Robert Morrisson was born October 19, 1786, in North Carolina, whither his parents had emigrated from Chester Co., Pa. He married Jane Price, and, in 1810, removed to Wayne Co., Indiana. Having made no purchase of land before his arrival, and having, consequently, not even a cabin of his own, he took temporary shelter in an outhouse made of logs, belonging to his brother-in-law, Jeremiah Cox, and not designed at all as a dwelling. He soon settled north of Middleboro, just within the bounds of the present township of Franklin.
He resided there a few years; but, unable to endure the hard labor of clearing a new farm, he sold his farm, and, with a few hundred dollars, made his second advent in the place where he spent the remainder of a long life. With a small stock of goods, he commenced the mercantile business on the corner of Main and North Front streets. His name is intimately associated with the history of Richmond. Being one of its earliest merchants, he rode on the tide of its growing commerce, and with his frugality, prudence, and business talent, accumulated a large estate, and retired from mercantile business before the town had attained a high degree of commercial importance.
When banking houses were established in Richmond, he invested largely in bank stocks, being the owner of one-third of the stock in the Citizens’ Bank. He had also a connection with the branches of the State Banks, in Richmond. Though rich, he was a friend to the poor. With his declining years his benevolence seemed to increase. A portion of his income went to the relief of the needy and suffering. His alms being ostentatiously bestowed, their amount was not generally known. The war of the rebellion opened a new field for the exercise of Christian philanthropy; and probably no man in Richmond contributed more liberally than he.
The Citizens Bank at South 5th & Main Streets, from an 1857 advertisement.
Being a life-long member of the society of Friends, he was careful not to compromise his long-cherished peace principles. The crowning act of his life was the founding of a library, at a cost of $20,000, which he transferred as a gift to Wayne township, Richmond included, provision having been made for its perpetuation. It is placed under the control of a library committee, and kept by a competent lady librarian. He barely lived to see this splendid gift executed and the library building completed.
The 1st Library at North 6th and A Streets (1864) was designed by architect, Allen W. Cornell.
A life-size portrait painting of the donor was placed in the public reception room of the building, and paid for by contributions of citizens without his knowledge. The former township library has been merged in this, which is now probably the largest township library in the state. A few years before his death his general health began to fail; and he was prevented from mingling with his fellow-citizens, and from meeting with his friends in the house of worship.
In the latter part of the summer of 1865, he was seized with violent illness, which soon terminated his life. He died Sept. 12, 1865, aged nearly 79 years. A large number of friends, relatives, and citizens followed his remains to the Friends’ Cemetery, (Now known as Ridge Cemetery) three miles east from Richmond. His wife died Aug. 17, 1849, aged nearly 63 years.
Robert Morrisson’s Monument at Ridge Cemetery. He was born October 19, 1786, and died September 12, 1865.
Robert Morrisson had three children: 1. Hannah, who died in 1828, at the age of 20, just after her return from Westtown, Pa., boarding-school. 2. Jonathan, who died in infancy. 3. James L., who succeeded to the estate and business of his father, as a partner in the banking firm of Morrisson, Blanchard & Co. He has two children: Robert, at the firm of Plummer & Morrisson, wholesale druggists; and Elizabeth Jane.
Source; History of Wayne County, Indiana; Andrew White Young; 1872
J. L. Morrisson was born in Richmond, Ind., Oct. 10, 1817, a son of Robert and Jane (Price) Morrisson, natives of Orange County, N. O, his father born Oct. 19, 1786, and his mother in 1787. His ancestors were originally from Scotland, the date of their immigration to the United States not being known. His grandfather, James Morrisson, grew to manhood in Pennsylvania, and married Hannah, daughter of William and Catharine White, of Omega County, N. C.
They had a family of nine children”James, Catharine, William, Mary, Ruth, Robert, Hannah, Deborah and Simon. Robert and James came to Indiana in 1810; the latter was killed by lightning. They first settled in Newport, Wayne County, purchasing a small farm on Middle Fork of Whitewater River, eight miles north of the city. In 1815 Robert Morrisson removed to the present site of the city of Richmond and opened a store on what is now the corner of Main street and Ft. Wayne avenue, afterward removing to the corner of Main and Fifth streets.
He also established a store in Liberty, Ind. He established a tannery in Richmond, which he subsequently sold to Daniel P. Wiggins. He was instrumental in having the National road piked through the county, after it had been turned over to the State. He was President and Superintendent of the road and did much to increase the value of property. Robert Morrisson was a man of public spirit and contributed largely to all enterprises tending to the elevation of mankind and society. One of the noblest achievements of his life was the establishing of the Morrisson Library.
He was Legislative Director of the First State Bank of Indiana. He died in 1865 after having contributed largely of his means toward the suppression of the Rebellion and for the comfort of the soldiers. His wife died Aug. 17, 1849. They had a family of three children”Hannah, Jonathan and James L., the latter being the only one now living. He received a common-school education, always residing in or near Richmond. He devoted thirteen years to farming with his father.
He has been identified with many of the improvements of the city and is an ardent supporter of all that pertains to the interests of Richmond. He was one of the organizers of the Richmond National Bank and was one of the Directors. At the same time he had an interest in the Citizens’ Bank Since 1875 he has lived retired from active business pursuits. He was married March 30, 1842, to Lydia C., daughter of Samuel Shute.
They have lived on the corner of Ninth and North A streets since 1855. They have two children”; Robert, now in the wholesale drug business in Chicago, Ill., and Elizabeth J., wife of Edgar G. Hibbard, of Richmond. Mr. and Mrs. Morrisson are members of the Society of the Hicksite Friends. Source: History of Wayne County, Indiana; Inter-State Publishers; 1884
In 1819, John Smith opened the first store in Richmond. Robert Morrisson started another in 1814, then, Smith & Morrisson formed a partnership the name of Smith & Morrisson. Richmond’s first Post Office was established in 1818 with Robert Morrisson recorded as the first Post Master.
2nd (1893) MRL under construction. This building was designed by John Hasecoster, a local well known architect.
MRL c: 1907
This structure was demolished after the new MRL was built in 1975. The Library now occupies a 1/2 block square at North 6th & A Streets. Several of the architectural features of this building were saved and are visible at the entry and within the interior of the 1975 Morrisson Reeves Library.