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The Story of my Great-Grandfather, Munson Alonzo Morton

Updated on August 27, 2014

Memories of my great-grandfather

When I was a child, growing up in the 1970s I had the privilege of knowing 3 of my great-grandparents. I was doubly fortunate in that during this time my mother's family set out to trace back their family history.

I have a copy of the entire history today. In amongst the lists of births, deaths, and marriages I found two gems. The first was a written record of what life was like for my great-great grandmother, Arminda Jane (Moore) Morton which I have linked to at the bottom of this hub. The second was a similar record of life written by her son, my great grandfather, Munson Alonzo Morton.

He isn't just a faded name in a faded list for me. This man, born before the 20th century, lived to be 96 years of age. I have memories of being in his home. My most vivid memory is of a birthday celebration, perhaps the 93rd birthday referred to at the beginning of this account, and a special birthday cake that had sugar flowers decorating the top. I was given a sugar decoration of my very own and saved it for several days before finally eating it.

This is his story. Thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

Descendents of Munson Alonzo Morton
Descendents of Munson Alonzo Morton | Source

Munson Alonzo (Lonnie) Morton

Written by daughter Vera, dictated by Lonnie

As I, Munson Alonzo Morton, spent my 93rd birthday on March 11, 1976 in my daughter Vera Elliss’ home near Westphalia, Kansas, I recall many memories of my former years spent in Frontier County, Nebraska.

I was born on March 11, 1883 in Scanda, Republic County, Kansas. My parents, John Thomas and Arminda Jane (Moore) Morton with their 2 year old son, George Salathiel, were en route from Ringgold County Iowa where they had started their married life to Frontier County, Nebraska. They were traveling by covered wagon and the purpose of the move was to find a place where they could Homestead land to make their new home on.

After entering Nebraska we spent a while near Republican City before going on to Frontier County to live on our land. The land was located at SW1/4 – 13 – 6 – 25 on the West Muddy Creek, later my father bought other land joining his land. We also set out trees on our Tree Claim. We got the trees from the creek.

Our first two homes were sod houses, after I was married father built a concrete block house.

Some of my parents close neighbors were Arch Heater, Harrison Piggot, Dommick ODonnel, and Lawrence Carrol.

My grandfather, George Anderson Morton, lived in a dugout Northeast of us for a while. My grandmother, Sarah (Tyrell) died in 1883 and my grandparents are buried in Stowe Cemetery.

My first relatives that I knew of who came early to Frontier County was my father’s Uncle Solomon Tyrell from Iowa. He took out a homestead in 1880. It was located on the West Muddy Creek southeast of us. They had built a log cabin on their Homestead.

Save Your Stories for Future Generations

Family Tree Memory Keeper: Your Workbook for Family History, Stories and Genealogy
Family Tree Memory Keeper: Your Workbook for Family History, Stories and Genealogy

Reading these stories from her own ancestors reminds Nan of just how important it is to save these memories and stories for her own children and grandchildren.

This book provides ample space to record memories, movement between countries, recipes and family traditions as well as dates and photographs.

Homesteading Family
Homesteading Family | Source

Lonnie's Life as a Child

My early memories of farm work consisted of herding cattle for my father. He rented pasture land southeast of us which was near the Tyrell land. I remember playing in log cabin after the people left their farm. Herding was a chore all young boys had to learn to do in the early days.

The first school in our community was known as the Kester School, named for a family that lived Northwest of the school. It was a dugout built in a canyon close to the West Muddy Creek. When the sod school house was made they put it on higher more level ground. I never went to school in the dugout but started school in the sod house. A frame building later replaced the sod house and all of the Morton children went to it. This school was also known as District #72. After I finished this school, my brother Arthur and I spent a few months in Orleans, Nebraska attending a church school. Arthur later taught term of school at Morrill School District. It was 2 miles south of Kester District.

The first church services I attended were at the Rich school house. We later built Mt Gilead Church a mile south of the Rich School House. It was finished in the early part of 1908. I helped haul the lumber from Eustis for this church.

Frontier County, Nebraska

A markerFrontier County Nebraska -
Frontier County, NE, USA
get directions

Lonnie Morton grew up on a homestead in Frontier County, Nebraska

Family Man

I and Ella May Chatelain, who lived across the road north of the church, a daughter of Albert Chatelain, were married on December 31, 1907 in my folk’s sod house. We set up housekeeping ½ mile south of the Kester School House. I spent all of my married life while living in Nebraska farming.

In 1929 I moved my family to Coffey County, Kansas near Ella’s relatives. We lived on a farm until 1948. After my wife’s death I went to Wichita, Kansas and worked in a greenhouse for Jack Nice for several years. I lived with my son Alfred and his wife Velma.

In 1959 I married Grace Call, a sister of Ella’s. Her husband, James had died a few years after Ella died. We lived in Waverly, Kansas until 1972 when she passed away. I went back to Frontier County, Nebraska and stayed with my daughter Velva Rupe for 3 years. Last June in 1975 I came back to Kansas to live with my daughter, Vera and be near my relatives near Waverly, Kansas.

The Children of Lonnie and Ella May Morton
The Children of Lonnie and Ella May Morton | Source

The Morton Family

There were seven children born to my parents: George Salathiel, he was named for both Grandfathers, he died with pneumonia at age 18, myself, Arthur, Edna, Jessie, Roy, who died with diphtheria at age 2 years and John Truman born in 1906.

I am blessed with 9 children, 37 grandchildren, and 68 great-grandchildren with 5 more due in a few months.


What stories do you have from your ancestors?

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Time Ever Moves Forward

A note from Lonnie's daughter, Vera Ellis

My father saw the day from covered wagon to airplane days and man going to the moon. He always loved to ride in airplanes. He loved to be amongst the clouds.

In his latter years while living in our home he attended our church, the Mormon Church in Ottawa until he got unable to make the steps, then I stayed at home with him on Sundays. He lived to have his 96th birthday.

NanLT's Connection to Lonnie Morton

NanLT was a great-granddaughter of Lonnie and Ella May (Chatelain) Morton.

Her grandmother was Pearl Morton who married Tom Sullivan. They had 9 children.

Her mother was Judy Sullivan who married John Herzog. They had 4 children.

Visit Writings of a Pagan Witch: Honouring My Ancestors to learn more about life in Frontier County, Nebraska and of NanLT's geat-great grandmother, Arminda Jane (Moore) Morton, mother of Munson Alonzo Morton.

What Stories Have Your Ancestors Shared?

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    • NanLT profile image

      Nan 2 years ago from London, UK

      I am copying this here from where it was posted on another hub.

      Gina (Rupe) Zelek

      Thank you, Nan, for your wonderful article about Alonzo Morton as he is also my great grandfather. I'm thrilled to learn more about him! My grandmother is Velva Morton. I love to hear about my family and learn more of our history!

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 3 years ago from Upstate, NY

      Oral histories like this are very special indeed.

    • annieangel1 profile image

      Ann 3 years ago from Yorkshire, England

      great story