Family Stories

Honorable John Nelson Morse Biography


from Book of Biographies of Grafton County, New Hampshire

HON. JOHN NELSON MORSE, whose portrait may be found on a preceding page, was born on the farm in North Haverhill, where he now resides, Oct. 24, 1818.  His father was John C. Morse of the town of Haverhill.  The Morse family are descendants of early pioneers of Massachusetts, who came from England. William and Anthony Morse came from Marlboro, Wiltshire, England, and settled at Newbury, Essex Co., Mass., in 1635.  Anthony Morse sailed from the port of Southampton, England, on the ship James and arrived at Boston, June 3, 1635, and was made a freeman of the Massachusetts Bay Colony May 25, 1636; he located one-half a mile south of a most ancient cemetery at Newbury (Old Town), on a slight eminence, a field which is still known as Morse Field, and on it a trace of the original house still remains.  Anthony Morse died there, Oct. 12, 1686.  The line thus originating was continued through Lieut. Anthony Morse, Ensign Anthony Morse, Deacon Stephen Morse, Thomas Morse to the grandfather of our subject, Stephen Morse, who was born Jan. 28, 1756, married Sallie Kay soon after attaining his majority, and died June 14, 1843, aged eighty-seven years.  He served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and after independence was achieved came to North Haverhill from Bradford, Mass., and resided on what is known as Morse Hill, on the old Coventry Road from North Haverhill to Coventry (now. Benton), and was by occupation a blacksmith.  The journey through the woods from Massachusetts was made on horseback, his wife with a baby in arms riding on the pillion.  Their union was blessed with the birth of twelve sons, of whom ten lived to manhood.  Our subject remembers distinctly a family reunion of the grandparents and their ten sons.  The eldest son, Rev. Bryan Morse, preached a sermon, and the other eleven sat in the choir seats and furnished the music.   John C, the father of John Nelson Morse, was born in the town of Haverhill, at Horse Meadow, next house to the one now occupied by our subject, April 7, 1784.  He spent his years in varied occupations, among them being farming, blacksmithing, manufacturing plows, wagons, sleighs.  He also kept hotel for some twenty-five years in the house our subject occupies.  His death occurred Feb. 8, 1853.  His wife was Nancy Wheelock, who was born in 1782, and died Sept. 10, 1865.  Their children were: Sarah, who married A. P. Niles; Louisa, married M. W. Burnham; Mary Ann, married Windsor Cobleigh; Isaac L. married a Miss Glynn; Martha M. married L. T. Whitcomb; Alfred N.; and the twins, John Nelson and Nancy B.; Nancy B. lives in Savannah, Georgia; Harriet W., the youngest child, married W. J. Fisher.  Our subject attended the country schools in his youth, and had charge of his father’s hotel almost from boyhood.  After his parents’ death he discontinued the hotel and interested himself in the cattle business.  He has been a drover most of his life after twenty-five years of age, and has made buying trips throughout Northern New Hampshire to Canada, in connection with J. P. Webster, under the firm name of Morse & Webster.  Their market has been invariably Boston; before the days of railroads they sometimes drove from Canada to Boston, and there disposed of their stock.  Mr. Morse married Kate Southard, who was born June 29, 1829, and departed this life Feb. 25, 1894.  She was a daughter of Aaron Southard of Ackworth or Charlestown, N. H.; he owned and cultivated a large farm on Horse Meadows.  Mrs. Morse’s mother was Jane Finley.  To Mr. and Mrs. Morse have been born two children: Katherine and John H.  Katherine is a graduate of Wellesley College, in the Class of 1890, after a four years’ course, having previously attended Haverhill Academy.  Miss Morse takes a lively interest in educational matters, and is a practical-minded woman in every way; she is a member of the school board of the town of Haverhill.  John H. lives on the farm with his father; he attended St. Johnsbury Academy, and is a graduate of Lindenville Academy.  The home farm consists of a tract of 200 acres of land, that part of it which is fitted for pasturage runs back among the hills.  Mr. Morse has been a Republican ever since the dissolution of the old Whig party, and the organization of the Republican; he has represented the town in the State Legislature for one term. He was in his younger days a member of an I. O. O. F. Lodge, which has since broken up.

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