March 13, 2018
George M. Murrell Home to Reclaim the Name “Hunter’s Home”
PARK HILL, Okla. — The George M. Murrell Home in Park Hill, Okla., is embracing its past and reclaiming its original name: “Hunter’s Home.” Since the State of Oklahoma acquired this historic resource in 1945, the property has been known as the George M. Murrell Home. This name change is restoring a piece of the home’s history. Historical records confirm that family, friends and area residents referred to the property as Hunter’s Home—the name given to the property by George Murrell and his first wife, Minerva Ross. This shift to the name Hunter’s Home coincides with new and exciting things at the site as it transitions into a 1850s Cherokee farm.
The Murrells followed the southern custom of naming their properties. George Murrell was an avid fox hunter, so the name Hunter’s Home was bestowed upon the Park Hill property. The family property in Louisiana was named Tally Ho, and their Virginia property was named Rose Hill.
“We feel that restoring the name the family gave to the home is reconnecting it to an important piece of the past,” said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). “The Murrell family always referred to the home as Hunter’s Home, and the descendants continue to do so.”
According to David Fowler, regional director of museums and sites for the OHS, a plan has been developed to transform the site into a living history farm. “The home was part of a working plantation when the Murrells lived here, and we are working to bring this part of the history to back to life,” Fowler said.
Through research OHS staff members have identified the livestock types and the crops the Murrells raised, and are taking steps to make this part of the interpretation at the site. “Starting later this spring Hunter’s Home will offer a regular schedule of living history programming,” said Fowler. “Please be patient with us as we work to change all the road signs, interpretative signs and web listings to the new name.”
George M. Murrell was born to a prominent family in Lynchburg, Va., in 1808. He moved to the Athens, Tenn., area as a young man to pursue mercantile interests with his brother, Onslow Glenmore Murrell, and future father-in-law, Lewis Ross. There, in 1834, George Murrell met and married Minerva Ross. Minerva was the oldest daughter of Lewis and Fannie (Holt) Ross, members of a wealthy and influential Cherokee family. Lewis was a merchant, planter and national treasurer of the Cherokee Nation. His brother, John, was principal chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 until his death in 1866.
When the Cherokees were forced to leave their homes during the Trail of Tears in 1838–1839, Murrell chose to move with his wife's family to the new nation in the West. In Park Hill, Indian Territory, he established a plantation and built Hunter’s Home. Murrell and his father-in-law also established a mercantile business in Park Hill, later moving it into Tahlequah, the capital of the Cherokee Nation.
Hunter’s Home is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.