Nancy Murry#039;s ancestors have homesteaders roots from 1800

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 17, 2005

The 1800s doesn't seem so far in the past when 93-year old Nancy Murry reminisces about her ancestors. They become real flesh and blood along with their trials and hardships to the point that you can almost visualize the wagons crossing the hills and rivers with their belongings to settle in Crenshaw County.

"I don't recall knowing why my grandfather settled here," Murry said. "I know the government was giving 80 acres to families that would live here and farm the land for a year. He was single and married after he settled here. His first wife died, and his second wife was my Grandmother."

Murry said they had to clear the land and build a home then plant their crops. She said Crenshaw County wasn't heavyly populated in the 1800s because her granddaddy did all his business in Greenville, which was his nearest town back then.

"I remember Rutledge and Luverne growing up," Murry said. "And I was born in 1911. My daddy was in politics in Luverne. My granddaddy sold my daddy some land off the original homestead when he married my mother in 1900.

"When I married Charlie in 1932, I was 20-years old," she said. "My Daddy came to Luverne to buy the material and Mama made me a brown wedding dress. There was an old saying back then that, 'if you married in brown you'd live in town,' and I sure wanted to live in town!"

Murry said she remembers whole families dying from the flu and pneumonia, and polio and diphtheria killed a lot of children back then.

"I had an Uncle and Aunt that died and left four small children and my Grandmother took the children," she said. "The only doctor I remember in Crenshaw County was Dr. Shepherd, and he made house calls."

Murry said her parents, Andrew Farrette and Levie Duncan had ten children and she was a middle child.

"My older sister ran away and married when she was sixteen, so I was the oldest girl left at home," Murry said. "My baby sister died of whooping cough when she was two-years old. Mama always kept me out of school to help her wash and we washed in big wash pots in the back yard. We were out washing one day and my four-year old sister's gown caught fire from the fireplace. Mine and Mama's hands were badly burned trying to put the fire out. She lived until some time during the night and died singing, 'Hush Little Baby Don't say a Word, Daddy's Gonna Buy You A Mocking Bird.' Mama never washed the little dress she wore the day before and we kept it down through the years."

Murry said she didn't marry until she was 20 because she was needed at home to care for the boys and her Daddy, because her Mother never got her strength back after that. She said she met Charlie Murry when his family moved to a farm below theirs.

"We had a preacher meet us at the courthouse in Luverne on a Sunday afternoon to marry us," she said. "We had twelve dollars and we went to live in Mama and Daddy's old log house that Daddy had first built for them. It was a good size house, with a covered walkway from the bedrooms to the kitchen. The kitchen had a big fireplace with hooks to hang cooking pots on, but I had a wood stove by then."

Murry said during World War II Charlie worked for the Dupont Powder Plant and then for a Dealership that made jeeps in Luverne. She said it was located going out 331, toward Rutledge, where Bobby's Discount Grocery is now located.

"We moved to town then and lived in a duplex. Henry and Melba Hilburn lived in one side and we lived in the other. When our son Glenn was in the fourth grade, I was warming up supper on a kerosene stove, the day after Christmas, and the stove blew up and the house burned. I had rode the bus to Montgomery to buy Christmas for the boys and I remember wanting to get their toys out. I picked up a plated pitcher I had gotten for Christmas, but it was so hot I let it go. Glenn got me by the hand and led me out." she said. "Bill, my oldest son, was working at a grocery store and Charlie and the Hilburns were gone."

Glenn Murry said he remembers that day and doesn't know how they got out because the smoke was so heavy.

"There was a man named Rex Jackson putting up wall paper in the hall," Glenn said. "They papered houses with fabric like materials back then and put plaster and wallpaper over that. It was gone in a few minutes, and we lost everything we had."

Murry said they bought a house in Luverne after that and remodeled it.

"My family has always been my life," she said. "I quilted for years, and I could bake the best sweet potato pie. My mother lived with us, but we had to put her in the nursing home her last five years. I came most every day and I washed her clothes. I have often thought writing and poetry was my real calling. I was class poet in high school. I collect poems and share them with people here at the nursing home."

Murry said she traveled with Charlie's sister some and went to New York to see the Statue of Liberty and other sights around the country.

"My advice to others is, 'forgive and forget and love one another, and if you need to come in the nursing home, come on, so people can see after you," she said.

Murry, who said giving up her home was the hardest thing she ever did, is a member of First Baptist Church, and a resident of the Luverne Health and Rehab.