Robert A. Morris & Related Families From Milton, Indiana
Among any community’s most important interests are those which deal with its financial affairs, for financial stability must be the foundation stone upon which all great enterprises are erected. The men who control and conserve the money of corporation or country, or of private individual, must of necessity possess many qualities not requisite in the ordinary citizen, and among these, high commercial integrity, poise, judgment, exceptional financial ability and foresight may be mentioned. They must possess the public confidence, for often through their wisdom, sagacity and foresight panics that have threatened the government have been averted. A citizen whose entire training has been along the line of finance, and who has been prominently connected with the banking interests of Grant county for a number of years, is Robert A. Morris, president of the Fairmount State Bank.
Mr. Morris comes of old Southern stock, his paternal great-grandfather having been born in North Carolina of Welsh and Scotch parentage. The family came to the American Colonies prior to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War, and belonged to the Hicks Quaker stock, Mr. Morris himself being a member of the Society of Friends. He was married in North Carolina, and in 1823 came north with the Quakers who left the South because of their opposition to the practice of slavery prevalent in the Old North State, making a settlement near Richmond, Indiana, where they became pioneers. Mr. Morris was a miller by vocation and established one of the first mills in Wayne county, contimiing to spend the remainder of his career there and dying in advanced years, as did also his wife. Among their children was George Morris, the grandfather of Robert A. Morris.
George Morris first saw the light of day in North Carolina, and was still a small boy when he accompanied his parents in their journey overland to the wilderness of Indiana. He grew up to sturdy manhood, was reared to agricultural pursuits and followed farming for some time, but subsequently became an early merchant near Richmond. He was married in that city to Miss Rhoda Frampton, who was born a Quakeress and a member of an old Maryland family of Friends. Mr. Morris passed away near Richmond when but thirty-six years of age, while his wife survived him for a long period, dying at the advanced age of ninety years.
The second son and child of the five children of his parents, Aaron Morris, the father of Robert A. Morris, was born near Richmond, Wayne county, Indiana, November 21, 1834. There he was educated, reared and spent his entire life, and there his death occurred February 15,1907. His brothers and sisters are all still living, are married, and have homes of their own. In his youth Aaron Morris learned the trade of wagon-maker* and this he followed with a reasonable amount of success until 1865, when he was married. At that time he became one of the organizers and partners of the Hoosier Drill Company, of which he continued as manager and a director until 1876, when he disposed of interests and became an official member of a reaper and mower concern.
With this venture he continued until 1888, when he embarked in the banking business, at Pendleton, Indiana, where he became the founder of the Pendleton Banking Company. Of this institution he became president, and so remained for a number of years, and it is still in the family name, being now conducted by William F. Morris, a son of its founder. In 1902 Mr. Morris came to Fairmount, Indiana, and here established the Fairmount State Bank, with which he was connected in an official capacity up to the time of his death. Mr. Morris was an excellent business man and financier, and was widely known in banking circles, especially in Wayne, Grant and Madison counties. He bore a high reputation for business integrity and honorable dealing, and in his private life was known to be a man of the utmost probity.
He was a stanch Republican throughout his life, but was content with his business interests and never sought personal preferment as a candidate. Throughout his life he was a Quaker, and lived up to the teachings of his faith. While residing in Wayne county, near Pendleton, Mr. Morris was married in 1865, to Miss Martha Thomas, who was born, reared and educated in Madison county, and was a daughter of Louis and Percilla (Moore) Thomas, natives of Pennsylvania, who came from Philadelphia and Chester county in that state at an early date, and located in Madison county.
There they spent their lives in agricultural pursuits, in the community in which there were so many members of the Friends church, to which faith they belonged. Mrs. Aaron Morris was one of a large family, the most of whom are still living, and she still survives her husband and makes her home in Madison county, being seventy-five years of age. Four children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Aaron Morris, namely: William F., manager of the State Bank of Pendleton, who married Lyle Zeublin and has two daughters”Mildred and Eleanor; Luella, who is the wife of Elwood Burchell, of Port Chester, New York, a manufacturer of bolts and nuts, who has three sons”Richard. Morris and Robert: Robert A.: and Elizabeth, who is the wife of Frederick Lantz, a merchant of Pendleton, and has one daughter, Deborah.
Robert A. Morris (grandson of Robert A. Morris, subject of this sketch) was born near Richmond, Wayne county, Indiana, May 16, 1877. He received his early education in the schools of Richmond, following which he attended Earlham College, and then embarked in the banking business with his father at Pendleton. There he remained from 1895 until 1902, when, having thoroughly mastered the details of banking, he came to Fairmount to take charge of the Fairmount State Bank, and of this he has since had control. This institution has a capital and surplus of $32,000, and is known as one of the solid and substantial financial houses of Grant county. Under the management of Mr. Morris it has enjoyed a steady and continued growth, and has gained the complete confidence of the public.
In 1908 Mr. Morris was married in Fairmount to Miss Artie Suman, who was born, reared and educated in Fairmount, where her people were early settlers. They are now residents of North Dakota, where they are engaged in farming. Mr. and Mrs. Morris have one son: William S., born January 2,1913. In his political preferences Mr. Morris is a Republican. Source; Centennial History of Grant County, Indiana; By Lewis Publishing Co., 1914
Samuel Morris was born in Pasquotank County, N. C., March 12, 1804, a son of Aaron Morris, a native of the same State, born Sept. 6, 1776. Aaron Morris was married in Pasquotank County, July 19, 1798, to Lydia Davis, and in 1808 they moved to Randolph County, N. C., and remained till 1815, when they emigrated to Indiana Territory, and settled on Martindale’s Creek, a mile and a half north of where the Pan-Handle road now crosses it.
They were six weeks in making the journey by wagon. In 1821 Mr. Morris bought his fiist land, adjoining the Twelve-Mile Purchase, and in 1822 moved his family to it. His wife died in 1839, and he then lived with his daughter, Elizabeth Ferris, till 1843, and then with his sons, Samuel and John, till his death, Sept. 20, 1845. He had a family of five children”John, Samuel, George, Elizabeth and Mary. Mary, wife of Joel Brewer, of Wabash County, Ind., and Samuel are the only ones now living.
Samuel Morris received but a limited education. At the time of his coming to Indiana there were no schools in the county. His early life was spent in assisting his father clear the farm, spending his leisure hours in reading such books as were available. He was handy with tools, and until 1827 worked at the carpenter’s trade. He was married in 1827 to Sarah, daughter of Abraham Symms. She was born in Randolph County, N. C., Aug. 5, 1799, and came with her parents to Indiana in 1819. In 1829 he purchased the farm where he now lives, which he has improved and brought under a good state of cultivation. Mr. Morris has three children”Jaison; Mary, wife of Stephen Butler, now of New Mexico, and Charles, of Dublin.
Milton Indiana Church
Milford Meeting.”About 1819 the Friends, who formed a large proportion of the early settlers, established a religious society and named it the Milford Meeting. The first meeting-house was a log building erected about a mile north of Milton. Among the early members were : Thomas Symonds, John Kinley, Jonathan Justice, Aaron Morris, John Bell, Matthew Symonds, Henry Thornburgh and Silas Hiatt. A little later, Mordecai and Benajah Hiatt, Aaron White, Richard J. Hubbard, Benjamin Morgan, Jehu, John, Gideon and Seth Wilson. Wm. Hawkins, Jonathan Hawkins, Thomas Moore were also members quite early.
Still later, James Smith and Sarah his wife (the latter a minister for several years), Stephen and Elizabeth Morris and John Morris were prominent members. A few years after the meeting was established a frame house was erected which was used until 1882. A meeting-house was then built in Milton at a cost of about $1,500. Among the ministers of this meeting have been: John Kiuley, Benajah Hiatt, Margaret White, Annie Moore, Benj. Fulghum, Louisa Fulghum and John Miles. Philander Hinshaw is the present minister. There are about forty members at present. The Elders are Isaac and Susan Wilson; Trustees, Caleb J. Morrisand Richard Hastings. Milford belongs to Bethel Monthly Meeting.
In 1828 a separation of the Friends took place, and that branch known as the Hicksites formed a new society, retaining the same name, Milford Meeting. In 1829 they erected a meeting-house in the town of Milton where they still worship. Their early members were: Matthew Symonds, John Caldwell, Henry Thornburgh, John Ferris, Silas Hiatt, John Lacy, Jehosphat Morris, Aaron Morris, John and Samuel Morris, Bethnel Coffin, Jonathan Justice, Daniel and Isaac Whitely, Isaac Frampton, Solomon Sweigart, Oliver Matthews and others. George Hatton, Joseph Cadwallader, William McKimray and others were early ministers. The present membership is small, representing about fourteen families. Samuel Morris, John Carr, Daniel Haycock and Joseph Ferris are among the oldest living members. The overseers are: Isaac Whitely and Wm. Ferris.
Elias Morris, eldest son of Jonathan and Abigail (Charles) Morris, was born Nov. 6, 1817, in Harrison Township, Wayne Co., Ind. He was reared to pioneer life, and educated at the log-cabin subscription schools, and resided at home till he was twenty-seven years of age. He was married in 1844 to Margaret, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Myers) Heffley, of Wayne County, natives of Pennsylvania and Maryland respectively, and both of German descent. Her parents were married in Ohio, and came to “Wayne County, Ind., in 1824, where the father died in 1840, aged forty-seven years, and the mother in 1857, aged fifty-six years.
They were the parents of eleven children”Jacob, Sarah, Margaret, Catherine, Samuel, Mary, John (deceased), Simon P., Joseph (deceased), Susan and William. Mr. and Mrs. Morris have had seven children”Samuel H., born Oct. 11, 1845; Martha A., born Nov. 17, 1846, died Sept. 20, 1867; Henry F., born Jan. 18, 1848; Mary E., born June 3, 1849, died April 6, 1876; Sarah E., born Jan. 26, 1851, married Milton Miller, of Wayne County; Melinda, born July 8, 1852, wife of Elihu Mills, of Henry County, Ind.; Jonathan P., born May 18, 1855, of Henry County.
Mr. Morris has made farming his principal occupation through life. He began with 157 acres of land, and now owns 707 acres, besides other property. He also owned and operated a sawmill and has manufactured thousands of feet of lumber. Our subject’s father was born in December, 1789, in North Carolina, of English descent, and his mother is a native of the same State. Their children were ten in number, three still living”Elias, Jonathan, and Abigail, wife of Calvin Wasson.
Those deceased are”Penelope, wife of Solomon Elliott; Phineas N., Rebecca, Micajah, Martha, Mary M., and a daughter unnamed. Jonathan Morris followed agricultural pursuits through life. He came to Wayne County in an early day, and was married in 1816. He died in July, 1844. Mrs. Jonathan Morris died in 1846, aged fifty years.
Early Settlers to Jackson Township, Wayne County, Indiana
In the southeast part of Jackson Township were the following named early settlers”though not all of them the first ”on the lands on which they respectively settled: Aaron Morris, in 1822, settled one and one-half miles southeast of Dublin; John Morris, his son, on land adjoining, west, now owned by his sons Eli and Thomas B. Morris; in 1829 Samuel Morris, also a son of Aaron, north west of his father’s;
The Morris Family helped organize the Hoosier Drill Company, the company was later sold to J.M. Westcott and moved to Richmond, Indiana.
In 1859 Joseph Ingels, the inventor of the Hoosier Drill, commenced the manufacture of drills at Milton, using horsepower, and making twenty-five drills the first year. In 1867 Isaac Kinsey, Alexander Jones and Aaron Morris formed a stock company, Joseph Ingels acting as their agent. They did a large business manufacturing drills, cultivators, etc., and employing fifty to seventy-five hands. In 1877 they sold out to the present Hoosier Drill Company, who established a manufactory at Richmond.
The Hoosier Drill Company of Richmond, Indiana
In the fall of 1879 the Dorsey Machine Company was formed, and then purchased of Oliver Ferguson the property, formerly the Hoosier Drill Company’s works in Milton. Mr. Ferguson, a stockholder, and successor to the company, had used the works for the manufacture of gates and fences. The Dorsey Machine Company was incorporated with a stock of $60,000, with the following officers: Aaron Morris, President; Oliver Ferguson,Vice-President; D. P. Leibhardt, Secretary and Treasurer. In 1882 the capital was increased to $125,000. There are about twenty stockholders. The present officers are: Aaron Morris, President; Linville Ferguson, Vice-President; W. T. Gaines, Secretary; D. P. Leibhardt, Treasurer.
The company manufactures harvesters and twine-binders, self-raking reapers, droppers, mowers, etc. They give employment to 140 men on an average. The average annual sales amount to about $300,000. The machines made by this company are sold principally in the States of the Ohio and Mississippi valleys. The manufactory is one of the most important in the county, and has proved instrumental in greatly advancing the prosperity of the town of Milton. The dimensions of the principal buildings are as follows: One main building, two-story and basement, brick, 36×87, and wing 40×56 feet; main building, two-story frame, 36×190 feet; foundry, one-story brick, 41×41 feet; smith-shop, one-story brick, 35×41 feet; storage buildings, 36 x 88, and 20 x 68 feet, frame.
The Town Of Milton, Indiana
Milton had a population of 823 in 1870 and of 855 in 1880. Since the census of 1880 it has grown quite rapidly, and there are now probably nearly 1,100 inhabitants. Among the business interests not already noticed are the following: Drygoods stores, Jones and Grush, Morris H. Moore & Co., Chas. Miller & Co.; groceries and hardware, F. M. Jones & Co., John Brown & Son; groceries, Wm. P. Moore, Jones and Atkinson; drug stores, St. Glair and Perkins, G. W. Callaway & Co., J. M. Grigsby; shoe store, L. Baker; furniture, Wm. H. Moore; undertakers, Lantz Brothers; stoves and tinware, P. J. Hoshour, D. Holloway; carriage-maker, Peter Warren; livery stable, James Ferguson; lumberyard, J. L. Lyons.
W. H. Moore erected a fine hotel building during the year 1883, which will be opened to the public during the present year. There are other minor business interests which we have not space to mention.
Source; History of Wayne County, Indiana; Inter-State Publishers; 1884