Looking at God's World
A few people from the Morton clan responded to an earlier post I made in 2011 and offered helpful corrections and insights. I haven’t been able to do much genealogy stuff lately because I have gone back to school, but I thought there might be a few souls out there who might want the longer version of what I wrote in 2011, but including corrections offered by readers of the first. It’s rather long and is heavy on my portion of the family tree, but it may be of some help to the extended family. Please offer any corrections or insights that would be helpful. Here goes:
Mortons Migrate to Henderson County, Texas
By Ferrell Foster
A war had been lost and the world was changing for the people of Blount County, Alabama, in the late 1860s. James and Mary Ann (Durham) Morton had raised 12 children and now had grandchildren as the decade of the war ended. More importantly, the family was breaking up, spreading out. This was not new for the Morton clan. James and Mary Ann had been born in South Carolina. They started their family there, then moved their first four kids to Blount County, Alabama, sometime between 1816 and 1819.
Their fourth oldest child, Elizabeth, had already left Blount County, heading to Arkansas by 1860 with her husband, Stephen Durham, and their eight children.
All eight of those kids had been born in Blount County, but, for some reason, they had headed to Arkansas. Stephen would never leave Arkansas, dying there in about 1864. It is uncertain where Elizabeth ended up, but some of her kids eventually made their way to Texas.
Elizabeth’s branch of the clan had left Blount County before the Civil War, but the rest had been in Alabama when the South took up arms against the Union. James and Mary Ann had six sons. We know that two fought in the war—Drury (b. 1829) and Harper (b. 1835), the two youngest ones–and another, Joel (b. 1822), died in 1862 or 1863 and his death occurred in the war. Jesse (b. 1814) and William E. (b. 1815) may have been too old. And I’m just not sure about John (b. 1821).
Sometime during the war, James and Mary Ann’s fifth oldest child, Sarah, left Alabama, as well. The 1860 census recorded Sarah and her husband, Hazael Holly, and children living in eastern Morgan County, Alabama. Sarah gave birth that same year to her eleventh child, Elizabeth, in Morgan County. Two years later, in 1862, she gave birth to her twelfth child, Benjamin. Sarah died two years later, in 1864, in Mt. Pleasant, Titus County, Texas. This means she moved to Texas sometime between 1862 and 1864. She has left behind numerous descendants, some of whom provided essential information for this history.
The sisters, Elizabeth Morton Durham and Sarah Morton Holly, led the vanguard of the Morton children who left Alabama and eventually ended up in Texas. Three of their six brothers would leave for Texas in 1869 or 1870. The three brothers relocated from Blount County, Alabama, to Henderson County, Texas—Jesse, John Hinkle, and Drury. In 1870, Jesse would have been 55 years old, John Hinkle turned 49, and Drury reached his 41st birthday. John and Drury had married sisters–Sarena and Mary Ann Hallmark, respectively; so there was a tie there to keep them together. I’m not sure if the three brothers traveled together or separately, but they all came to Henderson County and, eventually, some their descendants spread to distance places while others stayed nearby.
Land deeds at the Henderson County Courthouse in Athens, Texas, did not shed much light on these early years in Texas. My daughter, Tabitha, and I spent Friday morning, March 18, 2011, scanning deed indexes and deeds. We could not find any indication of land purchases by Jesse or Drury Morton. We did find a land purchase by a John Morton on December 20, 1872, so this may have been our John Hinkle Morton.
One of the most interesting finds was a deed filed on December 9, 1871, registering the sale of 269 1/3 acres from Jesse Morton to N.M. Morton. We found no record that Jesse ever bought this land, but he apparently held title to it so the record may have been lost. Also, in the deed transfer index, the notation for this transaction lists the buyer as W.M. Morton, which may have been Jesse’s son, William Manse Morton, who was married that same year. The description of this land puts it in the area where many of the later Mortons lived, including a reference to the Hallum Branch, which is east of Hickory Hill. We found numerous discrepancies between the deeds and indexes, so I think it is reasonable to speculate that Jesse Morton sold his son this land to help him get started as a newlywed. The buyer paid $425. (Another note on this transaction, the index has the seller as Jepe Morton.) (Sources: Deed index and deed book Q, page 171)
One deed did reference a Drury Morton Survey, but there was no record of him buying land that we could discover.
Let me introduce another character into this story, Joel Morton. This person bought 160 acres northeast of Athens from a Travis Scott on October 3, 1871. It is possible this was the three brothers’ cousin, who was the son of their father James’s older brother. Other records indicate our relative named Joel died in Blackjack, Henderson County, Texas, in 1900. (Source: Vol. P, Page 596) A check of census records indicates this is almost certainly true, because our Joel Morton matches with the right children in 1880. Blackjack is near Brownsboro and Murchison.
A good many of Joel’s descendants ended up in Shelby County, Comanche County, Harris County, Smith County, New Mexico, and California. His son, Joel Hendrix, stayed in Henderson County and died in Murchison. Most of Joel Hendrix Morton’s children stayed in the area, as well.
Cottonwood is an unincorporated area about 10 miles northwest of Athens, Texas. It once had a school, church, store, grist mill, and possibly even a post office. Those are all gone now. The one lasting public place is Cottonwood Cemetery south of Farm-to-Market Road 2709 and west of County Road 2804.
The land was the key to making Cottonwood a good place for people to earn a living and raise their families in the latter part of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Much of it contains a layer of sand above red clay. The sand is great for crops and grass, but it’s an ecosystem held in place today primarily by grass for raising cattle. Once the sand erodes, the clay makes productive growth of any kind difficult. Because of the good land, the people came from the southeast United States.
Mrs. Ruth Cook, writing September 30, 1985, described Cottonwood in the following way:
‘The once thriving farming community of Cottonwood isn’t very far south of Melton Rock on the Old Prairie Athens Road.
‘The Community had a school which consolidated with Eustace in 1943. There was a store owned by Shade Graham. A Post office was located in this store also. Manse Morton owned and operated a grist mill and blacksmith shop. There was a Baptist Church. The Cemetery has existed since 1871. It’s located farther south across FM 2709. There’s a sign showing the direction to the cemetery. It is maintained by voluntary donations. An annual Memorial service is held on the first Sunday in June.
“Some of the early settlers were the: Benges, Grahams, Campbells, Mortons, Robersons, Allisons, McKinneys, Fraziers, Davises, Blackwells, Stewarts, Greens, Ballards, Hutchersons, Whites and Tucks.
“(Information furnished by Horace Campbell, Bonnie Green, and Eustace Chamber of Commerce)”
Jesse Morton’s Family
Jesse Morton, called “Old Tob,” was the oldest of the Mortons to head to Texas. He and his wife, Winnefred “Winney” Durham, came to Texas sometime between 1860 and 1880. The 1860 census has Jesse and Winney living in eastern Blount County, Alabama, with four of their children, John, 17; Mary, 16; William, 12; and Jas. J., 10. Their oldest child, Daniel, 24, had married in 1854 and moved out. Daniel would die in 1862.
The younger four would have been 27, 26, 22, and 20 in 1870, when we know some of the Mortons moved to Texas. In 1870, the oldest of Jesse’s surviving children, John, was living with his wife, Nancy Jane Willmon, and their one-year-old baby, Burlen, in her parents’ home in Blount County, Alabama.
In 1880, he and Nancy and their three oldest children were living in Athens, Henderson County, Texas–Burlen, Anna, and Amma.
Jesse and Winney’s next oldest child was Mary Jane. She married Alfred Hutcherson. She may have also been living in Van Zandt County, Texas, in 1930 at age 87.
William, Jesse and Winney’s next oldest child, lived in Alabama in 1860 and married “Puss,” a native Texan, in Texas in 1871. This William is referred to in records as William M., but I think the M. refers to Manse, by which people called him. This is the William cited above as possibly receiving land adjoining Hallum Branch. He died in Henderson County, Texas, in 1880.
There is little record of the youngest of Jesse and Winney’s children, James J. The last information about him was as a 10-year-old living with his parents in Alabama. We can surmise that he died sometime between 1860 and 1870 before the family came to Texas.
Jesse, the oldest of the three brothers to come to Texas died in 1880, but I do not know a location. By this date his two younger brothers were gone, as well. Drury A. to death in 1875, and John Hinkle had moved to Montague County, Texas. I do not have death information on Jesse’s widow, Winney.
So here’s what I know: Jesse and Winney Morton came to Texas sometime between 1870 and 1880. Their son and daughter-in-law, John and Nancy, came to Texas in the same time frame. Their son, William (Manse), was in Texas by 1871, because he married a native Texan, Mary Jane “Puss” Gibson, here at that time.
Now, here is conjecture: I suspect they all came to Texas at pretty much the same time in late 1870 or early 1871, and that they all came to Henderson County.
Jesse and Winney Morton’s Descendants
John and Nancy Morton had six children, who would have been Jesse and Winney’s grandchildren–Galania Burlen, Anna, Amma, Arizona, Etta, and Lewis.
Galania Burlen Morton married Sallie Gregg, and they had four children–Mary E., Lewis M., Leland S., and Virginia R. I can find nothing on Mary and Virgina. A Lewis Morton from Henderson County and born in the appropriate year, about 1894, registered for the World War I draft. There also is a Lewis Morton born about 1894 who was married to a Vertis and living in Texarkana in 1930. They had a son, Murman. But there is nothing else of them. The only one of Galania and Sallie’s children to which I could learn much was Leland S. He married Flora Schmidt in 1923 in Dallas, and I believe they had four children to which I know little about other than their birth years.
I can find nothing about Anna and Amma, other than that they lived with their parents in Henderson County in 1880 at ages 8 and 6, respectively. I picked up the name Arizona somewhere, and he was supposed to be born the same year as Amma, but he was not living with the family in 1880. I have nothing on Etta. And there is the possibility that this Lewis is the same as Lewis M. listed as Galania’s son; so I either no nothing or the information is the same as above.
The primary connection of Jesse’s descendants to Cottonwood came through his son, William Manse Morton. Manse and Mary J. “Puss” Gibson had three daughters – Ella, Clarra E., Isabella, and Thomas Grover. I do not have any information on the daughters, but Grover retained a lasting presence in Cottonwood.
Grover Morton was born June 1885, presumably in Cottonwood, but I’m not sure. He married Chloe Vesta Cornelius and they gave birth to four sons and one daughter – Everett Hershell, Loree V., Julius T. (or L.), Milburn, and Clint. The 1930 U.S. census shows the young family, minus Clint, living in Floyd County in West Texas. But soon after that time, Grover and his young family lived on land that is now southwest of where County Road 2803 dead ends into County Road 2804 (now, in 2011, owned by Rick Bailey of Eustace), according to Ferrell E. “Gene” Foster, Sr.
I have very little information on the grandchildren of Grover and Chloe. I know that Everett married Fain Abbott, and they have at least one daughter, Donna. I hope to learn more soon.
John Hinkle Morton’s Family
John Hinkle Morton did not stay long in Henderson County. He was in the county according to the 1870 census and married somewhere in 1875. The 1880 census shows him and his wife in Montague County, Texas, northwest of Fort Worth near the Red River.
Their son, Drury Hinckle and his wife, Annie, had 12 children, the first five of which were born in Texas, presumably Montague County. Drury Hinckle and Annie moved there family to the Indian Territory (Oklahoma) between the births of two of their children, Jas. P. in November 1886 and Minnie L. in November 1888. By 1920, he and Annie and their youngest son, Frank, were living in Montana, where Drury Hinkle would die in 1924 or 1925. The five children of Drury Hinkle and Annie born in Texas appeared to have moved to Oklahoma.
Drury A. Morton’s Family
This leaves us with Drury A. Morton, the youngest of the three brothers. A June 16, 1991, letter from Margaret Snodgrass to Larry Morton (I believe), adds some important pieces to our puzzle.
“Drury served in the Civil War. While he was in the war, their little daughter Winnie died. Their home in Blount County, Ala. burned while Drury was in the war. He came back from the war with a bad cough. In 1870 they moved to Henderson County, Texas. Drury died in 1875 and later Mary Ann’s home burned again in Henderson County. Their land was in the area where the Henry Morton place is now. Mary Ann died in 1922 and she and Drury are buried in Cottonwood Cemetery near Athens, Texas.”
As Margaret’s letter notes, Drury died in 1875, thus he preceded both of his older brothers in death. Since his brothers’ descendants seem to have all left the county by 1880, it is the descendants of Drury particularly who became one of the bedrock families of the Cottonwood Community.
Drury had married Mary Ann Hallmark November 25, 1854, in Blount County, Alabama. They gave birth to six of their eight children in Alabama. One of Drury and Mary Ann’s great-grandchildren, Ferrell Eugene “Gene” Foster Sr., was told that the family came west in a covered wagon or wagons.
Here’s some basic information regarding where each of the eight children lived out their lives:
1) Salemna Celina Sarah Morton, born 1852, was already married to David Owen when they moved to Texas. They eventually had six children. Information says the oldest was born in Henderson County in 1869, but I suspect this child may have been born in Alabama. They named their second child, born in 1872, Texanna. Sarah lived to the age of 102 and died in Henderson County, according to family tree information submitted by Carla Owen Moore to the Ancestry.com web site. “My daddy, Oscar Haskell Owen, told me that his grandmother went fishing on her 102nd birthday. A family member or members took her. he died before she turned 103,” Moore wrote.
2) Marilda E. Morton was born in Blount County, Alabama, in 1855. The 1860 census notes that she still lived there with her parents and three sisters. She married Jesse Milton “Milt” Graham on August 24, 1878, in Henderson County, and they would have eight children. Census information from 1900 and 1920 shows her still living in Henderson County. At the later date, she was living with her youngest son, Reagan, and his wife Alsa, along with two of their children and Marilda’s second youngest son, Seldon. Marilda died that same year on July 3 in Henderson County.
3) Winnie S. Morton, born in 1856, died in 1863, before the family made the journey west.
4) Cerena C. Morton was born in 1859 in Alabama. The only other solid information I have on her is that she was with her family in 1860, as recorded by the census. Information on ancestry.com indicates she may have died near Cleburne in Johnson County, Texas–date unknown.
5) Rosetta “Zettie” Canzada Morton was born April 25, 1864, in Blount County. The 1870 census shows six-year-old Zettie and her family living in Henderson County. On January 7, 1885, she married James A. Frazier, and they would have eight children. The 1910 census shows her still living in Henderson County with James and four of their children. She died May 25, 1941, in Henderson County.
6) John Henry Morton was born Jan. 13, 1867, Blount County. He came to Texas as a two or three-year-old riding in his parents’ wagon, according to Gene Foster, his grandson. The 1870 census lists him among his family living in Henderson County. John Henry married Amanda Carylon Roberson on December 23, 1890, in Eustace, and they would have seven children. Census data in 1900 and 1910 has them living in Henderson County, and John Henry would die in Athens on December 3, 1962.
7) James Dennis Morton was the first child of Drury and Mary Ann born in Texas, apparently being born in November 1869. The 1870 census places his birth and birthplace as 1969 in Texas. The only other information I have on James Dennis is that he died in 1899, which would have made him about 30 years old. I have found no record of a marriage or children.
8) Alice Morton was born September 15, 1873, in Henderson County, Texas. She married James Henry Willmon in January 1894, and the 1990 and 1910 censuses have them living in Johnson County, Texas. They apparently had four children, Ethel (born 1894), Etha (1895), Annie (1898), and J.D. (1908). Alice died August 28, 1954, in Dumas, Moore County, Texas. I have not been able to find any information on these children.
As can be seen above, three of Drury and Mary Ann’s children remained in Henderson County, and their descendants formed a major part of the Cottonwood community — Grahams, Fraziers, and Mortons.
The purpose of this paper is to follow the Mortons, so I will let someone else look into Marilda Graham and Zettie Fraziers descendents. I will stick with the descendents of John Henry Morton and his wife, a native Texan, Amanda Carylon Roberson Morton.
John Henry Morton’s Family
“Papa” and “Big Mama,” as they were called, had seven children. All were born in Henderson County, Texas, presumably at home in Cottonwood community. They lived much of their lives in their white frame home on the top of a hill west of Hallum Branch. They called it Hickory Hill, and it was immediately south of the Cottonwood church and school. It was not a large house by late 20th century standards, but it was a nice house by the standards of its day in the early 20th century. One of its most memorable features was the porch that wrapped around the southeast corner of the house and stood several feet above the ground.
“Papa’s chair sat on the corner of the porch, and I sat out there and he just told me stuff,” said the youngest of his grandchildren, Bobbie Ann Hendley Armstrong in 2010. “Papa was very knowledgeable. He loved kids, especially his baby’s baby, and was very smart. He could figure compound interest in his head. I learned that from sitting on the porch talking to him.”
Another grandchild, Ferrell Eugene “Gene” Foster Sr., remembered John Henry as a small man, “both short and lean.” But Gene called him “the commander,” meaning John Henry was always in charge. He had land holdings amounting to 1,400 acres, was “the loan officer for many a friend and family member, and generally presided over the well-being of Cottonwood community, of which his house on the hill was the central point.”
John Henry loved horses, and he bought a pony when Gene was a boy in order for his grandson to ride with him. They rode together to check on the elder’s livestock, which was kept on land south of present day Farm-to-Market Road 2709 and away from the Morton home place. Papa also took Gene fishing, often carrying a shotgun “in case he could bag a rabbit.” One day, John Henry reared his gun quickly and fired; the result was a dead “gobbler” belonging to Gert. They had to give up fishing and clean the turkey for the evening meal since refrigeration did not exist on the Morton place at the time.
Papa “wore a light beige Stetson hat, felt and tall, whenever he went somewhere,” Bobbie Ann said. “The most I can remember, he wasn’t doing much work. I was so much younger so he was just about beyond work when I came along.
“He was a little partial to the kids he liked, and he didn’t have much patience with kids who didn’t mind,” she said. “I remember him hiding Easter eggs for me when I was about six years old.
“Big Mamma was very patient, very kind. I don’t remember ever seeing our grandmother really mad. And she was a great cook. She cooked for that bunch of kids, and they raised three of their grandkids [the children of Mary Lockie] and they had hired hands.”
In Papa and Big Mama’s later years, their kids, especially the girls cared for them. Jewel, who lived in Waxahachie at the time, “came down on the weekends during the last few years and helped,” Bobbie Ann said. “Aunt Lut [Tuck] and Gert [Foster] took turns during the week taking meals, and Mom [Jewel Hendley] took the weekend. I think Aunt Gert ended up with her more than Aunt Lut. …Mom said Big Mama was always happier with Aunt Gert than Aunt Lut. Mom said Aunt Gert could think of things for Big Mama to do that would make her happy, little things.”
The house on Hickory Hill had been vacant for years when it burned in the 1990s due to unknown causes. In 2011, the address was 12900 County Road 2803, and the land is now owned by one of John Henry and Amanda Carylon’s great-grandchildren, me, Ferrell Eugene Foster Jr.
John Michael Morton of Athens, another grandchild, provides the only eyewitness account of the house burning. John wrote the following June 30, 2011, on my web site:
“Oh yes, I feel sure I was the only person to see Big Mama and Papa’s house burn. If that’s not true please let me know. It was quite by accident that I saw it. I don’t remember the date. (That’s why these things need to be recorded.) I was working cows for Tom Hight at his pens across the road from your place. As I was working cows I happened to look across the field to see the smoke and flames. The fire only took minutes and it was gone. A sadness crept over me then and to this day continues. I stayed with Big Mama and Papa for about two years to milk their cow. The house always seemed immaculate for its time and held special memories for me. Why God chose me to see that has always been my issue. He could have burned the house anytime and yet he chose when I was present.”
John’s remarks capture the “end” of a part of our family history so well. I don’t know why God chose John to see the fire, but I know the person he chose did the whole family a service by remembering the moment and capturing a bit of the specialness of that place.
It is a humbling thing to live on this property, Hickory Hill, and to hold stewardship of this land on behalf of the family. I often walk around the property rather than drive because my dad has told me of how Papa did the same. Gene Foster said Papa carried a stick as he walked and disturbed “cow patties” (manure) in order to spread the fertilizing qualities. Walking the land, you get to know the land. I’m sure I will never know it as well as Papa, but I think of him often.
The plot where the Mortons once had their garden is now where we store hay bales for the winter. And the stock tank Papa dug out of the sand and clay with a slip behind a mule sits in front of my house. It had never gone dry until about 2007 or 2008, when a two-year drought caused the spring to dry up. Dad hired a man to dig it out again, then Dad and I used the tractor to dig it out more, so we hope “Papa’s Tank” will continue to hold water for years to come.
Hallum Branch, to the east of the hill, doesn’t carry as much water as it used to because of lakes and ponds above us, but there is still generally water flowing year round.
All that is left of the old house is the base of the chimney, plus some of the pier footings, but in 2011 you can still make out the basic configuration of the house, with the well out back long out of use and needing to be filled in.
Here is a general record of John Henry and Amanda Carylon’s immediate descendants:
1) Lula Belle Morton (1892-1986) married Thomas Eli Tuck July 7, 1914, and died April 1, 1986. They had four children, listed here:
— Jack Morton Tuck (1915-1970), born in Henderson County, reared in Ellis County, and died in Illinois;
— Robert Eli Tuck (1917-1991), born in Henderson County, reared in Ellis County and lived there as an adult, and died on a visit back to Henderson County;
— Royal Lynn Tuck (1923-1923) lived only two days, probably in Ellis County; and
— Imogene Tuck (1928-1970), born in Ellis County and died in Dallas County.
2) Mary Lockie Morton (1894-1921) married Allie Foreman Beeson. Mary died either giving birth to Marie or shortly thereafter, according to Gene and Hilda Foster. Mary and Allie had three children. Mary’s parents had to take care of the three children, with the help of their aunt, Gertrude.
Linda Beeson Lumpkin wrote the following about the aftermath of Mary Lockie’s death in a post on my web site:
“According to my Grandfather, Allie, he, Mary Lockie, and both babies (Howard and Wilson) were all ill with influenza and/or pneumonia when Marie (Aunt Sister) was born. He believed Mary Lockie died of the pneumonia, surely complicated by the stress of giving birth. Her health never improved after the birth.
“I got this story from my grandfather after asking him to tell me the hardest job he had ever done. I always saw him working and was amazed at how very hard he worked. His response was, ‘Taking down a fence.’ Since I had seen him do much harder things than that I had to have more details. He told me that after his wife died the agreement he made with her father (John Henry Morton) was that John Henry and Amanda Carylon (Big Mama and Pappa) would take the 4 of them in – a newborn, and two preschool boys and their father, all very sick. The property that Allie and Marie Lockie were buying from John Henry would go back to John Henry and Allie would work for John Henry while the children were little, to compensate for their ‘room and board.’ The first job Papa gave him after he got well enough to work was to take the fence down that he and his wife had put up around their property, thus joining it back into Papa’s land. That is when I realized that the emotional impact was what made the job hard, not the physical labor. I believe the property he removed the fence from is on or near where Bobby Ann [Hendley Armstrong] now lives.” (written June 4, 2011)
The three children are listed here:
— Howard Loyd Beeson (1916-1992), born and died in Henderson County.
— Allie Wilson Beeson (1918-1967), born in Henderson County and died in Van Zandt County. He lived a good portion of his life with his grandparents, John Henry and Amanda Carylon Morton. He was married to a Leila May Smith, and they lived in Athens. “Their house was on the west side of Athens not too far off of 175,” Linda Beeson Lumpkin wrote June 4, 2011, on my web site. Wilson died at his sister Marie’s place in Van Zandt County while cutting down a tree that “split back” on him, said both Gene Foster and Linda Beeson Lumpkin.
— Mary Marie Beeson (1921-), married A.D. Carmichael, and they had two children, Annette and Larry. Marie was like a sister to Gene Foster, so he always called her “Sister,” he said years later.
3) James Henry Morton (1897-1974), was born and died in Henderson County. He married Candis C. Green, and they had three children, listed here:
— Halton Morton
— Margie Dell Morton
— Jesse Rayborn Morton (1920-) was born in Henderson County and later lived in Sugar Land, Texas. He married Mildred Minnie Young, and they had four children.
4) John Robert Morton (1898-1988), was born in Cottonwood and later married Hattie Hazel. They had three children, listed here:
— Christine Morton
— John Byron Morton
— Laverne Morton
5) Fairy Gertrude Morton (1902-1995), was born in Cottonwood, lived most of her life in the community, and died in Athens. She married William Everett Foster February 8, 1919, in Eustace. In the 1920s, she and her young family lived in Crisp, Ellis County, Texas, before moving back to Henderson County. One of her sons, Ferrell “Gene,” called his mother a “true Texas pioneer woman.”
John Michael Morton, a nephew of Gertrude’s, said the following about her and Everett:
“During the time I spent with Big Mama and Papa I also, as a child about 11 or 12 years old, developed a special relationship with Aunt Gert and Uncle Everett. During this time I’d walk from Papa’s down to Aunt Gert and Uncle Everett’s house to catch the school bus. Well, as you know and others will agree, you rarely had a short visit with them. I think Trillis [their granddaughter] was staying there part of the time then, may have also been going to school at Eustace for a brief time.” (written June 30, 2011 on my web site)
Gertrude and Everett had four children, listed here:
— Lloyd Daniel Foster (1922-1922), was born February 23 and died March 24. He is buried in Cottonwood Cemetery.
— Charles Everett Foster (1923-1987), was born May 22, 1923, and died January 24, 1987, in Athens. Charles was a tank crewman in General Patton’s Army in World War II. He was part of the famous Battle of the Bulge in eastern France. Charles was sent back to the states for recovery after being injured in battle. I knew Uncle Charles as a tall and thin man. He loved to deer hunt and used an old German 9mm that I believe he brought back from the war. He also loved baseball. Charles’s first marriage produce one daughter, Trellis, born in 1946. He then married Anita, and they had two sons, Dennis and Guy, and a step-daughter, Sharon.
— Ferrell Eugene Foster Sr. (1926-), born October 26, 1926, in Crisp, Ellis County, Texas, lived in Dallas from about age 21 until age 50, then returned to live in Henderson County, southwest of Eustace. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II in the Pacific but was not involved in combat. He married Hilda Louise Noble on January 10, 1947, in Dallas. They had two children, Ruby Dianne and Ferrell Eugene Jr., the latter being the writer of this paper.
— Billy John Foster (1932-1965), born August 24, 1932, in Cottonwood, lived his adult life in Dallas. He married Alma Charlene Taylor, and they had two sons, Lynn and Blake. Billy died of stomach cancer at age 33 in Dallas.
6) Jesse Myron Morton (1904-1981), born August 5, 1904, in Henderson County and died July 19, 1981, in the county. He married Eugenia Violet York, and they had five sons and two daughters and one stepson, listed here:
— Garth Eldred York has two sons and a daughter, all born in Smith County. They are Angela, Jimmy and Mark York, the latter two living in the Cottonwood community in 2011. (Eugenia’s maiden name was York, and she married another York, who was Garth’s father.)
— Barbara Joan Morton Christopher
— Jerry Myron Morton
— James Larry Morton, born June 16,1940, in Henderson County.
— John Michael Morton, born in Henderson County on June 25,1944. He married Virginia Ann “Ginger” Castoria of Brazos County in 1969. They live in Athens, where John has been a practicing veterinarian from 1969-now, in 2011. They have four children, all born in Athens:
a) Janet Michele Morton Dodd, born Nov 25, 1974 (married Jonathon Robert Dodd- now live in Vancouver, Washington);
b) John Michael Morton, Jr, born July 2,1977, married Jessica Tucker of Claxton, Georgia. They now live in Aspin, Colorado;
c) Jesse Myron Morton, born September 17,1980;
d) James Manley Morton, born September 17,1980, now lives in Athens, practices veterinary medicine with his father.
— Jack Morton
— Rusty Morton was born January 22, 1953, in Henderson County and died December 29, 1970, in a hunting accident. I didn’t know Rusty but was 15 years old when he died and heard about the accident. I never went hunting without thinking about Rusty and reminding myself to be extra careful.
— Charlene Morton
7) Jewel Melvina Morton (1909-1999), born September 29, 1909, in Cottonwood, and died March 15, 1999, in Henderson County. She married Roy Columbus Hendley on July 7, 1928. They lived a number of years in Waxahachie, Texas. “We went to Waxahachie when I was a freshman in high school,and I thought the world had come to an end” said their daughter, Bobbie Ann Hendley Armstrong in a 2010 interview. “But it was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. My uncle and aunt, Dick and Ettie Blackwell, moved to Waxahachie to manage the Baptist orphanage. Dad had lost the land he was farming in Cottonwood.” Bobbie Ann was the Hendley’s only child.
— Bobbie Ann Hendley (1932-), born October 21, 1932, Henderson County. She married Chad Eugene “Dick” Armstrong, and they had two sons, Ty Eugene and Shawn Lee.
Back to Alabama
This chronology started with James and Mary Ann (Durham) Morton of Blount County. So what was this place of our ancestors and many of their descendants who stayed behind like?
Blount County is in north central Alabama, 36 miles northeast of Birmingham. It has been dubbed the “Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama” since it has more historic covered bridges standing within a single county than any other in the state.
In the summer of 1997, Gene Foster and his two children, Dianne and Ferrell, visited Blount County in search of information about our ancestors. Dianne kept detailed notes of the July 26-August 1 visit, and I want to quote some of those notes here.
“We first went to the Morton’s Chapel United Methodist Church which our Morton forefathers had founded. We found a few Hallmark graves [also ancestors or ours], but no Morton ones — unless they were some of the unmarked ones.
“We wound our way in the area we thought was Murphree’s Valley [more ancestors] — beautiful rolling hills, great old barns, cows grazing, hay being baled — pleasant and peaceful.
“We came to a section of road that was blocked off by a fire truck due to a wreck down the way some. We stopped at a convenience store to get a drink after the detour and the young lady working there told us which side road was the old Murphree’s Valley Road. We proceeded down this road, enjoying the scenery and great old buildings. After passing a particularly interesting old barn with great character, I asked Ferrell to please go back to take a picture. As we found a wide area to turn around, right in front of us were two mailboxes with Morton on them! We drove up a high hill to the houses that went with these “Morton” names and after some discussion and telephone call to a relative of the homeowner — we discovered Daddy [Gene Foster] and this man were third cousins!”
I wanted to share the above portion of Dianne’s notes for two reasons. First, in visiting Blount County we discovered that the land there was very similar to the land in Henderson County, Texas. Second, we felt like we were among family even though we went there knowing no one. Our distant cousins were seemingly everywhere.
One of our most productive encounters was with Teresa Owens. She was a wealth of information. Here are some of the things we learned from Teresa, as recording in Dianne’s notes:
“1. James and Mary Morton [the parents of Drury] are probably the buried in the graves under a large cedar tree with an iron cemetery fence around it. The graves are unmarked at the Pleasant Grove Cemetery, north of Snead, Alabama. …
“2. Three of the reasons for families moving from Alabama to Texas were: a cholera epidemic in Georgia, a drought, and rocky farm land in the cove.
“3. James Morton was a rich man — he came to Alabama from South Carolina as a land agent for Samuel Maverick. …
“4. Marshall Morton (James Morton’s father) and his brothers all fought with Andrew Jackson in the War of 1812.
“5. Marshall settled in Old Cove in Walnut Grove on Highway 278. Marshall is probably buried on Old Cove Road.
“6. Jesse Morton (who came to Texas with Drury) was called Old Tob.”
One Monday, July 28, 1997, Gene, Dianne, and Ferrell (me) met Teresa Owens at the library in Oneonta, the Blount County seat. She shared “interesting tidbits” about the Mortons and Durhams, and Dianne’s notes capture them.
“The Mortons are considered large of build, athletic, literate with fine arts tendencies, not math/science minded, some alcoholic tendencies, long middle toe.
“Teresa saw us in McDonald’s and figured we were the people from Texas because she thought Ferrell looked like a Morton — she mentioned lower eyebrows, slightly protruding ears, large noses — females with square jaws. Everything has taken a personal, interesting note.”
If that doesn’t sound like all of the Mortons you know, then this note may help: “The Durhams are where we get the shorter stature (height) in the Mortons.” And one more piece of information from Teresa: “Mortons are stubborn and opinionated, hard to change from positions they hold, but not high tempers.”
Whatever their personalities may have been like, land has been important for Mortons for decades. In Alabama, the portion of Blount County where James Morton and his family lived is now in far northwest Etowah County. On July 30, 1997, Gene, Dianne, and I found what we believe to the location of that land from which Drury and his brothers left in about 1869. It was “almost certainly Morton country, as Daddy liked to call it,” Dianne wrote her notes. “It is beautiful green valleys and rolling hills. Very quiet, birds chirping, frogs croaking.” In short, it was very much like Cottonwood community in Henderson County, Texas.
“I speak for myself,” Dianne wrote, “but I believe my brother and Dad felt it, too — I felt like I had come home after 127 years. I know just a minority of men and women have the opportunity and blessing of enjoying such a moment. I have a clear sense of my roots and heritage — encompassing all the adventuresome, pioneer spirit that we have discovered on our ‘trip to Blount County, Alabama.’”
More on James Morton
So, where did James Morton come from? James was born in the Pendleton District of South Carolina in May 17, 1790, and he died May 4, 1871, in Blount County, Alabama, shortly after his three sons headed to Texas. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Marshall Morton Sr. and his wife, Winny or Winnea.
James married Mary Ann Durham in 1809 in South Carolina, and their first four children — Nellie, Jesse, William E., and Elizabeth “Betsey” — were born there, probably in the Pendleton District. The next eight children — Sarah, John Hinkle, Joel, Mary, Jane, Drury A., Winnefred Jincy, and Harper — were born in Blount County, Alabama.
In 1870, the census indicates James and Mary Ann Morton were living with their youngest daughter, Winnefred, three of her children and a man named Andrew Nelson in Blountsville, which was in the eastern half of Blount County, Alabama.
NOTE: For the purpose of this history I’m going to stay only with the Morton surname and will thus primarily follow the male side of the genealogy. I do this only to make the task at hand manageable. We all know the critical role played by mothers in the lives of all of us. At some point I would love to explore our other family names — Hallmark, Durham, Murphree, Mynatt, Cummins, and others.
Marshall Morton, Sr.
Marshall, or possibly Marshal, was born June 19, 1763, in Chatham County, North Carolina. I visited this county briefly in the early 1990s. I stopped at the local library or courthouse (I can’t remember which) and was given some help trying to locate our ancestral land. After determining what cemetery some of our ancestors were to have been buried in, I was told the cemetery now lies at the bottom of a large lake. (I would love to revisit Chatham County or learn more about it from others.) Submerged or not, that cemetery does not contain the remains of Marshall Morton, Sr. He would die in 1835 in Marshall County, Alabama.
Research on Marshall Sr. has produced some differing opinions. There are two basic approaches. I’m going to start with the one that is popular on the Internet. Then I will follow with the one that I think is most reliable because it comes more from someone’s personal connections and Bible records.
The popular view on the Internet is that Marshall was the son of James and Jane Peden Morton, both having immigrated from Ireland. In this scenario, Marshall was the eighth of ten children, and possibly the first born in North Carolina. I’m not certain of this, but I picked up information that the seventh child, John, was born in Ireland in 1762. If that is correct, James, Jane and seven children came to America in 1762 or 1763. At the risk of being indelicate, Marshal may have been conceived at sea. But that’s just speculation; it was a long voyage but privacy may have been a problem.
Also from this scenario, Marshall married Winney Eubin Ashcroft in North Carolina. Somewhere on the Internet, I picked up that this marriage occurred in 1775. That’s highly unlikely since Marshall would have been 12 and Winney 11. Their first child (Mary), however, was born in 1782, and that’s when the couple would have been 19 and 18. So they probably were married in about 1781, but that’s a guess.
In this view, Marshall is the son of an unspecified Jesse Morton, not James.
This information comes from Lisa Morton Mills. She wrote the following online on February 8, 2009:
“Having worked on this family for 35 years, using as a basis the work my mother did starting in WWII, I can share with you in certainty that the parents of Marshall Morton were NOT James Morton and Jane Peden. No Bible record in my possesion records Marshall’s wife as Winnifred, nor as Ashcraft or Ashcroft. Her name is spelled either as Winny, or Winnea and she was born in Virginia.”
Later that day, in a note to someone named Kathy, Lisa wrote the following:
“There is not a Bible Record or genealogist before 1990 whoever suggested the wife of Marshall Morton Sr. was a “Winnifred” or an “Ashcroft/Ashcraft”. This is has been a common reference in the last 15 years by researchers here on the Internet. There is also a misconception that Marshall Morton Sr. was the son of a James Morton and Jane Peden. Don’t run up that tree either, because it is all a mistake. Let me know if you want to know how that misconception got started and I’ll be glad to share it.
The Bible records in my possession record the wife of Marshall Morton Sr. either as “Winny” or “Winnea”.
“I personally believe that someone concluded she was an Ashcraft because they had a son named Drury Ashcraft. Not even John Ashcraft (supposedly the father of Winny by some researchers) doesn’t list a Winny as one of his children nor is she in any court records regarding him or the settlement of the estate. She was not his daughter. As for the son named Drury Ashcraft, he was given this name because Marshall Morton and Drury Ashcraft hunted together.”
The 1790 census shows Marshall Morton living in Newberry County, South Carolina, with four free white males under age 16, three free white females, and a total of eight in the household. I suspect the latter number means there were no slaves, since only the free whites are accounted for.
Beyond Marshall Morton, Sr.
Because of the two possible scenarios, any exploration beyond this point gets tricky. If Marshall’s parents were James and Jane, there is a good bit to go on. If his parents were Jesse and an unknown woman, then I have no leads. Recognizing that the following information may not actually connect to our Mortons, I will share it any way.
James Morton of Ireland
James Morton was born 1733 in Broughshane (formerly Bruaghshane), County Antrim, Ireland, in what is today Northern Ireland, the son of Hugh and Jean Dykes Morton. James would not, however, been considered Irish. Rather, he was Scots Irish, his parents having migrated from Scotland along with thousands of others. (More on that later.)
James married Jane Peden in 1759 in Antrim, County Antrim, Ireland – at least that’s the year circulated widely on the web. Various family trees on the Internet also have James and Jane having four children prior to 1759 and one in 1759. As stated above, Marshall was born in 1763. It would take a professional genealogist to sort all of this information, I suspect, and still there might not be certainty.
As for when they came to America, there are conflicting accounts, as well. Someone named Steff Morton submitted the following to ancestry.com on May 19, 2008: “Some Mortons came to South Carolina from Antrim County Ireland about 1773 with a Rev. William Martyn and a congregation from Ballymoney. Sailed from a small port called Lame 17 miles NW of Belfast.
There is, however, an official document stating that a Jane Morton, at age 26, came to Charles Town, South Carolina in 1767. The only problem with this is that James is not listed and Jane’s birth year is estimated at about 1741, while “our” Jane’s birth year has been identified as 1737. To encounter such a difference in these things, however, is not unusual, so this is just as likely true, or more so, than a 1773 voyage. (This information about a 1767 voyage is annotated as being from the Journals of the Council of the Colony of South Carolina. Names and land allotments under the Bounty Act of 1761. The source is listed as REVILL, JANIE. A Compilation of the Original Lists of Protestant Immigrants to South Carolina, 1763-1773. Columbia [S.C.]: State Co., 1939. 163p. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1981, page 99.)
James and Jane Morton were involved in a great migration from northern Ireland’s Ulster province to America. “Between 1717 and 1775, an estimated 200,000 migrated to what became the United States of America,” says Wikipedia.
Either voyage date would put James and Jane in South Carolina before the start of the American Revolution in 1776. Someone named Barbara Rendl submitted the following to ancestry.com on November 7, 2007: “James Morton served in the Spartan Regiment under Captain William Smith during the Revolutionary War. The Spartan Regiment was formed near Spartanburg, South Carolina by Col. John Thomas, who resigned his commission in the British Army.”
And Carol B. Wilkerson submitted the following to ancestry.com on December 7, 2009: “Jane Peden Morton was one of two women from South Carolina to receive a bronze plaque on her grave for service in the Revolutionary War. Jane and her sister would pick up wounded soldiers from the battlefield near their home in South Carolina, take them to their home and treat the soldiers’ wounds. Jane Peden is buried in Morgan County, Alabama, near Somerville in the Morrow Cemetery.”
Various sources put the death of James in 1795 in Blount County, Alabama, followed by Jane’s death in 1830 and burial in Morgan County, Alabama.
Hugh Morton was born May 26, 1689, in Loudoun, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Thomas and Bessie Bailyie Mortoun. Hugh married Jean Dykes on June 3, 1714, in Loudoun. They had ten children, James being the eighth. Information on the Internet indicates the first seven children and the ninth child were born in Scotland and the eighth and tenth born in Ireland. Also, Hugh is said to have died in Scotland. If this information is correct then it means Hugh and Jean returned to Scotland at least twice after moving to Ireland. The other possibility is that some of this information is wrong, which might mean Hugh and Jean never went to Ireland (and James was born in Scotland) or that they did not return to Scotland after emigrating.
Assuming Hugh and Jean moved to Ireland between the births of their seventh (Hugh Jr.) and eighth (James) children, then they would have made the move in 1732 or 1733. This places them as part of much broader and important migration.
The people who made this migration are called Ulster Scots. The “Ulster” coming from the area of northeast Ireland which became Northern Ireland and the “Scots,” of course, from Scotland. Wikipedia says this about Ulster Scots: “Ulster Scots are an ethnic group in Ireland, descended from Lowland Scots and English from the border of those two countries, many from the “Border Reivers” culture.”
This migration had started in 1606, more than 100 years before Hugh and Jean Morton, with a planned process of colonization which took place under the auspices of James VI of Scotland and I of England on land confiscated from the Irish nobility. “Ulster-Scots were largely descended from colonists from Galloway, Ayrshire, and the Scottish Borders Country, although some descend from people further north in the Scottish Lowlands and the Highlands,” Wikipedia says.
There were various waves of this migration, and by the time Hugh and Jean came to Ireland many Ulster Scots were heading for America.
Thomas Mortoun was born in 1648 in Loudoun, Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Robert Morton. His mother is said to be Phoebe Cooper Morton, but I believe this is wrong and I will state why later. Thomas married Bessie Bailyie in 1670. They had eight children, Hugh being the seventh. Thomas died in 1705 at age 57, and I’m unsure about Bessie’s death.
As for the place where they lived, the village of Loudoun is now gone, according to Wikipedia. “Loudoun is a parish and is named after the former village which stood north of Galston. The area is commonly referred to as the “Irvine Valley”, for the River Irvine which flows through it. … The village has vanished, however plans to rebuild the lost village are under consideration by the council. Loudoun’s most prominent geographical feature is Loudoun Hill, site of several minor battles during Scotland’s history. The ruins of the 19th-century Loudoun Castle stand to the north of Galston.”
Robert Morton was born in 1616 in Hinton in the Hedges, Northamptonshire, England. His parents’ names are unknown to me. Robert is said, on the Internet, to have married Phoebe Cooper (1625 – 1663) at an unknown time. Robert died November 15, 1671.
“Hinton-in-the-Hedges is a small village and civil parish in South, Northamptonshire, England, 2 miles (3.2 km) due west of the town of Brackley,” according to Wikipedia in 2011. “The parish church is dedicated to The Most Holy Trinity. A church has existed here since Saxon times the earliest recorded Rector being Sir Richard de Hynton in 1275. There are monuments to Sir William Hinton (d.13th century), Raynold Braye (d.1582) and Salathiell Crewe (d.1686).”
And this final note from Wikipedia: “The Old Rectory in the village is dated 1678. …” This dates the rectory to shortly after the death of Robert Morton.
Having said this about Robert, I need to say I have questions about this being Hugh’s father and Phoebe Cooper Morton being Hugh’s mother. There are three reasons for these questions.
First, I picked up this information on the Internet. While it is commonly found, this primarily means it is being shared by amateurs like me who can get really mixed up with stuff. I have found a number of other obvious errors at other places.
Second, is the spelling of Robert’s name compared to Hugh’s and the fact that he lived in England, not Scotland.
Third, Phoebe Cooper Morton is said to have lived her entire life in Massachusetts. It would be neat to be a descendant of Phoebe Cooper because she was born in Massachusetts in 1625, just five years after the Mayflower sailed to Plymouth Colony. But “neat” does not make accurate, so this is doubtful. Many people have been known to possess dubious connections to the Mayflower.
 These dates were determined by the years and places of birth of James and Mary Ann Morton’s children. Their first four children were born in South Carolina, with the last one, Elizabeth, being born about 1816. Their next eight children were born in Alabama, with the first one, Sarah, being born about 1819.
2 Stephen and Elizabeth Durham and their eight children are listed as living in the same household in Union, Izard County, Arkansas, according to the 1860 U.S. census.
 U.S. Census 1970 shows that James A. and his wife, Nancy Jane Willmon (Wildman), and their baby, Burtin Morton, lived with Nancy’s parents, Shepard and Clarinda, and five have Nancy’s siblings. They were served by the Guntersville, Alabama, Post Office and lived in Subdivision 45, Marshall County, Alabama.
 A John O. Morton is listed in the 1880 U.S. Census as living in Athens, Henderson County, Texas. While the middle initial doesn’t match, the wife is listed as Nancy and the children are Berlin, Anna, and Amma. These names correspond inexactly with John A. Morton’s children. Also, John O’s parents are listed as being from South Carolina, the same as our John A. Morton. Ferrell Foster Jr. believes the Census taker exhibited questionable literacy.
 Jason Allison, email@example.com and 731-442-0497, wrote the following in response to a blog post of mine that was a shorter version of this paper: “Mary Jane Morton Hutcherson was my ggggrandmother. She was married to my ggggrandfather Alfred Hutcherson from Williamson Co. Tenn. I have extensive research on Alfred and Mary J. I am also in possession of a letter from her to my grandmother dated 1935 from Mabank Texas. Alfred was a war hero with a perfect service record including losing his arm at the battle of Chickamauga. His memoirs are recorded in the book ‘Reminscences of the Boys in Gray’ by Mamie Yeary 1912. I have never seen or found anything that suggested Mary J. was married to anyone else but would be interested in what led you to that conclusion. Also I may be able to shed light on the brother you mention to Mary J. and W.M. Morton that you name James J. Morton….I believe it is actually James Alexander Morton their brother who fought in the war and lived well into the 1900′s. His info can be found in the confederat pension files as the brother of WM Morton and bro-inlaw to Alfred Hutcherson. Would love to talk to you.”