SMITH: Okay I'm going to test the levels here for a minute.


SMITH: I can already tell I am a little high. (pause) Okay, this is Kim Lady Smith and today is July 28th. I'm at the home of Butch Murrell, is that, am I pronouncing that right?

MURRELL: That is correct.

SMITH: Okay. At uh, I guess we're in Midway, Kentucky doing an interview for the horse industry in Kentucky oral history project. And um, Mr. Murrell the way we can get started if you can just tell me your full name and when and where you were born.

MURRELL: Okay. My, my real name is Joseph Murrell but my mom and dad they came up with this Butch and I don't know how but I've been stuck with that for life (laughs).

SMITH: For as long as you can remember?

MURRELL: As long as I can remember (laughs) and so I'm, I'm afraid to use my Joseph because nobody knows me as Joseph.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So Butch is, is how I am known especially throughout the 1:00industry.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So but uh, uh, uh, the horse industry has been really good to me. Uh, I started out when I was about 16.

SMITH: Now when were you born?

MURRELL: Oh. I was born in 1943.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And of course I went to the 9th grade schooling and then I got hard headed and quit school. So my dad said you know you've got to go to work, you can't stay here and just live on me. So I goes to the Bluegrass Heights Farm which was the Dr. Horace Davis and it's on the old Frankfort Pike in 1960. And I, I worked there for, for three years. Uh--

SMITH: What, what did you do?

MURRELL: I was a groom. I was a groom there. And uh,

SMITH: Now had you worked with horses before that?

MURRELL: No that was, that was my first place of working in horses, that was my first place, 1960. And uh, and uh, I, I loved it and I just 2:00wanted to be, wanted to be good at it so I, I worked there for three years and then, then uh, things didn't go to well with me so I thought of looking for better, a better place you know more money. And I was only making 40 dollars a week back then. So but that was a lot of money, 40 dollars a week was a lot of money I mean I had everything I wanted you know. But anyway--

SMITH: Where were you living then?

MURRELL: I was living at home with mom and dad. And then naturally I always shared with my parents you know even that 40 dollar a week I shared but I had everything. I had my own car; gasoline wasn't but about 23 cents a gallon (laughs) at that time.

SMITH: Very different (laughs).

MURRELL: So, so, very different but anyway I did real well there and then after, after in 1963 uh, I left there and went to the, the next farm that faces Bluegrass Heights, it was the King Ranch which belongs 3:00to the Klebergs--

SMITH: --right--

MURRELL: --and so I started there in 1963 and I stayed there for a period of three years. And there--

SMITH: --what did you do there?

MURRELL: I was a groom as well. I worked with a good friend of mine who is deceased now, his name was Scotty Bush and, and uh, he was the stallion man, man there and I worked with him and we also had some great stallions back then. A horse called Beau Max some of the Calumet bloodlines. And also we had the 1950 Kentucky Derby winner, Middleground that was also on our roster back then. That was a great experience uh, I had a chance to see the big ranch in Texas, Kingsville Texas--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --they owned the big million acre ranch in Kingsville. We used to do our weanlings in the fall of the year, we would walk them to the back of the farm to the railroad track and there was box cars on the train that we would load these weanlings up and we would, we would 4:00take them by train to Texas. That was an awesome experience I mean an awesome experience. And uh, uh, I had a chance to go over the ranch, look over the ranch and that was just something that you will never, never forget. Along with the rattle snakes you know (laughs).

SMITH: Had you been out of Kentucky before that?

MURRELL: Uh, vaguely, I hadn't, hadn't been out of Kentucky no, not very much at all. No I had not, not really because we come along in well mean we never was hungry, my dad believe me he always had a roof over our head, we had clothes on our back but it wasn't, it wasn't just, it wasn't feasible back then you know what I'm saying? But anyway, but that was an awesome experience that was. After that I stayed there for three years also I was there I can remember a time during '63 the John F. Kennedy. I was I can remember the spot the ground I was standing on when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

SMITH: Where was that?

MURRELL: Uh, that was uh, at the Kings Ranch right by the office and 5:00I was raking leaves and I can take you today and show you the spot of ground I was standing on when he was assassinated because you know everything just silence on the farm when that, that hit the news.

SMITH: What did you think?

MURRELL: I just, it's, I just didn't know nothing until I really you know seen if for myself you know what I'm saying until it was all over the news and I just didn't believe it you know at that time. It was very shocking, very, very, very shocking. But after uh, uh, that like I said there were several people that I had worked with there, they're deceased and gone on.

SMITH: Now let me take you back for a minute.


SMITH: Going from the, what was the name of the first place you worked?

MURRELL: Bluegrass Heights Farm.

SMITH: Bluegrass Heights Farm, who owned that?

MURRELL: That was a Dr. Horace Davis.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Horace Davis, course he's deceased as well.

SMITH: Now who hired you there?

MURRELL: Uh, I was hired by him, Dr. Horace Davis; he was, he was the one who hired me.

SMITH: Now he knew you didn't have much experience?

MURRELL: Didn't have much experience but I was, he had, as a matter of fact he was the one who taught me how to clean stalls.

SMITH: Okay.


MURRELL: He taught me so, so uh, and then like I say I wanted to be good at it and I wanted to learn, I was, I mean I was just one of those guys that was just, just open minded at all times, watching and, and just loved horses, you know what I'm saying. And uh--

SMITH: --now did you before you got there did you love horses?

MURRELL: I, you know, it, it uh, I worked on when I was out of school prior to then I used to do tobacco. Work, work on tobacco farms, I rode, ride combines, combining wheat and barley. We had done hay, sheep, wool. I done a lot of stuff back you know back prior before horses. So but I worked all my life you know, I've worked all my life you know so I am 65 now and I'm still working (laughs). But it's been good you know what I'm saying, you know I'm saying I thank, thank the good Lord that they gave me the health and strength to, to be where I am today. I mean I consider that a really a blessing, truly a blessing.

SMITH: So when you got to the work there that's when you really 7:00discovered you liked horses?

MURRELL: I discovered I liked horses there, yes. And then like I, as I said, after I, it was an incident that happened there on that farm, Bluegrass Heights Farm that it was time for me to move on. I can tell you what it was, it was that they had me in a 26 stall barn by myself and I done it all my life you know, well the three years I was there, I done it for three years taking care of that barn. Then me and one other guy and this one guy left well they, that left me with these 26 stalls, these 26 mares and I done this for a long time. So I come in one Monday morning and decided, I say, well it is time for me to move on and do something different. So that's when I left and went next door which was the King Ranch. And that was in '63 and then that's when I started there and now, as I told you about what I did over there. There at King Ranch we, we uh, you had an opportunity to do a little bit of everything. You know I done the horses, you go out 8:00and work on maintenance in the summer time. I drove tractors cutting grass. We used to work cattle, the Santa Gertrudis cattle. We used to ride Quarter horses to do all of that you know what I'm saying.

SMITH: Oh really.

MURRELL: Yeah it was kind of a cowboy style and I love horses you know and uh, and uh, that was a lot of fun. It was work but it was a lot of fun.

SMITH: Had you ever ridden horses before?

MURRELL: I really, really hadn't, hadn't ridden horses, no ma'am well I did back, go back to Bluegrass Heights Farm I did do something stupid one time. I got on a Thoroughbred mare, hooked two rope shanks, one on each side of the halter and because when we turned these mares out we had to walk all the way down to the bottom of another field. Open a gate and let them out into another field. Well I said I'm not going to walk down I am going to ride this mare. Well sure enough I gets on this mare and man she takes off running with me and I didn't have no way to control her and that was one of the fastest horse rides I ever been in my life (laughs). So that was one of my first experience of riding a horse and that was a fast ride, believe me.

SMITH: Well it didn't keep you from getting back on though.

MURRELL: It did not keep me because uh, uh, when , like I say when I was 9:00at King Ranch we worked cattle and we had the Quarter horses and you had to, have to work those cattle with on horseback because they were really mean. It was a mean bred, it was a cross between a long horn and a Brahma, which is mean you know what I'm saying. So you have to be with a horse, be with a horse in order to deal with these cows.

SMITH: Is that hard?

MURRELL: Uh, uh, no, no not really. Uh, uh, anything you did, you did on horse back around you know what I'm saying, if you were going to move them from one field to another you have to be on horse back. If you had to walk out, if you had to walk out to, to uh, feed you would be on a tractor and wagon. Something like or otherwise they would chase you, you know. And I have to tell you this story that was real funny. They had a post sign on the back of the farm, says "No Fishing" and there was a big nice pond in the back next to the railroad track. These, these cattle they would absolutely chase you, you know. So the manager at that time he used to ride his horse around to check the cows, you know, check the cows' everyday. Well he seen this, this big herd of cows swarmed around this tree in the back, back of the farm 10:00so he couldn't figure out why they were swarmed around this tree. He goes gets back there with his horse and he looks up and there are two guys up in the tree with their fishing poles (laughs). The cows, the cows had them treed; they couldn't get down (laughs). So, so it was so funny, really comical you know.

SMITH: I don't think I have ever heard of, of cows chasing away--

MURRELL: --they absolutely, those cows you could not absolutely walk with you know, you would have to be on a tractor or, or with a horse. You could, you could walk around as long as you had a horse beside you. They wouldn't bother you but whatever that was so funny though. And then--

SMITH: --so you had to work with, on all kinds?

MURRELL: I done the horses in the winter time, I done the horses in the winter time and then, then in the spring in the year when, when breeding season was over we would go out on and help with maintenance because there wouldn't be much to do with the horses during the summer time you know. That's what you did, that's the way they done it up there. But it actually, it actually was a, was a good place, good place to work you know.

SMITH: It had good horses?


MURRELL: Had, had some really, really good horses up there like I said they had some of the Calumet's bloodlines up there like the Beau Max and the um, they had like the Bimelechs and all those, that's way back, a lot of old bloodlines, they, they had that up there.

SMITH: Did you uh, have a favorite horse while you were working there?

MURRELL: I, actually you know uh, uh, I loved horses so tell, I didn't have no one favorite horse because I just loved horses and, and they all were just, just you know precious to me that's the way it was. I loved the stallions, I worked with the stallions and uh, and uh, I loved the stallions and they had some really good, good stallions. You get a lot of stallions that you know attack and you know mean but we didn't have no, we had six stallions at that time. And they was all just really, I mean they would bite but they would just really, really good, good string a horses to be around. So, so they was easy, easy to like you know.

SMITH: Now who was some of the people you worked with there?

MURRELL: Back then as I said one, one old fellow was named was Scotty Bush, he was, he was a stallion, he was the stallion man. He actually was my boss, I worked with him you know he so I learned from him some 12:00of how to handle the stallions.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: That was because my dad, my dad worked there--

SMITH: --oh--

MURRELL: --my dad worked up there on that farm. He worked there; I had a lot of relatives that worked there. It was kind of a family oriented place. Uh, but everybody is deceased. I've had first cousins, several first cousins, you know, uh, like I said my dad, my uncle so it was just kind of a big family oriented place up there so.

SMITH: So is that what your dad did for a living?

MURRELL: He, he actually, he actually uh, was a steel worker pri-, prior to coming to horses. And he done that for years, used to travel around and, and you know how you do people do these awnings on high homes and things, the railings and things he, he was, that's what his, that's what he did.

SMITH: What was your dad's name?

MURRELL: His name was Joseph Murrell as well. I'm Jr. and his name was Joseph Sr.

SMITH: Did you have brothers and sisters?

MURRELL: No brothers, I had, well I had one brother but he died when I was like two years old or something, I don't remember him. And then I got, I had six sisters, I got uh, that's three, four girls living. Two 13:00of them are deceased; two of my sisters are deceased. And we all our, we were rear, reared up close together and Sunday school that's the way my dad rear, reared us you know.

SMITH: Where did you live?

MURRELL: Out, a little place called Zion Hill, it's just, do you know where Zion Hill is?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: Yeah that's where we, I was just an old country boy you know and that's the way I am going to die in the country it looks like (laughs).

SMITH: Sounds like it, not too far from where you, where you were raised.

MURRELL: Not too far, not too far, I was actually born right up here; do you know where Pisgah Pike is?

SMITH: Um hum.

MURRELL: I was born right there on Pisgah Pike.

SMITH: Really?

MURRELL: That is where I was born, yes ma'am. So in 1943 that is where I was born at so I really had a good life, like I said we didn't have the inside toilets back then. We didn't have TV's you know I'm saying we would go in and lay down on the floor and listen to the radio and things, we was happy. (laughs) When we got out of school.

SMITH: That was in the 50's?

MURRELL: That was back in the 50's yes.

SMITH: 40's and 50's?

MURRELL: Yes, yes, yes you go and lay down, we I mean we, we as soon as we got out of school we would run on and listen to those stories on the radio you know.

SMITH: Now did you mom work anywhere?

MURRELL: Mom done house work, she worked for some uh, uh, private, 14:00private uh, private homes (phone ringing in the back ground).

SMITH: Let me get that.


[Pause in recording.]

SMITH: Okay I think we are back on.


SMITH: Now you said at the King Ranch that your dad worked there?

MURRELL: He did my dad.

SMITH: Uncle?

MURRELL: My dad worked there, my uh, my uh, uncle by marriage, he married my mother's sister and he worked there. I had 1, 2, had 2, 2 first cousins that worked there, I had a nephew that worked there, a lot of friends, a lot, a lot, a lot of friends you know. Even relatives on my wife's side that worked there as well.

SMITH: Was that common around the farms?

MURRELL: Yes, that was, that was, that was very common. Back then it was basically wasn't nothing but black people that worked back then, you know. But the horses up there at King Ranch that's all he would hire was just black people.

SMITH: Really?

MURRELL: Yes, back then. And uh.

SMITH: Why would that have been?

MURRELL: Well, I, I heard some stories when I came over the reason why 15:00he didn't want the white people working there because he had a young daughter (laughs).

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: I mean this is what I heard, that's what I was told was that he had, you know her name was Sally. Sally Kitchen was, was her name and as she grewed up and he just, he just figured that the, that the white guy would be after his daughter (laughs). So he didn't hire none, that just and it was, but it was only black people that he, that he hired to, to work with the horses. And uh, we had, we had a lot of fun, you could tell jokes on each other, nobody and didn't worry about fighting you know because everybody was the same culture, you know what I'm saying? So--

SMITH: Yeah. Then there was still a lot of African Americans working farms?

MURRELL: All over.

SMITH: All around, it was kinda the tradition that people were brought up in?

MURRELL: Yeah, yes, yes.

SMITH: So did you feel like that you had good horsemen in this?

MURRELL: It was definitely good horseman. Uh, uh, I know some, some several people that are dead and gone that were really good horseman. 16:00Uh, but I think uh, as the generation died out, blacks, as they died out the younger generation grows up they don't want to work. A lot of them, I think, I know I'm right, they don't want to work, they choose to, to go out and hit the streets to try to make a life.

SMITH: Well, working with horses is hard work.

MURRELL: Its hard work but that's what I'm saying but that I mean I'm saying if people at this day and time, they don't, they don't, don't want to make an honest living, you know what I'm saying? That's why the drug rates and things are so high. The jails are full for that reason. I mean that's the truth, that's just the truth, that's the bottom line. It's just, just it's got nothing with you being black, but that's just the way it is.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And then the other thing is two is we gotten parents and things have gotten away from the old golden rules--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --and that's, that's, that leads right out to them, that what happened, you know. Because I was brought up doing to others as you have others doing to you and I try to treat people the way I want to 17:00be treated. I can go way back further than that you asked me about, about being black. I mean that's fine I can remember when I will tell you about when I worked on the farm doing tobacco and doing combining you know farm work. Well the guy I worked for back then his name was Charlie Adams. And I can remember right up on Versailles Road on Langley Avenue, there used to be warehouses up there. And when we would combine this wheat and barley and stuff. We had to take it to the warehouse and dump it on the floor to dry it out and we had to go up there and, and turn it, see, you know, with shovels. You turn it and then there was a restaurant called Bluegrass something, it used to be right across the street there. There used to be a restaurant there and uh, this was before they integrated. And I can remember as well when he would say lets go get some lunch, so he would go in the front door and he would go in and sit down and I would go around the back and walk up, up the alley on a rock road and they'd hand me my sandwich out the window. And I went back across the street and sit down and eat but hey that, that doesn't, didn't scar me at all because I love 18:00people regardless. You know what I'm saying? Yeah uh, because first of all you know I've got God in my heart and you can't hate people. Regardless of what people do to you, you know what I'm saying? So, that's just the way I am and uh, and uh, you know, I love you (laughs).

SMITH: I got to make sure that stays on the tape.

MURRELL: Yeah (laughs). But uh, but uh--

SMITH: --so in those early years in the 60's when you were working with horses--

MURRELL: --sure--

SMITH: --did anybody ever treat you differently because you were black?

MURRELL: You know I really, if they did you really didn't know it. You know what I'm saying because you just felt like that was a part of your job what you did. And you have to do it as a Christian, you know you can't hate regardless. You can't hate so I know I'm right about it (laughs). If you got God and God is love you can't help but to love your, your brother, you have too. Yes you can't, I thank God that I am that away you know what I am saying because I'm, I'm a true Christian 19:00and God has really done things for me that you wouldn't believe. I could tell you some stories of what the Lord has done for me. Would you like to hear some of that?

SMITH: Sure.

MURRELL: I, I need to mention God because you know that's, you know I need to mention Him--

SMITH: --yeah. That's good. That's right--

MURRELL: --that's, that's my life. Let me just tell you this little story and then we can go back.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: But I was driving my little black truck on Old Frankfort Pike and you know, you know He made, He made a way for us there on the other side right, God did but He could do it for us right here now while we are here in this body. When I was going on Old Frankfort Pike, you know where the Headley Museum is?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: I was in my little black truck no seat belt on and running 55 miles per hour, the speed limit. And I, this one lady was, this one lady was sitting over the hill with a flat tire and another guy had stopped in my lane over the hill in my lane, and talking to this lady. And I jumped the hill running 55 miles per hour, no seat belt on and no where to go. So I hit, I locked my truck up and let me 20:00tell you what the Lord did. My little truck, there was a bank, bank like this, I could feel my truck when it absolutely lifted you know, you know when, when somebody lifts you, that's what I felt. And I went up around the bank (laughs) and come around this car and no harm done. And, and I mean, but, but if you, if you could, if you could experience that lift--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --that's what, that will, that will I have to tell it, I have to tell it and when I go by part, that spot up there I'm always reminded that He, He took care of me. So I have, I have to, I have to mention God, I have to you know what I'm saying (laughs).

SMITH: Yeah, an important part of your life.

MURRELL: Oh yeah, that's what I mean, no, no doubt about it because you know we have to prepare here for over there.

SMITH: Have you always been religious? ----------(??)

MURRELL: I, I was, my dad was a deacon in, in the church and my family, they all made, made the records so we've been, my family was, they 21:00have just been gifted. I've got nephews right now that's a musical minister, minister of music at our church now.

SMITH: Oh, okay.

MURRELL: I got daughters that sings, I, I was just, my sisters they deceased, they all played music, they all sung.

SMITH: Did you sing?

MURRELL: Sure! (laughs) I, uh, uh, my brother-in-laws that all married my sisters; they all were preachers and deacons, so God has really specialized on our family.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: You see, it's, and that's very special really. (laughs)

SMITH: Yeah, yeah it sounds like it.

MURRELL: Yes ma'am. But now, now that I've told you about Him (laughs) we can, we can continue.

SMITH: Get back to the horses.

MURRELL: Get back to the horses.

SMITH: Okay. So, how long where you at King Ranch?

MURRELL: I was there, started in '63 and left at the end of '66, at the end of '66. Uh, yeah because I started at Big Sink in '66 as well.

SMITH: Why did you leave?

MURRELL: Um, actually a friend of mine, his name was Arthur Clark and he was working at Big Sink back then and uh, he called me and he said uh, 22:00he said uh, I've got a spot for you down here like that and back then they were paying cash. He said, he said uh, and they pay 70 dollars a week. (laughs). I mean that was top money. 70 dollar a week, they paid you cash back then.

SMITH: What did you get at King Ranch?

MURRELL: King Ranch was I think it was about, it was less than that (laughs). It was definitely less than that and it, it was tough to make it because they didn't pay but every two weeks you know.

SMITH: Oh, at King Ranch?

MURRELL: At King Ranch they used to pay every two weeks and then you would borrow money. You would borrow money trying to wait for your check and then when you get your check you owed it all out. So you start right back on borrowing again, you know what I'm saying (laughs).

SMITH: Now when you were at King Ranch were you still living at home?

MURRELL: Yeah, yes I was, I was, yes, yes I was still living at home then finally I, I got to a point where I thought I was grown and me and my dad fell out. So I said okay I, I'll leave so I moved to Lexington and started living with this girl and blah blah one things you know 23:00what I'm saying you know one thing leads to another. But that's kind, that's kind of how that story was you know. So when I, when I got to Big Sink in '66 it was, it was a small place, it was just, just a small.

SMITH: Was it just starting?

MURRELL: It was just, just; actually it hadn't been started that long. Working for the Benjamin's and I think I worked for them a total of 17 years before they, they sold the farm. And I went along with the farm. I was always sold with the farm (laughs). The Firestones--

SMITH: --okay--

MURRELL: --did you ever hear of the Firestones?

SMITH: Yes I have.

MURRELL: They were the owner of Genuine Risk filly--

SMITH: --yes--

MURRELL: --the 1980 I think she win in 1980 I believe it was. Genuine Risk in 1980 wins the Derby.

SMITH: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I was there I remember the Derby--

MURRELL: --yeah okay (laughs). So it was them, they bought Big Sink and they kept it for 5 years and then they sell. And then the Japanese buy it (laughs).

SMITH: Really.

MURRELL: So oh this when uh, this is when uh, Fanfreluche shows up in 24:00the picture, the mare Fanfreluche--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --that's when she shows up in the picture. I think I stayed with them for about 7 or 8 years or something like that so they.

SMITH: You know, do you remember their names?

MURRELL: Yoshida, Yoshida I believe or something like that, Yoshida.

SMITH: Okay I'll look that up.

MURRELL: Yeah and then the Firestones they owned it and then the Benjamin's was the three owners that I worked for at Big Sink.

SMITH: Okay how long where they there, the Japanese, Yoshida?

MURRELL: The Japanese, the Yoshida had it for about I think I was with them for about 7 years before they, before they done like a financial turnover. What they did was, they, they leased the farm to Three Chimneys okay in 90, I think in 93 or somewhere like that. Anyway they leased the, they leased the farm to Three Chimneys for one year okay. 25:00Then what they did that that gave us a job when they leased it with Three Chimneys. Three Chimneys took over Big Sink for one year. So we were working for Three Chimneys which was in 94, okay?

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: In '94 so Three Chimneys at the end of that year, they gave it back to Big Sink. Are you following me so far?

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.

MURRELL: Then after about, of course, Three Chimneys was always wanting to buy Big Sink but they would always say, not for sale, not for sale, not for sale. So anyway after a total of 8 years I moved off the farm and lived in my own personal house. We was gone for 8 years and Three Chimneys buys Big Sink. So Mr. Clay and them they asked me if I would like to move back on the farm, that's when they have moved, they had torn down the old house we used to live on down there. And they had built this house down there but they moved the house to this spot.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: (laughs) So this house was moved here to this spot right here. (laughs).

SMITH: So when was this? When did you?

MURRELL: This would be in, lets see, this house was moved in uh, we've 26:00been here about 4 years. It ain't been but about, about 4 years ago, about 4 years ago.

SMITH: That's when?

MURRELL: That's when, that's when, that's when this house was moved ----------(??) but I've been working with Chimney, with Three Chimney's since 94.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: '94 is when we actually started working for them. But I was living in my own house; you know between the times, that yes, I was living at my personal house until they bought the farm.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And then they asked me would if I would love to move back and my wife said yes I would like to go back on the farm so we came back to this house here.

SMITH: And how, if I understand this right, so this house is owned by Three Chimneys?

MURRELL: Yes, yes it is.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: This is all Three Chimney's property here. This is what you call a tenant house you know.

SMITH: Okay lets. I'll take you back to um, the Benjamin's, coming here and that would have been in 66?

MURRELL: 66 yes ma'am.

SMITH: And had, had you ever worked where beside the farm, have you ever worked at a track, or did you always farms?


MURRELL: Never, only worked, actually the three farms is actually all I worked, worked for and then these many since 1960, the three farms and all three right on Old Frankfort Pike.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Yes ma'am and I started at Bluegrass Heights Farm that was the first one in 1960, stayed there three years. King Ranch was next door--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --they were facing each other in 1963 and I stayed there three years. Then I come own down the road to Big Sink in 66 and this is where I've been at.

SMITH: What were you, what was your job, what were you hired to do at Big Sink?

MURRELL: I was a groom as well, just totally a groom, groom yes I have been groom all these years.

SMITH: Now when people they were a groom, it sounds like you do a little bit of everything.

MURRELL: Well uh, uh, uh, a groom is that you take care of horses. That's what, that's what a groom is and then when you say groom, it means you, it means you clean the stall, you know you give him water and you feed him. Uh, uh, you know, you see after your horses, you know what I'm saying?

SMITH: Now you're assigned specific horses?

MURRELL: Sometimes you are but back then you, no, no back you just take; 28:00I mean you take care a fleet of horses. It wasn't, wasn't no specific horse, you know what I'm saying because if you got 18 mares in a barn and you got a partner and you two, you two take care of the 18. It, it's not like he takes care of 9 and I take care of 9, it wasn't like that (laughs).

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: You, you follow me? So that's kind, that's kind, that's kind of the way it was.

SMITH: Now how many people were working here then?

MURRELL: Back then it couldn't have been no more than, at the most was 7 people.

SMITH: For how many horses did you start out with when you came?

MURRELL: They, they, they started out, but let me see I think it was no more than 30 head of horses about all they had back then when I started out, when I first started out but they kept growing and building more.

SMITH: Did they have mares?

MURRELL: Mares and yearlings is all they, is all they ever had. No stallions at Big Sink, they weren't equipped for stallions. They always just sent all the mares off, off to be bred. Claiborne Farm, Spendthrifts and all those kinds of things and I used to be uh, used to 29:00be the guy that would ride in the vans and go around from farm to farm and bring the report back on how the mares, if they got a good cover or how many times the stallion had to mount the mare before he, before he served the mare you know. That was my job back then so I, I got a lot, a lot of sight seeing--

SMITH: --that's right--

MURRELL: --you know, around a lot of farms you know. The Brookside's and the Claiborne Farm, Spendthrift, the Gaines-, Gainesway and Gainsborough's and all the farms that, you know.

SMITH: So he was breeding to some pretty good horses?

MURRELL: Some pretty good horses yes ma'am. Do you remember the horse called Theatrical?

SMITH: No I don't.

MURRELL: You didn't, you remember, that was Allen Par-, you remember Allen Parsons, did you ever hear of him?

SMITH: Oh yeah. Yeah.

MURRELL: He had ----------(??) Brookside Farm.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Yeah well I used to take mares to him. Like I said, the Hancock's at Claiborne, all those, all those kind of places, yes ma'am.

SMITH: Now did the Benjamin's race horses?

MURRELL: They, they had a uh, they did race horses, they had what they called uh, the name of the racing stables was Pinewood Stable. And uh, 30:00we, out of that, we raised some champions here, we had some champions. Uh, had a filly called, that was raised, bred and raised right here on Big Sink. Her name was, she was out of a mare called the Witherite.

SMITH: Witherite?

MURRELL: Witherite, yes.

SMITH: Witherite.

MURRELL: As a matter of fact I think, I think I got some, got some stuff in here about Weather Right I believe. I had some, somewhere but anyway out of that family there was a filly called Chou Croute.

SMITH: How do you spell that?

MURRELL: It's just like sauerkraut in French, in French. It's spelled, Chou Croute is how it was.

SMITH: Oh okay.

MURRELL: Anyway she wound up, wound up being a champion and we; we really, really had some, had some good horses back then. Like I said we had uh, had the dam of Theatrical here, we had here at this farm. We had Genuine Risk, Fanfreluche; I am trying to think of there's couple.


SMITH: You raised Genuine Risk at Big Sink?

MURRELL: Genuine Risk was not raised, she was, she was bought out of a, out of a sale, purchased out of a sale but she was boarded by, being owned by the Firestones, she was, lived here at Big Sink you know when Firestone owned the farm. So she was bred here.

SMITH: Oh okay.

MURRELL: Yeah. When I said bred, I mean that she was, you know, was, was uh, was being teased and taken to the breeding shed--

SMITH: --she was being bred.

MURRELL: Yeah, she was being bred is what it was. But she wasn't foaled and bred and foaled here, yeah no ma'am.

SMITH: Okay now she was, did have a hard time breeding.

MURRELL: She had a problem, I think she only had maybe I think she didn't have but one or two, I think she had maybe one of two live foals is all she had and everything else was just a problem. It, it was a problem.

SMITH: Was she a good horse?

MURRELL: She uh, she win the Kentucky Derby (laughs).

SMITH: Yeah I know, I mean was she a good horse to take care of?

MURRELL: Oh yeah, yeah, oh yeah she was, she was very, very nice, even temper, nice, mild tempered mare; you know so you, you could lay in the stall and go to sleep with her if you wanted to so. She was, was no 32:00problem to take care of at all. I'm trying to think back, some of the other good horses that I said we had the, had the, had a yearling that I took through the sales by Alleged. That used to stand at the uh, Walmac Farm.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: This, this was, he was a pretty tough horse. But this, this guy was out of this mare, Bold Bikini. And, and his name, he wound up naming him Law Society, he is, he's a stallion in, over in Ireland now I think it is if he's not deceased. Wound up being a mean horse really. His dad was mean. And he wound up taking after, after his dad. But that was, that was an exciting time. Actually he was out of that mare Bold Bikini I was just showing right there, he was out of that mare right there.

SMITH: Bold Bikini.

MURRELL: And I never forget the price. He brought two million and seven hundred thousand (laughs). That, that was a lot of money I was really proud to be standing in the, in the uh, in the uh sales, sales ring--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --and looking at the numbers up on the tote board going up you know. And the people bidding you know.

SMITH: And this was a horse you took care of?


MURRELL: This is the horse I took care of and also we had, we had, you ever hear of, you remember Secretariats daddy? Bold Ruler?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: I took care of yearlings by him. Some of the horses at Spendthrift, Never Bend, those kind of horses. Raise a Native all those good horses that we've had, I took care of you know, took care of the yearlings and things, offspring. (coughs) Blushing Grooms, you know so, I, I took care of, had my hand on some of, some of the best (laughs). Yes.

SMITH: Now in that batch did you have any favorites?

MURRELL: Uh, like I said then, you know, you know whenever I took care of horses they all was, even if you had a horse that didn't bring but two hundred dollars, I, I, he was just as important as, as a, as a hundred thousand horse to me. That's just the way I; just way I am, about horses you know what I'm saying? I was trying to go back; there's another story about Mr. Benjamin at the July sales years ago. There was a, I had a filly was by, I'm trying to think, she was by, was 34:00she by Northern Dancer? I can't remember for sure but anyway she was out of this mare called Ran Tan that I was telling you about. Which was a, was a heck of a, a broodmare and this filly was about, about, they was about to drop the hammer and she got up to two hundred and twenty thousand. And Mr. Benjamin was sitting out in the audience, out there you know watching them bid and uh, when they got ready, got ready to, the auctioneer got ready to drop the hammer, Mr. Benjamin stood up, stopped everybody so the auctioneer said "Sit Down, E.V.!" (laughs). He said, "I've got something to tell ya'll, ya'll didn't announce." They said "What?" Said, "The dam of this filly is in foal to Secretariat." Well they go back and bid again and the filly goes on up to another thirty thousand dollars (laughs). So the newspaper had a speech out the next day E.V., E.V. Benjamin at the Keeneland July sales stands up and makes a thirty thousand dollar speech (laughs) so, so it was very funny. (laughs).


SMITH: Tell me about Mr. Benjamin, what was he like? Was he--

MURRELL: --Mr. Benjamin was a, was a real gentleman. He, he cared about people. He wanted you to do well because he, he'd even call, he used to call me and say you want to make some extra money, you know stay here paint the barns or you can cut grass, you can mow. He was really a good, he was a good, good uh, you just couldn't bet him, you know what I'm saying. He understood people with family problems. When I first married, first thing he done as a wedding gift, he bought me and my wife a full house of furniture. Everything, he, he furnished it.

SMITH: Whoa.

MURRELL: So, so he was really, he was, he and I, he was, I mean I worked hard for him though. I was, I was very dependable, loyal. I worked everyday you know. I can't remember a time that I actually missed work in all the years you know. Never late. Maybe one time I can remember being late for work in almost 50 years.

SMITH: Where there a lot of other employees, not quite like you I guess who were there for the whole time or where you one of the few?


MURRELL: There were some, some other employees, but uh, like I said and he treated them as, as, as well as they did me but I seemed like I might have had the, I lived on the farm and I probably had the inside, inside track just a little bit more because the, the misses, the madams, Mr. Benjamin's wife, well we raised a garden together and I always took care of the garden and she would always--

SMITH: --okay--

MURRELL: --write and make a list and say this is what I want in the garden. And I'd just get whatever I want, saying I was just, there wasn't a limit to what I could do. You know I'd say Mr. Benjamin I need a rotor tiller and he say go get it (laughs). So I was, I was, we were just that' a way. Just that' a way. Yes.

SMITH: Now did you, did you stay pretty much a groom or did you do different things at the barn?

MURRELL: Actually I, I, I still was a groom as I say even though I was always, I was in an elitist position all the time because, because I was just here on the farm. When the manager would go on vacation or something I'd, I, I'd have the telephone and I would be in charge of the whole farm you know while he was gone. So just kind in a elitist, elitist role all the year.


SMITH: You weren't really officially an assistant farm manager but you were?

MURRELL: But, but there wasn't, right I wasn't, exactly right basically that, that was the way, that's the way you could say it, wasn't, wasn't a assistant but that's the way the classified as assistant. It wasn't in words you know what I'm saying.

SMITH: Yeah. Right.

MURRELL: Because when they leave I, I was in charge, you know.

SMITH: Did that mean more money?

MURRELL: No, just more work (laughs). More work but I, I, I always was uh, you know, I was always, done my job, job proudly. Uh, always was a hard worker, you know what I'm saying, try and was taught to do it the right way. And I can remember, the kids, my kids today they always say daddy how much we appreciate you because they see me, the days we had the blizzards that I lived on the farm. The outside workers that did not live on the farm, they couldn't get to work and all these horses were locked up in these barns and they had, had to be watered and feed and hay. Well I would walk because you couldn't drive. I had to walk out in the blizzards. And had to pack hay and stuff to these horses in 38:00these barns and things I done that. Come in with ice on my face. You know what I'm saying so, so uh. I've not had it easy believe me. I've worked hard and I, I worked hard but I'm, I'm thankful for you see, I'm healthy, I'm still pretty strong (laughs).

SMITH: That's right. That's right.


SMITH: So did the Benjamin's, it sounds like they had a pretty successful operation.

MURRELL: They had a real good operation. The, the, the, the business back then, it was just more of a hobby. Because--

SMITH: --yeah, what was his background?

MURRELL: He was uh, I think he come, they said he come like dealt in salt mines.

SMITH: Did I hear he was from New Orleans?

MURRELL: He is from New Orleans, yeah. And he they had, of course they were in the oil business too you know.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And, but this, this was just a hobby back then you know it wasn't the money you know it wasn't uh, they wasn't in it just for the money. I mean, they naturally had to make money but, but it wasn't, it wasn't, they, they, their bread and butter you know what I'm saying.

SMITH: Yeah but it was, but they did make money on the farm?

MURRELL: They did make money because like as I said, they, they could, they could pay ten thousand, thirteen thousand dollars for a mare and 39:00turn around and sell a thirty thousand dollar yearling out of it you know that same year (laughs). You know, so, sell an offspring I, I said a yearling but, they, they could turn around and make money you know what I'm saying? That's just the way it goes.

SMITH: Did they own most of the mares that were on the farm?

MURRELL: They actually boarded, they boarded.

SMITH: Boarded. Okay.

MURRELL: Yes and Mr. Benjamin, you, you know Will Farish, right?


MURRELL: Before Lanes End started up. Before there was a Lanes End. Will Farish kept all his mares here at Big Sink all those years.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And that's one of the reason's why we, we had such a good bred, bred horse because Will had some of the best you know, some of the best and this of course helped build Big Sink up you know with all that good bloodline and stuff there. And actually, actually it was, it was that, that two million seven hundred thousand was actually come out of one of Will's, Will's mares, that was Will Farish's what it was.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: But these horses, these horses just happened to be housing at Big Sink see.

SMITH: Right.

MURRELL: So that, that's the reason I had my hands on it.

SMITH: With the sales did he, did he sell the horses, did he consign 40:00the horses?

MURRELL: Yeah they sold, they consign under Big Sink.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: They were consigned under Big Sink. You know if you had a fifteen, seventeen, seventeen head of horses in the September sale that was a big consignment back then. And I can.

SMITH: In the 70's?


SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And I can remember during that time we had, they used to have the July select sale and out of the July select, the September sale and the November sale that one year we, I can remember we sold nineteen million dollars worth of horses (laughs). So it, it was, it was some good bloodline you know what I'm saying. So that's, that's--

SMITH: --absolutely.

MURRELL: Yes ma'am. That's, that's a lot of good stuff that the, that uh, that come through Big Sink so some good times, some good days. A lot of interesting people.

SMITH: It must have been pretty good to work around such great horses.

MURRELL: It, it really was. I, like I said, I've had my hand on some of the best and we had that, that baby right there, that, that one I 41:00showed you. That Secretariat baby, uh, he was advertised, advertised so heavy they had the Sports Illustrated come out on the farm back then to film, film this guy you know for advertisement.

SMITH: Was he the first?

MURRELL: Yes he was the first. One of the first babies. And they had him advertised so heavy that, that when he got to the auction, people was afraid to bid on him because they figured they couldn't afford him you know. And they actually had, that's why I was the handler, you see me in that newspaper?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: I was the handler back then and they would only show this horse by appointments. You know like every two hours, I'd bring him out and the people would gather around (laughs). The people would look, look and look and so they had guards around the stall, I mean he had guards and everything. I mean these guys had shot guns.

SMITH: Who owned that horse?

MURRELL: Mr. Benjamin and Warner Jones who you talking about.

SMITH: Oh Warner Jones. Okay.

MURRELL: Warner Jones. Those were the two. And when time, when for him to go through the ring, those was the, those was the only two 42:00that, that bid on him was him (laughs) because nobody, you know they figured, you know they figured they couldn't buy him. So he brought, the horse sold for two hundred and, and fifty thousand that's what it was back then and that was set a record for highest price weanling at the Keeneland November sale at that time that was a record.

SMITH: And who bought him?

MURRELL: It was the, the Jones, Warner Jones--

SMITH: --Warner Jones--

MURRELL: --and him, Warner Jones yes, they, they bought him. Yeah they was the one (laughs). Then I think they dissolved the partnership you know deal?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And then he was sold there but he brought two hundred and fifty thousand back then and they say that that was the highest price. It was him, it was him, let's see who else was it, that was, yeah it was him and I thinking there was another one, another one that, that sold for two hundred thousand at that time. But anyway he was the highest price that year. He, he was highest price so I, but I was, I was very, you can see I was very proud.

SMITH: Tell me about the sales. Sounds like you spent a lot of time at the sales.

MURRELL: I done the sales for approximately twenty-five years. Every 43:00sale, every sale.

SMITH: When you say you done the sales, what does that mean?

MURRELL: Well that means, that means, that means that I prep horses here on the farm, work with them, walking horses, grooming horses. Then you go to the sales, to the auction and then do, show the horses and then do the stuff up there you know for the sales. And it, that is hard work because that's, I mean you there early, you there, you were there until late. And you would be on your feet all day long; I mean I would be just dead beat when I get home. Sometimes it would be 7 o'clock at night, sometime I, I been out to midnight at those sales. Uh, you remember, uh, Eugene Kline? D. Wayne Lukas and all them?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: Well when, when D. Wayne trained a filly called Lady's Secret, do you remember that filly?

SMITH: Huh-huh I remember the name.

MURRELL: You remember that name, well she was, I was at the Fasig-Tipton sale. One night I was over there and they had what they called a night of the star sale. And the Lady's Secret was one of them and I never 44:00forget it, I had, I had a horse that had to sale because they go by section you know. And you couldn't go home until, until your, your number come around you know you had to be there to take your horse through. Anyway, it was 12 o'clock by the time that my horse sold at midnight and I had been there you know since 6 o'clock that morning (laughs). So that's why I say you, you worked a lot of hours and then after, after I done that then I had to be at Keeneland at the next morning at 6 o'clock to work with the sale horse. So I always had me a weeks vacation scheduled at the end of the sales when I got done, take off because I would just be dead beat. But I done that, done that for at least 25 years working those sales, every sale. And then when Three Chimneys took over Big Sink, Dan Rosenberg come and asked me says I want you to do me a favor, I say what is that Dan. He said I would like you go to Saratoga to the sales (laughs). I had never been to Saratoga. I said Dan, thank you for the offer but I said let these young people go, I've got enough sales (laughs).


SMITH: So you didn't go?

MURRELL: I did not go, no. I got, I got enough of the sale believe me. You do it for 25 years you, you can get burned out believe me.

SMITH: I can imagine.

MURRELL: You can, I mean.

SMITH: You were doing it some, during some of the times when they got some pretty amazing sales.

MURRELL: Yes I was there, like I say I was there when they, when they had some real, real, real big numbers you know what I'm saying. Also I was there when it was, who was it Warner Jones? Yeah I think it was Warner Jones and I can't remember who else it was but they sold the record, the record yearling--

SMITH: --yeah, yeah--

MURRELL: --at Keeneland. Thirteen million and I think that, I think that record still stands I believe for a yearling.

SMITH: At Keeneland, yeah, I think wasn't The Green Monkey?

MURRELL: It was something, something may went, and did something go fifteen?

SMITH: Something, something I thought The Green Monkey sold for something higher than that in Florida at a Fasig-Tipton.

MURRELL: I thought I heard a number that, that that, beat that but Keeneland I think that is still the record, thirteen million.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.

MURRELL: They've had ten million you know at Keeneland. Mares and things.


SMITH: Amazing.

MURRELL: Yes. We had a, what was it, uh, oh boy I can't think here, just recently we sold a, a mare, I 'm trying to think what it was, oh boy but anyway like seven million dollars for a mare and a baby here just (laughs) for the mare and the baby and I'm trying to think who it was. Her name, oh, my memory doesn't serve me right now, sorry.

SMITH: That's okay. That's okay it will come to you.


SMITH: When you are not thinking about it. The uh, lets take you back to when you started at, you were with the Benjamin's, where you there 17 years?

MURRELL: Yeah, 17 years, yeah, with them 17 years before they sold the farm, yes ma'am. 17 years.

SMITH: So it was from '66 to about 1980?

MURRELL: Yeah, yeah something like that yes, yes.

SMITH: Okay.


MURRELL: Then, then.

SMITH: Did the farm grow over the years or did it stay pretty stable?

MURRELL: It uh, it, it, it gradually, it uh, let me think a minute, I'm thinking let me see when I first came in '66 they had approximately, what was it, I'm thinking it was around 2, no it was around 300 something acres I think it was when I come here because it, it was, the farm was in two sections. And then, then Big Sink finally, they, they purchased that, that extra, extra so it was, it was, it was like one, two, let me see, one, two, three, it was about six or seven barns, barns on the farm when I came in 1966. Six or seven barns and it didn't grow no more than that.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: All the time Benjamin had it.

SMITH: He was content?

MURRELL: He was content with that yes. Yes he was content and like I said it, it, it, we could handle, we handled little less than 100 head of horses back then, you know. Back, back then, with everything, with 48:00everything yes, yes.

SMITH: Okay. And you didn't have any stallions here?

MURRELL: No stallions, never, never, never been a stallion on Big Sink. Just wasn't equipped for that, uh-huh.

SMITH: He wasn't interested in that?

MURRELL: Wasn't interested that, it was, it was, the farm just wasn't set up for it for one thing. You know, yeah the farm, you ever been, you been to Three Chimney's office, you see how that, that they have a stallion complex?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: You almost have to have something like that for stallions you know. Yes ma'am. But I'm trying to think of anything else I can give you.

SMITH: Well one of the things I'm interested in is how things changed in terms of taking care of horses from when you started in the '60's through, I know we've talked not yet on tape about you working with Ed Fallon and other veterinarians--

MURRELL: --right--

SMITH: --and what it seems, what I've gathered from talking to people that it used to be a lot of the workers took care of the horses in ways that now you call a vet for.

MURRELL: Exactly.

SMITH: How had that changed?

MURRELL: Well on this farm, it always been vets on Big Sink you know. 49:00We could do just, we would do the basic things you know such as, uh, uh, giving mares shots or something. If a mare need a shot we would do that ourselves you know if a mare gets mastitis on the bag, you know after you wean foals the mare get mastitis. We could, we could do that, administer that ourselves. But anything that uh, as far, even back then, even the doctors back then they used to do worming, when they worm horses. They used to use a stomach tube which, which you know we wasn't, we wasn't qualified to do nothing like that you know. So it always basically at Big Sink has always been mostly the vets down through the years. Now, now days and time we do a lot of stuff. The worming, the vaccination, we do that ourselves here for Three Chimneys now. We do that now, yes ma'am. So they, that has changed. And it's, it's for the best. It's actually, actually for the best you know.

SMITH: Okay so in some ways you are able to do some things to the horses now that you weren't before because it's gotten easier?

MURRELL: It's gotten easier, yes. Now days they got the computers 50:00with horses now. A lot of computers you know back then you either holler, holler at somebody you know (laughs) you know back then. But telephones you didn't have a lot of telephones stuff back then you drive barn to barn and tell somebody something, that's just the way it was back then. So now you, you know you got phones and you know, everything is just right at button now so its better, it's definitely, it's definitely better.

SMITH: Now the farm the way it was you were foaling, you were having a lot of foals here, right? So it was a lot, it was a breeding operation?

MURRELL: It was a breeding operation right.

SMITH: So that, that means a lot of work.

MURRELL: That was a lot of work. We, like I say, I was the guy that we always done the teasing process you know, get these mares, uh, uh, get a list for Dr. Fallon, Ed Fallon? And when we would get these mares and after we teased, he would come in and pap, do the palpation you know and if they, if they ready to be bred then he, he would, he would call the date to be, you know for to send them to the breeding shed. 51:00So that's, that's kind of the way, then we would, we would tease and say you know this mare's in heat. These mares not in heat, after you breed them you want to say after the mare, after you breed them the mare, say you breed a mare; she's ready come in heat on the 18th day. That's usually when a mare cycles [phone rings] cycles. Oh boy.

SMITH: Do you want me to pause it?

MURRELL: Okay. Okay.

SMITH: All right we were talking about the, the?

MURRELL: Breeding?

SMITH: Um-huh and how Mr. Fallon, you would kind of alert him to when the horse, the mares were ready.

MURRELL: What we would do is I always, we, we'd have a teasing, these mares, name on what they call a teasing chart and then we would just keep, you keep, you would follow these cycles on these mares, you know what I'm saying. When a mare comes in and if, if she's not, if she's not in foal then a mare should cycle like every 18 days. She comes in heat if she is not in foal. So as long as she is healthy and makes good follicles and everything and the doctor will palp and say okay let's go ahead and bred her. And if we breed her and she ovulate, most time they will give her something to help them ovulate. Then we, 52:00we will wait and they would usually wait 14 to 18, 16 I see I almost forget now but anyway they would, they would, you tease them and if they don't come back in you get the doctor to check them and that's, that's a good sign that they are in foal.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So that's kind of the way, the way that worked.

SMITH: So Dr. Fallon worked for?

MURRELL: Dr. Fallon, I held mares and things for him for about 17 years. He was the vet here all the time.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So, so he and I, that's why I say he and I, we got, we go way, way, way back. Even I know, you know his son?

SMITH: Yes. Luke?



MURRELL: Yeah Luke was just a little boy and used to ride with Dr. Fallon coming down, he usually ask me about the frogs in the legs down there you know (laughs). But, but they, they, he is a good friend and the whole family is really a good friend of mine you know. I, I really look up to Dr. Fallon because he, he taught me a lot about mares and things you know what I'm saying about that you know so. I will never, I'll never forget that. I'll cherish that you know for that.

SMITH: Where there any veterinarians that you worked with prior to that?

MURRELL: Prior to that there was a, well Hagyard, it was a, just a whole 53:00string of vets. And they would always, anybody that started new; they would be introduced to the industry by coming to Big Sink worming. He -- (laughs) --.

SMITH: Oh really.

MURRELL: So that's how they got introduced they send them to Big Sink and they do, put them on worming.

SMITH: You got to know a lot of them.

MURRELL: So I got to know a lot, there was one of the girls her name was uh, Mary, Mary, Mary, Mary oh, Mary, anyway she, she, she had an accident with a horse. What it was she was worming one day and this mare slung her against the wall. And I think she broke a rib and one of the ribs punctured the lung. And she, she wound up dying from that you know.

SMITH: Was that here?

MURRELL: It didn't happen here

SMITH: Oh okay.

MURRELL: but, but, but I knew her. But that did happen you know so, these animals can be, they can be very dangerous so you know. I, I out of the years I've done this I've, the only accident I had I got my 54:00arm broke.

SMITH: Really?

MURRELL: I had a yearling that kicked me one time and broke this arm. But that's been, my goodness that's been 30 years ago too I suspect.

SMITH: Only one accident? That's pretty good.

MURRELL: That's the only accident. I've been doing this almost 50 years. Since 1960.


MURRELL: And uh, that's the only accident, that's the only thing that has ever happened.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So that, that include being on a horses back (laughs) and uh, you know I've broke yearlings here on the farm.

SMITH: I was going to ask you that. Yeah.

MURRELL: Yes, yes I got on some yearlings and didn't, didn't know I was, I was a, didn't know I was uh, I was uh, the owner was charging the clients for breaking yearlings and I'm just getting my regular. See you supposed to actually pay exercise boys back then--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --they would pay exercise boys come in break these yearlings. Well I, I was, I just loved horses. Only wanted to ride horses, I, I, mean I do everything that they would do and I, I was figure eight these horses in the stalls you know ride around in the stalls. Had my helmet on thinking I'm a, thinking I'm an exercise boy (laughs). Having fun. And Mr. Benjamin would drive by the barn everyday and say hey babe, 55:00said how you doing, I say oh I'm just about ready, got them ready to go outside. He said you want to try one outside? So I, yeah so tomorrow I will. Well come to find out he was charging the clients for breaking yearlings (laughs).

SMITH: And you were ----------(??)

MURRELL: And paying me my salary (laughs). So he was pretty smart wasn't he?

SMITH: Yeah that's right. He knew you liked it, he wasn't going--

MURRELL: --he did, he did. But it was, I, I had never, never ride his yearlings outside. And didn't know what he was going to do. So we get down on the track and this yearling makes a great big bawl. When he done that I went in the air, come down on my feet (laughs). And looked around the horse was gone.

SMITH: And you weren't hurt?

MURRELL: I was not hurt. I was not hurt. So but it was, it was, it was a, the horses had been really, really, really good to me. Oh I could go on and on and on just thinking about some of the things I've done around horses you know what I'm saying. Used to ride the teasers all over the farm teasing mares. And, and uh, just a lot, just a lot of 56:00fun. Me and the farm manager used to race (laughs) used to race. You know I ride a teaser and he would be in his car and I would try to out run the car with the all the teasers. And I got to tell you this story real quick. Uh, uh, over here there was my cousin that used to work in Versailles at a factory. In fact, remember the cars called the ------- ---(??)?

SMITH: Oh yeah.

MURRELL: But ----------(??) she used to drive and she would get off at 3 o'clock and I had this lead pony that come off the track and this pony was fit. And I, I would be waiting in the corner field and when she would come down the road, the road, the road run parallel with the field see. And she would see me and she would floor board, this horse would just run off and leave this car (laughs). Everyday I would and this horse got so, every time he would see a car he wanted to run you know.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: So the blacksmith which is dead and gone now. He bought this, purchased this horse and wanted him for a rodeo horse okay. Bill, Bill Redman and he said, Butch, said you messed him up. I said what happened? He said every time he sees a white car said he takes off (laughs). Said took him forever to get him, to get him, to get him away from running after cars.


SMITH: Right. You had him conditioned.

MURRELL: I had him conditioned (laughs) yes. But I had a lot of fun you know, it's, it's just been, it's been really, horses have been really, really good to me and you know what else I can say you know. That's been my life.

SMITH: Did you ever want to do anything different?

MURRELL: You know what I really, I really didn't I guess because I'm thinking I, because once you deal with horses, you think you can't do nothing else you know. And I guess, that's, that's kind of bad but you know. You feel you really do feel that away. You feel like that's the only thing you can do.

SMITH: That you can't do anything else, but did you want to do anything else?

MURRELL: That's the thing. I really didn't. That, that's, that's probably the key. When you know, I never really set my mind to do anything else you know. And but I've been, I've, like I said I, I wanted to be good at it and I, I think I was very good with horses.

SMITH: Dr. Fallon says that you were.

MURRELL: Yes ma'am.

SMITH: Or that you are.

MURRELL: Yes ma'am. I, I, like I said I wanted to be good at it and I thought I done, done an excellent job.

SMITH: Now you were telling me and Dr. Fallon was telling me that sometimes the farm manager would uh, uh, take off on a little bit of 58:00a binge.

MURRELL: On a binge.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And, and that's, that's yes. I can tell you who it was, his name was Lucien Campbell. Campbell was his name. And Lucien he was, you know you get some guy that's sometimes they start seeing young women and he just lost his mind and started drinking and he just, he wasn't focus, you know what I'm saying?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And anyway he got on, got off on his drunk. Run off to Clays Ferry down there and run up on a boat and wrecked his car, cut his head all up. And I can tell you something else about him. It got so bad that he just couldn't do his job see. Right during the foaling, breeding season that's when I tell you that Dr. Fallon and I, we had to take over the farm that year. And let me get back to the, the manager back then. What happened, you remember the girl, the girl called Tina Hickey Powell?


MURRELL: And Fay Foster? They, that done that murder, the killing, the people out there,


SMITH: Oh yeah.

MURRELL: do you remember them? Well he was dating that Tina Hickey Powell. She was actually here on the farm (laughs).

SMITH: Oh no.

MURRELL: Yes! And that's what I say they, they, he didn't know that was going to happen but it, that happened. He was dating them and I was surprised when I heard it on the news that these people had done that you know. Out there killing people and they, one day in the barn up there they were playing what they call strip poker (laughs). So I got in and get some medicine out of the room and I see these people and him. And the people that was all in that room, they was all, taking their clothes off. I said my goodness what is going on you know. And it, it was pretty sad. That was bad, that, that was bad.

SMITH: He didn't lose his job?

MURRELL: He, Mr. Benjamin, Mr. Benjamin did not fire him. He did not fire him.

SMITH: Did he know what was going on?

MURRELL: He knew what was going on but he did not fire him. And he would talk to Mr. Benjamin just like I'm talking to you. Cussing about anything you know what I'm saying. He would so it finally, it finally got, it got so that Lucien had to leave, he just got so drunk that he just couldn't hold a job, I mean he had to leave you know.


SMITH: So you, so you and Dr. Fallon had to kind of had to take over doing things, that's a lot of work.

MURRELL: It was a lot of responsibility. We went on, went on as I said you know keeping records on the mares, teasing, what have you. Getting the mares bred. Winded up with a really good, good percentage getting the mares in foal that year. So Mr. Benjamin was so proud that he, you know, he was supposed to be keeping it a secret. He was going to give me what they call a breeding bonus. Okay? So I was at the Fasig-Tipton sales over there and he had this, we had this intercom radio setting on the floor. Some of those guys that worked there, Mr. Benjamin calls on the radio and says hey Butch I got your breeding bonus and those guys said "What?" (laughs). They say oh Mr. Benjamin let the cat out of the bag, didn't he? So, so everybody knew that I got a bonus. But I got a pretty nice little bonus you know. He gave us so much money per mare to get them in foal. So he just wanted to show me his appreciation you know. So he, he done, he really done a lot, done 61:00a lot for me. I got in trouble with the income, income tax people one year. They, they paid if all off and took money out of my check and put it in savings for me. And just you know got me out of debt. He done, he done a lot of things, he was, really was, was a good person.

SMITH: Now as a worker here, did you have any healthcare?

MURRELL: We didn't, we only had, we only had workers comp and I'm trying to think what kind of insurance we had. We had, yeah they had, they had, they did have, they had some kind of insurance I forget now what it was.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: I can't remember what it was but they did have some kind of insurance, yes ma'am.

SMITH: But there wasn't any kind of retirement or anything?

MURRELL: No retirement. No retirement. I, I went a lot of years prior to Three Chimney's, Firestone's they had a little retirement when he took it over. And then Three Chimneys. But in all the years I worked for Benjamin they didn't have retirement.

SMITH: Now did you ever want to be the farm manager for Big Sink?

MURRELL: You know what I, I really, I guess I felt like I was incapable 62:00of, since I didn't have the schooling.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: You know what I'm saying that I, I didn't feel like I was capable of, of handling that part. Especially you have to have a little; a little smarts to, when you are dealing with.

SMITH: Bookkeeping part.

MURRELL: Bookkeeping, financial part of it because if you don't know what you're doing then people in this business would, would actually rip you off. You know what I'm saying you got all kinds of thief's in this business so if you wasn't smart enough to watch people how they come at you, they could really, they could really take you, you know.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: So I didn't feel like I was capable of doing that part so I just wanted to be the horseman. The best that I could and try to do a good job and that's, you know. To be honest, that's the way, that's the way, you know. And that, I'm, I'm not, I've worked a lot of years but I'm okay.

SMITH: Yeah I think so. I think so.

MURRELL: Yes, yes.

SMITH: Now at Big Sink were there very many African Americans working?

MURRELL: It was, yes we had, we had, yeah we had some, had some African 63:00Americans, white and, and both, there was both there.

SMITH: Was it mostly men and--?

MURRELL: --it was probably, probably more white I would say back then.

SMITH: In the 70's?

MURRELL: Then, then, yeah in the 70's, then probably more because there wouldn't be no more than two or three blacks at a time you know.

SMITH: Okay. Did you hire any women?

MURRELL: You know what, we didn't, that, that I never worked with a woman until Mike Cline started here which was probably in the, in the mid 70's I guess it was. Yeah. I never had worked with a woman before. And it was different, it was different you know. When you been used to working around guys--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --and believe me I do see a difference in the industry with the woman you know what I'm saying?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: It is different because sometimes guys lose their focus (laughs). If you know what I mean.

SMITH: Where they pretty good workers though?

MURRELL: Yeah some of them were pretty good workers but some of them would also use their feminine part to get by, some of the girls did to 64:00you know what I'm saying and it worked on some of the guys (laughs). You know what I'm talking about don't you?

SMITH: I do know what you're talking about. Yeah I think so.

MURRELL: Yeah, yeah, so but the day, the girls now a days I see a lot of girls now a days that, they seem to want to, want to you know, want to be a horse person now. And not so much to come here and try to date, you know, you know, I mean every once in awhile you'll, you'll get one that wants to, wants to be pretty on the job you know what I'm saying.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: But now I see more, more now the outspread of the girls that, that want to actually work. I know we got several girls here now.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And uh, and uh, they, they work. I got one little girl who had just started for me, just last Wednesday, just last week. And she is about as pretty, as pretty, pretty she is just 21 years old but she is a Christian girl and uh, I encourage her, you know she is still learning and you know, but I try you know to encourage her and I mean I watch her because I don't want her to get hurt for one thing. And when I see her do something wrong with a horse I go and stop her and say wait a minute, let me show what you know, let me show the way to do it to keep from getting hurt. And uh, but she, she works hard you 65:00know, she, she knows, knows what to be doing she goes and does it. And my people ask, she is not a smart mouth, you know like a lot of young people come here and yeah I already know--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --because they have been to college--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --they come tell you that they know you know (laughs).

SMITH: Absolutely.

MURRELL: Yes, yes, yes.

SMITH: Now but you did, never have any trouble finding help for the farm?

MURRELL: I, not really, no--

SMITH: --when it was Big Sink--

MURRELL: --no actually back then people always come looking for jobs because they knew, that, that was top money you know cash money. Seventy dollars a week was, was a high dollar.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: When I started in 1966 that was the top paying job around for horses. And Lucien Campbell, have to tell you a story about him again. He, he was kind of crooked (laughs). He is the guy I was telling you about him drinking you know the manager that was drinking.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.

MURRELL: What he would do we, Mr. Benjamin used to write, write one check, okay, payroll check. And he would go to the bank and cash his check and then he count each, each guys money out in a stack in his 66:00office. He would call you in one at a time and there's your stack of money. That's the way, the way you used to get paid, cash. Well, if Mr. Benjamin said I want to give Butch a raise on that check, put in on that check. Lucien keep your raise and you wouldn't even know it, you see what I'm saying?

SMITH: Yeah, that's not good.

MURRELL: Now he would, he was, he was, he was very crooked, he done some crooked things you know. The guys that used to paint the fence, he'd tell the guy that, that took the job said charge so much a panel and then give, give a kick back to him. Straw people, he, he was, he was just, just, he was just, just, he was just that away.

SMITH: Was he a decent horseman?

MURRELL: Yeah he was, was a good horseman. He really was a good horseman but he was just crooked. You know just wanted greedy with money you know yeah so.

SMITH: Was he taking money from Mr. Benjamin?

MURRELL: You know uh, in a sense I don't, I don't really think so, I mean, you know.

SMITH: He was just taking advantage of him.

MURRELL: Taking advantage of the, of the opportunity. What they did do is he and his son-in-law; they opened up a tack shop, a horse tack 67:00shop in Versailles. And they went and got all new tubs and everything for these barns, hung in the barns and Mr. Benjamin walked and saw new tubs and "What's this?" He said a new tub. "Gather it all up and take it back (laughs)." And Mr. Benjamin knew what they was doing you know.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: So we stopped that right quick--

SMITH: --that's good--

MURRELL: --you know they was going, they was going to railroad him.

SMITH: Yeah.


[Pause in recording.]

SMITH: I do.

MURRELL: We can kick it back on.

SMITH: All right. We are back on.


SMITH: Okay. Well let's go ahead and go back to Mr. Benjamin and now he, did he live here all the time, did they live here?

MURRELL: Mr. Benjamin when I hired out, yes he lived here all the time. He did matter of fact he, he died, he died there on the farm.

SMITH: Oh really?

MURRELL: That's where he died at yes over there.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Do you know where the, do you know where Case, you know Case? You know Case Clay?


SMITH: I know who he is but no I don't know where he lives.

MURRELL: Okay. But you, you have you seen, have you been on Big Sink? Have you ever been on Big Sink?

SMITH: I don't think so.

MURRELL: You haven't?

SMITH: No all I have ever been is to the office.

MURRELL: That's all, okay, okay. But anyway uh, uh, Case Clay lives in the house where Mr. Benjamin used to live. Of course they, they remodeled it, yeah they remodeled it but yes that is where Mr. Benjamin used to live and he died and she died. His, his uh, his first wife, he was married twice.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And the, so his first wife is the one that died.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Died over there on the, that's what Dr. Fallon was talking about.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And uh, she, she uh, what had happened was is that it was bad, come up a bad storm, a snow storm when she, when she died and they had to, they had to have a, have a four wheel drive vehicle to get her, to get her to the hearse, to get her to the hearse because they couldn't get down into the house the weather was so bad. I think that is what Dr. Fallon was talking about--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --that is what he was talking about.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And uh, anyway they, they, they why I, they used this four 69:00wheel drive to haul her out to the hearse out on the road. Because--

SMITH: --so they couldn't get the car in?

MURRELL: So they couldn't get the car down there, down there, that, that's basically, that's basically about all I can tell you about that story.

SMITH: Do you remember that Mr. Benjamin called you when she died to help?

MURRELL: I'm trying to think, what did. Trish? She's gone outside I'm thinking, trying to help me. I, I.

SMITH: He described it that he called you and said that she had died and you went up to the house to see what you could do to help.

MURRELL: And I, I can't remember that part but I do know we went to view her body at the house. And but the weather was so bad when it was time for them to move the body out, that they couldn't, the weather was so bad--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --that we had to take it out in a four wheel drive I do remember that part. But that's, that's all I can remember on that, yes, yes.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: But Mr. Benjamin was a, he was, he was a really character. I'm trying to think of the other stories he used to do.

SMITH: Who would, who were his friends in the industry? You mentioned 70:00Warner Jones.

MURRELL: Warner Jones, Ben old man Ben Walden was his friend, Bull Hancock, he wouldn't do nothing without Bull Hancock's consent Mr. Benjamin.

SMITH: Really?

MURRELL: That's Claiborne Farm.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: When it come to turn out horses at night time, you know they used to keep them up the mares and things you know. And this is even barren mares it would be, it would be May and June, up in June, almost July and they still would keep mares up at night. These mares would just be sweating, so hot, so I knew that they was all pregnant and they all needed to be turned out. Well, Mr. Benjamin wouldn't turn them out just because Bull Hancock at Claiborne don't turn them out, you now what I'm saying.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: So what I done one day is they, listen to the veterinarian Dr. Fallon?

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: So I called old Dr. Fallon at that barn and said doc come here, I said, I said these mares are still up at night in this barn. He said what? And uh, I said they are waiting on Bull Hancock to turn out so Dr. Fallon said I'll be going over to the other barn, said 71:00just, just wait, wait. So he went over to the other barn and talked to them, Dr. Fallon did, so Lucien Campbell called back and said hey Butch, said yeah, go ahead and turn them mares out (laughs). That, saved a lot of work on me (laughs) you know.

SMITH: Absolutely. And be better for the horse.

MURRELL: It was better for the horse too. Yes but Dr. Fallon had a lot of input, I mean here down on Big Sink. They really listen to him and he was a really good, good broodmare vet.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: Yes, yes, he was, he was the best. He was known as, as probably one of the best in Kentucky when it come to the mares.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: I mean he could, he could, he could palp a mare and tell, book a mare on Thursday, this would be on Monday and he said go ahead and book her for Thursday. And that follicle, he just knows how that follicle was developing in there and it would be right on time. The mare would get in foal. [phone rings]. My wife, ain't answering the phone (laughs).

SMITH: Do you need to get it?

MURRELL: It's okay. But, but we had some, those, those were really, really, really good times. I'm trying to think of some of the other 72:00things that we done. Oh boy.

SMITH: Did you ever have any problems, I know there have been cases, well this was in the 90's with the reproductive loss syndrome?

MURRELL: Oh the, yeah the--

SMITH: --but there were other viruses and things that used to plague the industry at different times, did you ever have to go through some of those?

MURRELL: We, we before the caterpillar deal, prior to that, years ago they used to have what they call the early fetal loss. And they thought that that was, they [phone rings].

SMITH: Do you need to get that?

MURRELL: Yeah. The early, early.

SMITH: Okay we are back on.

MURRELL: Okay. It was back, back then they; they described it as the early fetal loss. And, and they connected with fescue and grass in the spring of the year.

SMITH: Was this back in the 70's?

MURRELL: This was way back, yes back in the 70's. So what they done 73:00they would just keep the mares up longer in the spring of the year--

SMITH: --oh, okay.

MURRELL: off the grass, off the grass and that seemed to work. And then I guess I don't know what happened but over time, that, that part kind of played out you didn't hear that no more, what they call early fetal loss. Then the, here then the last six of seven years I guess when the caterpillars problem.

SMITH: Right.

MURRELL: What they call it, the syndrome loss? The mare reproduction syndrome?

SMITH: Mare reproduction loss syndrome.

MURRELL: Yeah reproduction loss syndrome. But anyway, seemed like they got that under control it seems to be, I've not heard of a break out of that, not heard no more of that since that time. And I don't know are they doing anything different now.

SMITH: Did you ever have any problems with the breeding, foaling?

MURRELL: Nothing, nothing major. Foaling you know everybody would have a mare that would, would abort or something like that you know. You 74:00would lose a foal, suffer a mare that had a problem foal contracted and lose one that away. But we always, we, the guy I showed you there that was on that picture, he foaled our mares for over 30 years. And he hardly ever had to call a vet that's just how good he was, his name was Billy. The doctor was always telling, Dr. Fallon would tell you too said anytime that Billy calls for the vet, said you don't need the vet to go to the farm said just met them at the hospital. That's how good he was.

SMITH: He was what was his name?

MURRELL: His name was Billy Hendricks.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And he was really, really, I mean really good. And this guy here he was, he was, he was good at it. I mean he was good at it. I mean I've seen some of the farm managers when a mare got ready to heat up, you know get ready to foal. And he just stand there and smokes a cigarette and watches her. And the managers just, he wanted to help this mare and he would say just leave her alone, just leave her alone. He was just calm. And they would have no problem.

SMITH: Now did he just work here?

MURRELL: He just, he just worked here yes.


SMITH: Big Sink?

MURRELL: Yeah he worked here. He worked here for, he worked for probably 25 years or more himself before, before he died, you know. Yeah he--

SMITH: --he was working here when he died?

MURRELL: He, yes, yes he was working here when he died, he sure did. Died of cancer.

SMITH: Okay now did he stay with the farm when the Firestones, when the Firestones came on or--?

MURRELL: --he was he was deceased before the Firestones.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: He died before the Firestones, right. He, he was, he died during the time that the Benjamin's owned the farm. This guy Billy did.

SMITH: Okay. Did you learn a lot from him?

MURRELL: Uh, actually most of the mares that foaled at night--

SMITH: --okay--

MURRELL: --and, and, and we did, but we did see him foal mares and I'd pick up, pick up, yes ma'am we did, we surely did because you know you, you, the one, the times I had to foal mares and I really didn't have 76:00to foal a lot of mares because I always worked in the day time and you don't have many mares, they don't foal that much in the day time. Very seldom. But anyway I, I've had some foal between 6 and 7 like that and never, and never was no problem you know. They, there never was no problem. It's good experience (laughs). It's good experience but like I say it, you know you done a little bit of everything back then. You know you didn't just work with mares you done yearlings, you foaled mares and you teased, you break yearlings, we done it all. You know you didn't have no one certain job.

SMITH: I don't know if you can do this because it sounds like you do so many different things. Could you describe what a typical day would have been say in the 1970's working on Big Sink?

MURRELL: What a, say that again?

SMITH: A typical day, what time you got up in the morning what you did, can you think of that?

MURRELL: Yeah I can, I can tell you my, my, that I had a routine special during breeding season. I would get up, I would get to the barn about 6:30 every morning and, and these mares that are due to foal. You know 77:00would go in and first thing I would do is go in and look the mare bag. I raised the mares tail up, you know and, and you could poke a mare in the back and they get that, get that gelatin feel, they, they are getting close to foaling you know when you get a mare like that.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: You would do that and you, uh, that's kind of a daily routine thing you know and then you know you, if they, if they okay you turn them out. You clean stalls. That's kind of, that's kind of your daily, daily routines. In the afternoons you would have a little break before you got your horses back in and the next day you would do the same thing.

SMITH: You had to get them ready at night and you bring them in or let them out?

MURRELL: Right. Come in, right, like I just said, come in first thing in the morning, you checked your horses, you turn them out, you clean your barns and they run around out there during the day and maybe in the afternoon you bring them up. You check everything when they come in, make sure you water your horses off before you go home, you go home, you go to bed, you get up the next morning. It's just a cycle 78:00(laughs).

SMITH: So what time did you normally get home?

MURRELL: Usually I get home around 4 o'clock every evening usually, yes ma'am.

SMITH: Like today?

MURRELL: Like today, yes around 4 o'clock, right. And well back then we used to work until 4:30. They used to go from 7 to 4:30.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: But the modern day now is just 7 to 4.

SMITH: Now did Mr. Benjamin have a night watchman?

MURRELL: He did have a night watchman. That, actually that fellow right there I was telling you about, he done the foaling and night watched (laughs). He done it all, he, he was good, he done it all. Yes ma'am.

SMITH: Now he lived on the farm as well?

MURRELL: He did not live on the farm.

SMITH: Where you the only one?

MURRELL: I was the, me and the farm manager were the only one who lived on the farm. They just only had and Mr. Benjamin you know. They always had the two, had the managers house and one tenant house and that was it. Yes ma'am. So and I never, I hardly ever had to come out at nighttime because this guy was so good that he hardly didn't need no help you know what I'm saying.

SMITH: He didn't need help.

MURRELL: Very seldom have to come out at night, so he was a good man. He was a good man. I've tried to think of anything else am I missing. 79:00Old boy.

SMITH: I'm sure you will think of some things and I, it looks like I'm going to have to come back and talk to you again since you have to go off to.

MURRELL: Right to turn out horses.

SMITH: Back to work.

MURRELL: Back to work, right.

SMITH: But tell me about your wife, how did you two meet? If that's okay?

MURRELL: Yeah. Yeah.

SMITH: I have to get that perspective in the--.

MURRELL: --yeah actually we were raised up together me and my wife. We went to church together. She just lived; she was born, born right over here on Romney Road as I was telling you about.

SMITH: Yeah. Yeah.

MURRELL: Remember when I told you about the property we owned, that was, that was our families. And that's where she was born at and then it just, it just kind of, we, we, she actually said she was in love with me before I (laughs) when she was like 12 years old. And she said I was her first love because, as you, as you get to be teenagers you know you venture off you know.

SMITH: Oh yeah.

MURRELL: She ventured off and I ventured off and we went whole big cycle 80:00and we finally found our way back. When we were 20 something years old and she had had two kids prior to us marrying, okay you know. Two kids. So she had gotten pregnant by me. So we married okay because I wanted the kids to be--

SMITH: --yeah--

MURRELL: --you know what I'm saying be with the father. So what I done is, is my two kids that she had and I call them mine and I adopted them. They carry my last name and I raised them and I got two with her. And I raised them all four together.

SMITH: Tell me who they are, boys, girls?

MURRELL: Got, got my oldest son is names Clarence, he's the, he's the oldest one. And then the one just called now is Melanie, she is next she a daughter and then I got one called Ruth and then my youngest boy is named Joseph.


SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: Joseph Lee and they, of course I am going to get up. I've got a picture of my family.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: I can show you the picture of us.

SMITH: Before I leave?

MURRELL: Yeah I can show you a picture of us.

SMITH: Are any of them interested in the horse business?

MURRELL: Actually my, my oldest son he is a licensed electrician. He's a, he works for the government now. He, he what he does is, I can't think of the name of that company but anyway he, what he does, they furnish him a van and he gots like three post office that he just keeps up running and he got one in Cincinnati, one in Louisville and one in Lexington. So he just, you know, he just keeps, he keeps them running, you know if something goes wrong they, you know, he got, has like a computer, one of those blackberry computer things and he's always on call, you know always on call but as long as they don't break down he stays at home.

SMITH: That's not bad.

MURRELL: He's got a good job. But he does like electrical work on the side sometimes if he has time but he, he stays pretty busy because he 82:00maintains that property and he's got another 8 acres at the, in the Harrison County.


MURRELL: Yeah he's got another 8 acres there so he is trying to sale that. So--.

SMITH: -okay.

MURRELL: So he's, he's pretty busy. My other daughter Melanie is going back to school, she is in school; she's going to be a nurse. So she's about to, she's taking classes now so she's doing that. And Ruth is a, is a banker at the Traditional Bank in Lexington. She is a banker because he's my baby boy he's not there yet; he is still struggling (laughs). He is still struggling, he's just, just hasn't got his, hadn't got a good start you know so.

SMITH: Oh well I can, I can appreciate that.

MURRELL: Right, right, right.

SMITH: Yeah, so. But none of them were ever interested in the horses?

MURRELL: None of them not really, no, no, not really.

SMITH: Did they ever go with you to work or anything; they were raised on the farm?

MURRELL: They did, they did, they did, they did ride around with me and watch the horses and stuff like and I take them to the barns and we used to, in the winter time go out and sleigh ride and all that stuff 83:00you know we done all that together yeah, yes, yes. Yeah we always was a family thing you know. We always done a family thing because my main focus was to get them, keep them in church you know. Yeah I took them to Sunday school. You know I went with them, took them to Sunday school, they went with me. That is just the kind of dad I was.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: It doesn't mean they do it now but, but I did.

SMITH: Got to raise them up right.

MURRELL: Raise, bring them the right way that's, that was me, that was, that was it, yes ma'am.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: But we've had a really, really good life you know. Nothing really bad has happened you know I mean we have, we have just been really; really good is all I can say.

SMITH: Yeah. Living in the same, same area, have you?

MURRELL: Yes, yes.

SMITH: Okay now when the Firestones, now did Mr. Benjamin die before?

MURRELL: Mr. Benjamin did not die, he sold the farm to the Firestones before, what, what had happened is, it seemed like the horse business took another turn.

SMITH: Now this was in the 80's?

MURRELL: He wasn't ready, he wasn't ready go, go on that other turn with his age, and he knew he was about ready to get out of it you see. 84:00So he went on and sold the farm to the Firestones and uh, he, he, he called me up one day and said you know said, said, said we are selling the farm but I said I'm going to give you a little piece of money you know. So he gave a little piece of money you know. And I thanked him for that and that's just the way he was but he was, he was, he was a really a good man, he really was a good man. Yes ma'am. And the Firestones were really nice people and when they, when they sold the farm they also gave me a little piece of money (laughs).

SMITH: Now did they live here?

MURRELL: They did not, they lived in, they got a farm called, called Homestead Farm in Virginia.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: It's in, it's in, yeah Virginia it's in Virginia. And uh--

SMITH: --where they just getting into the business?

MURRELL: They was, they, they always had that farm up there, yeah--

SMITH: --okay--

MURRELL: --but they, but they bought this farm here. See they used to, used to own what you call Gilltown in Ireland.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: They used to own Gilltown Stud and they used to own, that, that was a big operation over there I mean they bought this Big Sink see 85:00because I don't know what happened but they just last for about 5 years and then they got out of it.

SMITH: What, what were they still just boarding here or did they have their own?

MURRELL: They had their own horses.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: They had their own horses, yes and then what happened is after they, after they, they, they sold the farm and then they moved all their horses over to Three Chimneys. Which Three Chimneys still takes care of some of their horses now. The Firestones but they still own that farm in Virginia. I think it's like 8 or 900 acres up there. Big, big, big place.

SMITH: So did you still just have mares or did they have?

MURRELL: Just only mares. Yeah. Mares and yearlings yes ma'am. Um

SMITH: So who was the farm manager then when the Firestones came?

MURRELL: Lets see the farm manager then was, I think his name was, Robin, he was an Irish guy names Robin Lyons.

SMITH: Robin Lyons?

MURRELL: Uh-huh, Robin Lyons, yeah. And he was, he was, I worked under seven different farm managers on Big Sink. That's, that's, that's 86:00almost some history right there is it?

SMITH: Yeah I would say so.

MURRELL: I mean seven different guys. Yeah because the guys here now he is my seventh boss that I, I worked under. Because all the rest of them are gone.

SMITH: Did you have a favorite?

MURRELL: Not really, not really. They all treated me with respect. They knew that I was in church and they didn't prevent me from doing that and nobody never done that even the Clays today, they all know what I stand for, you know. And I never been ashamed to let people know where I stand in that, in my you know when I went to work for them, I told them I need Sundays off because I do work in my church.

SMITH: Yeah.

MURRELL: And so, that, they said that was no problem. Yes ma'am. And back to my wife, back to my wife. You hear that wife (laughs)? But 87:00we grew up together and she's been a really good mom, you can see right now they, they still call her mom now and they are 40 years old (laughs). But uh, but we, we been through it you know some good days, yes some days not so good you know that when you marry. I don't know are you married?

SMITH: I'm married.

MURRELL: You married so how long?

SMITH: 23 years.

MURRELL: 23 we've been married 39 years.

SMITH: Okay.

MURRELL: And you have some days you are on the mountain, you have some days you are in the valley, right but, but all of our good days have out weighed out bad days (laughs). So as the song writes.

SMITH: That's what counts.

MURRELL: That's what counts and I won't complain.

SMITH: This is probably a question for your wife but have you enjoyed raising your family on this environment?

MURRELL: Actually we have, we, we, we've been very blessed on, on raising the family. We are all close, you know we all close. If one hurt, we all hurt you know. We still that away today. Yes, yes.


SMITH: Now I know that um, you've stayed in the business when we talked about when you were working with King Ranch, you had a lot of family that worked horses. Is there anybody left in your family that works with horses?

MURRELL: Everybody, there's nobody, nobody working horses right now. I don't think nobody left in my family working with horses right now. I think I'm last of the Mohicans it looks like (laughs). I think that's true.


MURRELL: Oh yeah, I forgot about, I've got one nephew, my sisters boy who works for, you ever heard of Shadwell?

SMITH: Oh yeah.

MURRELL: His name is Jeff Blair. He, he works for Shadwell. I can't think of anybody else, you ----------(??)? No, that's about it. So we've kind of thinned out you know. All my cousins, they all just, most of them dead. So you want, you want to?

SMITH: Why don't we stop there?

MURRELL: You want to stop there?

SMITH: Yeah.



SMITH: Then we'll.

MURRELL: We'll resume another time?

SMITH: Right.


[End of interview.]

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