Ira Homer Morton, Jr.           Mini Bio


Ira Homer Morton Jr.

(Grandfather of Irene Morton McDonald)

Ira H. Morton Jr. was born 16 September 1854 in Conewango Township, Cattaraugus County, New York to another Ira H. Morton and Elizabeth Ann Fairchild.  The following year his Fairchild grandparents, and many of their children, including the Mortons, packed up and migrated to Walworth, Walworth County, Wisconsin.  Here they made their new home and Ira grew up surrounded by his Fairchild relatives. 

Ira had a sister, Irene, four years older than himself with whom he was very close.  Two other children, Katie and Eddie, both died as very young children.  These were followed by two more children, Carrie and Calvin, who were born after the family moved to Walworth.

Wisconsin had entered the Union in 1848 shortly after a large influx of immigrants, mostly from Germany and other northern European countries arrived in the area.  Young Ira grew up roaming the grassy prairies while helping his father, and extended family, work their farm.  The 1860 census list’s the occupation of Ira Sr. as a farmer with the value of his real estate set at $1200. 

But these were troubled times with the entire nation caught up in anxious feelings about the future and whether we would continue to be one nation, or split into multiple regional entities.  Just a few miles to the south, in the summer of 1860 (when Ira was just five years old) Abraham Lincoln, an attorney from Springfield, Illinois was campaigning for the presidency of the United States.  With his election, some of the southern states began seceding from the Union.  Much of the initial fighting involved those who lived in the south and in the boarder states. With most of the Wisconsin residents being new arrivals from foreign countries, and being rather removed geographically from the war, the Wisconsin residents were slower to respond to the nation’s call for enlistments.

However, in the summer of 1862 (when Ira was almost eight years old) there was another surge for additional soldiers and several companies were requested from Wisconsin.  Ira Sr. felt the military spirit and became active in the recruiting process.  He was offered the rank of Captain of K Company with the responsibility of obtaining a full muster roll of enlistees from his county to make up his company.  This was completed in late September, and they marched away to begin their service on Oct. 14, 1862.

Just about one week later, Oct. 22, 1862, Elizabeth Fairchild Morton gave birth to her youngest child, Calvin Morton, who was named after his paternal grandfather.  He had just missed seeing his father, who by then had departed to fight in the western campaigns in Tennessee and Arkansas.  It would have been a painful experience for young Ira (Jr.) at age eight, to watch his father march away from the family and farm.

Still, there was some comfort in being surrounded by the larger Fairchild family.  However, just four months later, young Ira’s grandfather, Edward Fairchild, became ill and the family knew he would not survive.  Word was sent south to Ira (Sr.) who received a furlough to return home for the purpose of visiting his dying father-in-law and his own family in February of 1863.  This was the first time Ira (Sr.) had seen his newest little baby boy, but it was also the last time any of them would see him.  Captain Morton returned to his unit where he died on 18 Sept. 1863 of one of the many rampant diseases that infected the military camps.  At the time, he was leading his company in the siege of Little Rock, AR.  His death occurred just two days after Ira’s ninth birthday.

Young Ira was now the man of the house and had to shoulder many of the responsibilities of the farm.  In the 1870 census, his name was incorrectly recorded as “Ida Morton” the 15 year-old “daughter” of E. A. Morton, and still living in Walworth, WI.  It is unlikely that he ever knew of this error in the census record. 

In Nov. 1876, Ira’s mother, Elizabeth, died in Walworth, leaving him without any parental ties.  He was 22 years old at this time.  His older sister, Irene, now married to George Crankshaw, and with whom Ira had always been very close, had moved for a time to Ohio, and then to Kansas.  Ira moved from place to place visiting relatives and friends, and then followed Irene to Williamsburg, Franklin County, Kansas by the early 1880’s. 

Not having a father role model for much of his life, and then being on his own by the time he was in his early adulthood left Ira to fend for himself in all aspects of his life.

Sometime in the 1880’s, while living with his sister, Irene, Ira met Ida Louise Easley.  We have found no record of her at all (other than her son giving her name as his mother) nor have we found any record of a marriage for her and Ira, but in 1883 (or possibly 1887) they had a son named Albert Raymond Morton (the future father of Irene Gladys Morton McDonald).  {“Ray” gave both years as dates of his birth in various records and at different times of his life—but the 1883 year is probably correct.} 

Ida Louise Easley died while “Ray” was just an infant, and for a time he was raised by his maternal grandparents until he ran away from the Easley home.  Nothing else is known of Ida, but Ira remained near his sister in Williamsburg, KS.  He was a resident of her home in the 1885 Kansas state census.  At that time he stated that he was 30 years old, single and a laborer.  No mention was made of him ever having a wife, or a son—Ray. 

Ira continued to work and reside in this area until his early death at age 34 (on 12 Dec. 1888) in the neighboring county of Osage Kansas.  He was buried in the Mt. Hope cemetery, just about a mile east of Williamsburg, Kansas. 

Ira’s sister, Irene Crankshaw, outlived him by only eight years and was buried next to her brother in 1896.

{Notes:  Ira’s only known child, Albert Raymond “Ray” Morton listed his father’s name as “Ira Elmer Morton” but this seems to be an error as it is clearly indicated on most records throughout his life as “Ira H. Morton”; and on his obituary and grave record it states his name was Ira Homer Morton.  This would be an easy mistake for a person to make when he had never really known his father, or mother.  Ray must have had some interaction though with his Aunt Irene and appreciated that connection.  Many years later, when he had a family of his own, he named his first daughter, Bernice Jane Louise Morton (after both of her grandmothers—including Ida Louise Easley) and his second daughter was named Irene Morton (later McDonald), after his Aunt, Irene Morton Crankshaw.}