Biography of Eleazer Morton



Berrien County

Online Biographies


Also see [Railway Officials in America 1906]

Eleazer Morton, a native of the State of Massachusetts, was born Aug. 1, 1786 and when about twenty years of age removed to Syracuse, N. Y., purchased a farm, and began the manufacture of salt. About 1811 he was married to Joanna Cotton, a native of Vermont, who had been engaged in teaching at Syracuse. The wedded couple removed soon after to Alexander, Genesee Co., N. Y., where Mr. Morton engaged in farming and the manufacture of cloth. In the spring of 1831 he sold out his interests at Alexander, and removed to Brockport, Monroe Co., where he became interested in matters pertaining to the Erie Canal. Excessive competition and the cutting of rates rendered the season disastrous, and in the fall of the same year Mr. Morton changed his place of residence to Medina, Ohio, where he opened a hotel, and carried it on until the spring of 1834, when he finally removed to Michigan, and located near Toland Prairie, near what is now Galesburg, Kalamazoo Co. He had conceived the idea of founding an establishment for the manufacture of sugar from potatoes, and for that purpose came to Michigan. In the fall of 1835 he abandoned the project, and removed with his family to St. Joseph, Berrien Co., where they passed the winter. During the few succeeding months he purchased, of different parties, 160 acres, on sections 18 and 20. In the spring of 1836 he built a log tavern on the Territorial road, which was the only house for a distance of seven miles eastward from the mouth of the river St. Joseph. He cleared his farm, started a nursery, and commenced to raise fruit; his orchard, which was set out in 1840, containing apple, peach, pear, plum, nectarine, and apricot trees. The principal variety in the peach line was the "Yellow Rareripe," which was to a great extent superseded by the " Crawford; the latter becoming a general favorite, and still enjoying an enviable reputation. The first peaches from this market to Chicago were shipped by B. C. Hoyt, and the second by Mr. Morton.

In his political views Mr. Morton was an old line Whig, and subsequently a thorough Republican, and was decided in his opposition to the principles and encroachments of slavery. He was a deep thinker, and was possessed of an ardent desire to benefit his fellow men. He was in correspondence with Horace Greeley and other philanthropists, and furnished articles for the press upon his favorite topics. He was also the author and publisher of a volume entitled "Morton's Guide to True Happiness." His wife died in September, 1856, and Mr. Morton's death occurred July 4, 1864.

Mr. and Mrs. Morton were the parents of ten children. Sarah M. married Thomas Conger, who practiced law from 1834 to 1849 in St. Joseph. He finally removed to California for the benefit of his health, and is now police judge of Sacramento. His wife died in California in 1850. One of their daughters became the wife of Senator Jones, of Nevada. Charles A. was in the forwarding business, with Britain, Sawyer & Co., at St. Joseph, and died in 1838. Henry C. Morton, now living on the old homestead at Benton Harbor, was in the Legislature in 1863, and was also largely interested in the construction of the canal at the Harbor. William E., who was engaged in the lumber business at Chicago, died in that city in 1859, and his brother, George C., is now engaged in the same business at the same place. Jane E. became the wife of William Hammell, and lived for some time at St. Joseph and Niles. Mr. Hammell was connected with the Michigan Central Railroad. He subsequently removed to Morris, Grundy Co., Ill., and engaged in the lumber business, and his wife died in that place in December, 1859. Joanna D. Morton married William Raymond, a merchant of St. Joseph, and died in 1849. James M. Morton made an overland journey to California, with a party from St. Joseph, in 1849, and died in December following, of typhoid fever. Mary A. married S. A. Raymond, a merchant of St. Joseph, and subsequently removed to Toledo, Ohio, where she was president of the Soldiers' Aid Society durIng the war, and is now living at San Francisco, Cal. Caroline D. married S. G. D. Howard, a Chicago lumber merchant, and is now widowed and living in that city.

History of Berrien and Van Buren Counties, Michigan
With Illistrations and Biographical Sketches
of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers.
D. W. Ensign & Co., Philadelphia 1880
Press of J. B. Lippincoff & Co., Philadelphia.

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