Albert Raymond Morton

His Birth and Parentage


Lionel Nebeker

7 June 2012

Albert Raymond Morton & Lillian Florence Bailey

What we know about his birth—

There seems to be a bit of a mystery surrounding the birth and youth of our ancestor, Albert Raymond Morton.   “Ray,” as he was usually called, was a very private man and said little about his birth and childhood.  Even his daughters knew relatively little about his early life prior to his marriage to Lillian Florence Bailey, which occurred on 9 April 1918 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, when he was about 31-33 years old. 

The earliest events that any of his family knew of him was that, when a young man, he worked as a steamfitter on the Trans-Canadian Railroad.  Later he was employed for a time in the mines in Alberta.  Here he worked with the Bailey brothers, recent immigrants from England, and through them he met their sister, Lillian, whom he soon married.  They had three children—all daughters.  The first two: Bernice Jane Louise, and Irene Gladys were born in Alberta; and their youngest daughter, Shirley Jean, was born in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

But, as to his birth, youth and parents, there are some real gaps in what is definitely known—these were not topics of discussion in his home, and it simply did not occur to anyone to quiz him about his early life.  His daughters received the impression that he had suffered through some difficult times and did not wish to speak about those earlier days.  Based upon the few comments that seeped out over the years they “had the impression” that he:

1.was born in Kansas (date not certain)

2.was orphaned at a very early age—perhaps involving a train wreck

3.went to live with his grandparents

4.may possibly have even used a different last name for a time--that of his grandparents

5.ran away from home as a youth because he felt he was being mistreated by his relatives

6.grew up in difficult economic conditions traveling around the country on his own

We’ll keep these vague impressions in mind as they may generate some leads in our search, but we must also guard against the assumption that they are all correct.  Even his daughters were unsure on any of these—but it represents all they were able to pull from their collective memories about their father. 

So, with the little that we know of him, we have started to collect, and sort out, the few documents we have been able to find regarding his origin.  Some of those were created many years later when Ray, as a grown man, needed to produce something about his birth.  We have not been able to find any records that clearly establish the date and circumstances surrounding his birth.  Still, let’s review those items that we have been able to obtain.  We will also attach copies of some of these at the end of this article. 

At the time of his birth (in the 1880’s) states were not yet keeping actual birth certificates.  However, in 1942, when Ray was about 59 years old, he requested a copy of a “delayed certificate of birth” from the state of Kansas [1].  The state had no record of his actual birth and so he had to provide them with four documents that supported his contention that he was born in Ottawa, Franklin County, Kansas on 27 September 1883.  To qualify for the state’s certificate he sent them copies of his current employment record, his driver’s license, his life insurance policy, and his Canadian army discharge papers.  As a result, Kansas issued him a certificate, on which it was their understanding, based upon the information he provided late in his life, that:

He was born on 27 Sep. 1883 in Ottawa, Kansas

His father was Ira Elmer Morton, age 21, a farmer, born in Cleveland, Ohio

His mother was Ida Louise Easley, age 18, born in Ottawa, Kansas

Again, remember that this information was provided from Ray’s understanding of what happened when he was an infant, and given to the state many years later.  The above information is helpful, but also contains a number of errors, which we will discuss later. 

Eastern Kansas, with Ottawa located near the center of Franklin County;

and Williamsburg in the SW corner of Franklin County. 

The Mt. Hope cemetery is located on the highway due east of Williamsburg. 

Ira Homer Morton (Albert’s father) is buried there, next to Ira’s sister, Irene Morton Crankshaw.

The next document that we will discuss is his application for a Social Security account number [2].  This was completed by him on 14 June 1937.  At that time he was working for the Phoenix Engineering Corp. in Polson, Montana.  He recorded, on this application, that his parents were named: Ira Elmer Morton and Ida Louise Easley (consistent with his other documents) but here he says he was 49 years old, and had been born in Ottawa, Kansas on 27 Sep. 1887.  The year given for his birth on this document (1887) is consistent with his age also given (59) but is 4 years younger than the age given on the document above (1883).  Since he also included his age, as well as the specific birth date, this would not seem to be a slip of the pen in the birth year, but rather an intentional decision to record it in this manner.  

Just below this document, we will attach another, which Albert completed just a few months later, in which he applied to the Social Security board to make a correction in his date of birth. In the second document, he changed his year of birth to 1883--which now coincides with his recreated birth certificate. 

This leaves us wondering why he would intentionally give an older date to the state of Kansas (and to several others) and a later date to the Social Security office.  We cannot account for his reason.   However, the number of documents that he submitted to the state of Kansas to obtain his birth certificate seems to favor the earlier birth year of 1883. 

There is also the possibility that he may not have actually known his real birth year.  He seems to have consistently used the specific date of 27 September on all documents.  It is only the year that changes. 

But, an even more important discrepancy arises in the names, ages and places of birth of his parents.  On these items he is consistent, but he is also inaccurate in his understanding on several points.  In his defense, he was quite young when he left home and may have had little recollection of them; and whoever told him about them may not have had all of the facts either.  We cannot tell how much of his understanding came from misinformation from others, and how much was simply estimations on his part (especially regarding their ages and places of birth). 

Based upon the research we have done so far, we cannot pinpoint the exact year of his birth with any certainty, and the following list will help to show the difficulty in determining that year.  He could have been born any time between 1883 and 1887, and the various documents shown below lend support (but not proof) to the years as follows (based on the assumption that his birth day and month was actually 27 Sep of some year):

     1883     revised application for Social Security; delayed birth certificate; death certif; military papers

     1884     1895 KS State census (when living with Martha Bonham); 1900 KS Fed census;

     1885     1895 KS State census (when living with his mother);

     1886     most likely year of his birth based upon the ages of his other siblings

     1887     original application for Social Security; 

We have searched the records of the 1885 KS State census for Franklin Co., and have not yet been able to find him, or his family.  Many of the pages are very difficult to read but we will search it again.  If we can find his mother, then that record should tell us whether “Ray” had been born prior to that year, or not. 

We did find a record of his father, Ira Homer Morton, in the 1885 KS State census in Franklin Co., KS but in that record Ira stated that he was still a single man, unmarried, and he was living with his married sister, her family, and their aunt and a cousin.  There is no indication that Ira had ever been married at that time, or that he had a baby son.

What we know about his mother—

One thing that has been very consistent about Ray’s documents is that he invariably lists his mother’s name as Ida Louise Easley.  He only gives an estimate of her age in one document, and that too was in his “Delayed Birth Certificate” in which he estimated her age to be 18 at the time of his birth, and that he thought she was born in Ottawa, KS.  This too was an apparent guess. 

We searched for twenty-five years to find any record of this woman, other than those listed by Raymond, and were infuriatingly unsuccessful… until June 2012.  At that point we finally found this woman in the 1875 Kansas state census [10] and with that, we were then able to find her in the 1870 Kansas federal census in Shiloh, Neosho Co., KS [11]; and in the 1860 Illinois federal census for Macoupin Co., Ill [12]. 

Ida Louise Easley was born in 1856-57 in Macoupin County, Illinois.  She was the daughter of Pleasant Easley and Louisa Sinclair, both of whom were born in Tennessee.  Ida was the oldest daughter, but she had seven siblings, all boys except for one younger sister.  She was three years old in the 1860 Federal census for Maucoupin Co., Illinois.  All of the children were born in Illinois before the family moved briefly to Missouri, and then to Neosho County, Kansas. 

She was thirteen years old in the 1870 Federal census for Chetopa, Neosho Co., KS and still livng with her parents and siblings at that time.  Her father died there in 1872 and her mother died the following year, 1873.  Both are buried in Neosho Co., KS.   She was just sixteen when her mother died.

We find her (at age 18) still residing with her siblings in the 1875 Kansas state census. 

On 20 April 1879, Ida married Aaron R. Bonham (son of David and Martha Tebow Bonham) in Neosho Co.

In the 1880 Federal census for Lincoln, Neosho, Kansas, we find Aaron and Ida Bonham with a new set of twin boys, just a few months old, Clarence and Lawrence, born in early 1880.  This is followed with an article in the Chanute Times (page 3 of the local newspaper) dated Thursday, August 17, 1880, stating: “Mr. Aaron Bonham, living east of the city, had the sad misfortune to lose both of his twin boy babies on Sunday night.  The cause of death we have not learned, but it was very sudden and unexpected.”

Ida and Aaron then moved south, to Parsons, LaBette Co., KS, where their next child, Ira Elmer Bonham, was born on 10 May 1881 (per  At this time a railroad was being built from Topeka to Texas and it seems likely that Aaron was obtaining employment by following the progress of the railroad.

At about the same time, Aaron Bonham’s parents had settled in Franklin Co., Kansas, about 80 miles to the north.  The timing and locality is not totally clear but sometime between about 1882-1884 Aaron’s father died, and Aaron and Ida had another child, Margaret “Maggie” Louise Bonham (born Feb. 1883 according to the 1900 Fed census for CA); and the young family also moved north, to Franklin Co., KS to be near his mother.  The date of Margaret Bonham’s birthday makes it pretty clear that she could not have had a younger brother born in September of that same year, just seven months apart.  So, Raymond’s birth must have come in one of the later years (1884-86).

After this time, we can find no document to indicate that Aaron Bonham was still alive, but neither can we prove that he had died.  And, without finding Ida Bonham in the 1885 Kansas State census, we cannot tell exactly what her situation was at that time.  We know that Margaret Bonham, was about two years younger than her older brother, Ira Elmer Bonham, and about two years older than her younger brother (half-brother) Alber Raymond Morton, but that would seem to place his birthday in about 1886 (or perhaps late 1885--Sept.)  Then, Ida Easley Bonham had one more child--a daughter, Bernice Blanch Bonham, born about two years younger than our Raymond.  The very interesting this here is that she always used the last name of “Bonham” and in her own marriage application, she stated that her father’s name was Aaron Bonham.  So, we have six children for Ida L. Easley Bonham--the twins who died at just a few months old, and the four living children, three of which (# 1, 2 & 4) all claim that Aaron Bonham was their father, but #3 (Raymond) always claimed that his father was Ira Morton.

We have not been able to find any: death/divorce record for Aaron Bonham; marriage record for Ira Morton; birth record for Bernice Bonham; nor 1885 census record for Ida L. E. Bonham’s family.  Any of these documents would be extremely helpful in trying to figure out this family.  But we are currently a bit stymied.  Remember that we did find Ira H. Morton in the 1885 census and he was still single at that time.

Here are a few possible scenarios, but none can yet be proven. 

  1. 1. Aaron and Ida could have divorced, she then quickly married Ira Morton in the fall of 1885 (after the census) and they could have had a son, Raymond, the following year--Sept 1886.  We know Ira died in 1888, and Ida could have been reconciled to Aaron and remarried him with Bernice born to them in 1888-89.

  2. 2.  Aaron could have been away for an extended period and Ida could have met Ira Morton and had a child out of wedlock before Aaron’s return.  Then they reconcile and have a daughter, Bernice Bonham in about 1888.

  3. 3.  Aaron may have died in about 1884.  Ida could have married Ira Morton in the fall of 1885 (after the census) and then had both Raymond (1886) and Bernice (1888) prior to Ira’s death on 12 Dec. 1888, and then just have those two younger children keep the same surname as the two older children.  However, this scenario has a problem in that Bernice not only used the Bonham name throughout her life, but at the time of her wedding, when asked for the name of her father, she specifically stated it was “Aaron Bonham”--her CA death certificate calls him “Abner Bonham.” 

As a grown man, Ray never equivocated on his parentage.  He consistently gave his mother’s name as “Ida Louise Easley” and his father’s name as “Ira Elmer Morton.”  {Note: Ira’s middle name was not “Elmer” but rather it was “Homer.”  The two names are quite similar, and when one considers that Ira died when Ray was just an infant, and unknown to him personally; and when one considers that Ray had an older brother whose name was Ira Elmer Bonham, it is easy to see how a young boy could have made that mistake and understood his father’s middle name to be slightly different than it really was.  Still, in his adulthood, he never used the name of Bonham... as a child, however, he was known by that name, as were all of his siblings.}

Now, keeping that dilemma in mind, let’s proceed with the other documents that we have been able to find for Ida L. Easley. 

In, Kansas Marriages, 1840-1935, we find the following record:

Groom’s name:  A. D. Holmes  (age 55)

Bride’s name:  Ida Bonham (age 33)

Marriage date:  12 April 1890

Marriage place:  Ottawa, Franklin Co., KS

LDS film # 14515456

Note that at the time of this marriage, she was still going by the name of “Bonham” -- not Morton.  This adds credence to the supposition that she may not have actually married Ira H. Morton.  In searching the same record, we found no entry for Ira Morton’s marriage.  At this time Ida was a young woman needing to support her four living children.  The man she married was 22 years older than she and one wonders if this poor woman married out of the need to have someone help to support her little family.

The 1890 Federal census would have been very helpful to us here, but unfortunately, it was destroyed.  So the next document we have is the 1895 Kansas State census for Franklin Co.  By this time, it appears that Mr. Holmes was either away from home, or had already died.  We find the following in that record:

State census for Ottawa City Ward 4, Franklin Co., KS -- 1 March 1895

     Name                     Age      Sex     Place of birth

Holmes, Mrs. Ida          37         F               IL

     “        Ira                   13         M             KS

     “        Maggie           12         F              KS

     “        Ray                  9          M             KS

     “        Bernice            7          F              KS

We would never have thought to search for this record under the names of “Holmes” without first finding the record of her marriage.  Note that the census taker listed each of the children with the name of Holmes.  We don’t know if they actually used that name or not, or if the census taker merely assumed that the children had the same name as their mother.    Note too that this is the very first document that we have actually been able to find that mentions our “Ray” at a time when he was in his early youth.  This also establishes him right in there in the middle of the family with the mother he said he had, and with the siblings we have identified.  This however, is the first, and the last document that has him associating with his family.

In the very same year, and census for the same county, we find that by the time the census taker had moved on to the home of Martha Bonham’s (the widowed mother of Aaron Bonham--and mother-in-law of Ida L. Easley Bonham) we find that Ray had also moved over to this same household, and so, he was counted twice that year:

State census for Harrison Township, Ottawa P.O., Franklin Co., KS -- 1895

     Name                       Age       Sex     Place of birth


Bonham, Martha       65        F            OH

      “        Frank         43        M           IL

      “        Mattie        27        F            IL

      “        Ray            10        M           KS

Now, this census was just a very short time after the previous exhibit (above) but here, Ray is listed as being 10 years old, and with the surname of “Bonham.”  It is the same young boy.  He is never again shown with his mother’s family in the succeeding census records.  Whether he moved because of hard feelings with his family, or with his step-father, or due to difficult financial circumstances is not known. 

Over the next five years, Mr. A. D. Holmes died and Ida had married again, this time to a Mr. Hamilton (no marriage record found) and for the rest of her life she was known as Mrs. Ida Hamilton.  However, in the 1900 census, her new husband must have been away from home again.  He too was probably a railroad worker as a new Southern Pacific RR line was being constructed across the southern states.  We find Ida and her two daughters living in Winslow, Navajo Co., AZ at this time. 

Federal census for Winslow, Navajo, Arizona -- 9 June 1900

     Name             Relation   Sex   Birth       Age  Status  Yrs md  children  living      birthplaces

Hamilton, Ida L.    head       F    Oct 1856    43     md         4            6          4         IL      TN    TN

       “     Maggie L   dau       F    Feb 1883    17      s                                                KS     OH    IL

       “     Bernice B.  dau      F    Apr 1887    13      s                                                 KS     OH    IL

Here again her two daughters are listed with the same surname as their mother.  Ida stated that she had had six children, and four were still living.  That would match the newspaper record we found of her first two little twin boys dying in Kansas when just a few months old.  Neither of her two living sons were there in Winslow with her.  We do not know where Ira Elmer Bonham was at this time, but we have found Ray, who was still living with Martha Bonham, although they had moved to Stafford Co., KS by this time. 

Federal census for Stafford Township, Stafford Co., KS -- 15 June 1900

     Name             Relation   Sex   Birth       Age  Status  Yrs md  children  living      birthplaces

Bonham, Martha   head        F   May 1829   71     wd         --            10          4       OH    NJ    NY

      “        Frank       son        M  Oct  1851    48     s                                                 OH     IN    OH

      “        Ray       g-son       M  Sep  1884    15      s                                                 KS     IN    OH

Even though Ray’s mother had moved west, to Arizona, Ray continued to live with Martha Bonham.  Here he gives a specific month and year for his birth and it could be correct, but it is different from some of the other dates he gave elsewhere.  He said that his father was born in “IN” (Indiana) but in reality he did not know where his father was born, and it appears the census taker may have just used the same locality for Ray’s parents, as he did for Frank Bonham’s (above).

The questions must arise, that if Ray was born ‘out of wed-lock‘ while Martha’s daughter-in-law was still married to her son, Aaron, one might think that of all of the children, Martha might be the least likely to take this young boy into her home to raise.  Whatever the circumstances, Martha Bonham must have been a very good woman.  In this record, Ray is listed as a “grandson” of Martha Bonham. 

Whether Ray was actually going by the Bonham name, as indicated above, or whether the census taker once again made an assumption of that, is not known.   This is the last record we have found for Ray in Kansas.   

In the 1905 KS State census we again find this family still living in Stafford Co., KS with Frank Bonham now showing as the head of the household, and Martha was still alive at age 78, but Ray is no longer living with them.  By this time Ray would have been about 20 years old and had departed their home sometime between the ages of about 15-20 to live on his own.  

By 1910, Ida and her daughters had moved on to Richmond, Contra Costa Co., California.  She said she was again widowed from Mr. Hamilton and was living with her oldest daughter, who by this time was also a widow.  Her son, Ira Elmer Bonham, was also living in the same town and working for an oil company.  Here we find the following census record:

         Name             Relation   Sex  Age  Status  Yrs md  children  living       birthplaces

Kelly, Margaret L.   head        F     27      wd        --             2            2         KS    IN    IL      

    “      William R.      son        M      8       s                                                   CA  Can.   KS

    “      Frederich R.    son        M      6       s                                                   CA  Can.   KS

Bonham, Bernice B.   sis          F     22       s                                                   KS    IN     IL

Hamilton, Ida L.      mother      F     53     wd        --             6             4         IL     KY    KY

It is interesting that Ida stated that her parent were born in KY, because in prior census records she had always correctly stated they were born in Tennessee.

On another page in the same town...  (but difficult to read)

     Name             Relation   Sex   Age  Status  Yrs md  children  living          birthplaces

Bonham, Ira E.      head        M     29     md          6                                        KS    IN     IL

     “         Juella      wife        F      25    md           6            2           1             CA    IN     IN

     “         Harry       son        M       5      s                                                       CA    KS    CA

It is interesting that Ida is listed above as a widow.  Shortly after this, she moved to Bakersfield, CA.  There, in the 1915 city directory, there is a listing for Ida L. Hamilton, and her spouse, J. A. Hamilton.  It could be that for personal safety reasons, that she listed the name of her deceased husband as if he were still living, but there is another listing with the date of 30 Nov. 1916 for a James A. Hamilton who at that date was working as a boilermaker for the Southern Pacific Railway.  This may be a totally different person, and it is not clear just where he was residing at that time. 

In the 1920 Federal census for Bakersfield, Kern Co., CA we find the family has moved inland.  Here Ida was keeping a boarding house which included others in addition to her own family.  We will not bother listing the boarders as none of those names seem to connect to our family.

     Name             Relation   Sex   Age  Status       birthplaces

Hamilton, Ida        head        F       63     wd        IL   TN   KY   

Kelly, Margaret     dau         F       36     wd        KS  OH   IL

Bonham, Bernice   dau         F       32      s          KS  OH   IL

Kelly, Raymond   g-son       M      18      s          CA Can.  KS

    “     Frederick   g-son       M      16      s           CA Can. KS

Note that Margaret Bonham Kelly had named her oldest son, William Raymond Kelly, with his middle name being a remembrance of her younger brother, Albert Raymond Morton. 

Bernice Bonham must have moved back near her older brother, Ira E. Bonham, as she was married in Contra Costa Co., CA on 5 Oct. 1926 to Elmer Samuelson.  In her marriage license, she said that her father was “Aaron Bonham.”  Since she was a younger sister of our Raymond Morton, this really throws an interesting twist into the parentage of this family. 

We have heard that Ida Louise Easley Bonham (Morton) Holmes Hamilton passed away in Bakersfield, CA in the 1930s but we do not have a specific date for her death at this time. 

What we know about his father—

In every record where Ray gives the name of his father, he lists him either as “Ira Morton” or as “Ira Elmer “Morton”.  In no record did he ever claim that his father was Aaron Bonham.  In all of his adult life he always went by the name of “Morton” rather than Bonham. 

In only one record, his “Delayed Certificate of Birth” did Ray give an estimated age for his father.  Remember Ray claimed that he was about 59 years old at the time he recreated this information.  He guessed that his father was 21 years old at the time of his birth, and that his mother was 18.  This turns out to be pure guesswork on his part.  In reality, he had no idea of their ages.  He would not have had any memory of this father, and so the above estimates seemed logical to him. 

We have searched all the available records to try to find anyone by this exact name who may have lived in Kansas, Missouri, Ohio, or any other surrounding state during this period of time and have found no one with that exact name.

However, we did find an Ira Homer Morton living very near Ottawa, Kansas during this time.  Considering that Ray probably never knew his father, and whoever did may not have known him well enough to be certain about his middle name, it is relatively easy to see how someone could remember “Homer” as “Elmer” and convey that name to Raymond by mistake.  From the evidence available we feel confident that this man, Ira Homer Morton, was the father of our Albert Raymond Morton.

We previously mentioned the 1885 Kansas State census [9] in which “Ira Morton” was living in Williamsburg, Franklin Co., Kansas with his sister, Irene E. Morton Crankshaw and her family, as well as their widowed Aunt Sarah Cather, and her son, Henry Cather (a cousin of Ira’s).  This census record lists Ira as a 30-year-old single man without any indication of any spouse or child.  Remember that at this time our Ray could have been anywhere from two years old to not yet born.  The census also says that Ira was born in New York, and that he had lived previously in Wisconsin.  Admittedly, without any firm document that specifically states that Raymond was a son of this particular man, we are making a bit of an assumption here.  But, there was no other Ira Mortons anywhere else that could be considered as a potential candidate--and this man was in the right place, at the right time, with approximately the right name.

From this record, we have been able to go back to both Wisconsin, and New York, and find many records for this particular man.  In all cases they consistently give his name as Ira Homer Morton.  In fact, he was the son of another Ira Homer Morton, Sr. 

Ira Jr. was born on 16 Sep 1854 in Conewango Township, Cattaraugus County, New York to Ira Homer Morton, Sr. and Elizabeth Ann Fairchild Morton.  At a very early age that family moved to a new farming community near Walworth Township, Walworth County, Wisconsin.  From here, Ira Sr. joined the Army in 1862 and served as a Captain in the Civil War.  He died from disease after the battle of Little Rock, in Arkansas and was sent home for burial.  Ira Jr. was only about eight years old at the death of his father, and his mother died before he reached his majority.  Thus, he was left out on his own by the time he was a young man.

The purpose of this article is to document Ray’s life, so we will not list all of the documentation for his parents, but merely summarize the key points that are pertinent.  Following the death of their parents, Ira’s older sister, Irene, moved to Ohio to live with her Aunt Sarah Cather.  Either here, or soon thereafter in Williamsburg, KS, she met and married George Crankshaw and they began their family.  It appears that Ira probably left Wisconsin after the death of his mother, and moved to Ohio to be close to his sister.  And with the Crankshaws he most likely left Ohio and moved to Williamsburg, Franklin Co., KS.  At any rate, by the 1885 census Ira, as well as the recently widowed Aunt Sarah Cather, was living with the Crankshaws in Kansas. 

This connection, through Ohio, may account for why Ray understood that his father may have come from, and even been born in Cleveland, Ohio, and listed that city as the birth place of his father on one of the documents cited earlier. 

On 12 Dec. 1888 Ira Homer Morton, Jr. passed away in Oswego, Allen Co., KS (in the very SE corner of that state) perhaps while working on the railroad, but he was brought back to Williamsburg, Franklin Co., Kansas, near his sister’s home, for burial.  He was 34 years old at the time of his passing.  He was buried in the Mt. Hope Cemetery just one mile east of Williamsburg.  Young Ray was somewhere between one to five years old at the time of his father’s death.  Since it does not appear that he was living with his father he may not have known him at all at that tender age.

Remember that Ray later named his second daughter, “Irene”.  This is another strong clue that he was indeed the son of this Ira Homer Morton, who had a very close sister, named “Irene” Morton Crankshaw with whom Ira lived.  If our Raymond came to know this good woman, he may have developed a relationship with her too, and therefore wanted to name one of his daughters after her.  She may have also been the source for telling him about his father and where they came from.  Irene Morton Cranchshaw died in Williamburg, Franklin, KS on 16 Nov. 1896 and was buried in the Mt. Hope cemetery next to her brother.  If Ray was to have had any visits with this Aunt Irene, to learn more about his deceased father, he must have had those chats before 1896 when he was only about 10-11 years old.

One other brief comment about this family:  When Aunt Shirley Morton Donaldson, Ray’s youngest daughter, went to Kansas on her research trip, and found the reference to George and Irene Crankshaw living in Williamsburg, she said that that name seemed to have a familiar ring to her from hearing comments made by her father years earlier.  This is not a proof of our relationship, but it is one more hint that we have the right family to make this connection.  We feel confident enough to make the assertion that Albert Raymond Morton’s father was surely this Ira Homer Morton, Jr.

Grave marker for Ira Homer Morton, son of I. H. (Ira Homer) & E. A. (Elizabeth Ann Fairchild) Morton. 

He died Dec. 12, 1888, aged 34 yrs, 2 mos, 26 days.  His grave is located in the Mount Hope Cemetery just east of Willismsburg, Franklin County, Kansas; and adjacent to his sister, Irene Morton Crankshaw’s grave, which is noted on the side of the same stone.

What we know about his life--

We really know very little about Ray’s youth, but with his consistent statements that he was born in Ottawa, Franklin County, Kansas, that is the first place we began looking.  The 1890 Federal Census, the first one taken after his birth, was destroyed.  We have already presented the documents from the other census records to show the movements, and the various family names used to track Ray from about age 9-15 and will not rehash that information again. 

{Interestingly, we do find an “Allie Morton” in the Annual Report of the Diamond Ridge School District No. 81 of Franklin County, KS, for the school year ending 30 June 1896.  In this record there is a list of the students enrolled in that school district.  On that alphabetical list, on line 33, is the name of “Morton, Allie”.  It also gives his age as 12.  Initially this was a very exciting discovery as our “Albert” could have been 12 years old during that school year and might have been the boy listed.  However, we then found a series of census records for that Albert Morton in the 1905 Kansas State Census, in Jackson Township of Osage County (immediately to the west of Franklin County) on page 129.  This young man said he was 21 years old, which matches with the 1883 birth year given in other documents.  The Albert in this census was living with the family of Janet Allen, and her two grown sons, John and Jesse.  No relationship is stated.  This however, is NOT our Albert Morton.  We find this same man, again living with this same Allen family, in the 1920 and in the 1930 federal censuses after “our” Albert was living in Alberta, Canada and in Montana, USA.   We feel a need to point out these documents to help others avoid pursuing this incorrect avenue.}  

We actually have no other record for him anywhere between the 1900 census record mentioned earlier (for Stafford Co., KS) and the next one in 1915.  During this fifteen year period we have virtually no knowledge of where he was, or what he was doing, but he seems to have departed from Kansas sometime in this interval.  We have written to, and personally visited, Franklin County and will list here the various documents we have tried to find for Albert Raymond Morton, and for the marriage, or other records for his parents beyond the census records.  We have not had any success in this endeavor with the only exception being that we did find the grave marker for Albert’s father, Ira Morton, in Mt. Hope Cemetery, about one mile due east of Williamsburg, Osage Co., Kansas, which has been discussed.  We will list the dead-ends below in hopes that it might help someone else to avoid plowing the same ground.

Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Ottawa – birth, marriage, death records

Clerk of the District Court, Franklin Co.—land records of ownership

County Court House – marriage, death, guardianships, wills and probate

Cemeteries in Franklin and Osage Counties

Mortuaries in Ottawa – for death and burial records

Museum in Ottawa – for any historical records

Library in Ottawa – for histories mention of Morton or Easley

In the Family History Center in Salt Lake, we have searched microfilm rolls #s:

1,491,319   Cemetery deeds 1887-1944 Index & register of deed 1873-1888.

1,464,730   Guardian & Ward records 1859-1917

1,480,117         “               “          “             “

1,464,992   Probate records

1,451,459   Record of wills 1863-1906

1,451,455   Marriage records 1858-1879

1,548,149   St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church 1884—

1900 & 1910 US Federal Census records

None of the above yielded anything in our search. 

We did find one interesting record from 1912 that showed a Raymond Morton tried to cross over the boarder into Canada but was turned back by the authorities.  He gave Rhode Island as the place of his prior residence.  We do not know if this was our Ray or not, but it is interesting since the next record that we have for him is from Canada, where it appears he had been living for at least some period of time.

On 20 Dec. 1915, Raymond was standing in the Army recruiter’s office in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where he enlisted in the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force.  At this time England (including her entire “empire”, of which Canada was still a part) was involved in World War I.  The United States did not enter the war until 1917.   Many Americans, who felt the desire to serve, went north to join Canada in this struggle. 

In his Attestation Paper for the 97th Overseas Battalion, C.E.F (Canadian Expeditionary Force) Ray states that he was born on 27 Sep. 1883, in Franklin Co., USA (state not listed).  His “trade” was that of a steamfitter.  His “present address” was listed as Calgary, Alberta.  For “next of kin” he listed: F. B. Laney of 7011 High St. Columbus, Ohio, and as to their “relationship” Albert simply says: “Friend.”   As a description, he was listed as being 5 ft, 11 ½ inches tall, 39-inch chest when expanded, dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark hair color.  He was also listed as being a Roman Catholic, and 32 years of age. 

This does give us a few hints about his life.  He had been living in Calgary for a while, and had worked as a steamfitter.  In fact, we have a photo of him next to a locomotive and we believe that was taken during that period of his life.  But, he went all the way to Toronto to enlist.  He also had no indication of any known relatives, but gave the name of a “friend” in Columbus, Ohio as the person to notify in case of an emergency.  And since he knew the specific street address, this probably indicates that Albert had spent some time with this friend in Columbus.

Albert Raymond Morton -- steamfitter for the Canadian Railroad

Albert is 8th from either end, standing behind others.

Although the Canadian recruiter judged him fit for duty at the time of his enlistment, Ray was in fact discharged from the army on 18 June 1916 in Toronto, Ontario with the comment that he was “medically unfit.”  He had been entered on the “Casualty Form” on 22 May 1916 before the actual discharge came through about four weeks later.  The papers are not more specific as to his medical concern, but he was, by then, almost 33 years old.  The papers also indicate that his conduct in the army had been “good”. 

From this point we know that Ray made his way back to Big Valley, Alberta and went to work in the mines.  As mentioned earlier, there he soon met Lillian Florence Bailey, who was living in Tabor, Alberta.  Her brothers liked Ray but when they saw that the young couple was getting serious they became very protective of their sister, which caused Ray and Lillian to elope to Calgary to get married in the Church of England in that city on 9 April 1918. 

This couple moved from place to place seeking work primarily on government jobs, particularly thoughtout the great depression.  These jobs took them from Alberta, to Montana, Washington State, Nevada, back to Montana, Washington, and eventually they retired to Portland, Oregon.  During their life together, they had three daughters:

  1. 1. Bernice Jane Louise Morton   b.   6 Mar 1923 in Taber, Alberta, Canada

  2. 2. Irene Gladys Morton               b. 18 June 1924 in Taber, Alberta, Canada

  3. 3. Shirley Jean Morton                b.   2 June 1933 in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

From this point on, the family has a clear knowledge and recollection of Ray’s life, and so we will not go into that in this article.  We will, however, include one more document for his life, and that is his death certificate.  The information used to complete this document was provided by his widow and based upon what she understood of his life.  We will summarize the pertinent items here and include a copy as an attachment at the end of this paper.   In it she gives his birth date as 27 Sep. 1883 in Ottawa, Kansas, which is consistent with most of the other documents.  She lists his father’s name as “Albert Morton” (Albert always listed his father as: Ira Morton); and she said his mother was Ida Easley, which is correct. 

There is one additional mystery that we might just mention here before we close.  Upon his deathbed, in Portland, Oregon in 1959, with his family gathered around him, Ray, who had been lying still for some time, suddenly awoke and sat straight up in bed and said, “Oh my Gosh, I thought I just saw my son.”  The family rushed to his side to calm him and to assist him in lying back down where he soon passed away.  After things quieted down in the room, his family began thinking about what he had just said.  They knew he had only three daughters, so why had he said that he thought he just saw his son.  Having no clear answer for this, the family kind of put it out of their mind, but it also seemed to linger in their memories.  Knowing that Albert was about 34 years old when he married Lillian, some wondered if he might have had an earlier family who did not survive.  That is certainly possible, but since we have not been able to find any actual documents for him during that period of his life, we have not been able to find any record of an earlier family.  Still, this is mentioned here just in case some future researcher comes across a record of such a family.  It is just possible that it could be his.

It appears that from about 1895, when Ray was approximately 8-10 years old, that he left his mother and siblings to live elsewhere.  He later moved to Stafford Co., KS and then to places unknown, but probably to Ohio and other locations to the east.  His family moved west along the growing railroad lines through Arizona and into California.  They probably lost track of one another.  Telephone calls were a rare thing in those days and visits across the country were less common.  It seems very likely that they may not have even known where they all were located.  There is no indication that Ray ever again saw his mother or any of his siblings.  This seems sad to us, as they must have had some fond feelings for one another.  After all, Ray named his first daughter “Bernice” (after his younger sister) and “Louise” (after his mother).  And, his older sister, Margaret, gave her first son the middle name of “Raymond.”  Ray’s three daughters never knew they had any aunts, uncles and cousins.

We hope this presentation is helpful to any of Albert’s posterity in future efforts of trying to find and document his life and his ancestry.  It has been a fun and rewarding experience for us and we feel that we have correctly identified his parents so that we can proceed with additional research beyond that level.


[1]  Delayed  Birth Certificate for Albert Raymond Morton created May 15, 1942.

[2]  Social Security -- original application from 1937--showing birth year of 1887; and a request for changing his date of birth from 1887 to 1883  --  corrected in 1938.  Notice that both documents give the same names for both of his parents.

[3]  Military enlistment papers for Albert Raymond Morton -- 1915.

[4]  Medical discharge for Albert Raymond Morton -- Canadian Army  1916.

[5]  Marriage certificate for Albert Morton & Lillian Florence Bailey

[6]  Death certificate for Albert Morton  -- 1959  Portland, Oregon