Pages 818-820, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




Few of the farmers of Perry township, Woodson County, have so long resided in this locality as Ensign Morse, who came in 1869 and has since been identified with agricultural interests in this community. He is therefore numbered among the pioneer settlers and has witnessed the changes which have been wrought so rapidly as to make the transformation scene almost phenomenal.

Mr. Morse is a native of New York, his birth having occurred in Oswego


County, in the town of Hastings, July 3, 1835. The family were originally from Connecticut. His grandfather, Benjamin Morse, was a soldier of the war of 1812, and spent the greater part of his active life in Windsor County, Vermont. In 1833 the family was founded in New York. Daniel Morse, the father of our subject, was born in Windsor County, Vermont and, becoming an agriculturist, followed the tilling of the soil for a livelihood until his labors were ended in death in Allen County, Kansas, in 1880. In the Empire state he married Christine Mosier, who died in Oswego County, New York, in 1850. The children of this marriage were: Hepsibeth, deceased wife of James McKee; Freeman, who died in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Wearham, of Oswego County, New York, and Ensign.

The last named was reared in the county of his nativity until twenty-one years of age. He then learned the carpenter's trade but followed it for only a short time when he began work on the New York & Erie canal as a driver on the tow-path. He was promoted to a position in which he was responsible for the operation of the craft and was given fifteen dollars per month and later twenty dollars. From his wages he managed to save enough to engage in the same line of business on his own account, purchasing a half interest in a small boat called the Austria. The investment proved profitable and subsequently he became half owner of a larger boat, the Manchester, which he operated until 1868, when he disposed of that business.

The following year Mr. Morse came to Kansas on a prospecting tour. He started on the 12th of July and, being pleased with the country, in August he purchased a claim from John Hanks, a cousin of Abraham Lincoln, who, although a man of means, had "taken it up" and built a small shanty upon it. Into this Mr. Morse moved his family. He entered and proved up one hundred and sixty acres on section thirty-four. Perry township and his home is now on the southwest quarter of the same section. For about ten years after coming to the county he had difficulty in meeting his expenses, for crops were poor, advantages few and railroad facilities did not offer ready access to market. As time passed, however, his financial resources increased and today he is the owner of a valuable farm of three hundred and eighty acres, the greater part of which is under a high state of cultivation. About 1871 Messrs. Morse, Sharp, Dana and Redfield were the only men who owned deeded land in school district No. 21. The "homesteaders" voted bonds to the value of a thousand dollars to build a school house, and Mr. Morse, owning a half section of the deeded land, was assessed one-half the taxes necessary to support the school. This tax he was not able to stand long and he was forced to sell his half section, but as the years have passed he has prospered and his labors have brought to him a rich return.

On the 1st of February, 1861, in Oswego County, New York, Mr. Morse was united in marriage to Miss Martha, a daughter of George White, who had formerly resided in Onondago County. He married Margaret Rice and they became the parents of five daughters and a son: Mary, now the


widow of Jacob Kilts, of Oswego County, New York; Chloe, wife of Barney Kilts, also of Oswego County; Martha; Elizabeth, of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, wife of Cassius Brown; George of Oswego County, and Lois, widow of Richard Clapp, of Sioux Falls. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Morse has been blessed with six children: Milo, who died when seven years of age; Bertram D., born May 11, 1869; Alphonso, who died in 1898, at the age of twenty-five years; Minnie, who died at the age of five; Manzel E., who departed this life when four years of age, and Jessie, who, was born September 20, 1878, and is the wife of George L. McCarter, of Wilson County, Kansas.

In politics the early Morses were Democrats but their views on the slavery question led them to espouse the cause of the Abolition party, and later to join the Republican party, of which Mr. Morse of this review was an advocate until the Streeter campaign, when he joined the Union Labor forces and since that time he has allied himself with the Populist party. He has served as justice of the peace and constable of Perry township and has ever been found a loyal and public-spirited citizen, willing to co-operate in any movement for the general good. The power of diligence and persistency in the active affairs of life is indicated by his career for those qualities have enabled him to rise from a humble financial position to one of affluence.

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