Dennis H. Murphree and the "Know Mississippi Better Train"

Photo of Dennis Murphree from the cover of the music by Roy Coats  Dennis Herron Murphree was born at Pittsboro, Calhoun County, MS, on January 6, 1886.  His father, T.M. Murphree, a former Confederate soldier, and his mother, the former Miss Callie Cooper of Sarepta were both of pioneer families in the county.  His grandfather, Thomas Martin Murphree had helped organize Calhoun County in 1852.

He originated the "Know Mississippi Better" Train in 1925 and was called "Mississippi's Ambassador of Good Will."

Although his formal education was limited, he educated himself as a boy around the printing office of the Calhoun Monitor, and by reading everything he could lay his hands on and by storing away in a really wonderful memory all that he saw, heard, and read.

During his approximate 32 years in public office Dennis Murphree served under seven Governors - E.F. Noel, T.G. Bilbo, Lee Russell, H.L. Whitfield, Mike Conner and Paul B. Johnson.

After his defeat in the campaign for Governor in 1943, he retired from active politics and devoted the rest of his life to his business affairs and the operation of the "Know Mississippi Better" Train.

During this period, he wrote a great deal , and many articles appeared in the newspaper concerning people and events of Calhoun County's history.  He was engaged at the time he became ill in writing a history of Calhoun County, which he had intended to publish in 1949.

Dennis Murphree edited and managed the Monitor Newspaper  from 1905 to 1921.  In 1921, he resigned his editorship and although he always owned an interest in the paper, never again did he take over the management.

He was three times elected Representative in the lower houses of the state legislature - twice in the first primary  serving from 1912-1924.  During his last administration he was Speaker pro tem of the House.

Murphree entered the campaign for Lieutenant Governor of MS in 1923 and was elected in the first primary.  Upon the death of Governor Whitfield in 1927, Dennis Murphree was elevated to the Governor's office, filling out the term of almost a year.  He announced for Governor that year was was defeated by Governor Bilbo by about 10,000 votes.

In 1931, he was elected Lieutenant Governor during the Conner administration; and again served as Lieutenant Governor under the Paul B. Johnson administration and when Governor Johnson died three weeks before his term ended, Dennis Murphree became Governor of Mississippi again.

He made the race for Governor three times and was never elected to the office, but he served as Governor for the State of Mississippi twice.

Dennis Murphree was laid to rest at his boyhood home in Pittsboro on Friday afternoon, February 10th, 1949.

One of the largest crowds ever assembled in the county for a funeral gathered for the services and the floral tributes attested to the popularity and respect of the people of Calhoun County and of Mississippi for this man who had come home for his final rest.
 


Compiled with information from The Monitor-Herald Feb. 17, 1949
Photo:  Mississippi, That Grand Old State of Mine by R. Roy Coats

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The Dennis H. Murphree House remodeled 2001
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