George Michael Murrell and the Historic Home


George Michael Murrell, son of John Murrell and Elizabeth (Dietrich) Murrell, was a white man, born at Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1808. His father was a prosperous merchant. The family had a store and a cotton and tobacco plantation in Virginia. They later acquired a sugar plantation at Bayou Goula, Louisiana, where they owned a considerable number of slaves.

At the time of the forced removal of the Cherokees from Georgia to the Indian Territory, George Murrell was engaged in the mercantile business in eastern Tennessee in partnership with Lewis Ross, brother of Chief John Ross. Shortly before the removal, he was married to Minerva Ross, the oldest daughter of Lewis Ross. Consequently, he came to the Indian Territory with the Ross family in the fall of 1840.

For the first few years after their arrival, Murrell and his wife lived in a log house a few hundred yards southwest of the present Murrell Home. Then, about 1844 or 1845, he built this better home and furnished it, in part, with the best furniture from-France. Each room was heated by a commodious fireplace. The water supply was a spring at the edge of the grounds. With a bountiful supply of timber nearby, and having plenty of Negro slaves, the heating and water problems were of little consequence.

In 1855, Minerva Murrell passed away. Murrell later married Amanda Melvina, a younger sister of his first wife. There were no children by the first marriage, but four by the second - two boys and two girls.

Murrell was a great lover of the chase, kept a large kennel of fox hounds, and entertained lavishly. His place became known as "Hunter's Home." He kept his smokehouse filled with choice meats and his cellar stocked with excellent wines. Frequently, young military officers from Fort Gibson met the Cherokee belles of the Female Seminary at social functions in the Murrell Home.

Murrell built the first brick store in Tahlequah, which stood just south of the present Liberty State Bank, and was Tahlequah's first postmaster. With slave labor, he cultivated a large acreage of virgin land near Park Hill. He drove back and forth to his business in Tahlequah in his carriage drawn by his "fiery team, of four."

When the Civil War commenced, Murrell went back to Virginia and raised a cavalry troop for the Confederacy, becoming a Major. With the exception of one short visit, he never returned to the Cherokee Nation, but spent his time between the Virginia and Louisiana plantations until his death in 1894. After his death, most of the Murrell furniture was shipped to his home in Virginia.

Under Cherokee law, a property holder was required to reside in the Nation. Hence, at the termination of the Cherokee Government, the Murrell home and grounds were allotted to other members of the Ross family. The property went from one ownership to another until, in 1948, the State of Oklahoma took it over and began restoration under the supervision of the Division of State Parks. Some of the original furniture and belongings were sent back here by surviving members of the family. Also, pieces of the John Ross furniture have been placed here. Friends and societies have contributed representative pieces.

This home, remaining today, is one of the few in the Cherokee Nation that survived the carnage of the Civil War. Thousands of visitors come here each summer, and the number increases from year to year.

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