Ira Homer Morton, Sr.    --    Mini Bio


Captain Ira H. Morton

(picture above is purely a depiction of a Civil War Captain in the Union Army)

Ira Homer Morton was born in 1822 in Orleans County, New York, which county lies on the banks of Lake

Ontario just a little to the east of Niagara Falls.  He had one brother, Reuben H. Morton, who was four

years his senior.  Otherwise, we know of no other siblings in the family.  We are fairly certain that his

parents were Calvin Morton and Abigail ______, although this has not yet been proven to our total

satisfaction.  Ira’s father was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts and his mother in Connecticut, but in the

early years of the 19th century, along with thousands of other New Englanders, they began a westward

migration across New York State.  Ira’s parents met and married in 1815 in Hamilton, Madison Co., in

central NY.  Abigail had been married previously to a Mr. Hall, but we don’t know if she had any children

by that marriage.  The family then moved north, to Ellisburg, Jefferson Co., NY, where their older son,

Reuben, was born in 1818 before migrating further west to Orleans County.   Calvin was a traveling

minister of the “First Universalist Society”.  The Erie Canal was being dug across upstate NY at this time

and it brought a very rough sort of humanity along with it.  As a counter to that movement, there arose

a great religious revival to recapture the hearts of this wild element.  It seems that Reverend Calvin

Morton may have been a part of that.  He was serving in Clarendon, Orleans Co., NY as a minister in

1828-30, and that may be the same village where Ira was born.  

However, in 1830, when Ira was just eight years old, the family moved south to Conewango Township, in

Cattaraugus County, NY, where they remained for several years.  Here Ira, and his brother, Reuben, grew

to manhood.  

In 1841, Reuben married a local girl by the name of Lois S. Cowley and settled down near her family to

begin a large family that eventually included at least 15 children, one of which he named Ira Homer

Morton, after his brother. 

On 22 Oct. 1848, Ira also married a local girl, Elizabeth Ann Fairchild.  She was born in 1825 in Hunter

Township, Greene Co., NY and her family had moved to Conewango in the mid 1830’s.

It was at about this same time that Ira’s father, Calvin, died.  In the 1850 census, his mother, Abigail, was

living with her son Reuben’s family as a widow.  Ira was just beginning his family with the birth of their

first child, Irene Morton.

Ira and Elizabeth had two children who died very young.  We think the older of these two was a

daughter named Katie, who was probably the second child in the family.  She was born about 1852, but

did not survive long.

The third child, and oldest boy, was given his father’s name, Ira Homer Morton, and he was the eventual

grandfather of Irene Gladys Morton McDonald.  He was born on 16 Sep. 1854 in Conewango Township,


The Fairchilds were farmers and Cattaraugus had a lot of green rolling pastures with rich farmland, but

the nation was on the move westward and the Fairchilds also decided to move on.  Some of their distant

relatives had preceded them to the virgin farmlands of southern Wisconsin.  Here, in the mid 1850’s,

they took up new farms first in Chippewa County, and later in Walworth Township, Walworth County,

WI.  Ira and Elizabeth migrated there with them, taking their two surviving children. 

Not long after their arrival in Wisconsin, the family was blessed with their fourth child, Eddie Morton. 

This was the second of their children to die in infancy.  He was probably born about 1857.  Two more

children followed: Carrie (1859) and Calvin (1862). 

The youngest of these children was born during the American Civil War.  In the earliest years, Wisconsin

had not sent too many soldiers to fight.  Abraham Lincoln decided they needed to do more and called

for a large number of recruits in 1862.  Ira felt the need to respond.   Men who were able to recruit a

large number of soldiers, willing to follow their leadership, were given the rank of Captain.  

Ira mustered in his Company K, of the Wisconsin 28th Infantry Regiment on 14 Oct. 1862, just one week

before the birth of their youngest son.  They first marched to Madison, WI, for basic training and then

shipped south to fight in the swamps along the Mississippi in support of the Battle of Vicksburg.  These

troops were under the ultimate command of General U.S. Grant.  

Ira led his men for almost one year in the battles of Yazoo Pass in Mississippi, the Battle of Helena in

Arkansas, and the Battle of Little Rock, or Bayou Forche.  At this time Ira contracted one of the very

common camp ailments, probably dysentery, caused by unsanitary conditions.  He died near Little Rock

on 18 Sep. 1863 just one week after that successful battle concluded.