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date: 09 April 2020

Murphy, Isaac locked

1861–1896 African American jockey.
  • Robert Fikes

Extract

Isaac Murphy was born Isaac Burns on a farm near Frankfort, Kentucky, the son of James Burns, a bricklayer, and a mother (name unknown) who worked as a laundrywoman. During the Civil War his father, a free black, joined the Union army and died in a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. Upon the death of his father, his widowed mother moved with her family to Lexington, Kentucky, to live with her father, Green Murphy, a bell ringer and auction crier. Accompanying his mother to work at the Richard and Owings Racing Stable, the diminutive Isaac was noticed by the black trainer Eli Jordan, who had him suited up for his first race at age fourteen. His first winning race was aboard the two-year-old filly Glentina on September 15, 1875 at the Lexington Crab Orchard Standing five feet tall and weighing only seventy four pounds Murphy had by the ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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