Saturday, August 23, 2014

52 Ancestors #34: James Muir, Scoundrel

Ancestor Name: James MUIR (1844-1926)

James Muir was one of my paternal great great grandfathers. The Muir family is the only "recent" immigrant family in Dad's tree. His other greats were all from families whose ancestors arrived in the American Colonies before the Revolutionary War. When Dad was actively researching his family history, he was unable to do much with the Muir family because most of his research was conducted before the Internet and he did not have access to Scottish records.

Genealogy and my research are one of the few topics that keeps Dad's attention for a long time and makes it easier to talk to him after he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in late 2012 and can no longer speak. My New Year's resolution was to concentrate on the Muir family after discovering the ScotlandsPeople website. Eight months later, I've learned James Muir had 78 known nieces and nephews!

James Muir was born on 2 August 1844 in East Kilbride parish in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He was baptized in the local parish church on the 22nd of the same month. When the 1851 Scotland census was enumerated, he was living with several siblings in Kirkton Village, but his parents were not at home the night the census was taken.

Ten years later, James was living at 2 Birkenshaw in Larkhall with his father and several siblings. He was 17 and already working full-time in the coal mines. His father was no longer working in the mines but his older brothers still living at home were also miners. His mother, Henrietta (Brown) Muir had died, likely before 1856.

In 1871 James Muir's father had been dead two years and his siblings had scattered in all directions. James was a lodger in the home of Daniel Lyle, another coal miner, on 39 Stewarton Street in Cambusnethan. Two years later he married Margaret Semple on 4 Jul 1873 in Swinhill, Dalserf, Lanarkshire. She was the single mother of a young girl named Janet "Jessie" Semple. Margaret was pregnant with their first child at the time of their marriage, who was born on 4 October 1873. Their first son was named Robert Muir, after his paternal grandfather. Sadly, little Robert died on 25 January 1874 of hydrocephalus, which is the build up of too much cerebrospinal fluid in the brain. It is commonly called "water on the brain."

Parish church in Dalserf; photograph commissioned by me

My great grandfather also named Robert Muir was born on 16 March 1875. After my great grandfather, five known children were born in Scotland:

  • Peter Semple Muir (14 February 1877 -- 23 March 1877)
  • Peter Semple Muir (5 July 1878 -- 8 September 1878)
  • Henrietta Brown Muir (29 July 1882 -- 9 January 1884)
  • Margaret "Maggie" Muir (6 May 1884 -- 29 August 1966)
  • Peter Semple Muir (3 February 1886 -- 30 October 1947)
Peter Semple was Margaret's father and naming a child in his honor was obviously important to her.

On 27 May 1887 James boarded the Anchor Line steamship Ethiopia in Glasgow and sailed to the United States. He arrived in New York City on the 6th of June and traveled to Streator, Illinois. Because the 1890 census was destroyed by fire, I do not know if he had relatives or friends who had already immigrated and settled in Streator or if he saw advertisements for Streator at the train station. 

Anchor Line Steamship Ethiopia, built in Glasgow in 1873

James' wife, Margaret, and the living children followed him to Illinois, arriving in the U.S. on 30 September 1887. Margaret's daughter, Jessie, also traveled with her mother and half-siblings.  Margaret and James had two more children in Illinois: Alexander Muir (13 May 1889 -- 6 May 1957) and Jane "Janie" Muir (29 November 1894 -- 23 January 1990).

In 1900 James was living in Mystic, Iowa, a lodger at the home of Mrs. Margaret Greenbank. Appanoose was described as "one continuous mining camp" when James arrived. He claimed he was divorced. His wife, Margaret (Semple) Muir, however, was living in Reading, Illinois. According to her census records, she still believed she was married.

James married Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank on 9 January 1913 in Princeton, Missouri. Princeton is in Mercer County, Missouri, which borders Iowa. I am left wondering after looking at the map, if Mercer County was a "Gretna Green" county, meaning it was possible to get a quickie marriage. Or perhaps county officials didn't look too closely at your documentation. I've found no evidence that James Muir actually divorced his first wife, nor can I find any evidence that Margaret Greenbank was divorced from her husband, Thomas, who was still alive, though living in the Mount Pleasant Hospital for the Insane.

Proximity of Appanoose County to Mercer County; image courtesy of

When the 1915 Iowa state census was taken, James claimed he had lived in Iowa since 1895. If that is true, then he left his first wife when her youngest children was barely a year old, which makes him a scoundrel in my book.

James Muir died on 18 March 1926 at his home in Mystic of arteo-sclerosis and chronic bronchitis at the ripe old age of 81. He was miner, retired from the Egypt Coal Company. He was interred in Highland Cemetery in Mystic on 20 March 1926. His second wife was the informant listed on the death certificate. She is also buried in Highland Cemetery.

Margaret "McIntosh" Greenbank Muir as a young woman;
photograph courtesy of member pattilee3

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

James Muir was born on 2 August 1844 in East Kilbride, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Robert and Henrietta (Brown) Muir. He married Margaret Semple on 4 July 1873 in Swinehill (now Swinhill), Dalserf, Scotland. She had 11 children born alive and five lived past infancy. I have only discovered ten children and am still searching for the unknown child. She had an illegitimate daughter in 1871. Their living children born in Scotland were Robert, Margaret, and Peter Semple. Alexander and Jane were born in Illinois after the family immigrated in 1887. James Muir left his family between 1895 and 1900 and moved to Mystic, Iowa. On 9 January 1913 he married Margaret (McIntosh) Greenbank in Princeton, Missouri. Both of them had been married previously. James' first wife Margaret (Semple) Muir died on 31 May 1920 in Kirksville, Missouri, and is buried in Novinger Cemetery. James died on 18 March 1926 in Mystic and is buried in Highland Cemetery, which is located in the same city. His second wife died on 19 February 1936 and is also buried in Highland Cemetery.

Scottish Ships for Scottish Passengers
Mining in Appanoose County
I'm Sorry Great Great Grandma
Was Grandma's Grandma a Hussy
Genealogy Fosters Global Friendships

No comments:

Post a Comment