"We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads." - Herman Melville
From inception, I have partnered in passion projects and supported advocacy for the indigenous and marginalized, such as Red with Love, Hadassah House, and Honor the Treaties, along with horse rescue organizations such as Return to Freedom. I'd like to share a place in Tahlequah, a house on road on a map that intersects with my own.
The Murrell House is an obscure but significant chapter in Oklahoma history. Hidden in gentle hills along a winding road from the lake cabin to Tahlequah, I drive by it and step inside as often as I can. A crumbled herringbone-bricked sidewalk rolls with the grass up to the front porch. The old pianoforte inside stands unvarnished. Beaded moccasins lie beside a dress on the bed upstairs, where two young sisters have been immortalized in this small corner of the world. Largely underfunded but lovingly tended to by only a small handful of caretakers, it is a unique and historically complex landmark on the Trail of Tears. It is Oklahoma's own Downton Abbey, a time capsule of a place and time when a Cherokee Chief and a Scottish-born plantation owner shared a dining table with the Cherokee women they loved. I've often wondered, "What were those dinner conversations like?" Still today, the ghosts of this ephemeral time linger. Local lore says on some nights, some see a young woman standing by the upstairs window, holding a lantern in her hand.