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                                     ORSEMUS MORRISON
                                    Cook County, Illinois


Information contributed for use in Cook County ILGenWeb by
        Sherri Hessick, added May 2001.


Source: Album of Genealogy and Biography, Cook County,
Illinois with Portraits 3rd ed. revised and extended
(Chicago: Calumet Book & Engraving Co., 1895), pp. 51-52.

ORSEMUS MORRISON, one of the esteemed pioneers of Chicago,
was born at Cambridge, New York, and died in Chicago,
January 4, 1864, at the age of seventy-eight years.  He was
a son of Ephraim Morrison and Sally Adams, who became
residents of Chicago a few years subsequent to the arrival
of their son.  Ephraim Morrison spent the balance of his
life in this city, and among the investments which he made
here was the purchase of the lot at the northeast corner of
Clark and Madison Streets, where he built a residence.  A
portion of this lot was afterward condemned by the city for
the purpose of widening Madison Street, which had been
originally laid out only forty feet in width.  The silver
with which he paid for this lot was brought from New York in
an old-fashioned kettle, such as was usually hung on a crane
over a fire-place.  It was the proceeds of the sale of his
farm at Cambridge.  The six sons of Ephraim Morrison, named,
respectively, Orsemus, James M., Ezekiel, Ephraim, Charles
and Dan, became residents of Chicago, but all are now

Orsemus Morrison became a mechanic and builder, and was
employed for a time as foreman in the construction of the
Government Breakwater at Buffalo, New York.  Thence he came
in 1833 to Chicago, for the purpose of attending the first
sale of school lands.  Among the purchases which he made at
that sale was a lot at the southeast corner of Clark and
Madison Streets, with a two-hundred-foot front on the
former.  The price paid for this property was $62 in silver.
It is still held by his heirs, by virtue of the original
United States patent, being one of the few parcels of real
estate in this city which has never changed hands since
becoming private property.  Another purchase which he made
at the same sale was Block 7 of the School Section Addition,
fronting four hundred feet on Halsted Street and four
hundred and sixteen feet on Harrison Street, the price of
this block being $61.  Though many of his friends scoffed at
his lack of judgment in buying land so far out of town, he
was sagacious enough to foresee its ultimate value.
Mr. Morrison built a frame residence at the corner of Clark
and Madison Streets, and afterward further improved his lot
by the erection of a row of tenement houses, cutting timber
for the frames of these building on the North Branch of the
Chicago River.  From time to time Mr. Morrison made other
investments in Chicago realty.

At the first election held in the village of Chicago, Mr.
Morrison was elected to the office of Constable.  To the
ordinary duties of this office were added those of Collector
and Coroner.  One of the first inquests which he held in the
latter capacity was on the body of a stranger who came to
Chicago and started out from the hotel for an evening walk,
got lost in the woods and was frozen to death.  His corpse
was found next day at the corner of La Salle and Washington
Streets.  Mr. Morrison continued to hold the office of
Constable for several years.  He was a physical giant,
weighing nearly three hundred pounds, and, though very
peaceably inclined, he was perfectly fearless, and was ever
a terror to evil-doers, whether acting in his official
capacity or as a private citizen.  On more than one occasion
(notably on the evening of the election of John Wentworth as
Mayor) he quelled a crowd of noisy and belligerent men
unaided, by force of his strength and courage.  Upon the
organization of the city, he was elected Alderman from the
Second Ward, and also served as Street Commissioner for some

Of his children, but two survive: Hannah M., wife of G. W.
Spofford; and Lucy M., Mrs. D. W. Mills, both residents of

Mr. Morrison was very generous, and always befriended the
poor and sick.  No case of suffering ever reached his
knowledge without being promptly relieved.  His charities
were always bestowed without ostentation, and frequently
without the knowledge of the members of his own family.  His
memory will long be cherished among the early residents of
Chicago, to whom his virtues and noble characteristics were
best known.

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