Biography of William P. Morris
Riverside County, CA Biographies





WILLIAM P. MORRIS
Numbered among the pioneers of Riverside county and a man who has won the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens is W. P. Morris, a resident of the country adjacent to Banning, where he has made his home since 1869. He was born in Philadelphia, Pa., December 18, 1844, the second oldest in the family of Hiram and Elizabeth (Hart) Morris, both descendants of English ancestry and among the early settlers of Philadelphia.

W. P. Morris received a common school education in his native city and after its completion there was not much time elapsed between it and his enlistment for service in the Civil war in Company C, First New York Cavalry, formerly the Lincoln Cavalry. composed of New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan men. This regiment served in the Army of the Potomac under General McClellan, and later commanded by General Sheridan, participated in numerous skirmishes and battles, including the seven days' battle in the Peninsula, the battle of Winchester and the encounter at Five Forks, and scouted in the Shenandoah valley, and was present at the surrender of General Lee. In 1864 Mr. Morris was wounded on the raid to Lynchburg by a shot in the right hip and was put into an ambulance, in which for two weeks he was carried about; finally he was taken to a hospital, and there he remained until his recovery. Rejoining his company thereafter he served until the close of the war and received his discharge July 7, 1865, in New York harbor.

Mr. Morris returned to his native city and soon after secured a position as street ear conductor. One year later he enlisted in the United States Cavalry service and with other troops was sent to Wilmington, Cal., in 1867. Upon his arrival he was given a California bronco for a mount ; the animal, not being thoroughly broken, threw his rider when he endeavored to mount, the fall breaking his collar bone. It was about a year before he was able to be about, then received his discharge from the service for disability. When he received his discharge he also received money for transportation back to Philadelphia, via Panama, receiving about $300. At that time the sheep business was very profitable and Dr. Edgar induced him to invest his money in a band with himself, which he did, the doctor furnishing range and paying a salary to Mr. Morris for looking after them, he owning one fifth of the band He made an agreement for three years and faithfully kept it, at the end of which time he could have sold out and made a profit of about $2,000, but he entered into another agreement with Dr. Edgar to take the band on shares on another three year contract, which he did, but the dry years intervened and the venture was a loss to Mr. Morris, after he had paid all expenses of the undertaking. Just before entering into the sheep business Mr. Morris was employed on the survey of the first railroad into Los Angeles from Wilmington. The outdoor exercise and the healthful climate of California restored him to normal health after a few months and he has been a stanch advocate of the country ever since.

Subsequently Mr. Morris filed on a claim located near his present home, but several years later was evicted by the Indian agent by orders of the government, claiming the property as a part of an Indian reservation. Mr: Morris left the premises and joined his brother, Thomas K. Morris, who had also served in the Civil war and was associated with his brother W. P. in the purchase of a ten acre tract upon which they erected a comfortable residence ands set the land to fruit. Mr. Morris had determined to seek redress when he had to leave his property and after a long and strenuous legal battle the homestead was restored to its owner and he was able to perfect his title upon the advice of President McKinley. Mr. Morris' pleasure in his victory was shared by his many friends.

A stanch Democrat, intelligently interested in political developments, Mr. Morris has been actively identified with the development of the community and has watched with interest its steady growth, laboring with others to secure various improvements. He served as one of the viewers during the construction of the Banning and Idyllwild road, costing in the neighborhood of $50,000. In 1889 he was elected justice of the peace of Banning and for the following fifteen years filled that office. He is conceded to be one of Banning's able and conscientious citizens and interested in promoting every worthy enterprise in the community, and as one of the pioneers he has seen many changes and has encountered many difficulties in the progress of the community.

From:
History of Riverside County, California
With a Biographical Review
History by Elmer Wallace Holmes
And other well known writers
Historic Record Company
Los Angeles, California 1912


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