Ernistine Murphy 

Ernie is the second youngest of six children born to Glen and Melissa Quinney. She was born in Morgan Siding.


Ernie was raised in Morgan Siding, where as a child her and her siblings learned the value of hard work. "We didn’t have a TV. and stuff they do now, work was all we had to do," says Ernie. Ernie’s parents always had a big garden and she would spend a lot of time hoeing and weeding out the garden. She also spent time picking cucumbers for her parents which helped provide the family income, "I didn’t like it," Ernie recalls. Ernie and her siblings were always aware of the fact that work comes first and then fun. "By the time we would get to the river all the other kids would be coming back," says Ernie chuckling.


Ernie attended grade school in Morgan Siding. She recalls everyone bringing their lunch to school in syrup pails. During summer vacations her and her family would go to Sturgeon Bay to pick cherries, this is where Ernie had the chance to work for her school clothes.


Gresham is where Ernie started her high school education, before transferring to Flandreau Indian School. "If I hadn’t attended Flandreau I probably wouldn’t have finished high school," says Ernie. The experiences that Ernie had at Flandreau were great. Her schooling there consisted of six weeks academic studies and six weeks of vocational training.

Ernie explains how they had what was called a "practice cottage", there students would take turns fulfilling different roles including: cook, laundress, and child caregiver. During summer breaks Ernie would work with family in Milwaukee. There was one time that Ernie stayed in Flandreau to work for the summer; "I didn’t see my family for over a year."


After graduation Ernie moved to Milwaukee where she worked in area factories.


Not long after that she put in her application to the Marines, and off she went. "I really liked that (marines) it was a good learning experience, it taught me discipline and how to get along with people." Ernie did a lot of traveling during her time in the Marines and out of all the places she visited she enjoyed being in Washington D.C.. The main reason that Ernie joined the Marines was because her parents didn’t have the money to send her school, and there weren’t any programs available to help her out.


Ernie had known Virgil Murphy for quite a while before they were married. "He lived in Crandon, but would come stay with his grandmother in Morgan. Ernie and Virgil were married shortly before Ernie was discharged from the Marines. They have been happily married now for over 56 years. Ernie and Virgil lived in the area for a while, and then they made a move to Green Bay while Virgil attended school. Virgil then went back into the service and they moved once again, this time to Dayton, Ohio.


Waitressing consumed a large part of Ernie’s working life. She has also worked at factories, as a CHR, an EMT, and in Menominee in their food & nutrition program. She has always been interested in being a nurse, and she even completed a nursing assistant course through Shawano, however the hours didn’t quite fit what Ernie was looking for at the time.

Ernie is the mother of four; she has three daughters and one son. "They’re all grown and married," says Ernie with a proud smile upon her face. Ernie says that she has tried to raise her children to know the importance of church and the value of an education.


Religion is an important part of Ernie’s life. As a child she attended Sunday school. Today she is a part of the Presbyterian Church in Morgan, and she is also active in Wednesday Bible studies, as well as the Mary Martha Society.


The biggest change or changes that Ernie has encountered on the reservation are the abundance of programs now available to the community.


She wishes everyone would take advantage of what is here. Ernie said that she thinks it is great that they have the family center, elderly center, and the medical transportation van.

Another change that Ernie appreciates is that her road was finally black topped. She tells me of a time when her and one of her grandsons were riding bike together and she fell. Shortly after she put her bike up for sale because she was afraid it would happen again, however changes came about and Ernie was looking for a new bike.


Ernie is very active. She enjoys fishing, gardening, sewing, cooking, gardening, and most of all she enjoys spending time with her 11 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.

During the colder months Ernie and her husband get their exercise at the family center, but once summer comes she can’t imagine being cooped up in a building so her and her husband do a lot of walking. Ernie enjoys attending events and going on trips with the elderly program. She and her husband have attended some tours on their own to Cape Cod.

"I like to live a simple life." Says Ernie. When asked how she feels overall she said, "I’m happy for my family, my life is good- I have no regrets."