Morrison, William R.

Born: 1824-09-14 Monroe County, Illinois

Died: 1909-09-29 Waterloo, Illinois

Flourished: Waterloo, Illinois

William R. Morrison was an army soldier, lawyer, circuit court clerk, state legislator, army officer, and U.S. representative. Born on a farm at Prairie du Long, near the town of Waterloo, Illinois, Morrison received his early education in local common schools. He later attended McKendree College. Upon commencement of the Mexican War, Morrison volunteered for military service, serving as a private in Captain Morrison Miller’s company of the Second Regiment of Illinois Volunteers. After the war, he returned to Waterloo, but in 1849, he emigrated to California seeking gold. Morrison returned to Illinois in 1851 and began reading law. He earned admission to the bar in 1855 and opened a law practice in Waterloo. In December 1851, he married Mary Drury, with whom he had two children, both dying in infancy or early childhood. From 1852 to 1854, Morrison was clerk of the Monroe County Circuit Court. In 1854, Monroe County voters elected Morrison, as a Democrat, to the Illinois House of Representatives. Morrison won reelection twice, serving in the Illinois House from January 1855 to February 1859. In 1859, he served as speaker of the Illinois House. Mary D. Morrison died in 1856, and in April 1857, William married Eleanora (Eleonore) Horine, with whom he had a son, who died in infancy. In 1860, Morrison was practicing law in Waterloo and owned real and personal property valued at $9,000. Upon commencement of the Civil War, Morrison volunteered for military service, organizing and becoming colonel of the Forty-Ninth Illinois Volunteers in December 1861. Morrison commanded the Third Brigade, First Division, of the Army of the Tennessee at Fort Donelson, where he received a gunshot wound to the right hip. He later commanded the U.S. military post at Bethel, Tennessee. He resigned in December 1862 to take a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the Twelfth Illinois Congressional District. He served in the House of Representatives from March 1863 to March 1865. He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1864. After his term ended, Morrison returned to his law practice. In the postwar years, he enjoyed a long stint in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Biographical Directory of the American Congress 1774-1996 (Alexandria, VA: CQ Staff Directories, 1997), 1557; John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 2:965; Isaac H. Elliott, Record of the Services of Illinois Soldiers in the Black Hawk War, 1831-32, and in the Mexican War, 1846-8 (Springfield, IL: H. W. Rokker, 1882), 241; Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, Monroe County, 4 December 1851, 20 April 1857, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; John Clayton, comp., The Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 220, 221, 222; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Waterloo, Monroe County, IL, 16; Roger D. Hunt, Colonels in Blue: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin: A Civil War Dictionary (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2017), 104; Gravestone, Waterloo City Cemetery, Waterloo, IL.