Friday, June 18, 2010

Update to Frank Murray pt 1

Since writing my first post about Frank Murray (and partly because I showed some drafts around), some new scraps of family lore about Frank's young adulthood in Nebraska have come to light. Take them for what they are: a series of slightly vague recollections, but possibly accurate ones. It's hard to know. I have no way to check them at the moment (and there may never be a way to check them), except to ask around and see what other people have heard.

My mother recalls hearing Frank talk about running a boarding house with his youngest sister, Maude, possibly in Axtell or Kearney, Nebraska. Mom doesn't remember anything specific, except that the enterprise didn't last very long: Frank and Maude fought too much to be good business partners. "No man could live with her," Frank told Mom in exasperation. "Girl, *I* couldn't live with her!"

My mother and I found an unfinished profile of Frank that Grand*a Murray had begun writing. It's not very long (two smallish pages) and was obviously written when Grand*a was in very poor health. H* handwriting is very shaky and sometimes *e doesn't finish sentences. Since h* health had various ups and downs over the years, this doesn't really help in dating it. Mostly it contains the bare bones of familiar stories, but Grand*a did have one bombshell to drop: Frank was engaged to a girl in Nebraska!

Well, it was a bombshell for me. Mom just said, "Yes, I knew that," and went on to tell a story about how the ex-fiancee's brother once visited Grand*a Murray and family when Mom was a girl. But Mom hadn't remembered about Frank's ex any other time I'd asked her about his early life.

Anyway, here's what Grand*a Murray wrote: "One neighborhood friend was Loughlin, & [Dad] became engaged to [Loughlin's] sister Johanna."

Unfortunately, that's all Grand*a wrote on the subject. Mom doesn't know when Frank and Johanna got engaged or how long the relationship lasted. (Did they break up before he left Nebraska, or did he plan to return or send for her later?) I can't even say for sure if Grand*a got the names right. The fact that Mom recognized them right away is a good sign, but what about the spelling?

In the same, unfinished profile, Grand*a Murray lent support to the idea that Frank learned barbering in Nebraska before setting out for points further west: "When Frank grew up he left the farm, went to Axtell & became a barber," Grand*a wrote. (Axtell was the nearest town to the Murray farm in Nebraska.) In my original post, I wrote that, when he worked as a barber, Frank had a number of clients who were Swedish immigrants. When my mother told me about that, she told me that she thought these stories had taken place in Nebraska, but she wasn't sure. She said that Frank used to talk quite a lot about "all the Swedes" that lived in that state when he was young.

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