Born in Connecticut and subsequently settled at Newark, New Jersey and
Born in Connecticut and subsequently settled at Newark, New Jersey.
I have only been able to trace the Morris line with confidence back as far as John Morris (died 1677). I refer to his man as John Morris of Newark (New Jersey). Some accounts of the Morris family have identified this John Morris as the son of the immigrant, Thomas Morris (1615-1673) and his wife, Elizabeth [Holyoke, according to some published genealogies], who settled in New Haven, Connecticut. For example, Genealogy of the Morris Family Descendants of Thomas Morris of Connecticut compiled by Mrs. Lucy Ann (Morris) Carhart and edited by Charles Alexander Nelson (New York: The A. S. Barnes Company) 1911, states:
“Thomas Morris (1615-1673) was a shipbuilder and a Puritan, who left England with other pilgrims in the year of Hampden’s resistance to the rule of Charles I. Thomas arrived with his wife, Elizabeth Thomas (1611-1681), at Boston, Massachusetts on 26 Jun 1637. He subsequently removed with a party of other Londoners and landed at Quinnipiac, now New Haven, Connecticut, where on 30 Mar 1638, arriving at their destination about the middle of April of that year. He purchased a tract of land near New Haven on 16 Mar 1671, on account of its timber. This land has ever since been known as Morristown (or Morris Point). The estate descended from Thomas to his son Eleazer, who gave it to his son John, who in turn, having no children, gave it to his nephew Amos, one of the sons of his brother James. Although held in the family, the property had not been occupied up to this time. Amos was the first proprietor actually residing upon the land and one of his descendants has ever since occupied it.”
Carhart goes on to list the children of Thomas Morris and Elizabeth as follows (p. 1):
- Hannah, born 14 Mar 1642 and died 12 Jan 1710
- Elizabeth, born 20 Dec 1643
- John Morris (I), born 8 Mar. 8 1646 and died 10 Dec 1711
- Eleazar, born 29 Oct 1648 and died 15 Jan 1710
- Thomas, born 3 Oct 1651
- Ephraim, born 3 Oct 1651 and died 6 Oct 1654
- Joseph, born 25 Mar 1656
According to Carhart and Nelson’s genealogy,
“Capt. John Morris, 1st, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Morris, born March 8, 1646, died December 10, 1711, married, first Anna , who died December 4, 1664. He married, second, Elisabeth Lyne Lampson, March 29, 1665. She was a daughter of Richard Harrison, of West Kerby, Cheshire County, Conn., and widow of John Lyne and the second wife of John Lampson. In 1668, John Morris, ist, and Elizabeth Morris, late of New Haven, were appointed guardians of Hopistill Lyne, daughter of John Lyne, first husband of Mrs. Morris.
Elizabeth Morris, wife of Thomas Morris, survived her husband, and his eldest son and heir, Capt. John Morris, 1st, is on record as being satisfied with the disposal his mother made of the estate. His father’s plot of land as originally drawn in the allotment in the town of Passaic was No. 31 by an old map. This farm lot appears as situated at the corner of Orange and High Streets on a later map made about 1800. This lot bears another name so that it must have exchanged hands before that date.
Under date of April 27, 1694, Capt. John Morris received a patent for 120 acres of land and later about 100 more, “on the bend of the Third River ” in Watserson, afterwards called Bloomfield. This ” Morris Plantation ” latter became known as ” Morris Mills,” Stephen Morris, son of Capt. John, having established there a saw mill and grist mill.
John Morris, 1st, married, third, Hannah Bishop, August 12, 1669, died January 12, 1710. She was a daughter of Deputy Governor James Bishop, of New Haven, Conn.”
However, these conclusions regarding the parentage of John Morris of Newark have been questioned by other researchers. For example, “Morris Families of Western Connecticut” by Donald Lines Jacobus (New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume LXX1, 1917, p. 5-6) states:
“JOHN2 MORRIS (Thomas1), baptized at New Haven 8 Mar. 1646 [? 1645/46]. Died 10 Dec. 1711 (gravestone at New Haven). He married, 12 Aug. 1669, HANNAH BISHOP, born 29 May 1651, died 12 June 1710, daughter of Deputy-Gov. James and Mary. The “Morris Family” states (p. 74) that prior to this marriage he married first Ann _____, who died 4 Dec. 1664; and secondly, 29 Mar. 1665, Elizabeth Harrison, widow of John [sic] Lyne and John [sic] Lampson; and that by this second wife he has a son John3, born 16 Dec 1666, founder of the Morris Family of Newark, N.J. A large section of the book is devoted to the descendants of the Newark family. But, in reality, it was another John Morris who settled in New Haven and married first Ann _____ and secondly Elizabeth Harrison, widow of Henry Lyne and Thomas Lampson. With his second wife he removed to Newark, where he died in 1677, leaving two sons, John and Philip. In 1670 John Morris and his wife, Elizabeth, of Newark, conveyed to Jonathan Lampson of New Haven land formerly belonging to Thomas Lampson, father of said Jonathan (New Haven Deeds, vol. 1, p. 29). Since this was subsequent to the marriage of John2 Morris (Thomas1) to Hannah Bishop, it proves that John Morris of Newark was a separate individual from John2 Morris of New Haven. That John2 (Thomas1) left only daughters as surviving issue is abundantly proved by probate and land records.”
It appears, therefore, that there were two men by the name of John Morris: One John Morris, son of Thomas Morris, and our John Morris of Newark, father unknown. The book, The Vital Records of New Haven, Conn, 1649-1850, Part I, has a record of both John Morris’, which agrees with New England Historical Society. Donald Lines Jacobus’ book, Families of Ancient New Haven, Conn., page 1212, states my John Morris (of Newark, died 1677) could possibly be a nephew of Thomas Morris of New Haven, Connecticut. In that case, there is a familial connection between the immigrant Thomas Morris (1615-1673) and my 8th g-grandfather, John Morris of Newark (died about 1677), but not a direct line of descent.
It further appears that the attempts of Morris family researchers to definitively identify the parents of my 8th g-grandfather (John Morris of Newark and husband of Elizabeth Harrison) have been futile. John Morris (1646-1711), who was buried at New Haven and son of Thomas Morris (1615-1673) likely never moved from New Haven to Newark, and he likely was never married to Elizabeth Harrison.
The following speculative thoughts may suggest directions for future research to clarify the situation:
Could the father of our John Morris have been the William Morris, 1639 New Haven, Conn., who had sons, John, Eleazar, Ephriam, Thomas, b. 1651, Joseph, b. 1653 (Dodd-East Haven Register 135-137)? Early Rehoboth, Documented Historical Studies of Families in this Plymouth Colony Township, by Richard LeBaron Bower, Vol. III, p. 152, states, “It is not generally known that Thomas Morris was at Seekonk, Rhode Island, before he settled at New Haven, Conn. He was probably a brother of Robert Morris, who was a planter in the same early Seekonk settlement” (The Documentary History of Rhode Island, by Howard N. Chapin, p. 234-5). Town of Providence (formerly Seekonk) states, Adoniah/Adonijah Morris was administrator of the estate of his brother, Robert Morris. Thomas Morris’s fifth child, Eleazer, named a son Adonijah Morris (Jacobus, Families of Ancient New Haven, Vol. IV. pp. 1210-11). So, any of the above could be the father of our John Morris.”
In summation, John Morris (parentage and date of birth unknown) removed from New Haven, Connecticut ) and married (1st) Anne _____, who died 4 Dec 1664. On 29 Mar 1666, he married (2nd) Elizabeth (Harrison) widow Henry Lines/Lyons and Thomas Lampson, and daughter of Richard Harrison of Cheshire, England and Branford, Connecticut. Elizabeth (Harrison) Morris died between 22 Oct 1689 and 24 Feb 1692/3. The children of John Morris of Newark are listed as follows:
By his first wife, Anna – none
By his second wife, Elizabeth Harrision:
- John Morris (II) (1666-1749), see below.
John Morris (II) is the son of John Morris of Newark and Elizabeth Harrison. He born 16 Dec 1666 and died 27 Oct 1749. He married (1st) Sarah Crane, who was born about 1665 and died 3 Sep 1739, aged about 73. He married (2nd) , Mary, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Ward) Harrison, widow of Peter Condit (1677-1761). The children of John Morris (II) and Sarah Crane are listed as follows:
- Daniel, born about 1700-05 (see below)
- Eunice (possible), married Thomas Riggs, son of Edward Riggs
- Zebulon (possible)
Background information on John Morris (II) – The following was researched and written by Mr. Benjamin F. Reeves of Washington, D. C. and Gladys Morris Tate of Belleview, Illinois:
“It was John whose birth was duly recorded in the New Haven Vital Statistics as 16 December 1666 who grew up to cut a wide swath in Newark as Captain John Morris. The official records are fairly spotted with notations of his services to the community. He was, as Mr. Samuel H. Congar, published about 1902, pointed out, the high sheriff of Essex County in 1700. He was chosen in 1698 to lay penalties upon swine. The next year he was chosen by vote To give notice when cattle shall go into the Neck and when it is to be taken out. In 1702 he was assessor for the north end of town. A few years later he was chosen on a committee to set a table of fees for the town clerk. In 1711 he was on a committee to settle the boundary line between Newark and Elizabeth Town. In 1716 he and James Nuttmann were chosen to select three men to Seat the meeting house. He was surveyor of the highways and collector for the overseers of the poor. Captain John lived to a ripe age, and in the delightful phrase of Mr. Congar, “did not soon die as has been said but lived four score years.” He died in 1749. He left at least three daughters, Charity, Phebe, and Abigail; Three sons for sure, Daniel, John, and Stephen. In the book, First Presbyterian Church in Newark, by Jonathan French Steam, is the records of the first settlers of Newark 1666-1680, with John Morris in the North West Section.
Through information received, January 23, 1709/10, Nat and Daniel Morris joined Rev. John Prudden’s day school at Newark. So probably a fourth son was Nathaniel.
In 1745, Daniel, Stephen, and Zebulon gave bond for S5O0 to support John Morris, Gentleman, of Newark, who had lately deeded the greater part of his land to them. Captain John died in 1749 at age 83.
The following are excerpts from “New Jersey Colonial Documents,” Vol XXI:
- Page 30 – 18 Jun 1668. Appointment as guardians of Hopestill Lyne of her mother Elizabeth and her present husband John Morris of Newark.
- Page 38 – 5 Nov 1675. Inventory of the estate of John Morris of Newark deceased, who died intestate. Mem. of letters of administration given to the widow Elizabeth.
- Page 210 – 24 Feb 1692/3. Quitclaim. John Morris of Newark, son and heir proper in law of John Morris dec’d, to his brother Philip Morris of Newark, for all property divided by their mother Elizabeth Morris.
- Page 268 – 22 Nov 1690. Do. John Morris of Newark to Tunis Aspeere, for 20 acres in Newark, 3. Elizabeth Ward, N. Samuel Harrison, W. unsurveyed, E. Pissaick R. (Passaick River)
John Morris and his wife, Sarah, were buried in the oldest burial ground in Newark, New Jersey, which was used from the late 1600s until 1818. After that it gradually fell into disrepair and became an eyesore. The City of Newark, having plans for the property, dismantled the cemetery from 1887-1890, boxed up the remains and put them in a sealed crypt in Fairmount Cemetery, placing the gravestones along the interior walls. Before the crypt was sealed, Mr. John Swinneton spent several days in it with a candle, making pen and ink sketches of the tombstones and their inscriptions. In the 1900s there was some question as to the accuracy of these sketches and the crypt was opened in 1955 to verify the paperwork. The wooden boxes holding the remains had fallen apart, and the workers couldn’t move enough to expose all of the tombstones. They did their best to improve the existing paperwork, and among their findings was the following:
Morres, Capt. John- died 22 Oct 1749 in the 83rd year of his life; and his wife, Sarah, who died 03 Sep 1739, age about 73.
The son of John Morris (II) and Sarah Crane is Daniel Morris. Daniel was born about 1700-05 and died in 1783. He married Mary Riggs, daughter of Edward Riggs. She was born in about 1707 and died in about 1764. Her ancestry is discussed under the heading of Edward Riggs (1589-1672) and Elizabeth Holmes (1595-1635).
According to information found in History of Morris County, New Jersey, 1739, Daniel Morris and Mary, his wife, were received into the First Presbyterian Church of Morristown, New Jersey, by letter in 1758. Five years later, in 1763, he was made an elder of the church. He last met the session on 20 Nov 1767. In the Combined Register of the Presbyterian Church, 1742/1885, the Morris family is listed on pages 166 and 167. Page 167 states, Stephen Morris, said to be son of Daniel, son of John, a Captain under Cromwell, had Daniel; m. Mary. I have found nothing to verify this statement. The dates would not work for Stephen to be the father of Daniel and Joseph. Information sent by the New Jersey Archives list Daniel Morris, as a son of Captain John and Sarah Morris. S.M.H. in Newark News #358 says that John Morris 1666-1749, had son Daniel as shown by John Morris Will, dated 27 Oct 1749. First Church, Morristown, New Jersey, page 318 states:
Morris, Daniel (of Roxbury) made will 10 Sep 1779, probated 17 April 1783, gave to w. Mary and children: Nathanil, eldest son, Philip, Samuel
CALENDAR OF WILLS – 1781-1785, page 283, New Jersey Colonial Documents 1779 Sep 10. Morris, Daniel, of Roxbury Township, Morris Co.,: will of: Eldest son, Nathaniel, has had his part. Wife, Mary, all personal estate. Son Phillip 50 acres, which is part of the land where I live, bounded west by Zephaniah Martin. Son, Samuel, rest of said land. Executors-sons, Philip and Samuel. Witnesses–Zephaniah Martin, Edward Lewis, Cornelus Slaght. Proved April 17, 1784. 1784 April 13. Inventory, £126.10.ll, made by Zephaniah Martin and Cornelus Slaght. Lib. M. p. 198
Information from the New Jersey State Archives lists the following children of Daniel Morris and Mary Riggs:
- Sarah , married Edward Lewis – had 9 children
- Nathaniel, born about 1730 ( married Rebecca Bayles)
- Joseph, married Hannah Ford
- Isaac, married Rebecca Hathaway, 6 children, went to Carolina’s (?) (see below)
- Daniel , married Hannah Armstrong, had 7 children
- Mary, married Moses Prudden, had 6 children
- Eunice , married John Primrose, had 4 children
- Elizabeth, married Robert Young, went to Carolina’s
- Hannah , married Ephraim Lyon and (2nd) Ichabod Cooper
- Phillip , married Johanna, went to S. New Jersey
- Samuel , went to S. New Jersey
- Abigail, married John Roy
Isaac Morris was born at Morristown, New Jersey in about 1743. On 11 May 1768 he married Rebecca Hathaway. She was born 6 Nov 1747 at Morristown, New Jersey. Isaac died 28 Apr 1828 at Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, and he is thought to be buried at Lewis Farm Cemetery, Red Lion, Warren County, Ohio. Rebecca died about 1827.
The following biographical sketch of Isaac Morris was obtained from History of Greene County, Ohio by George F. Robinson (Chicago: S. J. Clark Publishing Company, 1902), 846-848:
The Morris family came originally from England. Isaac Morris lived in Morristown, New Jersey, prior to and during the Revolutionary war, and during that contest he served as a private with the minute men of the Morris county, New Jersey. militia. He married Rebecca Hathaway and they became the parents of five sons and two daughters, of whom Benjamin, born February 20, 1774, was the second child. At the close of the Revolutionary war the family removed to the Northwest Territory, as Ohio was then called. The route chosen was by way of Pennsylvania, and several weeks were required in making the overland journey through the wilderness and over the mountains to Redstone, near Pittsburg.
After tarrying there for a few months they embarked on a flatboat with all their possessions and floated down the Ohio river, landing at Columbia, near Cincinnati, in the year 1790. This site was afterward abandoned because of the frequent overflow of the river, and they went north ten or twelve miles to a place called Round Bottom, on the Little Miami river. In order to protect themselves against the Indians they at once began the erection of a fort. Benjamin Morris, then sixteen years of age, assisted in its construction. A small patch of ground was cleared and such grain as they had brought with them was planted. While at work, whether sowing or reaping, two men were kept on duty as sentinels, yet the settlement suffered from occasional attacks by the Indians until after General Wayne’s successful campaign in 1795. To add to their hardships, smallpox broke out among them and carried off several of their number, including the young wife and infant child of Benjamin Morris. He had married a Miss Tichener.
Jacob, the eldest son of Isaac Morris, joined St. Clair’s forces against the Indians and was among the victims of that awful defeat. When General Wayne was organizing his army Benjamin Morris removed from the fort and enlisted as a pack-horse man, thus taking part in the campaign. After peace had been established, Isaac and Benjamin Morris removed from the fort. The former purchased a tract of land about four miles west of Lebanon, Warren county. He died in his eighty-eighth year. He was a man of small stature and somewhat original in his religious views.
Benjamin Morris bought a farm a short distance north of that purchased by his father and occupied it throughout his remaining days. He wedded, for his second wife, Mary Spinning, a daughter of Matthias and Hannah (Haines) Spinning, who lived about two miles west of Lebanon. The Spinnings trace their ancestry to Humphrey Spinning, who came to America in 1639 with the Puritans. He was one of the founders of Elizabeth, New Jersey, in the year 1665. He was married October 14, 1657, to Abigail, daughter of George and Mary Hubbard, and his death occurred in 1689. He was the father of nine children, six sons and three daughters, including Edward, the father of Matthias Spinning. The last-named was born in the year 1750 and died in 1830. He had three brothers and two sisters, including Judge Isaac Spinning, of Montgomery county, Ohio. Matthias Spinning was a quiet and peaceable man of sterling worth. He served in the Revolutionary war as a private minute man of the Essex county, New Jersey, militia, and suffered much for the cause of American liberty. He and his brother Isaac were captured and carried to New York, where they were confined for several months within the loathsome walls of what was called the Sugar House, famous as a place of confinement for the American prisoners of war.
The children of Benjamin and Mary (Spinning) Morris were ten in number – five sons and five daughters, of whom the subject of this review was the eighth in order of birth. The father died in 1861 at the home of this son, near Bellbrook, Greene county, whither he had come on a visit. After the death of his wife, Mary Spinning, he had married again, the third union being with Sarah Weaver, of White county, Tennessee.
Isaac Morris (1741-1828) was a veteran of the American War of Independence. The following account of his service is taken from The Official Roster of the Soldiers of the American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio, complied by Frank D. Henderson et. al. and published by the State of Ohio (Columbus, Ohio: F.J. Heer Printing Co.) 1929, p. 263. Also refer to Official Register of the Officers and Men of New Jersey in the Revolutionary War (Trenton, New Jersey: Wm. T. Nicholson & Co, printers – by authority of the Legislature) 1872, p. 853.
re: Isaac Morris:
“Wagonmaster, Morris Co, NJ Mil, “Stryker’s” p 853. Br 1753, Morristown, N. J. Parents: Daniel Morris and wife Hannah (see records of Morristown, N. J. Presbyterian Church). Mar. Rebecca Hathaway May 11, 1768. (p 54, Church Records, Morristown, N. J.) Both received into church Mch 2, 1776. Children: Benjamin, Jacob, John, Robert, Tunis, (died), Child (died 1773). All baptized Morristown, N J. 3 buried 1772 and 1773. D Lebanon and buried in Presbyterian churchyard. In 1778 Isaac Morris came to Columbia, perhaps, then on to Cincinnati about 1789. One of eight charter members of First Presbyterian Church Cincinnati 1790. He removed to Warren Co before 1800, Sec. 19, northwest of Lebanon. Founder of Turtle Creek Church and when it disbanded a founder of Lebanon Presbyterian Church. Benjamin came with his father to these places and lived near him. His home still standing, 1920, one time known as “Green Tree” tavern. Marriages of other sons secured from Mrs. Whallon. Ref: Church Records, Morristown, N. J. Records copied from family Bible and headstone by Rosamond Fraser, Dayton, O. Filed by Mrs. Whallon, Cincinnati D. A. R. Fur infor Cincinnati Chap.”
According to The History of Warren County Ohio (p. 435-6), Isaac Morris emigrated from New Jersey about 1794, and, after passing a few years in Hamilton County, came, in 1797, to the neighborhood in Warren County, Ohio now known as Green Tree or Greentree Corners (Turtle Creek Township). Some of these details and dates are in conflict with the History of Greene County, Ohio, cited above. Isaac, purchased and settled upon a tract of about four hundred acres, “now owned by the North Family of Shakers” (written in 1882). The Morris land was adjacent to the Shaker settlement known as Union Village, and some of the land occupied by Union Village was sold to the Shaker community by Isaac Morris at around the time of the community’s founding in 1805. Alternatively, Julia Watkins Frost, in Annals of Our Ancestors, offers an explanation that Isaac purchased the land, which had been previously owned by the Shakers, from a man by the name of Nathan Sharp, at a later date, and that it was Isaac’s son, Benjamin, who built the Green Tree Tavern there in about 1832 (p. 178).Annals of Our Ancestors (published in 1913) by Julia Watkins Frost (1838-1920). In this work, she also records her memories of her parents, Benjamin Utter Watkins and Sophronia Keeler, as well as her other (maternal) grandparents, David Keeler and Abigail Skeels, but she also provides details of other family members (such as the Morris family) that otherwise would be lost to posterity. Chapter X, “The Green Tree Tavern” (p. 174-89), is especially informative with regard to the Morris family. I’ve also reproduced several portraits and illustrations from her book.
“The Green Tree Tavern had such a part in the life of the elder brother of our family [i.e., William Benson Watkins (1836-1898), my 2nd g-grandfather] that I feel it deserves a chapter by itself. It has interest also as an example of the old-time tavern at the crossroads.”
The son of Isaac Morris and Rebecca Hathaway is Benjamin Morris, born 20 Feb 1774 and christened 1 Sep 1774, both at Morristown, New Jersey. They had other children as well: Jacob, born 1 Sep 1769; twins (1772-72); John; Robert, born 2 Sep 1779.
Benjamin Morris was married first to a Miss Tichenor, who died young, and they are not known to have had any children together who survived infancy. She was possibly a daughter of Jonathan Tichenor, who is mentioned as an early settler of Turtle Creek Township in History of Warren County, Ohio around 1797-1800 (p. 438). On 7 Apr 1796, He married (2nd) Mary Spinning. She was born 1_ Jan 1774 (see grave marker below; birth date not completely legible) and died 21 Dec 1837. She was buried in the Pioneer Cemetery, Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, Ohio. As far as I know, her grave has not been located. Benjamin died 17 Oct 1861, and he is thought to be buried in the Lewis Farm Cemetery (Warrick Rhodes Cemetery), Red Lion, Warren County, Ohio. They had the following children (probably all born near Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio):
- Sarah, born 16 May 1797 and living at Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, Ohio at the time of the 1850 census.
- Jacob, born 9 Mar 1799 and died 20 Apr 1868.
- Isaac Morris, see below
- Charles, born 16 Jul 1804 and died on 3 May 1859.
- Anne Marie, born 14 Mar 1807 and died on 27 Apr 1846.
- Jerusha, born 19 Apr 1809. She died 4 Mar 1872.
- William, born 17 Feb 1811 and died 3 Apr 1898. William was counted in the 1850 census at Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, Ohio.
- Benjamin Franklin, born 15 Jan 1813 and died 2 Jun 1823.
- Mary Jan, born 11 Jul 1816 and died 6 Mar 1842.
Isaac Morris was born 21 Nov 1800 at Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, Ohio. On 30 Mar 1830 at Franklin, Ohio he married Margaret Chambers. She was born 7 May 1808 in Pennsylvania and died in Ohio in 1859. Isaac He died 5 Apr 1881, and he and Margaret are both buried at Lebanon Cemetery, Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio (Plot: Old Section Lot 483).
In Julia Watkins Frost’s day, Isaac Morris (1800-1881) was the master of Green Tree, as well as her father-in-law, as her brother, William, was married to Isaac‘s daughter, Julia Ann Morris. Also, her father, Benjamin Utter Watkins, was minister at the church in Clio (Ferry), Ohio, of which Isaac Morris was a member, providing ample opportunities for the Watkins and Morris families to become acquainted. As a result, her reflections are informative:
“[p. 175] Brother [Isaac] Morris kept the Green Tree House at the crossroads just at the edge of a settlement of Shakers; in fact, their land joined his on the south. The Green Tree was on the direct road to our place [Columbia, Ohio, which is now within the city limits of Cincinnati], something over a half day’s drive, so father was glad to avail himself of this invitation and to extend his acquaintance among the people of the church. I cannot recall just how it all came about, but anyway Mr. Morris offered their neighborhood school to William [my 2nd great grandfather], and as soon as arrangements could be made he was to begin. When father went to his next appointment at Clio he took William over; our mother went along that time, and it was thus our eldest, with his well-filled trunk, set out to begin his life work as teacher.
“When our parents returned it was to tell us how pleased they were with William’s location. They described the old-fashioned brick house, a large square building with a wide hall going through the center, with two rooms on either side of it. This old tavern, they told us, was two stories high, with oaken floors…
“…On learning of all the interesting features of the Green Tree, we three younger children were told that we might go to see William in his new abode…
“…[p. 176] As we proceeded on our way we found it all plain, and after we had reached the guidepost anxiety departed and we settled down to enjoy the new things we saw all about us. Passing from the level country we found we were in sight of the large and imposing buildings of the Shaker settlement. Some time in the year 1700 [certainly 1800 was intended] they had found this rich country a wild tract of native forest, and made a home where they could worship according to the dictates of their own consciences, having like our Puritan fathers fled from persecution in England…
“…There was much that was fanatical in their beliefs. They ignored the family relation; as worship they danced, the elders singing a jig song to which they kept step. They owned some of the finest land in Warren County, and built good, substantial brick houses, for which they themselves made the brick. Everything was of the best as to material and condition; their farms and groves were beautiful and perfectly kept; their houses were exquisitely neat and clean, floors painted and varnished, with strips of rag carpet laid down to protect them; in every department there was perfect order and perfect cleanliness. There was nothing bright about their furnishings or their dress; everything was plain. They made Shaker bonnets for women and braided broad-brimmedhats for men; these latter were of such exceeding fineness that once when a young man asked, in my hearing, the price of such a hat, he was told that they were not for sale, but if they were their price would be eight dollars. The Shaker women, [p. 177] however, evidently could not forego the opportunity of setting the fashion, and Shaker bonnets were sold for fifty and seventy-five cents apiece and were much worn. The colony had woolen mills and made Shaker flannel in great quantities. As all their manufactured products were honest and good, they were very popular. They had an extensive trade in garden seeds, for there was a ready sale for anything having the Shaker stamp. They were certainly an industrious and thrifty people.
“Though they did not marry, their settlement was kept going for some time by the orphaned and homeless they continued to receive. It was but the other day (March, 1912) that one of the Morris family wrote me that there was yet a remnant of the Shakers in existence, though only about nineteen out of the three or four hundred in old times. All but one of their villages is deserted… The oldest of their buildings were erected in about 1807 or 1808, and the settlement began some time between 1803 and 1805…
“…[p. 178] . We found the Morris family a leading one of that country. Mr. Isaac Morris was a man who by honesty and industry had improved his inheritance. The Green Tree Tavern had stood for a number of years then, having been built in 1832 by one Ichabod Corwin and sold by him to Nathan Sharp. The latter had been one of the head Shakers and privileged to wear an eight-dollar hat, but tradition tells us he departed from the colony with money enough to buy the Green Tree, and it was he who sold it to Mr. Isaac Morris. The first Isaac Morris was a wagonmaster general in the Continental Army. He removed with his family from Morris County, New Jersey, when Benjamin Morris, the father of the master of Green Tree, was fourteen years old [if true, this would be 1788]. It may be interesting to note here that both the Morris and Watkins families came to southern Ohio from New Jersey, though Isaac Morris the first preceded our grandfather, James Watkins, by two years in his emigration from that state [by Julia Watkins Frost’s calculus, this would be 1790]. This Morris ancestor took up a considerable body of land from government; at the time of our visit the original property was owned by the North family of Shakers. Great-grandfather Isaac Morris was an ardent man, passionate and excitable and very religious, formerly a Presbyterian but later becoming a member of the religious body called “New Lights” or “Bible Christians,” though they preferred the simple designation “Christian.” It is said that he became so strongly opposed to Calvinism that he wanted his grandson Isaac to write an article against the Apostle Paul for being a Calvinist! His wife, Rebecca Hathaway Morris, was a woman of moderate stature and remembered as very industrious. She died on the property afterwards owned by the Shakers, and was eighty years of age at the time of her death.
“When we were at Green Tree, Grandfather Benjamin Morris was living there. I remember him as a small, dark, [p. 179] active old man who was very decided in his opinions. He had various pet aversions, one of which was beards; he declared men with beards looked like baboons. A fashion of women he particularly disliked was the wearing of hoops. Though so pronounced in his opinions, he was ever kind and hospitable, generous and obliging, an upright and honest citizen. Brother William puts it on record that he was a quiet and peaceable man. He was born in Morris County, New Jersey, February 20, 1774. He helped to build the block house at Fort Washington when but sixteen years old. It is told of him that he could load logs a foot over his own head. Benjamin Morris served as a packhorse man in Wayne’s army about 1795. Mary Spinning, his wife, was born in Elizabethtown, New Jersey. She was a woman of small stature, not larger than her granddaughter, Julia Morris. Indeed, my brother William has recorded that his wife, her father, grandfather, grandmother and great-grandfather were all small, so it is not difficult to account for the short stature of the Morris-Watkins children.
“Our maternal grandfather Skeels was also under medium height. Mary Spinning was brought up two miles west of Lebanon on the Green Tree Road. She was not the first wife of Benjamin Morris, he having married, while very young, a girl by the name of Ticknor. This first wife and their one child died early from smallpox. It was the second wife, Mary Spinning, who became the mother of his ten children. It might be well to note right here that upon the Watkins side our great-grandfather, Joseph Watkins, married Elizabeth Spinning, also of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, as related in our first chapter, and my father always said the Morris and Watkins families must be at least distantly related.
“Isaac Morris’ grandfather, Matthias Spinning, and his brothers fought all through the Revolutionary War, and after it was over Matthias Spinning came to Ohio with his family. This was in 1791 or 1792, and near Lebanon he purchased from the government a farm which is now known as the Thompson Farm. He lived and died on this place. His daughter Jerusha, known to us as “Aunt ‘Rusha,” was born in the Block House (Fort Washington) at Cincinnati. Mary Spin-[p. 180]ning Morris died in 1838, having had for years serious trouble with her eyes, which resulted finally in blindness. She was sixty-four years old when she died.
“The third marriage of Grandfather Benjamin Morris was a great surprise to the family. His eldest daughter, Sallie, married a man by the name of Yeager and went to Tennessee to live. Grandfather Morris decided to go to visit this daughter, and so for a time he left Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Morris, who were then keeping house for him. What was their surprise one summer day on looking down the road, to see a strange procession approaching — Grandfather Benjamin Morris and a new wife, riding in on packhorses quite unannounced! The great heat and dust almost disguised both bride and groom. I heard Miss Jerusha Spinning tell of the shock it was to them all. I gather it was a bitter disappointment to Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Morris. They had rented the home farm from his father and were permanently settled, as they supposed, and here came the unexpected in the form of the newly wedded pair, blistered by the sun and soiled by the dust and quite ready to settle down in the house the son was so happily occupying. There was nothing to do but for Mr. Isaac Morris to move out of the brick house, and this he did, purchasing the Green Tree Tavern and re-establishing his home there.
“When the wife from Tennessee died Benjamin Morris went to live once more with his son Isaac, and so he was at Green Tree when we visited the family there. He was an old man of eighty then, I should judge. I remember the brick house he had built in an early day; the shade trees he had planted in his prime and which protected the front of the house from the afternoon sunshine; the orchards still bearing fine apples — the scene of his hfe’s work. As I rode by his old home with him one day, he pointed out to me the barn and told me that when it was in the course of erection his younger son, a lad in his teens, had climbed on a ladder to the roof and had fallen from there and broken his hip. Despite the best medical aid of that time lockjaw set in and the boy died. His voice trembled as he related the story, the sadness of which the years had failed to obliterate.”
The following biography of Isaac Morris is taken from The History of Warren County Ohio, Part V. Biographical Sketches, Turtlecreek Township (Chicago, Illinois: W. H. Beers Co.) 1882 [reprint, Mt. Vernon, Indiana: Windmill Publications, 1992]:
“ISAAC MORRIS (deceased) was born Nov. 21, 1800, on the farm he occupied at the time of his death, which was purchased by his father, Benjamin, in 1797, when he came here from his native State, New Jersey. About the same time, his grandfather, Isaac Morris, also settled in the neighborhood, buying a tract of about 400 acres, now owned by the North Family of Shakers. in early life, our subject learned the printer’s trade, and worked for a time in the office of the Western Star, of Lebanon, in company with his brother, the late Jacob Morris. This was in the years 1823 and 1824. From Lebanon, he went to Columbus, Ohio, and obtained work in the office of the State printer, Olmstead, where he spent two years, and where he, in 1826, married Miss Margaret Chambers, who died in 1859, leaving five children, three girls and two boys, all now living. From Columbus, Mr. Morris returned to Lebanon, and, for a time, was engaged in job printing. In 1832, in the time of the first campaign that resulted in the election of Andrew Jackson, he made Richmond his home for a few years, after which he returned to the farm, on which his whole life, with the exception of eight years was spent. Mr. Morris was married the second time to Mrs. Leah H. (Walters) Vail, a daughter of David Walters. She was born Nov. 23, 1819, and was first married Dec. 27, 1843, to Moses Vail, a son of William Vail, a wealthy and influential farmer of Warren County. Mr. Morris died at his home in Turtle Creek Township April 5, 1881; he was a man full of good works, energetic, kind-hearted and universally esteemed by all who knew him; he left many mourning friends and a host of relatives, children, and grandchildren.”
Isaac Morris was counted in Turtle Creek Township, Warren County, Ohio in 1850 & 1860. He was counted in Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio in 1870.
The children of Isaac Morris and Margaret Chambers are listed as follows:
- Julia Ann Morris, see below
- Albert, born about 1841 and died in 1919.
- John, born 1843.
- Alice, born about 1846.
- Clarinda, born about 1850.
Julia Ann Morris was born about 1836. She lived until at least about 1906, as she appears in a photograph (click here to see additional Watkins family photos) with her grandchildren (Roderick and Florence Watkins) in which Florence appears to be at least 3-4 years old. On 5 Oct 1858 in Warren County, Ohio, Julia Ann married William Benson Watkins, who was born 5 Oct 1836 at Cincinnati, Ohio and died 19 Dec 1898 at Dayton, Ohio. Both William and Julia were 4th great grandchildren of Humphrey Spinning (1630-1689) and Abigail Hubbard (1640-1689), making them 5th cousins.
A great deal of information, history and traditions pertaining to the Morris (and Watkins) families is contained in Annals of Our Ancestors by Julia Watkins Frost (1913). Julia Watkins Frost is the daughter of Benjamin Utter Watkins (1811-1890), making her my 2nd g-grand aunt. Many of the photos on this page have been reproduced from that book.
The lineage of Julia Ann Morris and William Benson Watkins is continued under the heading of Thomas Watkins (1629-1689) and Elizabeth Baker (1632-1689).
 The “Pardee-Morris House”, is located at 325 Lighthouse Road in New Haven, Connecticut. This 6,000 sq. ft. home is now operated by the New Haven Museum. It was built by Amos Morris (a descendant of Thomas Morris) around 1750, and the house was burned by the British during their raid on New Haven in 1779 and later rebuilt by the Morris family. It remained in that family until 1915, when it was purchased by William Pardee, a descendant of the Morris family, who hoped to make it his home. Pardee died in 1918 and willed the property, along with a small endowment, to the New Haven Museum, then known as the New Haven Colony Historical Society. The Pardee-Morris House is open to the public seasonally for events, classes and tours.
 Background Information on Phillip Morris: 5 Jan 1690, Newark Town Records. p. 104, It is voted that the soldiers, Phillip Morris, Samuel Potter and Benjamin Harrison, should be paid their wages for the time they were out, according to our Agreement. Newark, Congar’s Newark General Notices, p. 126, “Phillip, son of Mr. John Morris, was one of the three soldiers out in 1690, his half- brother Eleazer Lampson being another. Johanna his widow, adminstrator. in 1694. Phillip Morris died 5 Dec 1693, Newark, Inventory, undated, of the estate of Phillip Morris of Newark (died Dec 5, 1693). All personal, – £19.186. Made by John Curtis and John Morris. The estate Owes S8 (N. J. Orig wills & – abstracts in Arch XXIII 329).
 This action was part of a wider conflict known as The Northwest Indian War (1785–1795), also known as Little Turtle’s War and by other names. This was a war between the United States and a confederation of numerous Native tribes for control of the Northwest Territory (i.e. Ohio). It followed centuries of conflict over this territory, first among Native American tribes, and then with the added shifting alliances among the tribes and the European powers: France, Great Britain, and their colonials. Under the Treaty of Paris (1783), which ended the American Revolutionary War, Great Britain ceded to the U.S. “control” of the Northwest Territory, which was occupied by numerous Native American tribes. Despite the treaty, the British kept forts and policies there that supported the Natives in the Northwest Territories. President George Washington directed the United States Army to halt the hostilities between the Natives and settlers and enforce U.S. sovereignty over the territory. The U.S. Army, consisting of mostly untrained recruits supported by equally untrained militiamen, suffered a series of major defeats, including the Harmar Campaign (1790) and St. Clair’s Defeat (1791), which were resounding Native victories. About 1,000 soldiers and militiamen were killed and the United States forces suffered many more casualties than their opponents. After St. Clair’s disaster, Washington ordered Revolutionary War hero General “Mad” Anthony Wayne to organize and train a proper fighting force. Wayne took command of the new Legion of the United States late in 1793. He led his men to a decisive victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers in 1794. The defeated Native tribes were forced to cede extensive territory, including much of present-day Ohio, in the Treaty of Greenville in 1795.
 I am descended from Humphrey Spinning (1630-1689) and his wife Abigail Hubbard (1640-1689) (my maternal 8th g-grandparents) through two of their sons: Edward Spinning (1666-1727), who was the g-grandfather of Mary Spinning (1774-1837), who is mentioned above, and Ebeneezer Spinning (1667-1702), who was the grandfather of Elizabeth Spinning (1730-1787), who married Joseph Watkins (1732-1800). For that branch of the family, refer to the article on Thomas Watkins (1629-89) and Elizabeth Baker (1632-1689).
 Julia Watkins Frost is the brother of William Benson Watkins (1836-1898), my 2nd g-grandfather. For that branch of the family, refer to the article on Thomas Watkins (1629-89) and Elizabeth Baker (1632-1689).
 In the context of the subsequent accounts of Julia Watkins Frost, it is clear she is referring to Fort Washington (Cincinnati) and not the more famous Fort Washington (New York), where an important battle occurred during the American War of Independence.
 The family tradition of the connection between the Watkins and Morris families is true. Indeed, Elizabeth Francis Spinning (1730-1787) and Mary Spinning (1774-1737) are distant cousins and relation by marriage as well. Elizabeth is the g-grandmother of the husband (William Benson Watkins) of her granddaughter (Julia Ann Morris). Julia Ann Morris and William Benson Watkins (married in 1858), Elizabeth Francis Spinning and Mary Spinning are all descendants of Humphrey Spinning (1630-1689) and Abigail Hubbard (1640-1689) – Julia and Mary through Humphrey’s son Edward (1666-1727), and William and Elizabeth through Humphrey’s son Ebenezer (1667-1702). Julia Ann Morris and William Benson Watkins are 5th cousins, and these Spinning lines of Humphrey’s sons Edward and Ebenezer were reconnected in Ohio almost 200 years after dividing in New Jersey, through the marriage of Julia Ann and William in 1858.