Long Ago In Naples

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Source: The Winchester Times, P.R. Nelson Publisher

Friday, October 2, 1914 - Vol. 50 No. 8


Transcribed by: Jeanie (Hale) Lowe descendant of Morrison and Gillham



The Robert Morrisons.

It is a long way from Scotland or Ireland, or was in the days of slow sailing vessels, to North America, but the Morrison name came from Scotland, as the Gillhams came from Ireland; and America joined some of each name, and the children were Scotch-Irish Americans.

Morgan county included Cass in the days when the Morrisons came to Illinois, and Morgan had not been born of Madison or Greene when the Gillhams came to what was afterwards Morgan, and then Scott county. But the Morrison-Gillham family of Robertís tribe lived in Scott, in Morgan and in Cass; all a part of Morgan at first.

The Robert Morrisons were good people, and that is not saying the other Morrisons were not. And the Robert Morrisons united with the fine Irish Gillhams, and they did not apparently lose by the marriage.

The "old-country" people always made the man the head of the house, so we will take up the Morrisons first.

Four Morrisons, Nathaniel, Joseph, Andrew and James were in Scotland in about the year 1700. Nathaniel was credited with sons James, Andrew, Nathaniel and Richard, in Scotland, about 1730. This last James, born in Scotland, about 1730, came to America early in the eighteenth century and settled in good old Virginia. He was so patriotic that he was with Washington at Braddockís defeat (July 9, 1755.) which seems to be the fist date the conscientious Scotchmen would swear to. James had gotten into the fighting habit, as many folks did in those days, so he went through the whole Revolutionary war, and came out safe enough to die in Virginia. James was credited with two sons; John, born in Virginia in 1783, and Nathaniel, born in Virginia in 1904, died in Illinois in 1883.

This John had a family which beat the suggestion of seven children badly.

He was born in Bath City, Greenbrier county, Virginia, now West Virginia, Nov. 10, 1783, and married Mary McCorkle (daughter of Robert and Jane (Forest) McCorkle) who was born in Virginia, July 28, 1787. Her father was a Revolutionary soldier. John and Mary Morrison removed to Lawrence county, Ohio in 1813, then to Pike county, Ohio; from there to Morgan county, Ill., now Scott, near Oxville. Here John died August 15, 1852, and was buried in the Sears grave yard, near Bluffs. Mary died March 28, 1855, and was buried beside her husband. They were the parents of Jane, Elizabeth, James, Robert, John, Andrew, Julia Ann, Henry B., Mary, Elizabeth and Richard. Elizabeth died in infancy; all the rest grew up and were married.

Robert son of John and Mary Morrison, was born in Bath City, Greenbrier county, Virginia, Dec. 12, 1811, and taken by his parents to Lawrence county, Ohio, in 1813, thence to Oxville, Illinois, in 1832. He married Alvira A. Gillham, oldest daughter of James and Sarah (Lofton) Gillham, December 8, 1836. Miss Gillham was born May 21, 1821, and she died in Iowa, April 21, 1885. They began house-keeping near Oxville, where Mr. Morrison farmed, and he also went into merchandizing in Naples, in the "forties" probably, and afterwards moved to Naples. The family went to a farm about seven miles south-east of Jacksonville, in 1854, and thence, in 1877, to Virginia, Ill., where Mr. Morrison was a merchant. He moved again, in 1882, to Fremont county, Iowa, where he died June 27, 1889. He and his wife sleep side by side, in Locust Grove cemetery, twelve miles south of Shenandoah, Iowa.

And it is a long way from Old Virginia to South Carolina, especially in mover-wagon and horse-back days to Illinois, and further yet to the far western side of Iowa. So the older Morrisons and Gillhams have come the seas over, and sailed the prairie schooner across the broad land, and Robert and Alvira may well rest, side by side in the land of the setting sun.

But Alvira Adelaide Morrison was a Gillham.

Her daughter, Mrs. Josephine M. Pierson, now living near Farragut, Iowa, shall tell of the Gillhams, and of the family of Robert and Alvira Morrison-- Mrs. Piersonís parents as follows: "My mother was born May 21, 1821, on the farm four miles north of Winchester, before Winchester was located. Her father, James Gillham, was Lieutenant Colonel of the First Illinois regiment in the Black Hawk war. Abraham Lincoln was a captain in the fourth regiment of that war.

Thomas Gillham was the fist of the name to come to America, settling in Augusta county, Virginia, in 1730. In 1763 the family moved to South Carolina. Thomas Gillham, his seven sons and four sons-in-law, were all in the Revolutionary War. His youngest son, Isaac, was the father of James. The sons (of Thomas) and families, and daughters also moved to Illinois, coming in 1795 to 1802 into Madison county. A writer in a history of Illinois writing in 1844, said that at the time of the contest in 1824 the Gilliam family and their relatives, numbering about five hundred, cast the deciding vote against slavery in Illinois. The Gillhams were unalterably opposed to slavery.

The Gillham family were from Ireland or rather Thomas was, bur his second wife was in Virginia when they were married; afterwards they moved to the vicinity of Charleston, S.C., as previously stated. They were Presbyterians. Mrs. James Gillhamís maiden name was Sarah Lofton.

Our ancestor Samuel Lofton, came from Wales to North Carolina, afterwards moving to Charleston, S.C. His son, Samuel, Junio, was the father of Sarah Love Lofton, wife of James Gillham, our grandfather.

There were at least two family histories of the Gillhams published, but I have never been able to secure one of them.

James Gillham, my grandfather, bought and improved land four miles north of Winchester, in "North Prairie." He wanted timber, prairie and water. On the land he selected was a fine spring. It has never failed. The Indians passed it regularly in their travels. He improved this half section in the fall of 1820. His brothers and sisters were settled not far from Edwardsville, and near St. Louis. The Gillhams, who came to Illinois in the last century 1795 and 1802, all were in Madison county. Indeed, in 1820, when the James Gillham homestead was ought, it was still in Madison county, (Madison, Greene, Morgan, then Scott.

Some Gillhams, sons, I believe, of William, cousins of grandfather, settled a mile north of James, (grandfather of ours.) The Gillham cemetery is on part of the farm of "Billy" Gillham. This other branch of the family first went to Jerseyville. John D. Gillham was of that line. All the children of the original Thomas Gillham, except one son and two daughters, who were married and settled in the south, came to the vicinity between East St. Louis, as it is now called, and Edwardsville. St. Louis, at the time they came to Illinois, was only a French and Indian village.

These ancestors are buried at Wanda cemetery, at the railroad station of Wanda, a village of short distance from Edwardsville, Illinois.

Returning to the Robert Morrisons, it may be said that Mr. Morrisonís maternal grandfather, Robert McCorkle, was in the Revolutionary war, and Robert Morrison was named for him.

John Morrison and family moved from Virginia into Ohio. Father taught school there for a while when quite a young man. Then, in 1832, the John Morrison family moved into Illinois and settled south of Naples.

When father and mother were married, Dec. 8, 1836, grandfather, John. M., had one of the three cooking stoves in the vicinity. It was one of those "step" stoves. But the fireplace was still utilized for cooking at that time.

Grandfather, John Morrison owned two thousand acres in scattered farms, on which he placed his sons. So his daughter, Elizabeth Sears, lately deceased, told me in 1907. Grandfather always farmed and dealt in cattle. He sold cattle before any farm scales were in the west, they often took an average sized animal and killed it and quartered it, and weighted the parts.

Andrew and Henry B., brothers of my father, Robert Morrison, had farms over about Chambersburg, in Pike county, Illinois, where Andrew died.

Father, while still living on his farm, south of Naples, a quarter of a mile west and south of Oxville, bought and kept a general store in Naples. At first going back and forth from the farm. His store faced east on the bank of the river, being opposite the McCluskey hotel. The store had the largest stock of dry goods, groceries, hardware, etc., there. We children, after father moved to town, greatly enjoyed standing in the back door, that had strong bars across it, and watching boats unload and load freight and passengers. The landing was just north of the store. I think we moved into Naples in 1848 or 1849 and lived there till 1854 when we moved to the farm southeast of Jacksonville.

Peter D. Critzer was clerking for father in 1854 -- so you see your articles have been of real interest to my sister and others of the family. She knew Belle Mooers quite well.

Josephine Morrison, daughter of John and Mary and sister of Robert, married Thomas Hollowbush, of Napes, being his first wife. They were married Dec. 25, 1845, and she died Sept. 19, 1847. Sarah, her sister next younger, was the first wife of O.D. Critzer, and she died in Naples, where she and Mrs. Hollowbush were buried. Both spent their married life in Naples, died quite young, and neither had any children. Another sister, Elizabeth Jane, born in 1824, married Washington Sears, living near Naples, and died in 1891. Still another, Hannah, born 1826, married Dr. Jacob Detrick, and died at Hutchinson, Kansas in 1913.

The room above the Robert Morrison store (in Naples) was fitted up and used as a hall by the Odd Fellows and Masons. I remember, among other decorations, the eye. The Sons of Temperance, a junior temperance boys society, were kindly urged to meet there. Brother John was about the youngest who was enrolled. I have an impression that fatherís store later, was moved a little further south, and used as a warehouse."

These paragraphs in quotations are in part in words of Mrs. Pierson, and all substantially as stated by her.

The children of Robert and Alvira A. (Gillham) Morrison were Sarah Louise, born Feb. 19, 1838., died Feb. 9, 1851; Elizabeth, born March 28, 1840, married first to Humphrey and second to McMillian; John Gillham, born Nov. 27, 1842, married first Miss Mary Rees, second Mrs. Ella King Smith, died June 16, 1900, at Lincoln, Nebraska and buried there; Josephine born Nov. 1, 1845, married Theodore F. Pierson, of Springfield, Ill.; Thomas Asbury, born July 10, 1848, married Miss Hitchcock, of Cass county, Ill.; Charles Robert, born Nov. 27, 1852, married Miss Margaret Rees, sister of John G.ís first wife, of Jacksonville; William Wesley, twin with Charles R., married Miss Malone, Miss Mozingo and Miss Butler; Wilbur, born July 27, 1855, was accidentally killed Dec. 20, 1878, buried at Virginia, Ill; Clara Belle, born July 9, 1858, died Sept. 2, 1858; Ella May, twin with Carla Belle, died Sept 2, 1858, both buried in Gillham cemetery, Scott county, Ill.; Fannie, born Nov. 2, 1859, died Sept. 9, 1860; Lulu, born Feb 22, 1863, died Sept. 9, 1863. Fannie and Lulu were buried in the Gillham cemetery.

Mrs. Elizabeth M. McMillan now lives in Strasburger, Nebraska; Mrs. Josephine M. Pierson lives near Farragut, Iowa; Thomas lives at 216 East 8th Ave. Riverside, California; Charles R. is at Oakland, Coles County, Ill.; William W. lives near Maysville, DeKalb county, Mo.

The Morrison family believed in education, so Elizabeth and Josephine were graduated from the Illinois Womanís College in 1865. John G. graduated from Illinois College in 1867, and from the University of Michigan in law. The Rev. Charles R. was graduated from Illinois College in 1878, taking the degree of A. M. in 1881. Wilbur was graduated from Illinois college in 1877. William W., was graduated from Illinois College in 1876, as was Thomas A. in 1871.

Elizabeth married W.T. Humphrey, by whom she had two children; she afterward married William G. McMillan, by whom she had five children. Mr. Humphrey was a Union soldier. John G., had three children by his first wife, Stella Rees, Edwin Rees, and Beverly L. Beverly was run down and killed by a street car. Edwin is a lawyer in Kansas City, Mo., having been graduated in letters from the University of Nebraska in 1898, and is a young man of fine mind. He has a good practice, and is married. He recently acquired a son, so the Morrisons continue. His sister Stella R. was in Europe this summer, when the war broke out, but reached home without great difficulty.

As the writer is not acquainted with all the young people of the family, special reference cannot be made to them.

Mrs. Josephine Pierson, as stated, married Theodore F. Pierson, who died some years ago. She resided for a while in Lincoln, Neb.,, as is now living near Farragut, Iowa. Her husband was a member of the 114th Regiment, Ill. Vols. He was captured in 1864, and suffered the horrors of Andersonville.

Dr. Pierson and Josephine were married Sept. 15, 1874; his home being at Springfield, Ill. He was buried Aug. 11, 1879, in Oak Ridge cemetery, Springfield, Ill. They were the parents of Robert L., now of Farrugut, Iowa, and of Jessamine. She was born in 1877, and died in 1899, being buried in Oak Ridge Springfield.

Charles Robert Morrison married Margaret Rees, daughter of that fine man, Dr. Edwin Rees, of western Morgan county and of Jacksonville. Mrs. Rees was a Posey, daughter of Wm. C. Posey, one of the funders of Presbyterianism in Jacksonville, and so of Morgan county and of Illinois. Charles R. is a Methodist minister, following the creed of his father Robert and his family. The Reverand and Mrs. Morrison were married Feb. 2, 1882. Their children have been Elbert Warren, Paul Everett, Dorothy Rees, Robert Rees, Margaret Gillham and Helen Frances. They have had the misfortune to lose all their daughters. Paul is an instructor in the high school of Jacksonville, having been graduated from Illinois college In 1911. Elbert W., married Nelle R. Moorehouse Dec. 8, 1906, at Springfield, Ill.

Thomas A. and William Morrison have been away from this region for years. The children of Thomas were, Cora May, Albon Ray, Minnie B., Clarence E. and Freddie. The fist and last died in infancy. The children of William were, by his first wife, Marian, Wilbur and Arthur G.; by his second wife were Lloyd W., Ralph Gillham, Harry and Mildred Gillham.

John Gillham Morrison began going to Illinois college before the Civil war. In the fall of 1862, on its organization, he enlisted in the 101ísts Regiment Illinois Volunteers, and served to the end of the war in 1865. He became Sergeant -Major of the regiment. During his service he had a spell of typhoid fever, the after effects of which were said to have in part caused his death. In the fall of 1865, he re-entered Illinois college, in which he and his brothers were members of Sigma Pi society. He was graduated in the class of 1867, and studied law and was admitted to the bar of Morgan county, residing in Jacksonville. He was city attorney for one term. Owing to the ill-health of his wife, they gave up their home on Routt street, and went to St. Paul, Central county, Nebraska, to live in 1884. There he practiced law and took part in politics. Just here it may be remarked that the older members of the family were republicans during the war. Mrs. Morrisonís ill health increased and they went to California. There Mary Rees Morrison died and Mr. Morrison soon came back to St. Paul, Nebraska.

At the time John G. was in college there was a young lady attending the Young Ladies Athenaeum, of Jacksonville, named Miss Ella King, daughter of the Rev. George I. King, D. D., then of Quincy and last of Jerseyville. Miss King was a native of Rome, N.Y. Mr. Morrison and Miss King became interested in each other, but nothing came of the acquaintance then. Miss King was graduated in 1868, and returned to Jerseyville, where she married James Knox Smith, in November, 1870. They were the parents of four children; one of whom died in 1887. Mr. Smith died in 1882. Mrs. Smith left Jerseyville and went to Nebraska to live in Lincoln, in July 1887. Soon after, Mr. Morrison was in Lincoln, and called upon the lady, the result being that they were married in the fall of 1889, and the Morrisons went to Lincoln to live. There Mr. And Mrs. Morrison were the parents of Ella King and John King. The latter died very soon.

Mr. Morison opened a law office, but soon gave it up, and devoted his business attention to the lands of himself and wife.

Morrison and William Jennings Bryan had belonged to a literary club, called the "Round Table," in Jacksonville, so, after they found each other in Lincoln, they got up another club of, the same name, and ostensible purpose. One of the most important features was a fine supper, preceding the other kind of "chewing." As Bret Harte used to remark about some of his literary folk, "it is to be feared" that the gastronomic entertainment was a principal attraction to the Nebraska "literary fellows." At any rate the wives of the debaters were said to have tried of the gustatory function, and to have "suffrageted" that part of it.

Mr. Morrison, as stated, passed on in 1900.

His widow and her daughter make Lincoln their home, although they are much given to travel, which latterly included a year in Europe.

As noted earlier in this article, the Morrisons and Gillhams were patriotic, so it is not surprising that, immediately upon graduating from the University of Nebraska, Edwin Rees Morrison was a first lieutenant in a Nebraska regiment in the Spanish-American war.

As also previously stated, the Morrisons were people of honor and principle, and no suggestion of anything derogatory to the family integrity is to be noted.

Robert Morrison was a large fine looking man and he could well be proud of his descendants and glad that the number was no smaller.

As stated twice before in this paper, the Morrisons and Gillhams have come far from Scotland and Ireland to America, and some of its western shore. And it may be that the future will find the Morrison-Gillhams patriotic citizens or good mothers beyond the Western sea, in the peaceful time hoped for then,

Submitted by: Jeanie Lowe.