Biography - James Morton

ELDER JAMES L. MORTON was born in Prince Edward County, Va., in 1809. His father, John Morton, was born in Charlotte County, Va. He was a son of Charles Morton, who was a farmer of Virginia, in which State he died. He married Miss Mary Smith, and they reared three sons: Nathaniel, John and William. The father died in the prime of life, leaving a comfortable competency. The mother was afterward married to Hartwell Hight, by whom she had one son, Thomas Hight, and died when just past middle life. Nathaniel Morton removed to Lincoln County, Ky., and had one son, James, and a daughter. William was a Baptist preacher, and reared three sons and one daughter. The sons were Alfred, Missouri and Messena, and all were reared to farm life, consequently followed that occupation all their lives. Alfred is dead, but the two others are farming in Calloway County, Ky. John Morton, the father of James L., married Tabitha Penick, daughter of William Penick. They had three sons and eleven daughters, all of whom arrived at adult age and reared families. Grandmother Penick lived to be eighty-four years of age.
Our subject's parents were married in Prince Edward County, Va., where they had six children born to them, of whom none are living except one, J. L. The others are: William; Zorada, who died in July, 1892, at the age of eighty-nine, and a widow of Isaac Cochran, a Presbyterian preacher, to whom she bore three sons and three daughters; Mary, who died a young woman; Judith, who married a Mr. Hill and died in advanced years, leaving a family; and James L. While young, James L. Morton received but a moderate education, but when he was a man he attended the Ohio University, at Athens, Ohio, going to that State on horse-back, a distance of four hundred miles. This was in 1829, when he was twenty years of age. He was there a part of two years preparing for the ministry, during which time he fairly mastered Latin and Greek. In 1838, he began his ministry in Virginia, and in 1839 was ordained at the Mathews Baptist Church.
Mr. Morton's first marriage occurred in his twenty-fourth year to Nancy E. Hill, daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Hill, in 1832. This lady lived but five months, and our subject was married the second time, to Eliza H. Hill, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Hill, but not related in any way to his first wife. In 1847, Mr. and Mrs. Morton removed with their two children to Carroll County, Tenn., a journey of seven hundred miles, made by steamer and teams, and costing $100. In Tennessee he bought a good farm, having sold his farm in Virginia, and three years later sold this farm in Gibson County and bought another in Henry County. During his stay in Tennessee he bought a grist and saw mill, but the location being unhealthful he moved to a farm. In the year 1856, he sold again and removed to Calloway County, Ky., where he bought three hundred and twenty acres of land, upon which he lived until 1862. He then sold that farm and bought his present home in Johnson County, Ill., which comprises two hundred and forty acres of improved land. This land cost $10 per acre, but by paying cash down he secured a discount of ten per cent, and afterward bought sixty acres more. He has since then sold and given away to his children until ho has left only seventy-nine acres.
Our subject's companion died August 6, 1869, aged fifty-five years, having borne five sons and two daughters, one of each dying in infancy, and John T. dying in the army. Those living are: James W., a farmer of Kentucky, having a wife, two sons and four daughters; Edward F., a clerk in Vienna, who has a wife and one son; and Mary E., now Mrs. W. W. Reeves, living on part of the old farm, and having four daughters. Joseph R., an unmarried man, it is believed is dead. John T. Morton was a soldier in the Union army, volunteering at seventeen years of age in Company E, Second Illinois Cavalry, and he died of typhoid fever in a hospital at Columbus, Ky. Mr. Morton was married again, January 16, 1870, to Nancy J. Joiner, nee Trammell. Her first husband was William L. Joiner. He was a member of the Thirty-first Illinois Infantry, was mustered in in 1862, and was in the Quartermaster's department, but on account of failing health was discharged. He died on the 2d of February, 1866, on the twenty-third anniversary of his wife's birth. He left her with three sons: Josiah W., now a farmer and teacher, and just ready to begin the practice of law; he has a wife, three sons and one daughter; Joshua A., a farmer and teacher of Arkansas, who has a wife, two sons and one daughter; and Willis R., a young man of twenty-six years of age in Arkansas.
Mr. and Mrs. Morton have had seven children, five sons and two daughters: Cynthia, who died at fourteen months; Hugh Q., twenty-two years old; Charles T., twenty; Samuel P., eighteen; Frederick B., fifteen; Matthew W., ten; and Harriet E., eight. These children are all fairly well educated. Mrs. Morton has four brothers living, there being four deceased. Her brother Jonathan was killed by a runaway team.
Mr. Morton has been a farmer most of his life, but taught school for some six or eight years in Virginia and Tennessee. In 1839 and 1840, he was in the missionary work as a minister, and has preached more or less for sixty years. During his long life in the ministry he has been the means of the conversion of many a sinner and has taken an active part in many revivals, his first one being in Virginia, when he immersed seven men and their wives. Mrs. Morton was converted in her fourteenth year and she has been a very active worker in the cause of religion. Mr. Morton has been a Mason over forty years, and organized Lodge No. 419, at old Reynoldsburgh, of which for many years he was the Worshipful Master. He has also served as King in the Vienna chapter and is in all probability the oldest Royal Arch Mason in this part of the country, as he is one of the oldest men.

Extracted 16 Dec 2016 by Norma Hass from 1893 Biographical Review of Johnson, Massac, Pope, and Hardin Counties, Illinois, pages 468-470.

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