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Champaign County, Illinois

Biography of James Madison Morse

SOURCE: "History of Champaign County, Illinois with Illustrations," 1878

SURNAMES: BARNARD, HART, MORSE


JAMES MADISON MORSE. This gentleman, one of the leading citizens of Compromise township, is a native of New York, and was born at Cazenovia, Madison county, June 19, 1836. His ancestors were early Puritan settlers of New England. From. Massachusetts they removed to Connecticut, and thence have scattered all over the United States, the family numbering among its members many prominent individuals. His grandfather emigrated from Connecticut, and was one of the original settlers of Oneida county, New York. His father, Jedediah B. MORSE, was born in Oneida county, New York, and married Sarah BARNARD, whose ancestors were also originally from New England. The oldest child, and the only son of five children by this marriage, was James Madison MORSE, whose name stands at the head of this sketch.

Mr. Morse was raised in Madison county. The greater part of his education was obtained at the Oneida Conference Seminary, a Methodist institution at Cazenovia, at which he was a student about six years. At the age of twenty he determined to try what fortune had in store for him in the Great West. This was in the year 1856. He first went to Wisconsin, and for one year was engaged in teaching school and farming in that state. In the year 1857 he came to Kendall county, Illinois, where he lived till 1868, farming and teaching school. The spring of 1868 he came to Champaign county, and settled near the present site of the town of Gifford. He bought 220 acres of land of the Illinois Central railroad company, located in section 14, township 21, range 10, and moved on this with the intention of devoting himself to the pursuit of agriculture. He improved the farm from the raw prairie, and built the residence, a view of which appears elsewhere among the illustrations to this book. He was married on the I0th of October, 1861, to Elizabeth J. HART, of Sherman, Chautauqua county, New York, the daughter of Dennis HART. Her father was from Connecticut, was descended from the old Puritan stock which first settled New England, and was one of the first settlers of Chautauqua county. He has three children: Hattie M., Rollin H. and Jedediah D.

Mr. Morse is still occupied in farming. In 1877 he went also into the drug business at Gifford, and still carries on the drug store at that place. He is a Republican in politics, and in 1860 cast his first vote for a presidential candidate for Lincoln. On the organization of Compromise township in 1869 he was chosen justice of the peace, and held that position for eight consecutive years---a fact which speaks sufficiently for the ability with which he filled it. In the spring of 1874 he was elected supervisor of Compromise township, was re-elected the following year, and performed the duties of that position in a satisfactory and creditable manner. He took an early and active part in the Grange movement on its first establishment in this part of the state. In his position as Deputy of the State Master he organized about one half the granges instituted in this county. He was master of the first grange ever organized in Champaign county. This grange was formed in Compromise township. For one year Mr. Morse was master of the county grange. He is a man who has maintained the confidence of the people of his part of the county. He has been active in township affairs, and an enterprising business man. His personal integrity has never been questioned. Since the age of sixteen he has been a member of the Baptist church, was one of the organizers of the Baptist society at Gifford, and has been actively engaged in religious and Sunday- school work.

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