Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mortier Lafayette Morrison (1836-1919)

Portrait from the Granite State Monthly, 1895.

    Lifelong Peterborough, New Hampshire resident Mortier Lafayette Morrison's life bears a slight similarity to Grosvenor Austin Curtice, profiled here back on December 14th. Both of these oddly named men were lifelong residents of New Hampshire and both were veterans of the Civil War. Both went on to become prominent local officeholders in their respective towns and both served terms in the New Hampshire legislature. Interestingly, both Morrison and Curtis served together during the 1881-83 session, the latter in the state senate and the former in the house.
   Born in Peterborough on July 2, 1836, Mortier Lafayette Morrison was the son of Abraham Perkins (1807-1870) and Mary Robbe Morrison. A prominent Peterborough figure in his own right, Abraham P. Morrison was the owner of a paper-mill as well as a three term state representative, serving in the legislative sessions of 1848, 1862 and 1863. The eldest of two children, Mortier L. Morrison was "prevented in early life from attending school as he wished" due to "severe necrosis of the tibia", and later was affected by typhoid fever. With this lengthy bout of ill health, young Mortier was largely self educated, and after reaching aged nineteen followed his father into the paper-making trade. 
    In August 1862 Morrison enlisted for service in the Civil War, and a little over a month after enlisting was named as Quarter Master's Sergeant of the 13th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. He succeeded future Governor and U.S. Senator Person Colby Cheney in that post and served until his discharge in mid 1865. On August 9, 1861 Morrison had married Susan Gates, with whom he had one daughter, Alice (1862-1925). Their marriage proved to be short, as Susan died less than a year later on May 1, 1862. He would remarry in March 1866 to Caroline Brooks, their union seeing the births of two further children, Mary Brooks (born 1868) and Abraham Perkins (born 1870.)
   After returning home from the war Mortier Morrison took on the management of his father's paper-mill, which he sold to the firm of Adams and Nay in June 1870. In April 1873 he was selected as treasurer of the Peterborough Savings Bank, and office that he would continue to hold until his death forty-six years later. In addition to his time as treasurer, Morrison would hold a several other local offices in Peterborough, including a twenty-five year stint as town moderator and from 1868-1870 served as town selectman
   In 1878 Mortier L. Morrison was elected to the first of three terms as a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Taking his seat at the start of the 1879 session, Morrison served as a member of the committee on Banks. He would be elected to another term in 1881 and in 1915 won his third term in the house. Further political honors came Morrison's way following his first two terms in the house, as he served as Peterborough's delegate to the 1902-03 New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention. In 1918 he was again tapped to represent Peterborough at the State Constitutional Convention of 1918-19, but died during the recess of the convention, his death occurring at Peterborough on May 1, 1919, the fifty-sixth anniversary of the death of his first wife Susan. 
  A longstanding member of the G.A.R., as well as a Mason and Odd Fellows Lodge member, Mortier L. Morrison had been preceded in death by his second wife Caroline in 1906 and his son Abraham in 1913. In an unusual twist, there are two possible burial locations for Morrison, as his name is located on his first wife's stone in the Peterborough Village Cemetery as well as on another headstone at the Pine Hill Cemetery, also located in Peterborough. All in all very curious!

A Mortier L. Morrison G.A.R. encampment ribbon from 1919.

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