E. EUGENE MORSE, of Kinsley, is a man of wide and varied western experience. His home has been in the west for forty-five years. He is an old time sheep man and for over thirty years his labors have been productively engaged in Edwards County, where he still owns a large body of land. He is practically retired and enjoys the comforts of one of the best homes in Kinsley.
Mr. Morse was born near Painesville, Ohio, October 23, 1849. His people were originally from Connecticut, a state that supplied a large part of the early population of the old Western Reserve of Ohio. His grandfather, Abner Morse, was a pioneer in Lake County, Ohio, and a tanner by trade. His tanyard was a few miles south of Painesville. He had four sons and three daughters. Among these were: Abner, Mrs. Mary Young, Montgomery, William P., Harriet and Jacob.
William P. Morse, father of Eugene, spent his active life in Lake County, Ohio, where he died about 1855, at the age of forty-nine. He married Lucy Manley, a daughter of Sherman Manley, who also came from Connecticut. She died in Pueblo, Colorado, when past seventy years. The children were: Helen, who married Albert Warren and spent her life in Ohio; E. Eugene; and Lola, who married George Breakman and lives in Painesville, Ohio.
E. Eugene Morse spent his boyhood on a farm and attended country schools. When still quite young he left his native state and was employed for a time as clerk in a store at Genesee, Illinois. He returned to Ohio and worked in a box and scale-board factory at Montville in Humboldt County. After this followed another few months as workman in a sawmill at Cedar Springs, north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. His final experience in Ohio was three years' employment as farm laborer at Mentor.
Leaving Ohio, Mr. Morse went out to Colorado in 1872, crossing the plains. He established himself on Apache Creek south of Pueblo and became a sheep rancher. His capital was a very modest one and he had a small bunch of sheep to begin with, comprising about 500 head. He kept these and their increase in Colorado until 1878, when he drove about 3,000 head over the line into Kansas and established his headquarters in Barber County. The first winter was spent near Lake City, and the next spring he drove into Sumner County, locating at Belleplaine. As a sheep man he grazed his flocks over the rich region comprising Harper, Barber, Sumner and Pratt counties until 1882. At that time he had about 6,000 head.
In 1882, having sold his property and holdings in Sumner County, Mr. Morse removed to Pueblo, Colorado, and for two years was engaged in the grocery business. He left there and went to Oregon on a prospecting tour, expecting to locate in the far northwest. He spent most of his time around Ashland, but found the country disappointing and, as he says, "It looked so very small to him as compared with Kansas."
Thus it was that in the year 1885 Mr. Morse identified himself with Edwards County, bringing into this locality the proceeds of his business as a sheep man and as a merchant. Here he homesteaded the northeast quarter of section 17, township 26, range 17, building a single room frame house 14 by 16 feet. In that humble abode he and his wife and two children lived for several years. For a time he resumed the sheep business, and combined it with farming and general stock raising. He gave up the sheep industry when the country began to settle up permanently, and also because it was difficult to secure herders. On his homestead he broke up some of the sod for crops, but the climate was not favorable and had it not been for his sheep he would have suffered probable disaster, as many other early settlers did. He was able to tide himself over during the period of drouth and adversity, and only after several years was he able to look upon his home in Edwards County as a permanent one and his farm as a reliable source of income. Until he proved up his claim he lived in the little shanty above mentioned. He then built another room and later still another, and in time had a small group of buildings which altogether constituted his home. He and his family lived very simply while on the farm, and only in recent years, after he moved to Kinsley, has the opportunity come to put his farm into first rank with the country homes of Edwards County. In 1917 he erected a modern twelve room residence, and in the preceding year had built a barn of generous dimensions. After his homestead his first purchase of land was a tree claim in the same section, and gradually he added other quarter sections. His farm lands now comprise a complete section in Edwards County and another section in Gray County. For a number of years his chief profit has come from wheat growing. The best yield was from eighteen to twenty bushels to the acre, and only in one year has he failed to get back the seed that he sowed.
Mr. Morse was married at Mentor, Ohio, August 17, 1880, eight years after he had left that locality to plunge into the west, to Miss Helen A. Baxter. Mrs. Morse was born in Mentor, Ohio, October 16, 1855, a daughter of Isaac and Baxter. Her father was of New England stock and an Ohio farmer, Mr. and Mrs. Morse have three children: Lola, Lela and Murray. While these children were still in schools Mr. Morse moved his family to Kinsley in order to secure better educational opportunities. They attended the local high school and higher advantages were also made available. Lola was for fourteen years connected with the Kinsley Bank and is now the wife of M. D. Gender, of Cimarron, Kansas. Lela is a graduate of the Manual Normal Training School of Pittsburg, Kansas, and was formerly a teacher of domestic science in that city. She is now the wife of Bert Hamilton, of Great Bend, Kansas, and has children Jean and Donald. The son Murray, who now farms on the old homestead, spent two years in the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan.
Mr. Morse was brought up as a republican and cast his first presidential vote for General Grant in 1872. He is a member of the Masonic Lodge, but has no church connections.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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