Morton, Joseph

Born: 1801-08-01 Virginia

Died: 1881-03-02 Morgan County, Illinois

Flourished: Morgan County, Illinois

When Morton was a young boy, his family moved from Virginia to North Carolina and then to Tennessee. In 1819, Morton settled near Alton in Madison County, Illinois, and a year later he started a farmstead near present-day Jacksonville. In 1823, Morton married Mary Odell (Odle), with whom he had thirteen children. Mary died in 1831, and in 1836, Morton married Eliza Bradshaw. Morton was a member of the Christian Church and the Democratic Party. He was elected to represent Morgan County in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1836 to 1838 (where he served alongside Abraham Lincoln) and again from 1846 to 1848. Morton was later elected into the Illinois Senate for two consecutive terms, serving from 1853 to 1856. Morton was a prominent farmer and raiser of livestock in Morgan County. He served as the first president of the Morgan County Agricultural Society in 1851, and at one time his farm totaled around 800 acres. In 1860, Morton owned $21,500 in real estate and $5,000 in personal estate, and his household included two hired farm laborers and at least one servant. Morton served as a delegate to the state's Constitutional Convention in 1862.

Newton Bateman and Paul Selby, eds., Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Morgan County, ed. by William F. Short (Chicago: Munsell, 1906), 637, 898-99; History of Morgan County, Illinois (Chicago: Donnelley, Loyd, 1878), 699; Charles M. Eames, comp., Historic Morgan and Classic Jacksonville (Jacksonville, IL: Daily Journal Steam Job Printing, 1885), 11, 17, 35; John Clayton, comp., Illinois Fact Book and Historical Almanac, 1673-1968 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1970), 206, 215, 218, 220; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Morgan County, IL, 239.