From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Murphy, Isaac [Burns]

(born: 1861  -  died: 1896) 

Named either Jerry Burns or Isaac Burns at birth in Bourbon County, KY, he changed his name to Isaac Murphy after becoming a jockey. Isaac Murphy's family moved into town (Lexington, KY) after his father died at Camp Nelson, KY; the family lived with the maternal grandfather, Green Murphy. Isaac Murphy was the son of America (1842-1879) and Jerry Burns [Skillman] (1834-1864); he and his parents were slaves. Isaac Murphy was the first back-to-back Kentucky Derby winner and the first to win three derbies (1884, 1890 & 1891). One of the very best jockeys, Murphy's 44% winning percentage is still unbroken. Additional information may be found in the Betty Borries Papers, Isaac Murphy Material, located at Kentucky State University; The Isaac Murphy Notebook at the Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum in Lexington, KY; and The Great Black Jockeys, by E. Hotaling. Isaac Murphy's widow, Lucy Murphy, died in 1910. She and her mother lived on North Limestone Street in Lexington. See "Widow of noted jockey," Lexington Leader, 02/25/1910, p.8.


Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Isaac Scott Hathaway Museum
NKAA Source: Isaac Murphy Notebook
NKAA Source: Great black jockeys : the lives and times of the men who dominated America's first national sport
NKAA Source: Lexington leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Allen, Dudley
NKAA Entry:  Jockeys/Trainers in Kentucky
NKAA Entry:  Bush v. Kentucky (John Bush vs The Commonwealth of Kentucky)
NKAA Entry:  Mack, Henry
NKAA Entry:  African American Horsemen, Articles in Kentucky Newspapers

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Murphy, Isaac [Burns],” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 24, 2022,

Last modified: 2017-09-14 18:04:11