Biography of John W. Morse of Central Lake Township, Michigan

The potency of consecutive industry and determined purpose is well exemplified in the career of the subject of this sketch, who is one of the honored pioneers and prosperous farmers of Antrim county, where he has resided for the past thirty years. He came here a poor man and by well directed effort has gained a competency, being one of the popular and influential citizens of Central Lake township.

Mr. Morse is a native of the old Empire state, having been born in Seneca county, in the beautiful lake district of New York, on the 30th of June, 1838. He is a son of Daniel and Mary (Ganoung) Morse, the former of Welch and the latter of Scotch and French lineage, while both were born and reared in New York state. They came to the state of Michigan when the subject was about five years of age and the father became one of the representative farmers of Calhoun county, where he continued to reside for many years and where his wife died in the year 1854. He passed the last twelve years of his life in the home of the subject, and was there accorded the utmost filial solicitude. He was summoned into eternal rest in 1893, at the venerable age of eighty-two years. His life was one of earnest toil and endeavor and he merited and received the respect and confidence of his fellow men. His children were ten in number and five are living at the present time, the names of the ten being here entered in order of birth : Justus, Purvis, Daniel, Elizabeth, Wilmer, Martin, John W., Cornelia, Louisa and Philip.

John W. Morse was reared on the old homestead farm in Calhoun county, this state, where he early learned the lessons of industry, and his educational advantages were such as were afforded in the primitive schools of the locality and period, the old log school house, with its modest accessories, having been the “institution of learning” in which he gained his rudimentary instruction, while in the long years of an essentially active and useful life he has gained the valuable lessons which are always to be learned under the direction of that wisest of head masters, experience. Upon initiating his independent career he continued to be identified with farming operations to a great extent, continuing to reside in the southern part of the state until about three years after his marriage. Pie then, in 1874, came to Antrim county, arriving in April, and here he purchased sixty-two acres of railroad land, the same being covered with the native timber and entirely unimproved. His initial effort was made in clearing a sufficient plot upon which to erect his little board shanty, and after thus providing a domicile he began the strenuous task of reclaiming his land to cultivation, having been numbered among the early settlers of Central Lake township and having done his share in furthering its material and civic development, making it one of the most attractive sections of this fine agricultural district. From time to time he made improvements on his house, and in 1892 erected his present substantial and commodious farm residence, while the other improvements on the place are of excellent order. Mr. Morse has about fifty acres of his farm under cultivation, and two acres are devoted to orchard purposes, apple trees being in preponderance and giving good yields. In addition to raising the various cereals he has been very successful in the raising of vegetables, especially potatoes, for which this section of the state has a high reputation. He also has a good grade of live stock on his farm, and each department of the enterprise is conducted with energy and discrimination. Mr. Morse assisted in the construction of the early roads through the county and also aided in other public enterprises through which the march of civilization and progress was accelerated, and he has ever been known as a loyal and public-spirited citizen. He has taken a marked interest in the cause of education, having been one of those prominently concerned in the establishing of the first schools in the county, and he has rendered effective service as a school official. In politics he maintains an independent attitude, giving his support to those men and measures which meet the approval of his judgment. His wife is a consistent and valued member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and for nearly a score of years he has been affiliated with the Grange of his county. Mr. Morse had practically nothing in the way of capitalistic reinforcement when he came to Antrim county, and in the early days he and his good wife practiced the utmost economy and self-denial. For the first six years after coming here they were not even able to keep a cow, and for nine years he carried on his work without a team, while his first team was a yoke of oxen, which he raised. These statements seem somewhat incongruous when one adverts to the fine farm property, with its air of thrift and prosperity, which is owned by the subject today, and so worthily has he worked for independence and a competency that none can begrudge him success.

In 1870 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Morse to Miss Frances E. McCready, daughter of Jesse and Mary (Carlisle) McCready, at that time residents of Portage county, Ohio, where Mr. McCready was engaged in farming. Concerning the seven children of Mr. and Mrs. Morse we enter the following brief record : Alva G. still remains beneath the parental roof, as does also Jesse, the next in order of birth; Guy has charge of a livery stable in the village of Central Lake; Della is the wife of John A. Dawson, a successful farmer of this county; Charles, who married Miss Effie Dawson, is a prosperous farmer of his home county; Otto is employed in the village of Central Lake, in the same livery of which his brother has charge; and Hattie died in 1898, at the age of seventeen years. The two older sons, Alva G. and Jesse W., are teachers in this county.

Source: Biographical history of northern Michigan containing biographies of prominent citizens; Indianapolis: B. F. Bowen & Company, 1905.

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