Alexander McPherson of Jura, and his wife Elizabeth Murray Baker McPherson

by S.C. Edgerton

UPDATED May, 2012

The tombstone of Alexander McPherson of Jura at McPherson Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville, NC, records his birth in 1754 on the island of Jura on the west coast of Scotland and states he died in January 1821. It is not known when he immigrated to the province of North Carolina but, by the identification of his signature (at left), he was in the province in 1777. Until the death of Old John McPherson's eldest son Alexander, Sr., in 1801, Alexander McPherson of Jura was identified in county records as "Alexander McPherson, Jr." The designation 'Jr.' or 'Sr.' in the records of this day frequently indicated seniority of two people sharing the same name rather than the relationship of father to son as we know it today. In other words, Alex of Jura was younger than Old John's son Alexander, and the latter Alexander being older, usually had his name followed by 'Sr.' I strongly suspect Alexander of Jura was a close relative of Malcolm McPherson, Sr. as well as Captain William McPherson (both of Cumberland County), but have nothing to support this suspicion other than proximity of property and use of family names.

An examination of Cumberland County tax lists for Capt. McCrainey's district — where Alexander McPherson of Jura lived — in 1782 and 1783 reveals two Alexander McPhersons: Alexander McPherson whose estate was worth £800 and Alexander Jr. worth £181. My understanding of the Alexanders in this district tells me that the £800 estate belonged to Alexander McPherson (son of Old John) who, from his estate record, died around 1801, and that the 'Alexander Jr.' was Alex of Jura. The next year, in 1783, again two Alexanders are recorded in McCrainey's district: "Alexander McPherson Sr. £653" and "Alexander McPherson's estate £24". The word 'estate' written in this latter entry could be interpreted to mean this Alexander has died, yet no estate record exists to show an Alexander McPherson has died around the year 1783. Malcolm McPherson is also in the McCrainey district in 1782 and 1783.

Alexander McPherson of Jura married Elizabeth Baker, the widow of John Baker, Sr., of Cumberland. Elizabeth Baker's maiden name was Murray according to McPherson family Bible records, and I heard Henry H. Hodgin of Red Springs relate that Elizabeth was the comely daughter of James Murray, Duke of Argyll in Scotland. I have seen no records in Cumberland to support any tradition of noble birth, and admittedly I have not searched for any such records abroad; nor have I seen immigration records for a Murray or Murray family bound for North Carolina. However, Murrays did live in Cumberland around the time of the American Revolution. There is a deed for James and his wife Catherine Murray in Cumberland County in the late 1700s, and they moved to Moore County around 1796, and may have been Elizabeth Murray McPherson's parents. This Murray couple owned land between Persimmon branch and Stewarts Creek adjacent McArthur and Baker families, but sold it to a McAlphin in 1797 the year they were living in Moore County. Moreover, casting further doubt upon a legend of noble Scottish birth, Elizabeth could not write her own name as is evidenced by "her mark" on existing Cumberland County deeds signed by her.

A McPherson family Bible records that Elizabeth was born in Cantyre, Scotland, in 1760, and, although the Bible entry I have seen is digital it says nothing about her having been married to anyone before Alexander McPherson of Jura. Her first husband was John Baker who died in 1783, the date of his estate in Cumberland records, and so their marriage was not a lengthy one. A Daniel Baker makes his mark on one of the two extant estate papers for John Baker, and Daniel may have been John's brother or father. Elizabeth and John Baker appear to have had at least one child, John, Jr., about whom I have no further information beyond his being named an orphan in 1803. (It should be noted that as an orphan in 1803 he was under the age of 21 so his birth must have been1782 to 1784.) In 1804, Elizabeth and her second husband, Alexander McPherson of Jura, sold to an Archibald Baker for five shillings Elizabeth's "Dower in the lands of John Baker decd". Whether this Archibald Baker is a second child of Elizabeth and John Baker is unknown at this time; however, a meager sum of five shillings paid for any amount of land at this time suggests the transaction was more of a formality than a profitable exchange, and indicates a close, even familial, relationship between Elizabeth and Archibald. The Baker family was well seated in 18th- and early 19th-century Cumberland County and individuals from other local McPherson clans married into the Baker family as well. More research is needed on the Baker clan of Cumberland County.

According to the papers of Mrs. Sue McPherson Tillinghast, Alexander McPherson of Jura married Elizabeth Murray Baker in 1790, but it appears they had their first children around 1785 or 1786, so it is more likely that the widow Elizabeth Baker actually married Alexander McPherson around the year 1785. Alexander McPherson of Jura died 21 January 1821 and Elizabeth Murray Baker McPherson died 29 March 1841. Both are buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church cemetery in Fayetteville, NC. They had eight (possibly nine) children, positively identified in Cumberland County deeds:

Alexander and Elizabeth McPherson's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are listed below based on Cumberland County deeds and the 1877 sworn statement of Neill McPherson. All are bolded and color-coded accordingly:

  1. John McPherson. Born circa 1785/86 (according to census records) and died between 1863 and 1877. Married Flora Campbell, c.1801-1835 and daughter of Donald Campbell and Flora McFadyen. John and Flora are buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church in Fayetteville with four of their seven known children:

    1. Flora A. McPherson. Born April 1822 and died 7 March 1894. Unmarried in 1870. Buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church.
    2. Daniel Logan McPherson. Born c.1824, died 1835. Buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church.
    3. Hugh McPherson. Born 1825-26, alive in 1880. Married Margaret Shaw. Children:
      1. John McPherson, born c. 1869
      2. Mary Eliza McPherson, born April 1870 and died on a farm in 1958 in Sanford, Lee County, NC. Never married.
      3. Isabella McPherson, born c.1875
      4. Hugh McPherson, born c.1877
      5. Thomas McPherson, lived in Sanford and practiced law.
    4. Mary Eliza McPherson. Born c.1829-30, died 1854. Unmarried.
    5. Isabella McPherson. Born 18 April 1831, died 3 Oct 1909. Married Thomas Munroe (1825-1900) believed to be son of Dugald and Nancy Munroe in Cumberland County 1850 census. Both Thomas and Isabella are buried at Longstreet Presbyterian Church.
    6. James Murray McPherson. Born circa 1833, died 1861. Buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church. Believed to have become a surveyor before his death.
    7. John McPherson. Born c.1836, died 1865. (Married Mary T. Cameron?) Buried at McPherson Presbyterian Church.

  2. Hugh McPherson. Born c.1790. Clerk in Fayetteville, NC. Hugh died in Mississippi in September of 1835, "long before the war" according the the 1877 sworn statement of his brother Neill to his attorney.

  3. Margaret McPherson. Born circa 1790 according to her tombstone in Moore County near Carthage. Died 20 July 1837. Married Thomas Rhodes, Sr. and moved to Moore County where they had several children:

    1. Nancy Rhodes. Born 1810. Alive in 1845.
    2. Lucretia Rhodes. Born 1 April 1813, died 7 Dec 1900 in Moore County, NC. Unmarried in 1877.
    3. David Rhodes. Born 5 July 1815, died 6 Sept 1881 in Moore County, NC.
    4. Martin Rhodes. Born 12 Sept 1817, died 10 Nov 1910 in Sumter, SC. Married 1st Elizabeth Shaw. Second wife unknown.
    5. Mary Ann Rhodes. Born 15 Sept 1822, died 2 March 1902. Believed unmarried.
    6. Thomas Rhodes. Born circa 1824, died between 1854 and 1877 in Moore County, NC.
    7. Elizabeth Rhodes. Born 22 Oct 1825, died 20 Oct 1878. Unmarried in 1877.
    8. William R. Rhodes. Born 4 July 1828, died 8 Sept 1858. Alive 1845.

  4. Martin McPherson. Born circa 1790, died 10 Nov 1852 in Fayetteville, NC. Married Elizabeth McRacken, daughter of James and Margaret McRacken originally of Galloway, Scotland, and died in Fayetteville, NC. Martin and Elizabeth had four children, John, Hugh, James and Elizabeth. James and Elizabeth died as young children. John and Hugh died unmarried before the Civil War. All are buried in the old section of Cross Creek Cemetery. Martin McPherson was an educated and highly esteemed man in Fayetteville and was involved in community affairs. Martin was guardian to the orphaned children of John and Sallie Black McPherson.

  5. Flora McPherson. Born 1794 in Cumberland County, NC, presumably on Beaver Creek. Flora never married. She and her sister Mary bought some of Colin McPherson's property after his death in 1835. She died 24 Jan 1873 in Cumberland County, and is buried in McPherson Presbyterian Church cemetery.

  6. Mary M. McPherson. (The 1850 census give her name as 'Mary M. McPherson'.) Born 22 August 1799 in Cumberland County, NC, presumably on Beaver Creek. She died in Cumberland County, NC, 3 August 1872 and is buried in McPherson Presbyterian Church cemetery. Mary never married. (There is another Mary McPherson who can be found in many deeds in Cumberland County, purchasing many tracts of land within the county. This second Mary may have been the widow of one John McPherson who died in 1823 and who owned 260 acres on Blounts Creek in Cumberland County; the two Marys might be easily confused. Or, owing to the 1850 census showing a middle initial as 'M.', were the two Mary McPhersons the same woman, and Mary M. McPherson bore no children to her husband John McPherson (died 1823) and thus her marriage was forgotten by subsequent generations?

  7. Neill McPherson. Tailor in Fayetteville, NC. Born c.1801 and was alive in 1877, the year he made a sworn statement about his immediately family structure to his attorney in his nephew Hugh McPherson's estate settlement. Neill married Martha Lumsden in 1839. She may have been the daughter of John Lumsden, a Revolutionary War veteran, and his wife Elizabeth. Neill and Martha may have been estranged, as they were living apart in the 1850 census. They had two children: John Henry "Harry" McPherson, and a daughter Mary McPherson who married Dr. J.C. Allred and moved to Florida about 1868.

  8. Alexander McPherson II. Born 12 January 1804 in Cumberland County, NC, presumably on Beaver Creek. He married 14 December 1836 to Catherine Buie, daughter of John Buie and Mary (nee McPherson) Buie. John Buie was the son of Duncan and Sarah Buie of Raiford's Creek in Cumberland County, NC. Mary (nee McPherson) Buie was the daughter of Alexander McPherson (son of Old John McPherson of the Argyll Colony) and Emily McGill. Emily McGill's name is not recorded anywhere in any records I've found, and it comes from the family tradition of Sue McPherson Tillinghast and also from the family of Mr. Joseph McArthur of Fayetteville, NC. Alexander II and his wife Catherine Buie McPherson lived at "Buena Vista," the home he built around 1845 near Beaver Creek. Alexander McPherson II died 8 September 1881 and is buried in McPherson Presbyterian Church cemetery. Alexander McPherson II and Catherine Buie McPherson's children:

    1. John Alexander McPherson. Born 16 February1838 at "Buena Vista" in Cumberland County, NC. Married 10 January 1865 to Sarah "Sallie" Buchanan McNeill (January 14, 1842 – 26 July 1901), daughter of Major John McNeill and Elizabeth Buchanan (Major McNeill's second wife), at their home "Knapdale" in Richmond County, NC. John Alexander McPherson served in the Confederacy and attained the rank of Captain. He fought with the Company E, 6th North Carolina Infantry at the Battle of Bethel, and around Richmond, Virginia, and fought at Gettysburg. Capt. McPherson died 19 April 1905 and is buried in McPherson Presbyterian Church cemetery with his wife. Children:
      1. Elizabeth Avery "Lizzie" McPherson. Married John G. Shaw.
      2. Flora McPherson (twin). Married 27 October 1903 to Robert Bailey Evans. Children:
        1. Mary Evans. Married John Church of Montréal, Canada. Children:
        2. Flora Church. Married David Stewart. Children:
          • Mary McPherson Stewart
        3. William Church. Married a Munro.
        4. Robert Bailey Evans, II. Married Flora Lemmon. Children:
        5. Susan Murphy Evans. Died young.
        6. Robert Bailey Evans, III.
        7. Hunter Evans.
        8. Richard Lemmon Evans
        9. Mary McPherson Evans.
        10. Erasmus Harvey Evans. Married Katherine Underwood. Children:
        11. Ellen Haigh Evans. Married Carl Jourdan.
        12. Erasmus Harvey Evans, II.
      3. Mary McPherson (twin). Married October, 1906 to George McNeill, son of James D. McNeill and Elizabeth Strange. Children:
        1. George McNeill. Died young.
        2. James Dobbin McNeill. Died young.
        3. Flora McNeill. Married Judson Dilleyhey. Children:
        4. Harold Judson Dilleyhey. Married Judy _____.
        5. George McNeill Dilleyhey. Married Jan Rouzer.
        6. Elizabeth Strange McNeill. Married Howard Simpson Yost.
        7. Sarah McNeill. Died young.
        8. Frank McNeill. Never married.
      4. Jane Gibbs McPherson. Married Clarence Lytch.
      5. Katie B. McPherson. Never married.
      6. John A. McPherson. Never married.
      7. Frank McPherson. Married Clement Scott Marks. Moved to Montgomery, Alabama. Children:
        1. Lee McPherson. Born Montgomery, Alabama.
        2. Frances McPherson. Born Montgomery, Alabama.
      8. Leighton Wilson McPherson. Married Louise Bullard. Moved to Columbus, Georgia.Children:
        1. Myra Elizabeth McPherson. Married Brig. Gen. Joseph Warren Stillwell, Jr. Children:
        2. Major Joseph Warren Stillwell, III.
        3. "Kiki" Stillwell
      9. James Murray McPherson. Never married.

    2. Elizabeth Murray McPherson (twin). Born 15 June 1840 in Cumberland County, NC. Married Joseph Allan McArthur. Died 5 April 1921.Children:
      1. Joseph Alexander McArthur. Born 11 December 1864 in Cumberland County, NC. Died 1937. Married __________.

    3. William Harrison McPherson (twin). Born 15 June 1840 in Cumberland County, NC. Confederate soldier and Ruling Elder in McPherson Presbyterian Church. Married Elizabeth Whetmore Holmes (16 May 1842 – 5 April 1924), daughter of Theophilus and Laura Holmes. Died 3 January 1881. Children:
      1. Fannie Broadfoot McPherson. Born 24 September 1874. Died 16 September 1956. Married Archibald W. McIntyre.
      2. Elizabeth Hinsdale McPherson. Born 7 April 1877. Died 29 Oct 1965.
      3. Theophilus Hunter Holmes McPherson. Born 31 January 1883. Died 2 April 1948. Married Kate Hill, daughter of William Ezekial Hill and Jennie Kyle Pitzer.
      4. Samuel Hinsdale McPherson. Born 2 September 1886. Died 7 May 1967. Married Mary McQueen.

    4. Duncan Buie McPherson. Born 15 June 1840 in Cumberland County, NC. Died 7 May 1844 in Cumberland County, NC. Never married.