The Story of the Early Durrs

"In the late 1830's or early 1840's, three brothers named, Michael D., David H., and Jim Durr left Alabama headed for Louisiana. They left behind their mother and half siblings by the name of Alexander. While crossing the Mississippi River the youngest brother, Jim, was swept away by the raging waters. The family believed he either drowned or washed up in the New Orleans area, as there were many Durr families there. Michael and David with their families settled in Natchitoches and Sabine parishes." This is the story that Travis Wright Durr, son of William Rufus Durr & Lucindy Melvina Dykes, told his daughter Joyce a few years before his death.

Thomas F. Jennings, author of EARLY SETTLERS AND LATER FAMILIES OF THE BETHANY-JENNINGS CHAPEL COMMUNITY, NATCHITOCHES, LA, interviewed many people to get information for the books he wrote. Here are some of the things he wrote. "There were two of the Durr families which settled in the Bethany-Jennings Chapel Community in its early days. One was headed by Michael D. Durr and the other by David H. Durr. They were brothers who were born in the State of South Carolina but like many others moved west in their early lives. In the 1840 U. S. Census of Simpson County, Mississippi we found listed a Michael Durr and family living near my Great Grandfather, Bailey Jennings. His age didn't correspond with the age of the one who came to Louisiana but since their names were the same they might have been related."

The Facts we researchers have been able to prove.

The only records of the Durr brothers in Alabama found to date is the marriage of Michael D. Durr to Rebecker Gaston in Monroe Co., AL on 25 Nov 1837 and 1840 Monroe Co., AL census. No marriage record has been found for David H. Durr and Paralee Allred. There are many Alexander families in Alabama at that time of Michael and Rebecker's marriage, with the two closest being in neighboring Wilcox and Dallas counties, but no link has been found to those families. From the 1850 Louisiana census we know that Michael (on Natchitoches parish) and David (on Sabine parish) were born in South Carolina. Michael's oldest child is listed as being born in Louisiana about 1839/40. On the 1900 census Rebecca lists having one more child than I have found names for so I think we can assume that the family migrated in 1840 with the child on the1840 census dying before the 1850 census and James was born either on the journey or shortly after arrival in LA. Each brother had their wife's mother or parents and siblings living nearby so they may have all arrived in the same migration group from Alabama. Jim probably did perish in the river crossing because all the Durr families in the New Orleans area in 1850 & 1860 were direct immigrants from the German Empire states.

There were a number of Durr families that came to the U.S. prior to 1810 settling in SC, PA, Ohio, MS, LA, and other areas. Michael seems to have been a very popular name with all of the families then and now. Jim/James (or in German, Jacob) shows up in many families. David is a very rare name among the Durr families. Almost every Durr family on the 1850-1880 censuses has son named Michael. As of this date no researcher I have been in contact with has been able to find a probate, legal document, deed, bible record, or family group with all three names: Michael, David, Jim/James/Jacob. There have not been any records found that had a David & Michael or Jim/James/Jacob and David. The name David is amost non-existant in early Durr records. In 1988, James Dewey O'Brien published OUR COLONIAL ANCESTORS, KNOTT, MASSEY, YOUNGBLOOD, HICKMAN, PULLEN, & OTHERS. In it he attempts to connect the three brothers to Michael and Lewis Durr on the 1790 Charleston District, Dorchester Co, St.Georges parish in South Carolina. Records and postings on internet websites on these men, and Jacob, John, & Peter Durr on the 1800 SC census, do not show sons with all three names or a son named David.

BREAKING NEWS: Recent Y-DNA tests (Genetically Connected Durrs) have now proven that our Michael, David and Jim are genetic descendants of Peter Durr of Germany/Switzerland. At this time, we have not been able to determine which of Peter's sons is our ancestor.

If you have heard a different version of the family story or think you have a puzzle piece that might help to find the parents of Michael, David, and Jim, please contact me at the address below so that I might share it with the other researchers I am in contact with. Maybe you have that key that unlocks this mystery.

(Last edited: 7/4/2012)