S.B. Morris wrote this letter to the Illinois
Central Railroad regarding being a Gold Pass Veteran, April 24, 1953:
"In reply to your letter, April 22, about biography of each gold pass
I was born on a farm in Johnson County, in a
small community called Flatwoods, in the year 1881. I am the second
child of a family of six children.
While I am one of
the 50- year veterans, my devotion to the Illinois Central began many
years earlier. As a pupil in grade school, an understanding teacher
walked the entire school to Grantsburg and bought round trip tickets on
the train to Simpson, Illinois for all of us, a distance of six miles.
This is one of the most thrilling events in my life and was a big
factor in helping me decide at that early age to make railroading my
career. I later studied telegraphy in my home along with a number of
other boys in the community. We strung wires from one farm to another
and exchanged news and local events with one another with the
telegraphy. After completing school, I sold my horse that had been a
gift from my father to get money enough to go to Grantsburg and study
station and telegraphy work with the Illinois Central Agent, the late
Telegraphy study in those days was a slow
and tedious process, however in the fall of 1903, I felt that I was
qualified and made an application for the job of telegrapher. I was
called to Carbondale and passed their examination and was sent to
Swanwick, Illinois. After working some four months at this location,
and experiencing my first homesickness, I was moved to Sand Ridge
Junction. I was located at this place for eighteen months until Zera
Kerley took the agency at Simpson, Illinois. I moved then to Grantsburg
where I spent many happy hours loafing, hunting and fishing with the
natives of this little Southern Illinois town. Grantsburg, like most
little towns in those days had one general store which was owned by a
Mr. Cowan, who later gave his daughter, Nellie Lou, to me in marriage.
A big wedding was in order and in those days everyone in the community
was invited, as my wife has so often said, that it would not have paid
to have offended any of the customers.
In 1910, my good
friend, Zera Kerley, retired and I took the agency at Simpson because I
was now a family man and the job paid twenty dollars a month more per
month. I soon found that the increase in pay was small compensation for
the added work. Express business at Simpson in those days was enormous.
While working at Simpson, I was elected to the city council, however,
our family was now increased with three children and we were thinking
about schools, so in 1921 I asked to be sent to Benton, where I have
remained. The change from Simpson to Benton was a big one for me, as I
soon realized there was considerable difference between one man station
and one that employed nineteen, five of them women. I finally realized
that all of them had a job to do and that I wasn't called upon to do it
For thirty two years, I have been with the
Illinois Central in Benton, watched it grow to a nice size city and
have served on its school board, been an active member of the Elks, a
Deacon in the First Christian Church and member of Masonic Lodge A.
F.& A. M. No. 778 and also a member of the Modern Woodmen for more
than thirty five years.
We have three children, two
daughters and one son: Lela, wife of Dr. Wm. Phelps, faculty member of
SIU at Carbondale; Harry S., owner of Morris' Radio and Television Shop
and also with Fox Theaters in Benton; and Helen Louise, wife of
Attorney J. W. Suddes of Jerseyville, Illinois.
My hobby is hunting and fishing and I enjoy horse racing as a sport.
S. B. Morris"