Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Early-Muir Marriages: Robert Muir (1863-1927) and Janet Early (1868-1939)

Three children of my three times great uncle, Robert Orr Muir (1839-1917), married siblings. For the next three weeks, I will be exploring the similarities and differences between these three married couples. Each of the men were miners and each of the women were daughters of miners, yet each of the three couples made different choices when it came to immigration -- to stay in Scotland or leave.

The eldest of those three Muir siblings and the first to marry a child of Ralph Early[1] and Catherine McNair White was Robert Muir. He and his wife, Janet Early, also chose to immigrate to the U.S. when they were in their 50s.

The Early-Muir marriages; created using Microsoft PowerPoint

Robert Muir was born on 23 October 1863 in Birkenshaw, a village in Larkhall parish, Scotland, to Robert Orr Muir and Jane Paton Loudon. His father was a coal miner. Not long after Robert's birth, the family moved to Stonehouse where Robert was joined by two younger siblings, John and Elizabeth Hamilton. Between 1868 and 1869 the family moved back to Larkhall, where his mother gave birth to a fourth child. She died six days later of "congestion of the brain," which doctors now believe was scarlet fever or meningitis. Robert's youngest sister, died four months later. Young Robert was just five years old.

His father kept the his children with him and boarded at the home of a widow in Lesmahagow. He married Mary Shaw Watson on 23 June 1871 in Lesmahagow. Mary was the daughter of John and Elizabeth (Rennie) Shaw. She worked as a servant on the Auchenheath Farm and had two illegitimate children. She and Robert's father had nine children of their own during the course of their marriage.

Robert's family continued to move around south Lanarkshire and he joined his father in the mines when he finished his compulsory schooling at age 12. His step-brother, William, was killed in mining accident in 1878 at age 12.

On 13 July 1888, at the age of 24, Robert married Janet Early[1], daughter of Ralph and Catherine McNair (White) Early. She had been born on 29 February 1868 in Dalziel and like Robert her father was a coal miner. He died in 1881 when Janet was 13 and her mother remarried in 1884. Janet worked as a domestic servant at the time of their marriage.

Robert and Janet (Early) Muir had 12 children during the course of their marriage:
  1. Robert Orr Muir born 26 July 1889 in Bothwell; died in 1970 in Hove, England; married Katie Kerr Morrison on 29 June 1912 in the Blythswood district of Glasgow
  2. Alexander Muir born 9 March 1891 in Lesmahagow; died 7 March 1892 in Bothwell of convulsions
  3. Catherine "Katie" White Muir born 26 February 1893 in Lesmahagow; died 3 December 1961 in the Kelvin district of Glasgow; married John Falconer on 25 November 1921 in Dalserf
  4. Mary Shaw Muir born 31 March 1895 in Lesmahagow; died in 1969 in Motherwell and Wishaw; married Robert Stewart Struthers on 31 December 1919 in Larkhall
  5. John Muir born 10 May 1897 in Lesmahagow; died 19 March 1938 in Larkhall; married Jeanie Hastie Hawthorn on 7 December 1922 in the Blythswood district of Glasgow
  6. David Early Muir born 25 December 1898 in Lesmahagow; died 14 March 1900 in Lesmahagow of enteristis, and infectious intestinal disease
  7. Nathaniel Muir born 24 June 1900 in Lesmahagow; died in December 1985 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; married Margaret Weir Nixon on 19 June 1925 in Wellsburg, West Virginia
  8. Andrew Airlie Muir born 26 August 1902 in Lesmahagow; died on 19 October 1929 in Larkhall 
  9. Thomas Muir (twin) born 16 November 1904 in Lesmahagow; died 23 February 1908 in Lesmahagow of measles and pneumonia
  10. Ralph Earlie Muir (twin) born 16 November 1904 in Lesmahagow; died in May 1980; married Sarah Ann Roberts 22 October 1932 in Wellsburg, West Virginia
  11. James Muir born 19 April 1906 in Lesmahagow; died 20 March 1981in Fulton County, Georgia; married Eleanor Henderson before 1930
  12. Alexander McLure Muir born 12 March 1908 in Lesmahagow; died 1989 in Nottingham, England
Robert and Janet's son, John, enlisted in the British Army in 1916 and was called into service in 1917. He was wounded in action on 29 September 1918. 

On 29 August 1923, Robert Muir and his sons, Nathaniel and James, boarded the White Star Line's RMS Olympic in Southampton. They arrived in New York City on 5 September. Their destination was Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, to a cousin of Robert's, also named Robert Muir. He was the son of Robert's uncle, Nathaniel Muir, and had immigrated to the U.S. in 1902.

Robert Muir's declaration of intent to become a naturalized
citizen of the U.S.; courtesy of Ancestry.com

Robert's wife, Janet, and her sons, Andrew, Ralph and Alexander, boarded the Anchor Line's SS California, in Glasgow on 6 January 1925. They arrived in New York on 15 January. They joined Robert, Nathaniel and James in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

Son, Andrew, remained in the U.S. for a year and half before returning to Scotland aboard the Anchor Line's SS Caledonia. He was killed by mining accident in a stone fall. He never married.

Son, Alexander, lived with his brother, James, was unemployed in 1930 when the census was taken. He returned to Scotland on 30 April 1939 aboard the Anchor Line's SS Cameronia. His intended destination was to his sister, Katie's house.

Robert Muir died on 24 December 1927 of apoplexy at his home in Fredericktown, Pennsylvania. He worked as a miner for Clyde Coal Company at the time of his death. He was interred at the Beallsville Cemetery in Beallsville, Pennsylvania. No stone marks his grave. His widow, Janet, lived with her son, James, who had recently married. Janet (Early) Muir died at her home in West Homestead on 21 April 1939 of a coronary occlusion. She was interred at an unknown cemetery in Homestead, Pennsylvania.

[1] The Early surname was spelled in a variety of ways in the records on ScotlandsPeople, including Airlie, Airley, Earlie, and Earley.

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