The Alfred P. Murrah
Federal Building was built in 1977 between Harvey and Robinson
on the East & West and NW 5th & 4th Streets on the North
This page does not explore
the bombing of this building in 1995. For that, see the source
for this mage, the Oklahoma
City National Memorial website.
Daily Oklahoman, The
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
October 31, 1975, page 67
Veteran Federal Judge Alfred P. Murrah, 71, Dies After a Long
U.S. Circuit Judge Alfred P. Murrah, 71 died Thursday at
University Hospital after a long illness.
Services will be at 2 pm at St. Luke's United Methodist
Church with burial in Fairlawn Cemetery directed by Hahn-Cook,
Street & Draper Funeral Home. Friends may call at the
funeral home until 11 am Monday.
Murray was known throughout the United States as Senior U.S.
Circuit Judge Alfred P. Murrah.
But, to his many Oklahoma friends he was known simply as "Fish" Murrah, a nick name he got
in high school because of his goldfish-colored hair.
Marrah had served nearly 36 years on the federal bench when,
in 1950, he took senior status and accepted the position as
director of the Federal Judical Center in Washington, D.C. [The
Federal Judical Center is the education and research agency for
the federal courts. Congress created the FJC in 1967]
Born 71 years ago in Indian Territory near Tishmingo, Murrah
became a federal district judge at the age of 32, serving
from the northern, eastern and western districts of Oklahoma.
In 1940, he was appointed to the U. S. Court of Appeals for
the 10th Circuit and for 11 years was chief judge.
Murrah's mother and father died when he was a youth and he
migrated to Oklahoma City aboard a freight train. He was
unceremoniously booted off the train in Oklahoma City by a
Tired of hoboing around the country, the 13 year old Murrah
decided he wanted a job that would give him an opportunity to
improve upon his fourth grade education. He found it on a farm
There he milked cows and did farm chores for his room and
board. To earn spending money, he got still another job in a
drugstore. Then he presented himself to the Tuttle High School
principal and convinced the teacher he could take his place
with other 13 year olds in the class room and still hold
down two jobs.
That he did and when he was graduated it was at the head of
the class. With his high school diploma, he hitchhiked to Norman
enrolled in the University of Oklahoma and then set out to
finance his way through law school.
After looking over the Norman business district, he presented
himself to one merchant and announced: "My name's Murrah and I'm
going to go to work for you."
When the merchant snorted he didn't need any help, Murrah
pointed out some things in the store that needed to be done and
suggested some methods that would make the merchant more money.
He got the job.
Once when asked for his advice to young people, Murrah said:
"Get a good education. Decide what you want to do. Whatever you
like to do best is exactly the thing you are fitted for. Put
your finger on a map, close your eyes and pick a place. Then go
there and be diligent and decent. You won't have too much
competition and you will get ahead." And, he continued don't
begrudge the fact that you have to work for what you get.
When he graduated with honors in 1927, Murrah hung his
shingle in Seminole, then an oil boom town. He slept in
his law office, prospered married an Oklahoma City school
teacher and moved to Oklahoma City.
When he was 32 he was the youngest man in history to be
appointed a U.S. district judge. As a judge he quickly attracted
attention. In remarks on and off the bench he described
prisons as schools for crime, honky-tonks and night clubs as
breeding places for crime and rapped "bargain table" deals
between prosecutors and criminals for recommended sentences.
In 1940 he was elevated to the 10th Circuit Court - a
jurisdiction embracing Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Kansas
and New Mexico.
Federal Judicial Center
July 17, 2007
Judges of the United States Courts
Murrah, Alfred Paul
Born October 27, 1904, in Tishomingo, OK
Died October 30, 1975, in Oklahoma City,
Private practice, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, 1928-1929
Private practice, Seminole and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,
Director, Federal Judicial Center, 1970-1974
Creel, Von Russell. American Jurist: The Life of Judge Alfred P.
Murrah. 1996. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage Association, 1996.
Parents, George Washington Murrah and Lucy Elizabeth James
who married and lived in/near Earl, a now extinct community.
Five children were born to George and Lucy, three of whom live
to adulthood. The birth of their fifth child on July 16, 1901
was followed on August 25 by the death of Lucy, leaving
George Washington with three children to rear, the
youngest an infant and the oldest but seven years old. [Lucy
Murrah is buried in the Earl/ Blevins Cemetery.]
Murrah's first widowhood ended with his marriage to Lanora M.
Simmons. Born March 8, 1874, she was some 10 years younger than
her husband. For a time Murrah and his bride continued to live
at Earl, and it was there on October 27, 1904, that Alfred Paul
Murrah was born in Johnston County, Oklahoma. Shortly after his
birth, the family moved to present-day Grady County. The Murrahs
settled near the town of Verden where George Murrah found work
on the Half Moon Ranch, a cattle spread started by W. G.
"Caddo Bill" Williams.
Attending Tennessee and Gilbert schools and playing with
younger brothers, George and Elmo was the fabric of Alfred's
life until February 20, 1912 when Lanora died. [The death of
Lanora Murrah is reported in the Verden News, February 23, 1912,
5. She is buried in the Verden Cemetery.]
The family remained in Oklahoma for a time. Willie Mae,
George Washington's daughter by his first marriage, cared for
the young children and home. Then about 1913-1914, George
Washington returned to Alabama. Alfred Paul and George
accompanied him while Elmo remained with relatives in Grady
In Alabama, George Washington purchased a 40 acre dirt
scrabble farm and married Callie Cobb Lowery, a widow with three
children. One son, Cecil, was born to the marriage. Life was
hard on this poor farm. There was little time for school or
recreation. Death claimed George Washington Murrah in 1920. An
orphan at 15, Alfred Paul found himself with few prospects but
the life of a dirt farmer in rural South of the early 20th
Murrah was not to spend his life trapped in poverty. He
attended his father's funeral and then began "riding the
rails." Family legend says his step-mother gave him forty
dollars to leave. Murrah traveled a great part of the southern
United States in boxcar accommodations. Supporting himself
selling newspapers, washing dishes and selling household items
door-to-door. Stopping in Alabama long enough to take George in
tow, the boys boarded a freight train carrying a piece of
machinery to Oklahoma. Hiding under the machinery, the trip went
smoothly until the early hours when the train arrived in
Oklahoma City. One of the trains crew found the boys and rudely
evicted them. The boys made their way to Verden, visited their
mother's grave and were reunited with their siblings and other
relations. Like his father, Alfred found work at the Half Moon
Murrah read a biography of Abraham Lincoln and joined the
legions of boys who have been inspired by the life of the Great
Emancipator. Murrah decided to return to school. Murrah went to
Tuttle to seek admission to high school. But his first task was
to find a way to earn a living. He approached a family named
McPhail and told them his ambitions. Taking Murrah at face value
they made his aspirations their own. For milking six cows daily,
Murrah received room and board, crucial to his education. The
McPhails also gave him the emotional and psychological support
he needed to prove himself, treating him as if he were kin.
His next task was to gain admission to high school. Which he
did. Murrah secured additional employment when Virginia
Gannaway, owner of the Star Pharmacy who hired him as a soda
jerk. Working various hours morning, noon and evening he studied
between customers and after working hours and still managed to
make the school debate team. One important aspect of Tuttle
community life was politics.
I also found on WorldConnect ANCESTORS
OF ALFRED P. MURRAH [Sep 2007]
Creel, Von Russell American jurist: the
life of Judge Alfred P. Murrah, by Von Russell Creel, Bob
Burke and Kenny A. Franks. Oklahoma Heritage Association/Western
Heritage Books, c1996.
Creel, Von Russell. American Jurist: The Life of Judge
Alfred P. Murrah. 1996. Oklahoma City: Oklahoma Heritage
Daily Oklahoman, The (Online Newspaper Archives) Oklahoma
City, Oklahoma, July 2007.
Federal Judicial Center
July 17, 2007
Sources: fair use as stated above
Contributed by Marti Graham, July 2007. Information
posted for educational purposes for viewers and researchers. The contributor is not
related to nor researching any of the above.
Please understand ALL
information on this site was contributed by people like you. I
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