J. C. O. Morse

J. C. O. MORSE, who was the first superintendent of the State Reformatory at Hutchison, a former member of the State Board of Railroad Commissioners and now president of the Kansas Casualty and Surety Company of Wichita, has had a long and prominent career in Kansas. He is an able business man and the efficiency of business characterized all his public work. His name is widely known among financial and business circles, and he has attained that position after beginning life as a Kansas farmer.

His home has been in Kansas since he was about thirteen years of age. He was born in Henry County, Illinois, January 15, 1857, and in 1870 his parents moved to Kansas and located in Sedgwick County for four years, subsequently moving to Sumner County. Born and reared on a farm, he had a common school education partly in Illinois and partly in Kansas, and until 1889 made farming his regular pursuit in Sumner County. In that year he was elected sheriff of that county, and filled the office four years.

When the State Reformatory was completed at Hutchinson, Mr. Morse was appointed its first superintendent in 1895, and during the next two years he gave all his time and energies to inaugurating the service of that important state institution.

In 1897 he was appointed superintendent of the Hutchinson Water, Light & Power Company, and had the practical management of that public utility until April, 1902. He was then called to the service of the state as a member of the Board of Railroad Commissioners, and held that office until 1905. During the next six years Mr. Morse had active charge of the Wichita Independent Telephone Company, of which he was a part owner, and directed its affairs until the close of 1911.

In May, 1912, he organized the Kansas Casualty & Surety Company of Wichita, of which he has since been president. While his business headquarters are now in Wichita, he still keeps his home at Hutchison.

Mr. Morse is both a York and Scottish Rite Mason, is past master of his lodge, past high priest of the chapter, past eminent commander of the Knights Templar. He is also affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. In 1878 Mr. Morse married Miss Rachel E. Chenowith of Sumner County, Kansas. Their two daughters are Emma and Lucretia.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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