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Frank and Alzira Murray
During the 1870's and 1880's, enterprising mixed-blood Indians and intermarried whites carved extensive ranches from Indian lands in the Chickasaw Nation. Two of these pioneers - Frank and Alzira Murray - constructed a massive mansion in the center of their empire. The Lindsay Historical society is operating this mansion as a physical legacy of those enterprising men and women.
In the 1850's, young Frank Murray arrived in New Orleans. Although from a prominent family in Ireland, he entered the new land penniless. He drifted for a while, and finally arrived in Indian territory. While on that frontier he met and married Alzira McCaughey-Powell. Alzira was a Choctaw who had been 16 years old when she joined her tribe in Indian Territory. In 1868 she married Captain William Powell. They had a daughter, Anita, born in 1869. Captain Powell died two months later. In 1871, Alzira met and married the ambitious Frank Murray. In 1888, Anita married Lewis Lindsay. The young couple and Anita moved to Pauls Valley on the western edge of the Chickasaw Nation, and from there they relocated in Erin Springs, about two miles south of Lindsay. Situated near the Washita River, their four room cabin was also on the stage line between Caddo and Fort Sill, a busy road which carried freight and passengers from the rail station to the fort. Their nearest neighbors were reportedly 25 miles distant.
As an intermarried citizen of the Choctaw tribe, Murray could legally improve and exploit Indian land. He used this advantage to build a vast ranch and farm. Beginning with a small tract of land, he and Alzira eventually controlled more than 20,000 acres of land, and ran more than 26,000 head of cattle. It also was reported that in one year they raised 400,000 bushels of corn. One cornfield included 8,000 acres and stretched three miles wide and five miles long.
With unlimited access to rich tribal lands and growing markets for beef and produce in the territory, the Murrays prospered. To house their eight children and to reflect their new status, they began work on a large stone house. The principal building material was obtained from a nearby quarry, and the mason was John Coyle, a Scotsman. Lumber was hauled from Gainesville, Texas, and walls and partitions in the downstairs level were eighteen inches thick and solid rock. The original building was a two-story square design, with full basement and attic. A wooden veranda extended across the front facade. When finished, it was the largest and most ornate home in the western Chickasaw Nation, containing 15 rooms, 2 baths and 4 fireplaces.
Business in Indian Territory
Frank and Alzira administered their far-flung operations from their home for the next ten years, but their prosperity waned as the business sank into debt. In 1892, mired in financial collapse, Frank Murray died, leaving his Indian wife to salvage their fortunes. Alzira proved she was ready for the challenge. She reorganized the farm and pared expenses, but just as her economic fortunes were rebounding, unlimited access to Indian land was halted by allotment and tribal dissolution. Despite this setback, she made a transition into non-farm business. She was an organizing officer and major stockholder in the First National Bank of Lindsay, a stockholder in banks in Chickasha and Purcell, and a part-owner of a mill and grain elevator in Pauls Valley. From land and cattle to stocks and bonds, Alzira Murray proved that Indians could adapt to new conditions.
In 1902, Alzira remodeled the old stone house. She removed the front veranda and installed a classic portico with Grecian columns. She added stucco to the brick walls and raised the roof for more sleeping rooms in the attic. The house which emerged from this facelift is the Murray-Lindsay Mansion operated by the Lindsay Historical Society. Representing the role of mixed-bloods and intermarried whites in the economic development of the Indian nations, their house is open for all to see.
This page is for perpetual written accounts of historical events that have occurred in the city. Anyone who feels they have pertinent information may submit it. This includes all people in or out of Lindsay and could involve any interested adults or children with events or items that are of interest. Items may be submitted for publication on this page where they will remain as part of a historical archive for the city. Items of interest may include noteworthy events, special events of historical importance, information about area growth that pertains to the history of the city, and other pertinent notes. We hope to establish a large data base of information about the history of each city. Historical Societies are encouraged to open their own page on Key to the City for more extensive historical information.
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