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Col. Elilsha L. McMurtrey

Col. Elisha L. McMurtrey, farmer. Rison, Ark.

Of the thousands of brave men who went from their homes and faced the bullets of the enemy during the late war, Col. McMurtrey was one, and the record which he made during his career as a soldier is such as can be referred to with pardonable pride.

In 1861 he joined Company E, of the State troops, and took part in the Oak Hill fight, after which the regiment was disbanded, and Col. McMurtrey came home. He then assisted in organizing the Second Arkansas Cavalry, being made captain of Company A, which he commanded until the early part of 1863, when he was promoted to the rank of major. About eight months later he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, which position he held until the close of the war. The first two years he operated in Tennessee and Mississippi, and during that time participated in the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Bighton's Lane, Denmark, Holly Springs, Iuka Springs, Guntown and many other engagements of note.

West of the river he participated in the battles of Camden, Jenkins' Ferry, Mark's Mill, Princeton, etc. He was in twenty-two regular engagements during the war, and surrendered at Pine Bluff in June, 1865. He was captain of the militia under Gov. Hadley's administration, and was colonel of the same under Gov. Garland.

Col. McMurtrey was born in Shelby County, Ala., in 1822, and is the son of A. Campbell and Nancy (Lawley) McMurtrey, natives of North Carolina. The parents were reared in their native State, were married there, and later removed to Georgia, thence to Alabama, and in 1840 to what is now Cleveland County. They settled in the woods sixteen miles from any settlement, and the nearest trading point or post-office being Pine Bluff. There they died, the father in 1849, and the mother in 1850, and both members of the Methodist Church.

The father was of Scotch Irish descent, was a farmer by occupation, and a man very much respected. He was a drum major in the War of 1812. The paternal grandfather was born in the Emerald Isle, but after marriage came to America, and died in South Carolina. He was a farmer. The maternal grandfather, Elisha Lawley, was a native of South Carolina, of German descent, and removed to Georgia, and thence to Alabama, where he died. He was a boy during the Revolutionary War. Col. Elisha L. McMurtrey was the third of six children, and is now the only one known to be living.

Like the average boy of that early day, he worked hard to assist his father in clearing the farm, and received but a limited education. He came with his father to Cleveland County, and was there married October 16, 1845, to Miss Louisa, daughter of Silas and Nicy (Williams) Baggett, natives of North Carolina. Mr. and Mrs. Baggett were married in Alabama, and then removed to Mississippi, where the wife died. In 1843 Mr. Baggett came to Saline County, Ark., and in 1845 to what is now Cleveland County, where he died in 1866. He was a soldier in the Creek War, and was the son of Cyrus Baggett, an Englishman, who came to the United States when young and settled in North Carolina, where his career terminated. Mrs. McMurtrey was born in Greene County, Ala., and by her marriage to Mr. McMurtrey became the mother of eleven children, three sons and two daughters living: Eli A., Dr. John L., James M., Mary L. (wife of I. B. Williams) and Louisa. S

ince 1840 Col. McMurtrey has lived within a few miles of where his father settled when first coming to Arkansas, and he now has three good farms. He settled on his present farm about 1868, and has 640 acres with about 200 acres under cultivation, besides assisting all his children in getting homes. All live in the neighborhood where they were born and reared.

Col. McMurtrey is a pioneer settler, and is probably the only survivor of the settlers who came here at that early day. For many years he was engaged in stock trading, and was also in the slave trade, and from 1854 to 1860 he followed merchandising on his farm. He is an honest, industrious man.

In 1878 he was elected to represent what is now Cleveland County in the Legislature, and served in that capacity with credit and distinction. He has been a Democrat all his life, and voted for James K. Polk in 1844. He has been a member of the A. F. & A. M. for about thirty-five years, now of Culpepper Lodge No. 186, at Rison, and was a charter member of Moore Lodge, in which he was junior deacon. He and wife have been members of the Missionary Baptist Church for many years.


Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Southern Arkansas
Copyright 1890
Published by The Goodspeed Publishing Co.; Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis