Grayson County TXGenWeb

"Alfalfa Bill Murray" 
Governor of Oklahoma
More about him
18 February 1932
Contributed by Liza Kight


?I first knew Bill Murray forty-five years ago," tells W. P. Strickland, one of the oldest residents of Collinsville.  "I was in the grocery business in the old town of Collinsville.  One cold morning about sunrise, a boy drove to the store, I asked him what he would have.  He said he wanted a barrel of salt for Brice Jones."  Mr. Strickland told young Murray to back his wagon up to the curb, which he did, and together they loaded the barrel on the wagon.  Mr. Strickland then asked the boy his name and he said, "Bill Murray."  I am working for Brice Jones."  He was clad in a pair of worn and frayed overalls, a pair of heave brogans, and he wore Brice Jones' every day coat for an overcoat."  And this was my first acquaintance with Bill Murray." says Mr. Strickland.  I am proud I know him, and I am proud to know Texas produced such a man."

By Mrs. Belle Rogers

I do not remember Henry, we called him Henry as a boy, for I lived at Tioga until I was thirteen years old, and Henry left Collinsville somewhere between the age of twelve and fourteen years.

My acquaintance with him was after Mr. Jones and I had married and he came to visit in our home.  He was then a young man of some eighteen years.  I remember him as a very bright, ambitious young man.  A young man of whom his Uncle Brice was very proud.  I remember him saying to me, "Bell, I am so proud of Henry.  He is a boy with an ambition that can?t be held back, a natural born orator.  He is going to be a great lawyer and some day, I hope, the President of the United States."  It was during this visit that my friend, Mrs. Lathrop, an old Collinsville resident, recalls a speech which he made there.  She says they were having a picnic, or some kind of a gathering where speeches were made, and one of the speakers of the day failed to appear.  Mr. Jones said that he had a young man out at his house that could speak on the subject.  He went out and brought him in while the crowd gathered and waited.  Mrs. Lathrop says she will never forget how he looked when he walked on the stand and ran his hand through his hair, and she said she thought, "That boy can't make a speech."  But he had only made a beginning when she saw she was wrong.  And when he finished he had made the best speech of the day.  The whole town was proud of the boy who was born there, that could make such a speech and without notice.

"He left our house for the Indian Territory.  He said, "Aunt Belle, I am going up there and marry an Indian."  I told him he must be sure that he loved her and he assured me that he would."

"It was several years later, after Mr. Jones' death and after I had married Bro. Rogers, that an invitation came to his cousin, my step-daughter, Maggie Jones, to visit him in his home since he had married the Indian.  She accepted the invitation and spent two weeks in their home.  She said Henry had married a sweet, refined, highly educated girl.  She was too good to Henry and did everything to make her enjoy her visit, which she did.

I have watched with much interest the progress he has made, and hope that his Uncle Brice's wish for him to be President of the United States may be realized - if he can, and his slogan "Bread, Bacon, Butter and Beans," bring to the people of the United States what they need in this bemuddled time."

Alice Hearrell Murray
Wm.'s Wife


The worthy citizens of Collinsville have erected a monument to their native son, "Alfalfa Bill" Murray, present governor of the state of Oklahoma.  The monument was erected by the citizens of the community with the individuals donating their services toward building this monument.  The materials were donated by other citizens.  Dr. Williams donated the gravel, and Mr. Johnson and others donated the cement.
The monument stands 15 feet high on a base about four feet square, set in two feet of solid concrete.  The square base rises about 2 or 3 feet and from there the upper portion takes the shape of a cone.  The monument is erected on Highway 10, and is dedicated to Collinsville's most prominent citizen, the honorable governor of Oklahoma.
The monument is to be unveiled today when the governor comes here to address the people of Grayson and adjoining counties and officially announce his candicacy for the presidency of these United States.
This will mark the first time that a candidate for the presidence has announced in his birthplace his intentions of running for this office.
The monument was erected by the worthy citizens of this community so that passersby might know that this is the birthplace and former home of the honorable governor.
The marble inset is of the best grade of Indian granit, and comes from Tishimingo,  Okla., at one time home of the governor of that state.  A large photograph of the leading citizens of this community is placed on the west side of the monument.  The photograph bears the likeness of the esteemed fellowman of some of Collinsville's leading citizens, who knew the governor when he lived here.  Directly below the picture will be found the following inscription:
"This Monument Dedicated to William H. Murray, born in Collinsville, 1870
(Alfalfa Bill) by Grayson County Friends 1932

The following citizens donate their services toward building the monument to Governor Murray, that will be dedicated here today.  They are: B.M. Flannery, Bob Walker, Grover Walker, Bryan Walker, Nay Steen, Eber Swindle, J.H. Owens, and Claude Matlock.
(Note: this "monument" was later hauled down and dragged to a lot belonging to the Harbison Auto Co.)

Wm. Murray
abt 1913

by John Frasca
Democrat Staff Writer, 195-

Collinsville - Like a massive up-side-down cake, the once-proud monument to Oklahoma's William "Alfalfa Bill" Murray stands discarded in a vacant lot.
Its shaft is buried in a hole dug by the same men who labored for a week, with affectionare care, to erect this towering token of their esteem.
The jagged concrete base serves as a reminder of the biggest celebration in Collinsville's history - and the wrong the townspeople believes was done by their native son.
It was a day to treasure always, this Feb. 18, 1932, because one of the big men of government - the governor of Oklahoma - was turning to the place of his birth for the biggest political address of his career.
It rained on the eve of the big doings, but the menfolk remained on the square long after dark, putting the finishing touches on the 20-foot monument that was to be unveiled by Alfalfa Bill himself.
And the ladies completed the quilt they had been making all week, for presentation to the famed Oklahoman.
There were teas and receptions galore scheduled for the big day.
W.S. "Scotty" Graham, Collinsville farmer, recalls that he butchered five hogs, six sheep and three cows for part of the barbecue that was to be the biggest in all of Texas.
The Collinsville paper put out a special edition deluxe, filling its front page with a huge photograph of Murray.  There was also a page of poetry, hailing the Collinsville boy who had made good.
The newspaper was jammed tight with congratulatory advertisements from all parts of Texas and Oklahoma.
It was a gret homecoming, and a Whotesboro auto dealer bought a full page advertisement, declaring:
"Congratulations to Collinsville for producing many men of fame."
The bid day dawned and the governor was reported on his way to lunch with the folks of Collinsville.  But wait!  Alfalfa Bill and his party of Texas and Oklahoma politicians stopped to dine in Denison.  
After the speech, the Collinsville residents had figured we'll give him and those other big-wigs a barbecue feast they'll never forget.
Then the bus carrying Alfalfa Bill and his guests swung into view and rolled into Collinsville, amid a tremendous burst of applause from the thousands who braved the biting drizzle.
The platform, situated at the north end of town and only 100 yards from the draped monument, was crowded with men of big names.  The governor was introduced by C.W. (Bill) Easterwood, Jr. of Dallas, who sponsored the first airplace flight from Texas to China.
There was a mighty roar when the governor rose to speak.  He strode to the front of the crude but sturdy platform.  And they shouted and stomped their feet, althoug nobody recalls exactly what he said.  They were all waiting, you see, for the big moment of the unveiling and the festivities that were to follow.
The governoe concluded his speech, waited for the applause to subside, followed the other visiting notables to the bus - and left Collinsville.  (This statement has been refuted by others who were there) as well as the following reporter.
Just like that!
He didn't wait or visit the square to su....the removal of the yards and yards of sheeting from the monument.
There are some who say that he didn't even glance once at the mighty structure built in his honor.
Townspeople are a little vague on the quilt presentation.  Some say the ladies were to give it to the governor at the unveiling (not true - presented on the platform).
Carl Vannoy, a garage man, said he thinks the governor accepted the gifts on the platform.
But there was no barbecue in Collinsville that day and Scotty Graham says that he figures that he lost about $400.00 in his investment.
"Soon as the governor left, everybody else left too", he says.  "I get a little mad when I think of all the meat that went to waste.  I was still trying to give that barbecue away at midnight.  I remember calling out to folks passing the pit and asking them to take some of the meat home with them.  It was a pity to let it go to waste, and those were hard times."
Vannoy defended Alfalfa Bill, however, stating that he heard that the rain gave him a cold.  "Shucks", he said, "I wouldn't expect a dog to stay out in that kind of weather."  But he admitted that the square was jammed with folks waiting for the unveiling.  Nobody remembers exactly who removed the drape from the governor's monument.
And then, little by little, the monument seemed to dwindle in size.  They say somebody knocked chunks off the top.  When it had shrunk to about eight feet in height, somebody got a caterpillar and dragged it off the square.  It was not determined whether they tried to bury the whole monument, or just the shaft.  One fellow said they miscalculated about five feet when they dug the hole.
Opinion is divided on what happened to the three-foot bronze plaque that adorned the monument.  Some say it was swiped by folks over Oklahoma way.  But others claim that it went down the hole with the shaft, so visitors couldn't read the nice things Collinsville had once had to say about Murray."


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