The Leader; Lexington, Kentucky; February 16, 1896; Page 1 column 4-5

Sketch Caption: ISAAC MURPHY


The Funeral of Isaac Murphy This Afternoon

Will Be One of the Largest In Many Years.

Burial to Take Place With Masonic Ceremonies.

The Pall Bearers, Active and Honorary - The Choral Club - An Editorial in the Courier-Journal On the Career of the Famous Jockey.

All that is mortal of Isaac Murphy will be laid to rest this afternoon in a grave at the colored cemetery. When the grave is closed, and the flowers are banked on the newly made mound, it will mark the ending of the earthly career of one who walked amid temptations from his boyhood days, but who died known by all, an honest man. Isaac Murphy, though a jockey, was for all that , a sterling character. He was one among hundreds - plain, sensible, skillful, and honest almost to a fault.

Nature endowed him with extraordinary knowledge as a horseman. Years of experience ripened this knowledge and when in the noontime of life he was matchless. From the sunny slopes of California to the storm-beaten shores of the pine tree State he was known. Triumphs in the pigskin were his that have fallen to none other.

In the history of the turf there is no brighter page than the one where the deeds of Isaac Murphy are written. He is gone but his memory will be cherished in the years to come by turfmen. His life was one that the turf can always point to with pride.

As a famous Kentucky journalist of other days wrote of Bobby Swim, it may truly be written of Isaac Murphy:

"The orange and green jacket hangs heavy with crape. The soul that once inspired fleet descendants of the barbs of old and thrilled the hearts of men is stilled forever.

"Let us hope in that world to come - in that world where all is golden - where the good, the true, the honest; where the hosts of our good Lord are marshalled that riding in the front will be the little jockey. Say good-bye to him that we knew on earth and cherish the memories of the yester year. Gone but not forgotten."
W. S. W.


The arrangements for the funeral of Isaac Murphy have been completed. The services will be conducted at his late home on East Third street at 3 o'clock this afternoon by Rev. S. P. Young of the First Baptist Church. Prayers will be said and the Lexington Choral Club will sing the funeral songs.

The services at the cemetery will be under the auspices of Lincoln and Sardis Lodges of colored Masons. THe body will be escorted from the house to the cemetery by Bethany Commandery Knights Templar, under command of Captain W. T. Clay and the two lodges above named.

The active pall bearers will be the following well known trainers: Messrs. Scott Williams, John T. Clay, Henry Mack, Lee Christy, Howard Williams, Ed Brown Wm. Walker, H. S. Williams. The honorary pall bearers will be R. F. Bell, John Johnson, Johnson Demus, Frank and William Perkins, George Russell, James Nelson.

The Choral Club, which will sing the funeral songs, will be led by H. A. Tandy. The members of the club are: Sopranoes, Mrs. Mary L. Fletcher, Mrs. Dr. Ballard, Mrs. Jennie Thompson; altos, Mrs. Dr. Robinson, Mrs. H. A. Tandy; tenor, Dr. W. H. Ballard; basso, Henry Hanly and Dr. P. D. Robinson.

A large number of prominent colored turfmen, trainers, and jockeys will be present at the funeral from Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, and other cities.

The floral offerings will be most elaborate, a number of which will be sent by the breeders and turfmen of Lexington. The casket is certainly the handsomest ever used in the burial of a colored man in Kentucky. The funeral will undoubtedly be one of the largest seen in Lexington for many years.


The Courier-Journal makes the death of Isaac Murphy the occasion of a lengthy editorial as follows:

Isaac Murphy

The career of Isaac Murphy, the jockey who died at Lexington this week, was an illustration of the rewards which the world is ready to pay the possessor of extraordinary powers of entertainment. Murphy was a young colored man, of fair intellect, good manners and a civil tongue, but these qualities, though they contributed to his popularity, were not responsible for his celebrity and riches. For several years his annual earnings were four or five times those of a United States Senator, and he was better known than most statesmen. He displayed the same courage, endurance and skill as the horses that he rode, and he was as well treated and admired.

It is not enough to say that equal excellence of performance would have won as substantial emoluments in other lines of endeavor, for with few exceptions it would not have been so. This stable boy was the recipient of the most flattering homage as well as princely remueration. And for what? Because he possesseed an unrivaled judgement of pace and instinctive knowledge of how to inspire that delicately organized and most uncertain of animals, the thoroughbred racer to exert for a few seconds the last vestige of power in his tremendous lungs and muscles.

There was no more exercise of judgement and less of intellect in his riding than Steinitz or Pillsbury show in a chess tournament, but there was a marvelous exhibition of courage, audacity and skill. It as much surpassed the displays of the same qualities which made "King" Kelly such a hero on the diamond as the horse race exceeds a ball game in breathlessness of interest and swiftness of action Kelly, like Murphy, was flattered and paid like a prince, but the rider who ventured life and limb to so much greater an extent was rewarded accordingly. Both were paid in proportion to the pleasure they gave.

It was for exactly this last reason that Pillsbury and Steinitz received only $600 each for a month of brilliant performanances at chess. The wild enthusiasm aroused by a skillful gambit is nothing compared to the thrill of the heart when Murphy brought Modesty first past the post, or "Kel" made the play which retired the nine.

The chess player's ability can be reckoned upon with the same assurance as an investment in Government bonds; the jockey's has the dazzling uncertainty attached to an operation in Wall street. To his work is also added the powerful element of mercenary interest, and in proportion as he made it possible for men to win immense sums in a few minutes his services were naturally the more highly prized. Like the horses he bestrode his performance was an irresistible appeal to the gambling instinct.

There were many horses of wonderful courage and fleetness and they are being bred in larger numbers every year, but great jockeys, who are products of chance and not science, are very rare. Even those who take but a perfunctory interest in the "Sport of Kings" will regret Isaac Murphy's early death.