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Murphy, Cleveland
Korea and Vietnam War Correspondence of African American soldier, Sgt. Cleveland Murphy, of Washington County, Mississippi, later of Indianapolis, Indiana, mostly incoming correspondence while he was serving in the 28th Transportation Truck Co., an all-Black unit serving in the Korean War, and later when he served in the 3rd Marines Division during the Vietnam War, dated 1952-1965

Collection of 307 letters, 1056 pp., dated 21 February 1952 to 28 December 1965; plus 179 pieces of related ephemera; Cleveland Murphy wrote 4 of the 307 letters, the other 303 letters are incoming letters while he served in the military from his mother, wife, brothers, sisters, cousins, nieces, as well as male friends serving in the military, male friends not in the military, and numerous girlfriends, or potential girlfriends.

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An interesting correspondence touching on many aspects of 20th century African American life. Murphy and his family, long residents of Mississippi, whose ancestors were enslaved there, were among the flood of African Americans who left the South during the Great Migration. The Murphy’s settled in Indianapolis, Indiana. Cleveland Murphy after serving in the US Army during the Korean War, chose to remain in the military as a career soldier. He later served in Vietnam. The collection contains an interesting series of letters from one of Murphy’s many girlfriends: 34 letters, 255 pages by Leona Howard, notable for their frank and disturbing portrayal of the conditions faced by many African American women. Leona chronicles a lifetime of physical, psychic and sexual abuse, the limited choices of poverty and constant struggle, while struggling to raise a family on her own.

Sgt. Cleveland Murphy (1930 - aft 1970)

The letters in this collection consist mainly of incoming letters to Cleveland Murphy while he was serving in the United States military. Cleveland was the son of cotton farmer James Murphy and his wife Carrie. Cleveland’s father was born on 6 April 1885, in Washington County, Mississippi; he was the son of Charles Murphy. Charles and his wife Carrie were also born in Mississippi. Presumably their parents were once enslaved.

Cleveland’s father James married his wife Carrie about 1905, when he was 19 years old, and she was 18. James Murphy worked in 1910 as a cotton farmer, on his own account, and was enumerated in Arcola, Washington Co., Mississippi. In 1920, the family is still found in Washington County, Mississippi, enumerated on Beat 5 and James was still a farmer on his own account, listed as a “general” farmer.  The 1930 Census shows James still living and working as a cotton farmer at Beat 5, but now listed as renting. By the time the 1940 Census was taken, James was back to working as a cotton farmer on his own account. The 1940 Census shows only four of the children were living at home: John, Emma, Carrie, and Cleveland, who was listed as 9 years old. 

Arcola, Mississippi, is a small town in Washington County. In 1940, the last time the Murphy family appears there in the census, the population was 444, by 1950 the town had lost 7% of the population, and by 1960, the town had lost another 11.4% of the population registering just 366 people. Today the town is 95% African-American and likely had similar statistics at the time the Murphy family lived there.

The Murphy family was one of the many African-American families who left the South during and after World War Two and migrated North for work, better opportunities and greater personal safety than the South offered, in what came to be called “The Great Migration.” The Murphy’s moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, about the year 1946, setting up house in the historic African-American neighborhood of Ransom Place.

James Murphy died on 16 March 1951 after five years of living in Indiana. He died at his home at 629 W. North Street and was buried in the New Crown Cemetery in Indianapolis. After his death, his wife Carrie Murphy, moved the family further north, about four miles, to 2925 Rader Street, near the Crown Hill Cemetery. This area of the city had become somewhat deteriorated in the 1950s to 1960s and probably offered a cheaper place to live.

James Murphy’s wife Carrie was born circa 1886, in Mississippi. She died on 14 August 1970, at her home on 3646 N. Capital, Indianapolis, Indiana. At her death she was survived by three sisters: Mrs. Katie Henderson; Mrs. Pearl Booker; and Mrs. James Webster, and most of her children. Mrs. Carrie Murphy was buried with her husband in New Crown Cemetery. There are 21 letters from Carrie Murphy to her son Cleveland in the collection.

James and Carrie Murphy had at least eight other children in addition to their son Cleveland:

Roosevelt Murphy was the eldest child of James and Carrie Murphy. He was born in 1907 in Estell, Mississippi and on the 1930 Census was found working as a cotton farmer day laborer there. By the 1940 Census he was living on his own, with his wife Ethyl and her two children. He appears to have perhaps married a second time to Bertha Lee and had a daughter named for his mother, Carrie Mae Murphy. Roosevelt died in 1963. Roosevelt wrote 1 letter in this collection to his brother Cleveland.

The second son, and the second child, of the Murphy’s was Jesse James Murphy. He also remained in Indianapolis. He was born about 1908 and like his brother Roosevelt, he was listed on the 1930 Census working as a cotton farmer day laborer in Mississippi. Jessie wrote three letters in this collection.

Louis, or Lewis Murphy, the third son and third child, also remained in Indianapolis. He was born about 1916. Louis wrote 1 letter in this collection to his brother Cleveland.

John Murphy, the fourth son and fourth child, was born in 1918; and he too remained living in Indianapolis. John was listed as working as a cotton laborer in 1940, presumably with his father on their small farm. John Murphy was listed in the Indianapolis City Directory in 1954 as living at 2925 Rader Street and working as an attendant at the VA Hospital. Also listed as living at this address was his brother Cleveland and his wife, with Cleveland listed as being in the United States Army, their mother Carrie Murphy was also listed at this address. John Murphy wrote 15 letters to his brother Cleveland in this collection.

Charlie Murphy was born 12 April 1912, in Leland, Mississippi. He was the fifth son and fifth child. He later moved to Chicago, Illinois, where he died on 2 August 1988. Charlie wrote one letter to his brother Cleveland in this collection.

Sarah Murphy was the first daughter and sixth child born to James and Carrie Murphy. She was born about 1920 and remained living in Indianapolis. She married a man named Mr. Gray.

Emma Murphy, born 1922, was the second daughter and seventh child. She moved to Michigan City, Indiana and married a man by the name of Mr. Morris. Emma wrote three letters to her brother Cleveland in this collection.

Carrie Murphy, named for her mother, was the third daughter and eighth child. She was born in 1926 and remained living in Indianapolis. She, like her sister Emma, also married a man named Mr. Morris. It is possible these men were related. Carrie wrote three letters in this collection to her brother Cleveland.

Cleveland Murphy was born 2 November 1930 in Washington County, Mississippi. He was the ninth and final child of James and Carrie Murphy. He was also their sixth son.  He appears to have enlisted, or was drafted, in the U.S. Army at the outbreak of the Korean War and decided to remain in military service, as a career military man, he later served during the Vietnam War where he reached the rank of sergeant.

The earlier letters from 1952-1954 are mostly addressed to Murphy to an APO Box at San Francisco, which means he was likely overseas in Korea. Murphy is in Korea serving with the “28th Trans. Trk. Co., 70th” (28th Transportation Truck Company). The 28th Transportation Truck Company was an all ‘Black” unit that served in the Korean War. During the Korean War, the Transportation Corps kept the UN Forces supplied through three winters. By the time the armistice was signed, the Transportation Corps had moved more than 3 million soldiers and 7 million tons of cargo.

After the Korean War, Cleveland was listed as being in the U.S. Marines and was stationed at Twenty-Nine Palms, California. The later letters in this collection show that to be true and that he went on to serve in Vietnam. The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC), also known as 29 Palms, is a United States Marine Corps base.

Cleveland married Ossie Mae Brown before the correspondence in this collection begins (21 Feb. 1952) and before the outbreak of the Korean War. However, the marriage could not handle the separation of the war. There is a record in the Indianapolis Star newspaper of 18 January1955 showing that Murphy and Brown had divorced.

Ossie Mae Brown wrote 21 letters in this collection to Cleveland Murphy. Some of the letters refer to her father, Isaac Brown and his arrest for murder. The Indianapolis Star dated 4 August 1952, pp. 13; and 27 February 1953, pp. 41, tells the story of Ossie Mae’s father Isaac Brown. He lived at 510 West Vermont Street and was stated to have stabbed William Holman with a butcher knife during a “deuces wild” poker game at Brown’s house.  The two men argued over a $10.00 pot, Brown had five kings, Holman had five queens, but grabbed the pot. During a physical altercation, Brown grabbed a knife and plunged it into the chest of Holman, who staggered to the front door and died. Brown was arrested, tried and found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Brown was 48 years old. Brown’s daughter, Ossie Mae Murphy, lived with her in-laws, at 2925 Rader Street, in Indianapolis during this correspondence, about four miles northwest of her father’s residence. Several of Ossie Mae’s letters and one of the letters of Cleveland’s mother, discuss the Isaac Brown’s case.

Murphy’s letters of the 1950s show that he had a number of girlfriends, and those from the 1960s show that he was involved with many women. During the 1960s Murphy’s largest female correspondent was a woman named Leona Howard. It is unclear if they married, or not, but they talked about it. The letters from the various women of Murphy, his army buddies, etc., are often frank, if not ribald in tone, which is ironic as Murphy by 1964 appears to have become a preacher, much to the surprise of his brother John.


Inventory of Collection:

       Correspondence to Cleveland Murphy from his Family:

21 letters, 93 pp., (13 retained mailing envelopes), dated 21 February 1952 to 18 August 1953; written to Cleveland Murphy by his wife Ossie Mae (Brown) Murphy. Ossie writes from her home in Indianapolis, Indiana, to Murphy who was serving in the military with the 28th Transportation Truck Company, 70th Transportation Battalion, 351st St. Transportation Group; Murphy’s address is a San Francisco, APO Box.

21 letters, 73 pp., (9 retained mailing envelopes), dated 6 September 1952 to 27 November 1965; written by Mrs. Carrie Murphy to her son Cleveland, while he served in the military. Mrs. Murphy writes from her home in Indianapolis, she also wrote 1 letter, presumably to a federal government worker, explaining who supports her, her expenses, and the fact that her son Cleveland claims her as a dependent on his taxes.

22 letters, 57 pp., (11 retained mailing envelopes), dated 23 February 1952 to 28 December 1965; written to Cleveland Murphy by his brothers John Murphy (15); Louis Murphy (1); Roosevelt Murphy (1); Charlie Murphy (1); and Jessie Murphy (3), all of the four brothers wrote from Indianapolis, while Cleveland was in military service; plus 1 letter written to Cleveland from his cousin “Johnnie” of Indianapolis, Indiana.

14 letters, 28 pp., (8 retained mailing envelopes), dated 27 March 1953 to 28 December 1965; written to Cleveland Murphy by his sisters, Carrie Murphy, of Indianapolis,  (3); Emma Murphy Morris, of Michigan City, Indiana (3); and his niece Jessie Mae Murphy, of Arcola, Mississippi (2); his niece Henriette Murphy Haygood, of Chicago, (2); cousin Hazel Cantrell, of Indianapolis, (1); his niece Dorothy Morris, of Indianapolis,  (1); a “Niece” (unnamed), of Indianapolis, (1); and one letter written by cousin Mrs. Jessie Dallon (1), of Greenville, Mississippi.

       Correspondence to Cleveland Murphy from his Girlfriends:

36 letters, 114 pp., (5 retained mailing envelopes), dated 23 March 1958 to 20 April 1961; written to Cleveland Murphy by Pauline L. Curry, of Marion, Indiana. Pauline writes to Murphy at a P.O. Box in Indianapolis; Murphy appears to have an intermittent relationship with her; four of these letters are not dated, but fall in the same general timeframe.

12 letters, 59 pp., (3 retained mailing envelopes), dated 19 June 1960 to 19 December 1961; written by Mildred “Millie” Frazier, of Indianapolis, Indiana, to Cleveland Murphy.

5 letters, 13 pp., (3 retained mailing envelopes), dated 4 December 1963 to 14 June 1964; written by Loretta Garland, of Pickens, Mississippi, to Cleveland Murphy.

4 letters, 13 pp., (3 retained mailing envelopes), dated 12 August to 23 October 1958; written by Mrs. Martha L. Green, of Indianapolis, Indiana and Greenville, Mississippi, to Cleveland Murphy.

34 letters, 255 pp., (18 retained mailing envelopes), dated 21 January 1964 to 13 December 1965; written by Leona Howard, of Indianapolis, Indiana, to Cleveland Murphy. Leona appears to be one of Murphy’s girlfriends that he actually became serious with for a while., Leona, in one of her earlier letters, feels the need to be truthful to Murphy about her past and gives Murphy a history of the men she has had sex with, including the first man, her sister’s boyfriend, who raped her when she was 15 years old. Leona was married by the age of 17 to a man by the name of Leonard Johnson and divorced several years later with three children. She and Murphy discuss marriage, she is having a tremendously hard time working, raising her children, living pay check to pay check, Leona was living with family, but then had to leave as her sister’s boyfriend started professing his love for her. Leona’s letters are very interesting and disturbing they lay out many of the social problems still prevalent in society today. Leona’s letters detail the struggles of an African-American woman, single mother, dependent on public assistance; struggles with personal relationships, etc.

7 letters, 29 pp., (2 retained mailing envelopes), dated 8 August 1960 to 26 January 1961; written by Ruby Jackson, of Indianapolis, Indiana, to Cleveland Murphy.

11 letters, 19 pp., (7 retained mailing envelopes), dated 26 January – 12 May 1964; written by Rosemary Lynch, of Indio, California, to Cleveland Murphy; Lynch appears to be a woman that Murphy is possibly courting; three of these letters are not dated, but fit the same time frame.

3 letters, 8 pp., dated 15 July 1957 to 6 August 1960; written by Frozeen Mathews, of Indianapolis, Indiana to Cleveland Murphy.

45 letters, 126 pp., (9 retained mailing envelopes), dated 22 July 1960 to 22 December 1965; Jewel Moore, of Indianapolis, to Cleveland Murphy; four of these letters are not dated, but fall within the same general timeframe as the others.

6 letters, 13 pp., (4 retained mailing envelopes), dated 25 March – 10 August 1964; written by Jessica Reese, of Hazelhurst, Mississippi, to Cleveland Murphy, includes one letter written from Chicago where she went to work at a café of family, or friend.

4 letters, 12 pp., (1 retained mailing envelope), dated 24 October 1960 to 10 August 1961; written by Hazel M. Williams, of Indianapolis, Indiana, to Cleveland Murphy, while stationed at 29 Palms, California; Hazel appears to be a girlfriend of Murphy.

4 letters, 11 pp., (2 retained mailing envelopes), dated December 1963 to 25 April 1964; written by Catherine Wilson, of New Hebron, Mississippi, to Cleveland Murphy.

       Correspondence to Cleveland Murphy from his Male Friends:

6 letters, 10 pp., (5 retained mailing envelopes), dated 4 January 1953 to 25 June 1961; written by Pfc. Paul C. Norris, to his friend and fellow soldier, Cleveland Murphy; Norris is serving with the Hr. TK. Co. 11th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Division. Pfc. Paul Curtis Norris (1931-1982) served in the Korean War from 1951-1953; he writes during the war, and wrote two letters after he was out of the service, married, and living in Medina, Ohio, where he purchased a house. Paul C. Norris is also African-American.

7 letters, 9 pp., (2 retained mailing envelopes), dated 11 November 1952 to 24 March 1953; written by Pfc., later Cpl. William H. Sims, to friend and fellow soldier, Cleveland Murphy. Sims served in Korea with Company R, H.M. 18th Infantry Regiment; Murphy was also serving in Korea. Cpl. William Henry Sims (1930-2010) is also African-American. He was born in Indianapolis and died in Vincennes, Indiana, where he had lived with his wife Bessie. He was the son of rail road laborer William Sims of Shelbyville, Tennessee and Bertha Mae Reed, of Indianapolis, Indiana.

6 letters, 10 pp., dated 27 July 1960 to 12 July 1961; written by Robert Lee Turner, of Indianapolis, Indiana to Cleveland Murphy; Turner appears to be a friend of Murphy.


       Miscellaneous Correspondence to Cleveland Murphy:

35 letters, 81 pp., (17 retained mailing envelopes), dated 22 July 1953 to 12 December 1965; all written to Cleveland Murphy by various military friends, girlfriends, family, and others; some of the correspondents are his friend Pfc. Harold Washington, of the “52nd Trans. Det. Co.,” Fort Hood, Texas (3); another army friend Cpl. L.L. Henderson, of Supply school Co., Marine Corps, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina (1); Cleaphus Upshaw, 58th Ordinance Group, “Ammo” at a APO Box at San Francisco (2), which means he was probably in Vietnam; the Kimble family, of Indianapolis, Indiana (2), friends of his mother; a friend E. L. Dormon, of Indianapolis, (1); Hazel R. Starks (2), Gladys Jones (2), and Maxine Payne (2), all of Indianapolis, IN; Catherine Kincade, of Winnetka, Illinois (2); “Geraldine” of Pickens, Mississippi (1);  Helen Hall, of Grenoda, Mississippi (3); and friends “The Washingtons,” of Ft. Worth, Texas (1); plus a number of others; one letter incomplete and not signed, handwriting appears to look as if it may have been written by Hazel Williams; nine letters are not dated, one of which is incomplete, however, they appear to fall within the same general timeframe of the other letters.


Archive includes 179 pieces of ephemera:

132 newspaper clippings; 25 receipts, presumably for Cleveland Murphy; 10 greeting cards; 5 pieces of printed ephemera; 2 black and white photographs, snapshots, one of what looks to be an Army base/camp, shows military trucks, etc., the other of a African-American soldier, presumably Cleveland Murphy, not labeled; 1 Dept. of Defense Immunization Certificate for Cleveland Murphy; 2 membership cards for Cleveland Murphy for a Free Mason’s Lodge and for the Royal Domain of the Golden Dragon; 1 photocopy of a driver’s license, for Cleveland Murphy, while in military, working as a chauffeur; and 1 address book, 31 pp., plus blanks, measures 2 ¾” x 3 ¾”, bound in thin green leather; front inside boards is inscribed: “Rev. Cleveland Murphy, 1919 Sugar Grove Ave., Indianapolis, Ind.”

       Sample Quotes:

2925 Rader Street, Indianapolis, Ind., Aug 13, 1952


Mr. Cleveland Murphy,


My Dearest Husband, I received all of your letters and I was very glad to hear from you. I was very sorry to hear that you was in the hospital and had to be operated on. But I do hope when this letter reaches your sweet hands they will find you a lots better and I know the Lorde will take care of you.


I love you darling and I am so sorry to hear that you hadn’t received any of my letters. I also send you those pictures I had taken in my Japanese set. But I hope you will get those letters. I wrote you and also the pictures.


Listen Darling, I have been so upset for the last two weeks. I didn’t know if I was coming or going. My Father killed a man two Sundays ago and you can just about imagine how I felt.1 No one to do anything for him but me, and it just kept me on the go all the time. I had to pay out $400.00 to get him out on bond. Then he will face grand jury when ever they set in, and I suppose that will be sometime in the winter, I just don know when. But when ever it will be I will let you know. Darling you don’t know just how much I am going through with. Sometimes I get so fill up I just cry. I be thinking about you, and how far away you are from me, and I just can help from crying, why do things happen like that to me. I just can’t understand it. Honey I really do miss you, and I get so blue and lonesome for you I don’t know what to do…from your wife Ossie Mae Murphy”

 1.Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, IN). 4 Aug 1952. Pg. 13; & 27 Feb 1953, Pg. 41. Isaac Brown, of 510 West Vermont Street stabbed William Holman with a butcher knife during a “deuces wild” poker game at Brown’s house. The two men argued over a $10.00 pot, Brown had five kings, Holman had five queens, but grabbed the pot. After Holman began swinging at him, Brown grabbed a knife and plunged it into the chest of Holman, who walked to the door and dropped dead. Brown was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Brown was 48 years old. Brown’s daughter, Ossie Mae Murphy, lived with her in-laws, the Murphy’s, at 2925 Rader Street, in Indianapolis, about four miles northwest of Brown’s residence, Brown living near to, or in downtown Indianapolis.


“Indianapolis Ind., Sept 6, 1952, 2925 Rader St.


Pvt. Cleveland Murphy


My dear Son, I was glad to hear from you. Proud you made it ok. I know it was nothing but prayers when I heard you was going to be operated on I pry for you. I am still praying for you to come home safe someday…


Mr. Brown is out on bond, don’t know when they have his trial. Mr. Brown and the man was playing cards. Mr. Brown win the money and the man was trying to take it. He killed the man. I don’t know who started it but Mr. Brown beat him. I don’t know how is going to come out. This man folk say it money can sink him they was going to sink far as they can. I am still your mother and don’t forget me when you have a little money send it to me if ain’t but a little send it when you write. Write to the church to your pastor tell them to pray for you. From mother to son”



Dear Murphy,


Glad to hear from you; had been wondering whether you would get a medical discharge or something; but the Army’s pretty strict on cases like yours. So you are cooking now, how do you like it huh? I guess you say anything will beat the infantry, and you are so right. How come you wasn’t stationed in Japan like the other guys? You could have had a better deal over there, but I guess you can’t buck City Hall. We are upon line now; and we have a 2nd John, as Platoon leader, and he’s a number one guy. I saw Henry J. Smith yesterday afternoon; he’s back in George Company now. They were going on patrol. He said Mayfield was up ahead, but I didn’t see him. Miles is in Service Company, and Robinson is with the 31st Infantry now as a gas operator. So Ross got it in the shoulder, well glad it didn’t kill him, it had me worried for a while. Mother was asking about Ross & Murphy so I wrote you guys were in Japan. Well Murphy, its been good to hear from you. Keep writing. Bye for now, Yours Truly, Sims. P.S. God be with you.”




Dear Murphy,


So, everything’s crazy with you huh? Glad to hear of your happenings, it takes my mind off the war for a while. So Joe’s been a bad boy over your way? Well he hasn’t been so nice over here; we’ve been firing so much we burn barrels up in three hours. You see I am no “Assistant Gunner;” our Gunner is “Rotating.” So we are very busy now keeping Joe back night & day. I and Mayfield have just got back from R. & R., we had a crazy time. I and Mayfield had three babes a piece, and Mayfield’s last babe took his heart away (don’t tell him I told you). The way he was loving her made me think he was going to marry her. My last babe gave me a little trouble, but I soon straightened her out; we’d go round & round in the room & on the bed, but she always come out on the bottom. She was about five feet two, & weighted about one hundred twenty pounds; so you see we were quite a pair. I don’t even have her picture & I wouldn’t give her mine, I told her ‘she’d never get my picture in with her bunch of other lover’s.’ I’d keep telling her she was too small, and she got a jar of Vaseline and showed me she could take three-quarters of what I had to give with a kiss (ha ha). I was really surprised because the first time I got only about an inch & a half in her (boy but she was tight). Mayfield’s second babe liked to have killed him (she pretty near broke his back), he had to move on to gentle pastures. Well Murphy, I got to go on the gun so see you later (huh)? Sincerely yours, Sims P.S. I am praying and the fellas send their regards. Take care of yourself you are still in Korea and so is Joe”




Howdy Murphy,


How’s tricks? Hoping everything’s crazy with you. From reading your letter you seem to have the world by the horns. I really went for that ‘Sex Crazy Family,’ and every woman should have a son, I just said to myself she’d have to be a sex crazy or a very hot natured woman to pull a trick like that. Since the last letter I wrote you Joe Chink has thrown in quite a few rounds, but at the time I was in the ‘Company.” They said he throwed over thirty close ones, some hit the wash tubs we wash our Mess gears in and all over the Platoon Bunkers. They even got shrapnel out of my one-man Bunker (lucky? No just the Grace of God). They were all lined up for ‘Chow’ when the rounds came in and hit about twenty feet away and no one was hit or hurt in our platoon. Some guys in the 81 Mortars were hit and one was killed. I still think it a miracle no one was hurt in our platoon, why they pick up two ‘steel pots’ full of shrapnel from artillery to mortar rounds. You are quite right about my opinion of the Japanese babes & stateside ones. They are truly wonderful people to me, their customs, and etc. They make you feel at home, you know if they were a little taller they make ‘number one’ wives. No, I’m not planning on getting married when I get home. Maybe someday I’ll be a family man, but that remains to be seen (I’m not that hot with the ladies yet). We had quite a snow here, and it turned pretty cold now, I give my sympathy to the fellows on line, You take it easy now and I’ll see you again by for now, Yours truly, Sims”


“2925 Rader St, Indianapolis, Ind., March 6, 1953


Mr. Cleveland Murphy

Dearest Darling, I received your letters and I was very glad to hear from you. Your letters found me much better as I am up again now from being sick. But I do hope when this letter reaches your sweet hands they will [find] you well and doing ok. Darling I have been so worried and upset. I don’ know what to do. You know they had my father trial, and it lasted for four days and that just kept me on the go all the time. They gave him life in prison and I haven’t been able to do nothing ever since, but cry and worry myself. It really did upset me. If it not one thing it’s another one all the time. So, I have to take care of all my father’s business and I had to get all of his furniture out of the house and it really has been bad here. Also, I had to go out to [Kimgan] where he worked at and get things straightened out. Darling will you please see what I am going thru with. I hope you will excuse me for such long delayed, but I was too upset to write.  Sometimes I just wonder why every thing has to happen to me. You are away from me and now my father is away for life in prison. Darling I am so sorry about that letter I wrote you. But I do hope that you will please forgive me. Sometimes I think I am completely out of my head. I really didn’t mean to hurt your feeling or do anything that will hurt you. Please forget about that I ever wrote that letter. I am so sorry I don’t know what to do. Darling you know I love and always will, no matter how long you be away from me. But I suppose I am just like any one else. I want to be with you so much and also, I miss you very much. You are my husband and I think you are the sweetest man on this earth. You are all mine and I am all yours and no one else can ever take your place with me. You know darling I could stand a lots of your loving and I know you could stand a lots of mines. So, Sweetheart why shouldn’t we be a little snapped to each other, we are no different from anyone else. I still love and hope you still love me. Darling I am so sorry I didn’t tell you about that picture you sent me enlarge. Yes, I received it and I think it is just beautiful. I put it on top of the piano in the living room. I don’t know what is wrong with me, I just don’t seem to think anymore. Sweetheart it seems like I don’t have nothing but trouble I don’t enjoy nothing anymore. I can’t because we are not together. I wish you knew how much you mean to me. I miss you very much, my heart cries for you all the time. This waiting is about to drive me crazy, but I don’t mind it as long as I know you will still love me and come home to me. I love you so much Sweetheart until it hurts me…I think about you all the time…and you really did satisfy me, when we got some…I told you I was going to send you some of my pictures just as soon as I have some made. But I have been sick and going through a lot of trouble ever since my father killed that man. Darling you must seem to remember that I am not but one person. I can’t do everything at once. If it not one thing its another one all the time, no one else to take care of things but me. I hope you won’t think to hard of me. I am trying to do the very best I can. Sometimes I don’t know if I’m coming, or going. I have so many things on my mind. It is nothing easy to have to go thru a lot of troubles and no one to do but you…from your wife who loves you…Ossie Mae Murphy”


“2925 Rader Street, Indianapolis, Ind., May 14, 1953


Mr. Cleveland Murphy


Dearest Darling, I received your letter and I was very glad to hear from you. I am well and I do hope when this letter comes to you it will find you the same. We had a birthday party for Lewis’ wife’s son and we all had a very nice time at the party. I was glad to hear that the Koreans did not bother you all. I know what you mean when you said each day seem to be bluer and lonesome because it is the same way with me…


…Sweetheart you ask me do you think I could laugh on the outside and cry on the inside when there is hundred of people around you talking about this and that is going on back home. Why sure, I can do that in a matter of facts I am doing that because they say you boys over there is loving those Korean women. Yes, you have to be confident and have a quick and smart answer ready to reply. But the way I do I just let them talk because it’s not nothing that they can say that will make me change my mind because I know that I love you and I have confident in you, and know that you will come back home to me. I will be waiting on you no matter how long you be over there. Because some day you shall return home and we will make up for all we have lost and I know we will be very happy together. All of our sadness and lonesome will all come to a long everlasting happy end…Bye Darling”


“2925 Rader Street, Indianapolis, Ind., June 16, 1953


Mr. Cleveland Murphy


Dearest Sweetheart, just to let you know that I received both of your letters and I was very happy to hear from you…Darling you better not re-enlist. You shouldn’t think don’t know one love you and don’t care if you are dead, or alive. I have told you so many times that I love you, but I don’t’ suppose you believe me…


Darling I didn’t mean any harm when I said people was say that the soldier boys were loving the Korean women, and I did not say that you were. You was giving me the cause why they was loving the Korean women and I know that you was talking about me also. Because you get tired of telling me to write, or if you ask for something, I don’t send it, maybe some pictures or anything and my excuses are very poor and impossible. I know you are talking about me. You said if I don’t write you, you won’t write me. I know you have had all of that in mind too. You say some of the boys said the women back here must think they are queens or something. Well, I don’t think I am no queen, but I just don’t like to write, every since I finish high school I never did care much for writing anymore. All I can say it is really bad for them to catch that bad disease and bring it home and give it to their wives. Well, if they think the Korean women understands better than American women, they should stay on over there where they are. They should never come back over here anymore. They should get them a divorce and marry them and stayed over there with them. I am glad to know that you haven’t tried them because I don’t want you to becoming home giving me no bad disease. I am really happy to know that you are waiting until you come home, and I glad they couldn’t change you mind. We both will make up for what we have miss when you return home…from you wife, Ossie Mae Murphy”


“Sokcho-ri, Korea, Jan 2, 1953


‘I’ love you Dear!

Mrs. Ossie Mae Murphy

Dearest Darling why sitting down thinking of you I thought I would write you a few lines to let you hear from me. I am well & doing fine at present & hope when these few lines reach your sweet hands it will find you well & enjoying the very best of life. Because I wish the best of everything for you. Darling I miss you very much & I wish I could see you now. But I know I can’t see you in person but I’ll see you in my Dreams & I will hold you in my heart until I can hold you in my arms, so Darling please wait for me. I can’t help from crying some time, because I miss you so. I miss you nightly when I go to bed & you ain’t there for me to hold in my arms. I miss everything about you, all the things we use to do & say. I miss your cooking too. When I go to the kitchen to cook, I think about our kitchen at home. How you would be cooking & I wouldn’t let you cook for calling you to sit in my lap and give me a kiss, as I would come up behind you and hug you & feel your tits & all over. I would want some my thing would get hard & you would feel it & say Woo Wee & be teasing me about my thing being hard & because you would know I wanted some loving. I could hug you & hold you real close & it would make me want some. You always did make it good to me. I guess you knew that all the time if you didn’t know you should have known it, because I always wanted to get some. I love you Darling more then you will ever know. You are mine & I am your forever. I don’t want you to ever leave me baby. I couldn’t go on. I need your love to help me be the man that I am today. Darling you belongs to me, be anything but Darling be mine. I cry for you because I hates to be away from you. It really hurts me, I get so blue and lonesome for you until I don’t know what to do, no one can ever take your place with me. I will wait until you are in my arm once again. Where you belong. You know that is where you belong don’t you? You know you belong to me and nobody else, don’t you? & you will always be mine no matter how long I am over here, or where ever I go. Well Darling it is now 11:15 P.M. I must close for now, tell everyone Hello…

Forever yours. Pvt. Cleveland Murphy”


“523 W. Friendship St., Medina, Ohio, 6/25/61, Sunday Afternoon


Hi Murphy:


Well fellow, don’t be surprise to finally get your letter answered. I think of you often, talk about you to my wife. We received your letter and your card, which we appreciate so very much.


How’s things overseas? How long do figure you’ll be over there? Whenever you return, I would like very much to know, because probably it might be possible we can get together and you can have the opportunity of meeting my wife.

Murphy I would be glad to drop you girlfriend a get-well card and will love meeting she & your daughter.

We’re planning on going to Birmingham this weekend for the fourth. Wishing you were able to join me in all of the feasts (eats) that I’ll destroy. I’m weighing pretty close to one-hundred and ninety pounds.

On our home, we just had aluminum siding (white) put on. It looks good, now I’ve got a white Oldsmobile 60 and white house. In our large yard we have pear trees, apple, plum & cherry. You’ve just got to come with your family and see us. We will love having you. My mother lives next door. We’re in a very nice settlement.

Last week we were down in Dayton, to a big family wedding on my wife’s side.

Well Murphy, I guess you tired, so I’ll check here. Hoping to hear from you soon. All our love, Your Pal, Paul”


“2462 ½ N. Harding, Indianapolis, Ind., January 18, 1964

Hello Darling,

I received your letter today and was very glad to hear from you. You don’t know what it meant to me…

Evidently you don’t think too much of me, even though you say that you love me…If you loved me like you said you do you wouldn’t think of telling me to date anyone else regardless if you were 15,000 miles away and wouldn’t be back for 3 years.

I’m sorry that I let you stay here those nights, and maybe you wouldn’t think of me, so low and cheap, but I made my bed and now I have to lay in it…

Since things doesn’t really matter to me anymore & since you feel the way you do about me, you just might as well know the real reason for the letters of suicide.

I am pregnant. If I had known that when you were here. I would not have ever started going with you. I knew that if I had another baby the Welfare would take these children from me, and I knew with another baby I wouldn’t have a future with you, not that I was going to have a future anyway, but a person can always hope for something they really want.

But now since I can’t have the baby, no way everything seems to be alright, well almost everything. And since you think the way you do, it’s no more than what you expected of me…

Maybe I am cheap to an extent like my sister, but I do have my ambitions about life, and I know what I want in life, and I know I’ll never get it, but still I don’t intend to go whoring around. I’ve got enough trouble without adding more to them.

I’ve thought about it, and I started to do it in order to get the children Christmas things, but I changed my mind. To me men aren’t anything but trouble, and the least I see of them the better off I am. If I wanted to I could take that white guy that I was telling about for anything that I want, but I’m not screwing anything I can’t reap.

And another thing, going out with different men you never know what you might run into so I’ll play it safe and stay at home with my children where I belong…

Well I guess I’ll close for now and I hope that you don’t hate me after some of the things I said. I still love you and regardless what happen, I always will. Love, Leona”


“2462 ½ N Harding, Indianapolis, Ind., February 11, 1964


Dear Cleveland,

How could you have said that you loved me and in love with another girl at the same time? You must have an offer lot of true love in you to have loved two people at the same time. I’ve never heard of it?

…I guess my trouble is I think that way and I guess I feel that everyone else feel the same way. Maybe its because of the experience that I’ve had, makes me self-conscious. I’ll let you fill in the blank spaces. I told you that when I was fifteen I was raped and had a baby. Okay, after I was married my husband made me relive this, and I was suppose to forget it and it wouldn’t take effect on me.

I came close to having two nervous breakdowns at the age of 18 and 19. My husband kept reminding me of the matter and blamed me for it and so did a lot of other people including my own mother.

We were married about two months when he called me a H ---- and said that if I had him before we were married I would have anybody. It hurt me very badly because I knew that he was the first person I had ever given in to on my own, and I really didn’t want to then and I was almost 17.

I hate him for that and after that our marriage was a complete mess, sex meant nothing to me with him, he couldn’t move me with a ten foot pole. I’m going to open my mouth again here where it should be closed. But I went on like that for almost three years and I couldn’t stand it any longer and I was about to go crazy wanting to be loved so two months before I left my husband I started messing around with a doctor, so I went out with him once, and that’s how I found out I was headed for trouble, after I h ad relationship with him and I wasn’t satisfied, he apologized and they started running tests on me to prepare me for surgery. But in the meantime I came down with an appendix attack and my surgeon is also a friend of mine and the doctor he was aware of the fact, so after my appendix operation he clipped me, and said that is what was causing my trouble some kind of string that didn’t come a loss by itself and I was too small for my husband.

But anyway, after the operation I had left my husband and the doctors told me to stay away while I was away.

Three months before I met you I had met the person who I broke up with just before you came here and a month after I met him we started dating and we broke up in July after I had started falling in love with you.

But we went back together because at the time I needed help, and I was staying with my mother and father so in Oct I moved over here and in Nov I quite him again for good, and when I quit him, he called me a no good h --- too!

So in December you come and I started messing around with you, and when I saw you standing in the door I wanted to just grab you and hold you and never let you go because I didn’t know that I really loved you that much.

And after I went to the doctor in Jan and I told you that he said I was pregnant I just knew you were going to say the same thing the other two said about me.

..Now you have the whole truth and that’s all the men in that been involved in my life, Leona”


“2462 ½ N. Harding, Indianapolis, Ind., Aug. 8, 1964


Dearest Darling,

Just a few lines to say hello…

There is something on my mind that I will have to say. I’m not sure if I should say it or are not, but I have to talk to some one about it, and you are the one that I love and you are the man that’s suppose to be in love with me, so please help me with this problem. This is something that I’ve always had and idea about but wasn’t sure, now after tonight I’m sure of it.

What happen tonight? Romelia’s boy friend told me that he was in love with me the suppose to be Rev. Webster. I never gone him any impression, in fact I don’t even like him generally because of the way he does her. Oh, at first, I though that he might be good for her, and as a friend he was okay with me until I found out that he was married and still with his wife and then still spending nights with my sister, I began to turn against him plus he don’t even help her out and she got him the job out there were she work. And when I found out that he drinks, that cooked the cake and calls himself a preacher. In the first place I don’t care for no drinking man period and when it comes to a drinking preacher that’s too much. And she’ really in love with him.

This is not the first time this has happened it’s been going on every since I was fifteen years old are maybe even younger. All of my sister’s husbands liked me and at the time that I began to fine out about this I was only about 9 or 10 years old, and I wasn’t even thinking about me then, not even when I was raped by one of Romelia’s boy friends at the age of fifteen I still wasn’t interested in men or boys sexually wise, now every one of their boy friends have or had a crush on me, they have gone afar enough to say to me that (I wish I had mate you before I mate your sister), now what good would that have done because I still wouldn’t have been interested in them?

Now that I put two and to together that’s probably why Romelia don’t keep a boyfriend because after they meet me, they want me but don’ know how to say it to her, and the bad part about it she haven’t never had one that I would want nor have the other.

Is there something about me are that I do unconsciously that attract their attention to me? I’m not pretty, I’m no size, and I certainly don’t have no shape, nor do long pretty hair. I’m not, man crazy, I’m not sex crazy. So, what is it. And you told me in so many words that I couldn’t screw?

My decision on this matter is to leave town, I wanted to go to Detroit but I have another sister up there, so I want to go somewhere where I don’t have any people at all that I know of. Oh, I’m so confused until I don’t know what to do. I don’t even understand.

And maybe without me around Romelia may be able to get her a good boy friend and keep him. I don’t want any of their men, and when I’m not trying to impress any of them how can I keep them from liking me are falling in love with me. I have enough problems as it is, Leonard is beginning to worry me, if I’m pregnant he plans to name me as an unfit mother and take the children from me (would you let him do that to me?) I love you very much and very deeply it’s you I want an no one else I don’t think I could ever love anyone else the way I love you in fact I know I wouldn’t I had a hard time really letting myself go and loving you now if you ever hurt me, I would be just like I was at first I wouldn’t even have faith in another man.

You are a problem to me now also, I’m not sure if you want me I know you did say that you still love me, the day that you prove to me that I’m yours that will be the day when I can put my plans and ideas together. Oh don’t’ get me wrong I meant for your birthday and Christmas. You see any ideas that I have I have to do them in advance because I’m poor, and your birthday and Christmas is so close together and me are so expensive. Then there’s a house problem, any house that I’ve found for rent that was worth living in the rent was too high are either the same old question where is your husband employed, are either the house is for rent with option to buy. Are the house was for sale only, I think if I had the money I would go ahead and buy, this is really becoming a great big headache. Then there are the men whom knows that I live along with my children have tried to come in and take advantage of me. So far I’ve gotten out of this by telling them that I was married and my mother in law lives with me. Sometimes I just feel like crawling into a hole all by myself. I’m still afraid that one of these nights some on may break in on us while we are asleep.

Darling on these problems concerning my sister please give your point of view. Do you think I should leave town? Are just stay away from her? Are do you think that I should tell her about it? If I had told some one about Jerry 8 years ago that probably wouldn’t have happened (Why me?).

I’m so lonesome without you I really wish you were near are I was there to be in your arms and cry on your shoulder but do to the circumstances, I have to do without. I just don’t know what to do are say…

Right now you are treating me the way I expected to be treated by the one that I really loved. Once a man finds out that a woman is in love with him, he will miss use her abuse her mistreat her, and forever doing something to hurt her. That’s why I was afraid to really love you but I just couldn’t help it, it seemed as though there was something inside me that keep pushing me and when I tried to resist loving you it made me love you that much more, until I just had to let go. Oh well so what?

I guess I’ll close for now hoping to see you soon are here from you, Love always, Leona”


“[Aug 1964]

…But I feel like this if you had really loved and wanted me you would have married me before you left, it seems to me as though this is a one sided affair I love care and want you but you like me but you don’t really want me as yours for the rest of your life, I also feel that I’m waiting for another disappointment if you are judging me now according to the way some of y our other women treated you…

Romelia told me again last night that she wants me to hurry up and get out of her house. She fix dinner last night she and her husband ate meat and she gave my children pork & beans and tomatoes and I bought that food so you see I really don’t want to give up my children nor do I want to marry Jerry but I don’t make enough money to pay rent and I’m getting out of here just as fast as I can, even if it means marrying Jerry since it didn’t worry you the least little bit weather me and the children had a place to stay, if you had cared enough for use even if you didn’t marry me you would have seen to it that we had somewhere to stay.

If it turns out I’m pregnant I’m too afraid to have the baby because then I know I  won’t have no one to turn to and no where to stay and since your excuse for not getting married was because some thing may happen to you, that’s all the more reason for me not having it and since you didn’t want me I don’t see why you want me to have your baby, or why I should have one for you. Please don’t think I’m angry at you because I’m not I love you very much but I’ve still got a decision to make but I wanted you to understand before I let my children be out doors or before I be a burden on some one else, I will marry Jerry I’ll probably regret it later or in a few years I will probably divorce him, but at least by that time my children will be at an age to help me. And I won’t have to worry about a baby sitter too much.

If I could only believe that your intentions are to marry me or that you really cared and wanted me I wouldn’t think of marrying anyone else but you… Leona”


“2462 ½ N. Harding, Indianapolis, Ind., September 1, 1964


Hello Darling,

…I sure hoe you won’t have to go on the battlefield because if you do it would hurt me, and I don’t ever want anything to happen to you.

Maybe it doesn’t take much for you anymore, but I’m still young and it takes a whole lot for me. Now if I get you down in your back, how do you plan on handling the two of us and she’s young too, plus she never been married, so she should be in good shape.

That’s what I say about me in their young days they try to get all they can, and when they start to get old they’ve had so much until they can barely make it…

…After you hadn’t wrote I thought that you had chosen the other girl, and I didn’t want you to stick with me just because I was going to have a baby by you, so Glenn and I had talked about it and he still wanted me to marry him so if I had been pregnant, I was going to marry him. Most of his people don’t know that he can’t produce babies. So I was going to marry him in order to give the baby a father and a home. Glenn knew just as well as I did that I couldn’t have been pregnant by him because I had never had anything to do with him. I would have been miserable, but the baby would have been happy. I love married life it’s wonderful, but after what I went through, I’m a little afraid of it too. And then there are times when I think of how wonderful a married life with you…

Leonard is hoping that I would hurry up and get married so that he won’t have to take care of his children anymore. He has a white girl friend and she won’t even let him come see the kids. He can’t take them out of the yard, no way. Leonard tried to kill me once and I can have it fix where he won’t be able to see them at all. And if he don’t leave me alone that is what’s going to happen. Either he’s making it up are he’s got some friends that’s putting a lot of stuff into his head and if he ever try to go to court and take these kids from me, I hope there won’t be any Christians in the court rom because I’m going to lay my little religion on the shelf before I leave home and when I finish with him he’s going to wish he never knew me.

You say I’m not firm enough with these kids, I know that, but what more do you expect I do the best that I can. I have to be their mother & father, their nurse maid, housekeeper, cook, laundry man, plus the head of the house along with all of the worrying about you, and how I’m going to pay bills rent, and keep food in the house from one month to the other. I’m a very tense and nervous, lonely person, a young lady at that. I’m going through a lot more than you realize…

         I guess you are for me, but I’m not for you. I want your child so bad until I don’t know what to do. But I’m afraid of the pains and the suffering that it causes. Oh well, I guess I will close now it’s 3:00 AM. I’m not sleepy because my mind is on you. Love, Leona”