James Calvin Morrow.A man's real worth to his community is best determined by inquiring into the sentiment of his neighbors and fellow citizens. Their estimate of him is found to be of more value in uncovering the truth than all other sources of information. However, if there be found in this sentiment a diversity of opinion, it is difficult to arrive at accurate conclusion. On the other hand, if absolute harmony prevail in it, if it is found to be a single unit, if a man's neighbors and daily associates, without a single dissenter, proclaim him to be a worthy citizen and a power for good in the community, then accuracy of conclusion is made easy; for no precedent exists in which perfect harmony of public opinion has proved to be wrong. The conclusions formed and herein set forth with reference to the man under consideration have been moulded entirely from the sentiment of his friends and fellow citizens, and since this sentiment had in it not a discordant note, its accuracy can be fully vouchsafed and relied upon. Mr. Morrow was one of the most successful and influential men of affairs in Northern Kansas. He was a resident of Washington county for thirty-six years, was one of that county's largest land owners, was for twelve years the controlling executive in its most important financial institution, a leader in the political life of his section and State, as honored with public office in which he served with credit and distinction, and in attaining wealth, influence and station, remained an unassuming, kind and generous man, who possessed the esteem of all who knew him, and the affection of his friends and close associates.
James Calvin Morrow was born on his father's farm near the town of Washington, Guernsey county, Ohio, April 3, 1846, a son of William and Elizabeth (Roberts) Morrow. His ancestors, paternal and maternal, were among the early settlers of America, and numbered among them are men who achieved distinction in the frontier life of those early days, in the French and Indian wars, the War of the Revolution, and in the commercial era which followed. His father, William Morrow, was a native of Washington county, Pennsylvania, born in 1807, who became a pioneer settler of Guernsey county, Ohio, later removed to Olney, Ill., and in 1865 settled at Afton, Iowa, where he died on April 1, 1889. He was a farmer, as were most of his forebears, and during his early life underwent the hardships and privations incident to the pioneer of his day. He married, when a young man, Elizabeth Roberts, born in Pennsylvania in 1807, who died in Afton; Iowa, February 5, 1892. Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church and active workers in the cause of Christianity. To this union were born eight children: R. F., of San Francisco, Cal.; Martha J. Bragg, deceased; Mary E. Lorimer, deceased; Esther Laughlin, deceased; Dorcus W. Hawkins, of Olney Ill.; William B., deceased; James Calvin, the subject of this article, and Wilson W. Morrow.
James Calvin Morrow was reared on his father's farm and acquired his early education in the district schools of his native county. He had reached the age of sixteen when the family moved to Olney, Ill., where he completed his education in the schools of that town. In 1863 he went west, to Iowa, where he taught school for some little time, and with his savings from the occupation purchased, in Union county, that State, a farm of 160 acres, and engaged in buying and shipping cattle to the Chicago market. He continued in this field of enterprise in Iowa until 1874, when he came to Kansas and located at Clyde, Cloud county, and resumed the buying and shipping of stock, a business in which he had been moderately successful. In 1876 he came to Washington county with stock and squatted on section 27, Union township. Later he purchased land and improved a farm, still continuing his live stock interests. In 1881 he entered mercantile life, forming a partnership with John Swan and established the third store in the town of Haddam. His experience as a merchant was short lived, however, for in 1883 he disposed of his interest with his partner, Swan, and entered the real estate field, having as an associate Reuben Vincent. The following year, 1884, he bought the site and laid out the town of Morrow, named for him. In the growth and development of the town of Haddam, he was the most active factor. He was president of the town site company, of its town council, its board of trustees, the dominant force in the organization of the Western Exchange Bank, of which he was president, and it was largely due to his efforts that the Burlington & Missouri River railroad was built through the town. He realized early in life the possibilities which obtained in raw land and with the profits from his various enterprises was a consistent buyer of acreage until he owned about 1,400 acres in Washington county. This property he thoroughly improved and operated. He was an extensive farmer and stockman, and his activities in this line probably exceeded that of any man in his section of the State. As an expert judge of cattle, he had a State-wide reputation. He entered the banking life of the State actively in 1900, when he purchased a controlling interest in the First National Bank of Washington. He was elected president of the institution and remained at its head until the time of his death, which occurred on July 4, 1912. Under his supervision, as controlling executive, the bank which had a capital of $50,000 enjoyed a sound and continuous growth, accumulated a surplus of $40,000 and deposits of a quarter million dollars, besides paying satisfactory dividends to its stockholders. He was one of the active factors in the organization of the Bankers' Deposit Guaranty and Surety Company, of Topeka, and from the time of incorporation served as a member of its directorate, and was also a director in the Exchange National Bank of Atchison. To the banking fraternity he was known as an able and discriminating financier and as an executive whose institution had been brought up to a high point of efficiency. He had early in life acquired the desire, the habit, the love of making money and the habit of work. His shrewd business judgment, keen insight in business affairs, his knowledge of men and things, coupled with indomitable energy, enabled him to rank with the leading men of affairs in the State. He left at his death one of the largest estates in Northern Kansas, an estate which represents the brain, the pluck and energy of one man, who with his peculiar natural tact ever saw the propitious moment and availed himself of it. He was an ambitious and tireless worker, conservative in his business methods, and his business integrity and honesty were unquestioned. Mr. Morrow was best known to the citizens of the State through his service as a member of the legislature. His first appearance as a member of that body was during the session of 1895, as a member of the lower house, to which he had been elected the previous fall. He was elected to the State Senate from the Twentieth district, in 1896, and to a second term in 1900, serving as a member of that body during the sessions of 1897, 1899, 1901, 1903 and special session of 1898. He was actively concerned in all of the important legislation enacted during the various sessions in which he served, and his record as an able leader and parliamentarian was such that he was unanimously chosen by his colleagues as president pro tempore and Republican floor leader of the senate at its 1901 session. In this capacity he proved to be a conscientious official. He labored not alone for himself, but by his accommodating disposition was of great assistance to all who were working openly for progressive legislation. He was a dominant factor in local and State politics, attended as a delegate several State and National conventions of his party, and was further honored by appointment as vice-president of the Kansas Commission at the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904.
Mr. Morrow married, at Hastings, Neb., on June 13, 1889, Miss Rachel Elliott, a daughter of John C. and Elizabeth A. Elliott, born at Fairsburg, Union county, Ohio, June 8, 1859, who, with three children, survive: Lena, born May 19, 1890, the wife of Everett B. Sutton, formerly of Lawrence, Kan., now a resident of San Diego, Cal.; James Calvin Morrow, Jr., born March 7, 1893, who was graduated from the law department of Kansas University, a member of the class of 1913; and William M. Morrow, born November 4, 1894, a student in Kansas University, and a member of the law class of 1915. Mrs. Morrow is a woman of culture and refinement, possesses many lovable characteristics, and is popular in the social circles of her home county, in which she has been a leader for many years.
Mr. Morrow was in all respects a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his various duties and commercial affairs and conscientious in all things. The tributes of respect, and in many cases of affection called forth by his death have seldom been equalled in the State in the passing away of a citizen. What may be termed his life work was finished, it had met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition. But infinitely more precious and of personal consequence to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of a well-earned popularity, in the esteem which comes from honorable living, and in the affection which slowly develops only from unselfish works. Predominant among his many sterling characteristics were his fatherliness, his great foresight in caring for his own, and his tender sympathy with them was conspicuous in his life. He was a home builder and believed in the family and the fireside, in the sacredness of the hearth. He believed in the gospel of help and hope and knew how much better, how much more sacred, a kind act is than any theory the brain has wrought. He was a believer in the religion of deed and his creed was to do good. Few men have ever slept in death who nearer lived this creed. He left a legacy of glory to his children. They can truthfully say that within their veins is right royal bloodthe blood of an honest, generous man, of a steadfast friend, of one who was true to the very gates of death. Throughout his business life he was the embodiment of honor, as he was in his social and domestic life the perfection of love and gentleness.Pages 448-452 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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