Monday, June 13, 2011

Mystery Monday--Albert Murray, aka Edward Mallory

Albert Murray, Jr--Alley--was my great-uncle.  I never knew him,  but I knew of him  (well, I met him once when I was really young and only have a vague memory of the visit).  He was a fixture in family tales.  I’m not certain how much was fact and how much was Irish blarney.  Suffice it to say, some members of my family could spin quite the story.

The story first and then the few facts I uncovered.

From my grandmother’s notes, I learned Alley was born March 27, 1885.  I had always heard rumors of Alley leaving home at an early age and heading West and that he was somehow involved with one of the Wild West gangs.  One of my cousins confirmed that, after Alley's father died in 1909, his mother remarried and that the children still at home disliked their stepfather so left home at when they were young. 

The family legend about Alley included vague (to me) references of a connection to the Dalton Gang.  I also heard he went by an alias.

Another cousin wrote an article about Alley in A History of Cameron County Pennsylvania, compiled by the Cameron County History Book Committee in 1991.  His information provided more details, otherwise known as clues, about Alley’s life.  I'll recap some key points here:

According to the article, Alley left home at 16 and returned to his hometown of Emporium, PA for a visit about 50 years later.  He visited again for a few weeks in the summer for several years.  My cousin’s father spent time with Alley and learned that he lived in Reading, CA.  Later, my uncle and his family visited Alley in California and learned he went by the name Edward Mallery.

Alley told them a story that, going through hard times, he had ridden into a Kansas farmhouse and befriended and worked for the remaining Daltons from the Dalton Gang.  He supposedly married a Dalton sister by the name of Agnus and they had a son.  At one point Alley was responsible for driving their cattle herd to sale.  Alley said he sold the cattle, kept the money and never returned to Agnus and his son.  Alley said they had been married in Flagstaff, AZ.  Not long after my uncle, cousin and rest of the family returned from this trip, another uncle wrote to Flagstaff inquiring about the marriage record and received a Photostat showing that Alley indeed married Agnus Dalton.  In 1960 or 1961, my uncle learned that Alley had died.  He was buried, destitute, under the name Edward Mallery.

Much of this sounded like tall tales to me, but once I got involved in genealogical research, I became curious about what I could prove.

First, the census records. 

In the 1900 census, he was living at home and his birth month and year were recorded as March 1885.  That is consistent with my grandmother’s notes with a date of March 27, 1885.  If Alley left home at 16, that would have been 1901.

In the 1910 census I found the newly widowed Catherine and her children, but no Alley.  Of course, at 25, it’s unlikely he would have still been at home, although possible.  Nevertheless, he wasn't in Emporium, PA.  I found several Albert Murrays in 1910, but none quite fit the bill.  I found no Alley Murrays.  I found an Edward Mallory in Doyle, Washington who fit the profile except for a birth year of 1889 instead of 1885, but I had nothing solid to link this person to Alley.

In the 1920 census no meaningful Mallorys, but one Albert Murray in Kansas City, MO with birthplace wrong and birth year off by two years.  But the Kansas part of it caught my eye and the fact that he was divorced.  Nothing again in 1930.

Second, his father’s death and his mother’s remarriage. 

I had records confirming the 1909 death of his father and the 1911 remarriage of his mother.  Again, unlikely Alley was still at home by this time.  He left for reasons other than unhappiness with a stepfather.

Third, the Dalton Gang family tree. 

Simply put, there was no sister of the Dalton Gang family with a name resembling Agnus.

Interestingly, I found an Agnes Dalton in Kansas in several census years during the right timeframe, but I haven’t found any connection between this Agnes and the Dalton Gang.

Fourth, the marriage of Alley and Agnus Dalton.

Among other places, I searched the Western States Marriage Record Index.  The closest I came to finding anything was an Edward Mallory who married Mae Wahl in Idaho in 1933.  Not very close.   Looks like I'll have to make a written request to Coconino County, AZ.

Fifth, the alias Edward Mallory.

I was surprised to find Edward Mallory in the Social Security Death Index.  It had a birth year of 1883 and death in 1964 and his SSN was issued in California.  Close, but uncertain.  On to the California Death Index.  There he was.  Edward Mallory.  Born March 27, 1885 in Pennsylvania.  Died in Shasta, CA on March 4, 1961.  Mother’s maiden name: Dowel.  Well, her maiden name was Doll, but with a match on the birth and death dates from family oral history, I felt certain I had found him.

And I found Edward Mallory’s WWII Draft Registration.  The birth date was exactly the same as Alley’s.  It stated he was born in Johnstown, PA, not Emporium, PA.  He was living in Oregon in 1942 and working for a lumber company.  Perhaps the Edward Mallory in Doyle, Washington in 1910 is Alley.  Might be worth a little investigation.

So, the Dalton Gang connection seems to be a tall tale.  Maybe the Agnes Dalton I found in census records has a connection to this story.  Possibly the 1910 census record for Edward Mallory in Washington state is Alley.  But the alias is true.  I sure would like to find out why he used an alias, but I’ll have to come back to this on another day.  But before I let go...since I have Edward Mallory's SSN, I can request a copy of his application.  It'll put me over my genealogy budget for the month, but I'm just too curious.


  1. I am a relative of Fan and Riley Murray and would love to chat with you. My grandfather was Charles Schwab. I spent many hours with Fan and Riley because I lived across the street from them on 8th street extension. I remember her long braid that she always wore and loved it when she took it down. Her hair was so long. Please contact me at Would love to chat. Mary Kay Schwab McLean

  2. i emailed you a week or so ago. Not sure if it got caught in your spam filter since I didn't hear back.