GLMS 58 - J. S. Morton Collection
|Title||GLMS 58 - J. S. Morton Collection|
|Subject||Business & Commerce|
The J. S. Morton Collection contains photocopied material made from original items in the possession of the Federation of Women's Clubs in St. Joseph, Michigan, the administrators of the Morton House in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The copying was performed in 1985.
The Historical Collections of the Great Lakes' collection may be reproduced for scholarly purposes and literary rights are dedicated to the public.
Processing of this one cubic foot collection was completed in January 1994 by Mark. J. Barnes.
J. Stanley Morton was born September 16, 1850, in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and died in the same city on October 1, 1936. The Morton family was an early arrival in the history of Berrien County, Michigan. Eleazer Morton, grandfather of J. S. Morton, arrived from Syracuse, New York in the late 1840s. By 1849 the house that held four generations of Mortons at what became the intersection of Territorial Road and Hull Street was under construction. J. S. Morton's parents, Henry C. Morton and Josephine Stanley Morton, expanded the house into the form that survives today. J. S. Morton lived most of his life in this house except for a few brief childhood years in Toledo, Ohio, and a short period before his marriage when he lived in another Benton Harbor house.
Morton married Carrie Heath in June 1871. Four children were born to the Mortons, but only two survived infancy. Raymond and Will lived to adulthood but died before their parents.
The primary commercial achievement of J. S. Morton was his co-founding and administering of the Graham and Morton Company shipping firm. Morton began his own steamship company in 1874 with one vessel that carried freight between Benton Harbor and Chicago. In 1875 Morton entered a partnership that formed the Graham and Morton Company. The growth of the fruit industry in southwestern Michigan provided Morton with the opportunity to expand his company with profits from shipments to the large consumer market of Chicago. The Graham and Morton Company was successful until a series of unfortunate events in 1914 and 1915, along with increased competition from trucks, placed the company in financial distress.
A heavy investment in new dock facilities and the purchase of the CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS required significant income to offset these expenses. The summer of 1915 was unusually cool. This event coupled with the deaths of hundreds of people vessel EASTLAND at Chicago sent revenues plummeting as bookings failed to materialize. Over the next decade the Graham and Morton Company was in receivership several times.
A merger with the Goodrich Company of Chicago was completed in an effort to combat the growth of trucking companies that captured larger shares of the produce traffic headed for Chicago. Unfortunately, the Goodrich portion of the new company quickly went into receivership. A series of auctions followed in the 1920s and 1930s that brought an end to the Graham and Morton fleet after more than fifty years of shipping service.
J. S. Morton retired at the age of 75 but remained active in Benton Harbor civic activities. Morton was a mason and was involved in numerous fundraising projects in his community. At his death, numerous friends eulogized Morton as a community leader and valued contributor to the economic growth of southwestern Michigan.
|Scope and Content|
This one cubic foot collection contains photocopies of original items in the possession of the Federation of Women's Clubs in St. Joseph, Michigan. Collection material dates from 1884 to 1951.
The principal item in the collection is J. S. Morton's diary for the years 1920-1932. The diary is contained in twenty-six of the thirty-one folders in the collection. The entries reflect Morton's interest in the shipping commerce of Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Michigan area. Vessel schedules are noted. Comments on the business conditions in the Great Lakes are recorded.
Morton's community is described in three publications related to the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph, Michigan region and the commercial interests in the Graham and Morton company.
A scrapbook on Morton's life provides biographical information and details on the Graham and Morton Company. Many of the Graham and Morton vessels appear in the photographs in the scrapbook.
News clippings from 1912 describe the launching and maiden voyage of the popular steamer CITY OF GRAND RAPIDS that was part of the Graham and Morton fleet.
SCRAPBOOKS AND SCRAPBOOK MATERIALS