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
reared families. Grandmother Penick lived to be eighty-four years of
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
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
James L. While young, James L. Morton received but a moderate
education, but when he was a man he attended the Ohio University, at
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
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
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
He then sold that farm and bought his present home in Johnson County,
Ill., which comprises two hundred and forty acres of improved 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
given away to his children until he 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
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
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
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
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.