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Oklahoma Arts CouncilOklahoma Arts Council

Governor William Henry "Alfalfa Bill" Murray

by Leonard D. McMurry

Bronze
Dimensions:
Commissioned by the Oklahoma State Legislature
Dedicated 1982
Second Floor: Hall of Governors

Governor William Henry "Alfalfa Bill" Murray by Leonard D. McMurry

The Artwork

William Henry "Alfalfa Bill" Murray was probably Oklahoma's most colorful political figure. Murray was born November 21, 1869, in Collinsville, Texas. At age 20, he graduated from College Hill Institute in Springtown, Texas. For the next six years he held various jobs, including day laborer, teacher, editor of a Dallas farm magazine, and of a Corsicana daily newspaper. Admitted to the Bar in 1895, he practiced inFort Worth before moving to Tishomingo, Indian Territory in 1898. There he became legal advisor to the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. He was President of the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention in 1906 and Speaker of the House of Representatives, 1907-1908. Murray was a member of the 63rd and 64th United States Congresses and Governor of Oklahoma from January 12, 1931 to January 15, 1935. At his urging, the Legislature created the Oklahoma Tax Commission. His ranching interests spread from Oklahoma to Bolivia, South America, where he established a colony. He wrote articles and books, mostly dealing with constitutional rights. He died on October 15, 1956.

The Artist

Known as Oklahoma's own "Michelangelo," Leonard McMurry was born to a family of prominent cotton farmers in the Texas panhandle. McMurry moved to Oklahoma in 1955 and then lived in Stilwell and Oklahoma City. Under the teachings of sculptors Carl Mose and Ivan Mestrovic, McMurry perfected his craft. His magnificent sculptures of Oklahoma icons can be seen across the state including the '89er statue on Couch Drive in Oklahoma City and the Praying Hands that grace the lawns of Oral Roberts University.

In accordance with Oklahoma's Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1982, McMurry was commissioned to sculpt busts of 21 past Oklahoma Governors. The Hall of Governors exudes Oklahoman's pride in her past legislative guardians. Regarding his works, McMurry states, "Each piece must have a soul, a living quality that's far more important than just physical representation. A piece has to have guts: the strength, power, and dignity, that makes it a monument." McMurry has accomplished that very feat within the grandiose Hall of Governors in which visitors may come face to face with naturalistic representation of Oklahoma leaders.