Born: 1801-02-20 Mercer County, Kentucky
Died: 1875-04-10 Knox County, Illinois
Flourished: Knox County, Illinois
When McMurtry was a young boy, his family moved from Kentucky to Indiana. While living in Indiana, he met and married Ruth Champion, with whom he had five children. In 1829, McMurtry moved his family to Knox County, Illinois, settling in what would become Henderson. In 1832, he received appointment as the first county commissioner of school lands for Knox County. During the Black Hawk War, McMurtry was captain of a company of volunteers from Knox County. In August 1836, Henry, Warren, and Knox county voters elected McMurtry, a Democrat, to the Illinois House of Representatives. He ran for re-election in 1838, but lost to Wyatt B. Stapp. In 1840, McMurtry ran for the Illinois Senate, but again lost to Stapp. In August 1842, Knox and Mercer county voters elected him to the Illinois Senate. He served in the Senate until 1846, losing his bid for re-election in August 1846. In 1848, the Democratic party added McMurtry as candidate for lieutenant governor to the gubernatorial bid of Augustus French , and the French-McMurtry ticket won the election. He served as lieutenant governor from 1849 to 1853. After the end of his term, McMurtry ran unsucessfully for Congress, ending his efforts to gain elective office. Returning to Knox County, McMurtry was one of the organizers of Henderson Township in 1853. In 1860, he was living and farming in Henderson, and owned real estate valued at $15,000 and a personal estate of $1,200. In 1862, McMurtry was commissioned as colonel of the 102nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry, but had to resign a year later due to his advanced age and poor health.
Isaac H. Elliott, Record of the Services of Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War, 1831-32, and in the Mexican War, 1846-8, (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1882), 156; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 105, 206, 210, 212; Theodore C. Pease, ed., Illinois Election Returns, 1818-1848, vol. 18 of Collections of the Illinois State Historical Library (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Library, 1923), 302, 324, 334, 351, 409, Portrait and Biographical Album of Knox County, Illinois (Chicago: Biographical, 1886), 321; Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and Knox County (Chicago: Munsell, 1899), 852; Albert J. Perry, History of Knox County, Illinois (Chicago: S. J. Clarke, 1912), 1:425, 496; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Knox County, IL, 206.