August 8, 1872. Married James Murphy, January 7, 1892
ii. Elizabeth born in New Albin, June 8, 1875. Married Alan L. Parmalee, May 20, 1902
iii. John Bertram born in New Albin, July 19, 1877. Married Grace Van Danacker, November 28, 1906.
iv. Catherine born in New Albin ?. Married Frank Lynch in Waucoma, Iowa.
v. Johanna born in New Albin, March 8, 1883. Married John Thomas Muldoon in 1912 in Chicago, Ill.
vi. Francis born in 1879. Married Marion unknown.
vii. James Bertram born June 24, 1885. Died 14 April 14, 1886 in New Albin, Iowa aged 9 months 20 days. The burial register records the infant’s initial place of burial was at St. Patrick’s Church Cemetery, Jefferson, Minnesota, just north of New Albin. At some point, John removed his son's body to St. Joseph’s Cemetery, New Albin.
viii. Agnes born in 1888. Married Raymond Burns at St. Patrick’s Church, Dubuque, Iowa. Marriage annulled.
ix. Edward J. born September 17, 1890. Married Mary Campbell.
x. Florence Genevieve born in 1891. Married Clinton Baldheim in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
xi. Levon Gertrude born 3 Apr 1897. Married Walter Hubert Keenan in 1920.


~Letter, photos & family notes submitted by David N. Murray for the Allamakee co. IAGenWeb. You will find David's email address in the Surname Registry for Murray. See also, the Murray Family Album on this website.


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