18 February 1932
Contributed by Liza Kight
A PAIR OF BILLS
?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."
GOV. MURRAY, NEPHEW OF BRICE JONES (deceased)
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
"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
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
Alice Hearrell Murray
CITIZENS ERECT MONUMENT
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,
(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.)
AFTER WASTED CELEBRATION
BURIED MONUMENT TOKEN OF ESTEEM TOWN ONCE HELD FOR "ALFALFA BILL."
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
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
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."