Named after Christian County in Kentucky through the influence of emigrants from that county.
Established February 15, 1839 as Dane County (Laws, 1839, p. 104). Name changed to Christian County in 1840.
WILLIAM EDGAR MORRISON is a prominent attorney of Morrisonville and comes from a pioneer family of this State. His grandfather, Robert Morrison, came West about 1792, settling in Kaskaskia, Ill., where he became a leader in commercial enterprises and one of the influential men of the times. Our subject's father, James L. D. Morrison, was born in Kaskaskia, April 12, 1818. He was also a lawyer, and was actively engaged in practice at Belleville, Ill., and St. Louis for many years, his specialty being real estate titles. He was a prominent man and was one of the principal supporters of Stephen A. Douglas in the West, but after the defeat of that statesman for the Presidency in 1860, he abandoned his political career.
During the Mexican War, the father of our subject was a Lieutenant-Colonel of the Second Regiment, and was in command of the regiment at Buena Vista. His services were fittingly recognized on his return from the war by the Legislature of Illinois, which presented him with a sword suitably inscribed. He succeeded Lyman Trumbull as a member of Congress when the latter was elected to the Senate, and was afterward elected to fill the full term. On returning from Mexico, he devoted his attention to his law practice and investment in lands.
In 1842, James L. D. Morrison wedded Miss Mary A., daughter of Ex-Governor Thomas A. Carlin. The lady was also a native of Illinois, and by her marriage became the mother of five children, namely: J. L. D., William Edgar, Eugene M., Guy R. and Mary E. Only two of the number are now living, our subject and his sister, who is the wife of Joseph P. Carr, of St. Louis. The parents were devoted members of the Roman Catholic Church. The father died in St. Louis, August 17, 1888, and his wife passed away many years before, on the llth of September, 1855. Ex-Governor Thomas A. Carlin, our subject's maternal grandfather, entered land in Christian County in 1852. The Wabash Railroad Company named the village of Morrisonville in honor of the father of our subject.
The boyhood of our subject was mainly spent at Belleville, and his education was chiefly obtained at the Christian Brothers' College [ed., Christian Brothers University] in St. Louis. He was only sixteen years old when, in 1862, he entered the United States navy as a midshipman, his first service being on board the good ship "Constitution." [ed., U.S.S. Constitution] He was on the sea for about two years, when, at the request of his father, who wished him to enter the legal profession, he resigned from the navy, February 16, 1866.
Returning to Belleville, he entered the law office of Judge William H. Snyder, now deceased. At the end of two years he was examined by a committee appointed by the Supreme Court, who pronounced him qualified for the practice of the legal profession. As he was then less than twenty-one years of age, he could not be admitted to the Bar according to the law, and was therefore given the oath on his twenty-first birthday, April 13, 1867. The succeeding fall he embarked in practice at Springfield in the office of Stuart, Edwards & Brown, and afterward in that of McLernand, Broadwell & Springer. He remained in Springfield until May, 1871.
Mr. Morrison has always taken an active interest in politics, and from boyhood has been a stanch advocate of the Democratic party. During the campaign of 1868, in which Seymour was the Democratic candidate for President in opposition to Grant, he made the canvass of seven counties in this State at the request of the State Central Committee.
He inherited a talent for oratory, and his speeches have always been received with favor. In this part of the State Mr. Morrison has been very influential in shaping the policy of his party. In 1876 he received the Democratic nomination for Representative to the Legislature, and was elected by a majority of several hundred votes in excess of that received by the general ticket. On taking his seat he was, with one exception, the youngest man in the House. He was placed on the Committee on Railroads, and took an active part in the work of that session. The resolution for the appropriation of 850,000 for the completion of the Douglas monument was introduced in 1877, and his speech in favor of its acceptance, and in answer to the bitter speech of Mr. Merritt, was greeted with tremendous applause, and was afterward conceded to be one of the finest oratorical efforts ever made in the House.
October 20, 1869, Mr. Morrison married Miss Annie C. Perkins, a native of Springfield and daughter of Joseph Perkins, an old resident of Sangamon County. Her death occurred March 20, 1874, and she left one child, James L. D. Morrison, Jr., who is now at the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, completing his law studies, and will graduate in the Class of '94. Our subject, having gone to Iowa in 1882, was active in the canvass of that State for Cleveland, and afterward was one of the first to bring Mr. Boles into prominence as the Democratic candidate for Governor in Iowa.
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