MORTON, (COL.) JOSEPH, (deceased, was born in the State of Virginia, August 1, 1801, a son of Robert and Elizabeth (Sorrels) Morton. The Morton family settled in Bledsoe County, Tenn., where, in March of that year, Robert Morton died. His widow subsequently married Wiley Kirby, and soon afterward moved to Adair County, Ky., where in 1825, Mr. Kirby died. In 1828 Mrs. Kirby and her family journeyed to Morgan County, Ill., where she, too, passed away. Joseph Morton received his early mental training mainly in Madison County, Ky., and in the fall of 1820, before the county survey was made, located on Government land just east of Jacksonville. He was one of a dozen or fifteen pioneer settlers in Morgan County, and was a farmer and stock-raiser. He assisted in building several of the first log cabins in the county.
On April 27, 1823, Col. Morton was united in marriage with Mary Odle, a native of Kentucky, and a daughter of Daniel Odle. Both of her parents were born in Kentucky. The union of Col. Morton and wife resulted in thirteen children, namely: Minerva, Charles, Clarinda, Helen, Joseph, Andrew, William, Mary, Francis, George, James and Thomas. In politics, Col. Morton was an unswerving but independent Democrat, and a potent factor in the local councils and campaigns of his party. He was elected to the Lower House of the Illinois Legislature in 1836, while the State capital was still at Vandalia. He was again elected to this body in 1846, and in 1854 was chosen to the State Senate. In 1862 he was a member of the Constitutional convention. He took the census of Morgan County, then including Scott and Cass Counties. In 1835, he superintended the taking of the State census. Religiously, Colonel Morton was a member of the Christian Church. He was a man of strong character, resolute, keen, courageous and persevering, and possessed all the qualities essential to success in the pioneer period. He died on March 2, 1881.