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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



An identification with California during the eventful era of the '50s gave to Mr. Morrill a thorough knowledge of the crude, undeveloped conditions that eventually were replaced by a cultured citizenship and a prosperous commercial environment. Although it was not his privilege to survive until the accomplishments of the great aims of the pioneers were realized he contributed his quota thereto and when his earth life came to an end in 1885 at the age of fifty years, there were not wanting friends to bear testimony to the integrity of his character nor old settlers to witness concerning his helpfulness in the strenuous tasks devolving upon the pioneers in their loyal and patriotic attempts to raise the standard of citizenship in their adopted commonwealth. Before coming to the west in 1851 at the age of sixteen he had seen much of the east and had enjoyed the excellent advantages of the Boston schools, as well as a brief attendance in the schools of Pittsburg. He was, however, a native of Van Diemen's Land, Australia, and was born in 1835 during the residence of the family there while his father held the position of American consul. It was not until he was almost twelve years of age that the family returned to Pittsburg and in 1849 his father joined the vast throng of gold-seekers leaving the Atlantic coast for the then unknown regions of the far west. Early in life he learned the trade of boiler maker and in 1869 he had the honor of putting together the first train that started for the east over the newly completed system of the Southern Pacific Company. From the first he was interested in all movements for the upbuilding of the state and gave liberally of his time to promote progressive projects.

The marriage of William D. Morrill in 1864 united him with Mary H. Pulaski, who was born in Galveston, Tex., and now resides at No. . 1529 E street, Sacramento. Five children came to bless their union, but they suffered a deep bereavement in the early demise of three of these, the only survivors being Jessie and William H., both of whom are married and living in Sacramento. As early as 1852 Mrs. Morrill was brought to California by the family and afterward she attended school in Sacramento, where her father, August Pulaski, opened the first harness shop and for years carried on a large trade along the line of his chosen occupation. It was said that he was an expert in the manufacture of harness and few of the men of his day and locality could compete with him in the line of his specialty. As a citizen he was quiet but progressive, unostentatious but liberal, and in all measures for the civic welfare he stood on the side of progress and development. At one time he owned many acres within the limits of Sacramento, a part of the tract covering the present site of Eighth and J streets, but he disposed of the property before it had become valuable. Three of his family, all of them being daughters, continue to make their home in Sacramento, among them Mrs. Morrill, who has witnessed the slow but sure growth of the capital city, has kept posted concerning its advancement and recalls with pride the remarkable transformation wrought in its aspect since she first saw it as an insignificant village with a transient and undevoted population, forming a striking contrast to the progress and patriotism noticeable in the twentieth century. 

History of Sacramento County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: William L. Willis
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1913)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011