Albert Raymond Morton                 Mini Bio

 


Albert Raymond Morton


Grandpa Ray was a quiet man.  Evidently, he grew up in tough circumstances with little family support.  He rarely talked about himself and almost never about his earlier family life.  He recorded on his military papers and on his Social Security forms that he was born in Ottawa, Franklin County, Kansas on either 27 Sep. 1883 or 1887 (he used both dates on different documents). 






























Franklin County, Kansas with Ottawa as the County Seat. 

Ray said he was born in this town.

To the SW, in the next county over, is the town of Williamsburg, where Ray’s father, Ira Homer Morton,

lived with his sister, Irene Morton Crankshaw, and her family. 

Both Ira and his sister, Irene, lie buried in the cemetery that is a couple miles due east of Williamsburg.



Ray thought that his father was named Ira Elmer Morton (actually, it was probably Ira Homer Morton) and his mother was Ida Louise Easley.  When asked, if he could not avoid the question, he said that they were both killed, perhaps in a train wreck when he was just a young child, and that he went to live with his maternal grandparents, but they didn’t treat him well so he ran away.  Nothing further is known of him until he was a grown man.  At the time of World War I, he was living in Canada and enlisted in their military (as the US was not yet involved in the war).  For the “next of kin” he gave the name of his best friend who was living in Ohio.  Six months later he was discharged for health reasons. 


Somehow Ray learned the trade of a steamfitter and worked on building the trans-Canadian Railroad.  He also got a job working in a coal mine in Alberta.  It was at this time, at the age of 34, that he met three Bailey boys who worked with him and they invited him to their home, but when he started showing signs of interest in their younger sister, Lillian Florence Bailey, he was no longer welcome and the couple eloped for their marriage to Tabor, Alberta on 9 April 1918.  After the wedding Ray was welcomed by his old Bailey friends (now brothers) and they all became a close family thereafter. 


Ray and Lillian went wherever work opportunities presented themselves and were therefore on the move through much of their lives.  Their first daughter, Bernice Jane Louise was born on 6 March 1923 in Tabor, Alberta.  She was joined in the family just a year later, on 18 June 1924, by a sister, Irene Gladys Morton.  At this time the family was living near Great Falls, Montana where Ray was working on the construction of a dam.  Lillian did not want to have her baby a long way from family so Ray took her back to be near her mother, Sarah Sparks Bailey, in Tabor for the birth of this little girl.  As a result, Irene had Canadian citizenship but her parents wanted her to be an American so they had her birth registered in Great Falls. 


Work took the family to many different places in the western US wherever they could find construction camps for the various government programs throughout the Great Depression.  They moved to Wenatchee, WA, Las Vegas and Henderson, NV and eventually to Polson, MT. 


Irene remembered walking home from the grocery store with her father during the depression.  Although he said few words, she remembered that each day, he would stop off along the way and take a paper bag of groceries down underneath a large bridge where a group of unemployed and homeless men lived and Ray would set the bag down on the ground a little distance from the men and walk away leaving the groceries for them.  He never spoke to them but Irene knew that he had experienced some tough times without work and food and felt compassion for the plight of these hungry men.


When Irene was nine years old, 2 June 1933, a third daughter was born to this family, Shirley Jean Morton, while they resided in Las Vegas, NV.  She was so much younger that Bernice and Irene hardly knew their little sister until she was about grown. 


The family was living in Polson, MT when World War II broke out.  Irene graduated from high school there and went to nurses training in Missoula but the family moved to Walla Walla, WA.  Ray got a job working on a government construction site of a secret project unknown to most Americans.  It was being built in the desert along the Columbia River and was simply called the Hanford Reservation.  His job was to build new buildings there.  Little did he know that this site was being constructed to build an atomic bomb that would be dropped on Japan to end the war.  So many people were employed in building this site that housing was impossible to find in Pasco so the family lived in Walla Walla and Ray commuted home on weekends.  Eventually the town of Richland was built and then other housing in the area.  Ray retired after the war and moved with Lillian to live in Portland near the homes of his two oldest daughters who had both married and were living in Portland in the 1950s. 


In their later years, Ray and Lillian enjoyed visiting with her three brothers who would travel down from Alberta to play cards and talk of the old days.  The Baileys were still protective of their little sister.  Ray and Lillian also enjoyed getting together with his daughters and their families for Sunday dinners.


Ray’s health began to decline and he was hospitalized in Portland, where he died on 22 Dec. 1959.  After lying ill for a few days, Ray suddenly sat up straight one night and said, “Oh my gosh!  I thought I saw my son!”  He then laid back down and was peaceful again.  At the time his family was mostly concerned about his comfort in his final days, but later they began reflecting on his words.  He had three daughters, but no sons that we know of.  This, combined with his hesitancy to talk about his life before his marriage to Lillian made some wonder if he may have had an earlier family. 







































                                          Ray & Lillian Morton                                                                                  Ray Morton – about 1958










































Albert Raymond Morton as a steamfitter on the Railroad

(Ray is 8th from both left and right—behind the front row)