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Bushrod Wilton Murray and Martha Frances Johnson

Martha Frances Johnson and Bushrod Wilton Murray were born around 1860.  Her father was Vertney Johnson, and her mother was either Mary Johnson or Emily Lee.[i]  His parents were Charles Murray and Fannie Grayson Murray.[ii] The Murrays had at least 9 children who survived to adulthood in addition to Bushrod.[iii]

In the 1870 Federal Census, Bushrod was living with his parents in Aldie, Virginia.  His death record listed his birth place as Aldie.[iv] It is possible that one or both of his parents were not enslaved at Oatlands, but at a location still to be determined.

Martha and Bushrod were married on December 29, 1881, and they had at least 7 children:

Arthur P. – b. 1882

Clarence – b. 1884

Edward – b. 1886

Lindsey – b. 1890

Curtis – b. 1893

Grace Olive – b. 1896

Lelia – b. 1897

Bushrod was an educated man who taught at the Mountain Gap Colored School near Gleedsville. The Loudoun County School Board purchased land from George Bryant in 1889 on what is known today as Gap Road.  The school opened the next year. Grace Murray and Elizabeth Johnson were the teachers during the first two years, followed by Bushrod Murray.  School records show that he taught from 1892 to 1897 and 1920 to 1939.[v] He probably taught between 1897 and 1920, too, because the Federal Census lists his occupation as Public School Teacher, but the school records are missing for that time period. One of the records noted that he had been educated at Mott’s Business School. Bushrod’s 40+ years as an educator is impressive in itself but it is more so considering he had been born into slavery.

Bushrod was also a trustee at the Mount Olive Methodist Episcopal Church in Gleedsville. He was one of the trustees, along with Robert Day, Emanuel Day, George Bryant, Jems Seraw, Thomas Washington, and Thomas Waters, to whom 1 ½ acres of landed was deeded in January 1889 by Washington and Margaret Thornton.[vi]  Murray family oral history says Bushrod was one of the men who designed the church and built it.

Martha Frances Murray died in February 1943 and Bushrod died eight months later. Martha is buried in the Gleedsville Cemetery and Bushrod is probably buried there too.[vii]

Their son, Arthur Percy Murray, was 22 years-old when he married Mary Elizabeth Smith in 1904. Mary’s family had a long connection to Oatlands through her mother, Hester Day Smith, daughter of Emanuel and Virginia Day. 

Mary E. and Arthur P. had at least nine children:

Arthur Lloyd – b. 1913

Mary E. – b. 1915

Grace Catherine – b. 1916

Hester D. – b. 1918

Mable Beatrice – b. 1920

Martha –

Dorothy L. – b. 1928

Evelyn –

James – died at birth

Arthur Percy Murray died at the age of 45 and is buried in the Gleedsville Cemetery.

Descendants of Arthur P. and Mary E. Murray still live in or near Loudoun County.


[i] Vital records for Martha Johnson differ.  The marriage record for Martha Johnson records her parents as Vestney and Mary Johnson. Virginia Select Marriages, 1785-1940 viewed on Ancestry.com.  The death record for Martha records her parents as Warden Johnson and Emily Lee. Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014. Viewed on Ancestry.com.

[ii] Virginia Select Marriages, 1785-1940. Viewed on Ancestry.com.  Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014 for Bushrod Murray. Viewed on Ancestry.com

[iii] In the 1900 Federal Census, Fannie A. Murray was listed as having 13 children; 10 still living. She and Charles had been married for 48 years.

[iv] Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014 for Bushrod Murray. Viewed on Ancestry.com.

[vi] Loudoun County Deed Book 7D:142.  Loudoun County Courthouse, Leesburg, Virginia. The land had formerly been owned by Thomas Day.

[vii] Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014. Viewed on Ancestry.com.  Martha’s death certificate lists the burial “at Gleedsville.” Bushrod’s death certificate lists his burial as “near Leesburg”, which is probably Gleedsville.