Thursday, September 9, 2021

Stray Mortons

Traveler Sculpture by Bruno Catalano

 While trying to piece together a family like the Mortons of Stanly and Montgomery Counties, I try to look at every individual person as a part of the whole. Without addressing who each person is, someone and something important could be, and would be, left out. Going down a straight line, you miss all the beauty, and twists and turns of the journey. It would be an imcomplete picture. 

The census records prior to 1850 enumerate what is now Stanly and Montgomery County as one, because they were. 

There were 4 Mortons who signed the Petition in 1779 to separate what would become Montgomery County from Anson County. Those were Edward, Peter, John and William F.Morton. By the 1790 census, the first census of the United States, there were only two, George and William F. Morton

In 1800, we find David, James and William. William is said to have been the father of my ancestor Ezekial Morton. William Carr Morton, but there was also in these early days, a William Frazier Morton and his wife Christian, buried in the old ghost town of Edinboro on the eastern side of the river. James had been chosen as the most likely candidate to be the father of my ancestor Samuel Parsons Morton, but there are pieces of the puzzle in that theory that doesn't fit. He was the right age, and lived close, so I believe he was related, but maybe not the father. 

In 1810, we have Alexander, Ezekiel, George, James, Peggy, Stephen and William. George, William and Stephen fought in the War of 1812. George was George Simeon Morton, who migrated to Henry County, Tennesee after marrying Elizabeth McSwain in 1814. Peggy may have been the widow of David, whom we see no more. Not that David. 

There is no 1820 census for this area, so we jump ahead 20 years to 1830. Many sons have grown up. The 1830 census divides the county into two parts, East of the Pee Dee River, and West of the Pee Dee River. In East Pee Dee, which is the half that is Montgomery County today, we find Thomas, David Jr., Edward, Dominck and Jincy. Jincy was nickname for Jane, so she was probably a widow. In West Pee Dee, which is what is now Stanly County, we find  Ezekial, Joseph, George, James, Samuel P., 2 Johns and 2 Williams. I know that Ezekial Morton is my ancestor who married Elizabeth Brumbalow, and one of the Johns, one of the Williams, and Joseph, were his sons. Samuel P. Morton is my ancestor on the other side of my family who married Vashita Calloway. James, one of the Williams and one of the Johns lived very near him and compose what I nicknamed the Narrowsville Mortons, as Narrowsville was a town that existed not too far from what we now call Badin in the very early days of Montgomery County, before Stanly became Stanly.

And Yet Another George


In 1840, we are getting closer to the revealing of everyone in the family. Again, the county has been divided into East and West. In West PeeDee, we have a William Morton in his 30's and a William Morton in his 40's. There is again, David Morton Jr. , Samuel P. Morton, Hezekiah Morton, Jesse Morton, Joseph Morton and John Morton, all sons of Ezekial. Ezekial has passed away, and in his stead is Betsy Morton, his widow. These sons of Ezekial all live near each other in the western part of the county based on their neighbors. 

On the East side of the River, we only have Margaret Morton, from the looks of it, a widow in her 60's, with 6 other persons in the household and another David Morton, in his 60's, with a teenager in the home.  It must be noted that Edward and Dominick, from the 1830 census, have moved to Anson County for this census, along with a George D. Morton, whom I featured in my post below, who married Mary Jane Carpenter and moved to Grayson County, Texas. 

Margaret was likely a widow, maybe of Thomas, as Edward and Dominick had simply relocated. And where had the older David gone? Or was it a totally different David than the 1800 David?

There is another location for names of those who lived in the area in the days before names, and that is in old store journals. Prior to the division of Montgomery into two separate counties, the most recent County Seat was the town of Lawrenceville. Nothing remains in this place but chimney falls and a monument marking its location. In the town, a merchant by the name of Daniel Freeman owned a merchantile, where members of the community from both sides of the river came to trade. After the division, in 1841, Daniel Freeman would move to Albemarle, on the western side of the river, a town created on 50 acres of the old Hearne Plantation near the forks of Long Creek and Little Long Creek. But in the 1830's, the town was located in Lawrenceville.

Several times, some of the Mortons and their families, traded with Daniel Freeman and set up accounts. In 1833 and 1834, we find David Morton Senior, designated as "Sen.", then just 'David Morton' several times, Jane Morton, who was probably Jincy from the census, shops frequently, as does a Rachel Morton. There's a Frances Morton, quite interestly, on the same page as Levi Reddin and Randle Reddin. David Morton, the younger, was known to have married Nancy Reddin, so I wonder if Frances was from this family. Francis is seen multiple times, as is a Rachel Morton. In November of 1834, she bought some jeans cloth and Muslim. With her was a name I had never seen, Powell or Pochell Morton, who purchsed a vest pattern and a hat band.

Jane shops a few more times, and then we find another male name that has not appeared in the census, except for 1779, and that is of a Paul Morton.who buys 8 yards of Homespun, 2 pair of socks, some jean material and a pocket comb, something that looks like Cambk and 4 dozen buttons. Rachel is back buying a Leghorn bonnet, 2 yards of ribbon, a tuck comb, a couple side combs, 1/2 yard of Muslin and some homespun.

A Leghorn Bonnet

Jane Morton is busy, and has a full account. In January of 1835, she bought 2 yards of Calico, some Bobinette, Homespun and a pair of spectacles. In April, she needed Indigo, 3 Madders, 7 yards of Calico, a 1/2 yard of Bobinette, which is a kind of tull, 2 1/2 yards of lace and a pair of shoes. Perhaps she was making a nice frock with which to catch a new husband.

In June of 1835, my Samuel P. Morton makes an appearance buying sidecombs. He at this time is married to Vashti.

The two counties split in 1841, with East Pee Dee retaining the name Montgomery and deciding to relocate the courthouse from Lawrenceville to a more central location, choosing Lockey Simmons Tanyard to build the new town of Troy. West Pee Dee chose the name of Stanly after John Stanly and a new county government was set up. The first court was held in the home of Nancy Hearne, and among offices filled, Samuel P. Morton was chosen  as the Register of Deeds, elected by the casting vote of the chairman and a bond of $10,000 was made by Eben Hearne and Mark Jones. 

The 1841 Tax List for Stanly County lists a William Morton in District One with just one poll and no property in District 1. This would be non-Ezekial William.

District 3- Samuel P. Morton had 147 acres on the Yadkin River (which means it was north of the conjunction of the Yadkin and the Uwharrie Rivers, which is where the Yadkin becomes the Pee Dee.), valued at $350, 

Distric 5- John Morton has 233 acres on Bear Creek, valued at $265 ando 1 poll.

District 7 Joseph Morton had 151 acres on Bear Creek valued at 225 and another in a different location of 10 acres 1 poll.

William has 200 acres on Cucumber Creek valued at 200 acres 1 poll. This would be Ezekial's William.

Jesse Morton has 2 tracts, one for 133 acres and another for 150, both on Bear Creek.

In 1842, The William in District One is still only one poll.

District 2 still finds Samuel P on the Yadkin River, but now his little brother George C. has come of age and is being charged as one Poll

District 5 finds  John and Joseph on Bear Creek both one poll each.

District 7 finds Joseph with two other tracts, he's not charged a poll because he was in District 5. There was only one Joseph. William (of Ezekial) is still on Cucumber Creek. Jesse has two tracts on Bear Creek and a stud horse, and 1 poll.

District 8 Hezekiah Morton has came of age and has 100 acres on Mud Hole Branch and 1 poll.

The next year shows no real change, both Williams are hanging in there and an Ezekial Morton has appeared in District 7, Ezekial Jr. 

Noticibly absent in the above tax records was the person of David Morton. Yet, in the early court records of Stanly County, his name appears. In May of 1843, the case of David Morton vs George Blalock is heard, with 100 acres of his land on Cedar Creek being ordered sold and levied, the land bordered that of Martha Howel and Hardy S. Watkins. Cedar Creek is in the southern part of the county near the town  of Norwood and runs into the Rocky River, it has 3 parts, Cedar Creek, Big Cedar Creek and Little Cedar Creek.

There is no more mention of David until the August 1848 Session of Court when M. T. Waddell is appointed Administrator of his estate. In the November 1848 Session of Court, Joseph Morton has been appointed the Administrator of Hezekiah Morton, his younger brother, who has also passed away. This is two Morton families hit hard as young ones were left without a father. Ezekial Morton Jr. was appointed Admin. of the estate of John Bowers.

William Morton, of the one poll and no property, is only listed as an insolvent in 41 and 43. He was probably ill and died without an estate to speak of before 1850.

In 1846, a committee is declared to set off the widow's allowance for Susan (Sussanah) Morton, widow of Kiah (Hezekiah) Morton. In 1849, Nancy Morton petitions for a year's allowance as the widow of David Morton. This is Nancy Reddin Morton. Also in 1849, John, Lemuel and Levi Morton are brought to court to be bound out, as was the custom for fatherless children, whether by death of the father, or either by lack of a father, after they reached the age of about 7. Mother's were ususally not granted custody of their children, unless they had a certain means of supporting them. These boys were sons of David Morton, and it appears that in 1849, their mother, Nancy, was still alive.

Of course, there are many other mentions of Mortons in these records, serving on juries, land transfers and the like, but not much actual genealogical reference. Samuel P. Morton is mentioned tons of times, but mostly due to his position as Register of Deeds. 

In December of 1850, Mark Jones and Isaac Parker were trustees of a land transfer from Samuel P. Morton to Stephen Ferdinand L. Morton. This was about the time he was moving to Anson County, where he is found in the 1850 census.

The 1850 Census

This is where we may have some luck in placing together who's who in the family as women, children, borders, and workers are named. The Stanly County census begins in Center, which is the Township the town of Norwood is in, which began as a place called Center, as it was a central place along the road from the early towns of Cottonville and Allenton and was known for its tent revivals held there, a central place for the community to come together and later, the location of the Norwood Brothers Store. 

Dominick Morton and his wife Keziah is found there, having bounced around between East Pee Dee (true Montgomery) and Anson in decades prior. They have children ranging in age from 25 to 4. Also in Center is young Armstead L. Morton, 32 and his wife, Frances and infant. Next door, living with Benjamin Barnwell and his young family is Sarah Morton, only 6. They are close to William R. Reddin.

Also in Center, though a little further out of Norwood are the William Morton family, his wife, Frances Duke, and children Alexander, William, Hannah, Peter and Eliza. Everyone has this William pegged as the son of Ezekial. Ezekial did have a son named William, I'm just not sure if he was this William or the other one who passed before 1850. Ezekial's sons did start showing up in records pretty early. I will look later at Samuel P. Morton and his circles involvement with the Duke family, especially Robert G. Duke. Both S. P and a John Morton, whom I believe was Narrowsville John, had land grants on Ugly Creek, in Center, in this section of Center, west of Norwood, that bordered the Duke property. It would make the most sense to me that this William would be Narrowsville William, as it is proven that both Samuel and John moved south to Ugly Creek, probably after the death of James, the oldest of the Narrowsville Mortons.

 We also find a 19 year old Adaline Morton living with 73 year old Martha Snuggs, nearby. This is Margaret Adeline Morton and she will marry John Stewart from Richmond County, nearly 30 years her senior. 

Still in Center, we find another stray Morton, 9 year old Martha, living with Minor McSwain. She's living near Calvin Lee and Benjamin Duke. She's in the Ugly Creek area, between Norwood and Cottonville, closer to Norwood. This is the little girl who will become the last and youngest wife of Ol Joshua Hudson of Ugly Creek. Oddly, on the same day in 1866, there are not one, but two marriage bonds for him, one to Sarah C. Morton, and the other for Martha. Did he start to marry one sister, and then change his mind to the other? Martha was the daughter of David and Nancy Reddin Morton. 

On page 7, William Thompson appears to have taken in more than one bound orphan. He and his wife have a two year od daughter, Sarah, but also 12 year old Joseph Farmer, and 9 year old Samuel Morton. We see no more of this young Samuel, so either he died, or he was not Samuel Morton.

Many people, without any proof, attribute this boy to Rev. Samuel Morton, and its true, some of these children did belong to Rev. Samuel Morton. He remarried and moved to Anson, leaving some of  his children in Stanly County. William Thompson did live near John Duke and Sammy had purchased land and lived on Ugly Creek near the Dukes before moving to Anson. But there is another boy, who did exist and lived to grow up at least, and that is Lemuel Morton, who in the above mentioned court records, was ordered to be brought to court and bound out, along with his brothers, Levi and John. I believe this child may have been Lemuel and not Samuel. What do you think?

Freeman's District

That was all of the Mortons for Center, we now move to Freeman's District. The names of the occupants were Kirks and Calloways, Huckabees and Fespermans, Solomons and Nobles, and there is Dr. Kron, so we can see this neighborhood is in the Northeastern part of the county along the Yadkin/Pee Dee and in the area of Morrow Mountain. There's Mark Jones, a friend and frequent bondsman and supporter of Samuel P. Morton. Next to him is Ferdinand Morton, his wife Nancy, and their oldest son, Samuel D., only one. Living next to Stephen Ferdinand Morton are Sarah and Ann 'Fooks' (Foulks, Folks, Fuchs, Fowlkes), in their 40's, the two maiden sister-in-laws of Hannah Morton Fowlkes. Also near Ferdinand is Paul and Elizabeth Morton Fesperman, another sister of Samuel P. Morton.

A few counts past them is the home of Daniel McLester and his wife Mary. Mary is the sister of Vashti Calloway Morton. Living with Daniel and Mary is 7 year old Mary Morton, probably her namesake.

Harris District

Harris District is north of Freemans District and covers the Northeastern Corner of the County, including New London and the eastern part of Richfield. Here, near Parkers and Carters, and a few more Kirks and Solomons, we find George C. Morton. He's not moved to Missouri yet, but he has a family of 3, with his wife, Mary and daughter Sarah S. 

The next District is Ridenhour, which covers the Northwest Corner of the County and borders Cabarrus County. It also borders Almond Township, which is the next Township. There were no Mortons in Ridenhour.

Almond District

There are Mortons in Almond, however, and the neighbors names have changed. Here you find Burleson, Efird, Whitley, and lots of Almonds. Here, we also find 50 year old John Morton, oldest son of Ezekial, and his family. He has a teenaged son named Hezekiah, after his brother.

John lived a little distance from the rest of his siblings. The next group is 4 pages over, but still in Almond. Neighbors are Whitleys, Honeycutts and Burris's. This is Red Cross. John seemed to be more around Millingport. There we find 21 year old Simeon Morton, his wife Sarah and Levi C. They are next to Neehham Whitley, 37 and wife Rebecca. This is Rebecca Morton, daughter of Ezkekial. Next to them is young Calvin Morton and his young family, next to him is Green Morton, Ezekials next to youngest son, and next to him is the Joseph Morton family, the 2nd to oldest son. 

Furr District

In Furr District, with is in the westernmost part of the County and encapsulates the town of Locust, we find Jesse Morton, son of Ezekial, his wife Eliza, and their 9 children, including one named Hezekiah, 14.

Ross District

In Ross District, which we now know as Tyson, we find 14 year old Joseph Morton working as a laborer for Thomas A. Lowder. 

Albemarle District

Near the town of Albemarle, we find 18 year old Ezekial Morton working as a laborer for John B. Simpson.

We also find Susanna Morton, the widow of Hezekiah, son of Ezekial the 1st, with 7 children: 'Zekial, Joseph, Mary, Jesse, William, Elizabeth and Alexander.  Back in this day, the census would take months, and the two young boys, Joseph and Ezekial, working as laborers, were the oldest sons of Hezekiah Morton and Susanna Hathcock Morton. They were counted by different people on different days, and therefore enumerated twice. 

Not every township had a Morton family in it.

Montgomery County.

In 1850, there are only 3 Mortons in the entirety of Montgomery Couny, and they all lived very close together.

Name:Rhoda Morton
Birth Year:abt 1827
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1850:Montgomery, North Carolina, USA
Cannot Read, Write:Yes
Condition:Pauper, Fits
Line Number:21
Dwelling Number:48
Family Number:48
Household MembersAge
John B Ballard49
Mary Ballard52
Pleasant M Ballard21
John M Ballard18
Elizabeth J Ballard17
Martha C Ballard9
Henry Redding10
Rhoda Morton23

First, there is Rhoda Morton. She is living with a Ballard family. Dominic Morton, who has bounced from Montgomery to Anson to Stanly, married Keziah Ballard. This is her family. Rhoda is 23, a pauper, and has fits.

Just one household below the John B. Ballard family, is that of Benjamin Scarborough, living with them is Rachel Morton, 32. Recall Rachel Morton was making purchases at Daniel Freeman's store when she would have been about 18. This area is full of Ballards, Scarboroughs, Birds and Andrews.

You have Richard Ussery, John A. Lilly, then George Sigley, who had moved from Anson, John S. Christian, and then A. N. Mills family, and living with them is a 15 year old John Morton, whom folks had pegged as being John Allen Morton, a son of the recently deceased David Morton, and I concur, he probably was. 


By 1860, it has become far easier to figure out who belongs to whom, yet, I'm including just this one last peak to help put things in perspective. I'm beginning where I ended in 1850, with Montgomery, because connections aren't so foggy. The three 1850 Mortons must have been the residual of some family that had died off between 1840 and 1850, or so I assumed. Poor afflicted Rhoda did not return. I suppose it is possible she married and had a different last name, if her 'fits', probably epilepsy, were not so bad, but I'm not sure. But Rachel is back, now 48, still living with Ballards. Above the Ballards are the James Gains family, which I blogged about in my observation of the Abram Cochran family. Beside the Gains is the young James R. Morton family. Below the Ballards is the young GeorgeW. Thompson family, his wife Mary Ann, and their young children, the last of whom is named Dominic. And next to them, Dominic Morton, 64, back in Montgomery, his wife Keziah, spelled her Cassiah, 

So in 1850 and 1860, Rachel Morton was living with the brother and nephew of Keziah Ballard Morton, wife of Dominic Morton. So was Rhoda Morton in 1850, who only appears in the one census. I would guess there to be a close relation between the 3, Rachel, Rhoda and John Morton, the only Mortons in Montgomery County in 1850, and the Dominic Morton family. They lived in the Zion Community near Pee Dee. 

Back in Stanly County, we have the Jesse Morton family living around Locust and Stanfield. A little further in, we find 18 year old Betty Morton living with the John M. Fesperman family, which can throw one off a little, due to the Fesperman connection to the other set of Mortons, but she was the daughter of Hezekiah and Suzanna "Sookie" Hathcock Morton. 

Joseph Morton Jr., son of Hezekiah, has grown up and started his own family a little closer to Albemarle.

Daniel and Mary Mclester are still hosting their niece, Mary Morton, now 17, and also her sister, Sarah Morton, 15, daughters of Rev. Samuel P. Morton and his deceased wife, Vashti, the sister of Mary McLester. In 1850, Sarah was living in Anson County with her father. Nearby is John H. Fooks and wife Hannah, sister of Rev. S.P. Morton and another aunt of the two girls.

Susan (Susannah), the widow of Hezekiah Morton, is still maintaining her household at 45. She has her son William 20, daughter Betty, 18, (as with the 1850 census, I believe her older children were out to work to support the family, thus Betty like her brothers Ezekial and Joseph Jr. before, was counted twice) and Alexander 16. There's also a 6 year old, Noah. Noah was born after the death of Hezekiah. Who was he? He ends up being Hezekiah and Susannah's grandson, son of  James Morton and his wife, a Caranah "Connie" Fry, a couple who escaped the 1850 and 1860 census records, although James supposed fought in the Civil War.

. Levi C. Morton, 35, and his familly, wife Frances and 4 children, are found around what appears to be near present day Oakboro. He was one of Ezekial's youngest children.

Thomas Morton and wife Rhoda Carpenter Morton are found in Tyson, near Simpsons, Murrays, Crumps, Easley's and Benjamin Franklin Davis. The neighbors say Cottonville area.

After a distance of no Mortons in site for awhile, we finally hit the Morton Cove, most of the family of Ezekial Morton. John Morton, 61, Joseph, 60,  J. W. T Morton, 27 and his wife Emmaline , next to a 30 year old Joseph Calvin Morton, both sons of John, Ezekial's oldest son and Joseph Calvin, obviously named for his uncle.

Not far is John Wesley Morton, and his wife, Lydia Adeline Ledbetter Morton. This one is a son of Joseph.

Next up is Ezekial Morton III, son of  Hezekiah and Susannah "Sookie" Hathcock Morton, with his wife, Talitha.

Moving into Center Township, we find David L., or David Levi Morton, 22, his wife, Elmira Boysworth Morton, and living with them is 30 year old Alexander B. Morton. They are living right next door to Benjamin Barnwell and his wife Mary K. Recalling that in 1850, a 6 year old Sarah Morton was living with them, and also, in the wedding announcement of Benjamin Franklin Barnwell and Mary C. Morton in the Fayetteville Observer, they gave her father as William Morton. I believe this was William Morton who married Frances Duke. Alexander B. Morton, who lived with David Levi Morton, was also the son of William Morton who married Frances Duke. There are definite familial relationships between this group of Mortons. William Morton who married Frances Duke is wrongly given as the son of  Ezekial Morton. Ezekial Morton did have a son named William. There were two Williams in the 1830 and 1840 census records of Montgomery County, mother of Stanly, both in West Pee Dee, or the Stanly County side. 

Lastly, in Almond, we have Allen Green Morton and his family, 26 year old merchant, William Morton, probably in the town of Big Lick, and , Simeon Morton, 35,  with Sallie 34, Levi, 14, Margaret, 11, Alfred, Sophia and Omy, all young children.

Many of the young men mentioned in the above lists will not show back up in 1870. We'll find instead, widows and orphans. Looking at where the various Morton families lived helps put them in family groupings. Who the stray children lived with helps determine who their parents were. It's all one big puzzle piece and a look at the Civil War records of the men who fought may also leave clues as to which group of Mortons each belonged to. It's looking to me like 2 very distinct groups with varied origins, and I descend from both, one on my mother's side, the other on my father's. 

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