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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sacramento County



In point of years of active service Mr. Morrison has the distinction of being the oldest hotel clerk on the entire Pacific coast. Coming to the west in young manhood, accident turned him into the hotel business, and the subsequent success of his efforts proved that he was admirably qualified for the occupation in which chance or destiny had placed him. To the traveling public he is known as a genial, tactful clerk and a companionable man whose interest in his guests impels him to do everything possible to enhance their comfort during the period of their sojourn at his hostelry. As may be imagined of one who has been connected with the same hotel for forty-four years, his circle of acquaintances is wide, and it may be further added that his friends are as numerous as his acquaintances, for all who have once come within the sphere of his cordial interest and his intelligent, courteous attentions consider themselves his friends and well-wishers. His personal tact and gentlemanly bearing are largely responsible for the continued popularity of the Western hotel, and when finally on New Year's of 1901 he purchased a one-half interest in this leading inn of Sacramento there were a host of patrons to step forward with timely congratulations and hearty wishes for continued prosperity.

The Morrison ancestry is traced back to Scotland, whence some of the name were forced to flee to Ireland during the religious persecutions in their home land. Several generations lived and labored in the north of Ireland, and there James Morrison was Born at Maguire 's Bridge in county Fermanagh. Early in life he migrated to Canada and settled in the province of Ontario, where he met and married Miss Abigail Hiainson, a native of Lisburn, near the city of Belfast, Ireland, but from young girlhood a resident of Canada. The young couple settled at Boyd's Bridge in the township of Mountain, where a son, Alexander Wylie, was born December 15, 1846. Altogether their family numbered ten children, and seven of these are still living. During the year 1856 the father bought one of the finest farms in Ontario, this comprising a tract on the St. Lawrence river long known as the Col. James McDonald homestead. On that well-improved farm the children passed the happy years of early life and from there they started out to earn their own livelihood in the world of affairs.

After having completed the studies of the grammar school at Iroquois, Dundas county, Canada, and after subsequently, September 7, 1867, receiving a diploma from the Toronto Commercial college, Mr. Morrison, in January, 1868, sailed from New York en route to San Francisco. Immediately upon his arrival he sought and found employment in the American Exchange hotel, where he remained for ten months. A desire to visit relatives led him to resign his position and return to Canada, but he found himself dissatisfied amid the once loved surroundings. The spirit of the west had called to him and he was not content elsewhere. As he was about to start back to resume his old position in San Francisco, he was asked by a friend, Mrs. Haitley, to stop over in Sacramento and see her son, Walter Haitley, in that city. He came over the route on one of the first overland trains in 1869, and in accordance with the promise made to her stopped in Sacramento on Saturday and looked up the friend. N. D. Thayer, of the Western hotel, importuned him to become his clerk, and on Monday he accepted the position in the Western hotel and never since then has he sought another position or considered a change of employment. During 1880 he was united in marriage with Miss Mattie Martha Jones, of Sacramento, daughter of a one-time famous sea captain and descended from Welsh ancestry. In fraternal relations he is connected with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. 

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