Biography of William Morfitt

To this worthy veteran of many a struggle with the savages on the frontier, as well as in many of the battles of life in the wild country, being a pioneer of the state of Oregon, and having led a life of activity in the forefront of the progress of civilization, having done well his part in all this good work, we are pleased to grant a consideration in this volume of Malheur County’s history, both because of this prominent part that he has taken in the County and in its leading industries and developments, as well as for his worth as a man and citizen.

Mr. Morfitt was born in Yorkshire, England, on April 17, 1838, being the son of James and Susana Morfitt. In 1842 the father brought his family to the United States, landing in New York and thence to the site of Chicago, where he located the first foundry of that now famous city. In 1847 he came with his family across the plains to Oregon. Enroute they were attacked by the Indians several times once on the Rogue River, where four savages were killed but no loss of life among the immigrants. Before that, in the Modoc Country, they lost half of their cattle by the red-skins. At the mouth of The Yamhill River the livestock was left and the father came to Oregon City by canoe. There he located, it being a village of few people, and there he opened a foundry the very first that was ever erected in the territory of Oregon.

Our subject received a good education from the schools the various places where he resided, perfecting himself as a civil engineer. In 1849 he with his father, went with the rush of the gold miners to San Francisco in a sail boat and in the spring of 1850 he returned to Oregon.

In 1855 our subject enlisted in the Clackamas Company to fight the Indians in the Yakima war. After that he followed farming until 1867 when he removed to Grant County and thence to Boise. Idaho. In company with a Mr. Libby, Mr. Morfitt built the first bridge across the Boise River at Boise. Eighteen hundred and sixty-eight marks the date when Mr. Morfitt came to upper Willow creek and located the first ranch there. He farmed and raised stock there until 1883, when he came to the site of the present Ontario, and in company with Messrs. Virtue, Smith and Richardson, located the town of Ontario, he surveying the land. He still owns one hundred and twenty acres of this land. His home place is located one and one-half miles south-west from Ontario and consists of forty acres. He has the finest farm house in the County and barns and outbuildings and all tasty improvements to match. His place is well supplied with water and has a fine orchard. It is a model of thrift and beauty in every respect. Mr. Morfitt is vice-president of the Owyhee Ditch Company and stockholder in the same and also a stockholder and director in the Nevada ditch company.

In politics Mr. Morfitt is a Democrat and takes an enthusiastic part in the advancement of educational interests. The marriage of Mr. Morfitt and Miss Juliette Worsham occurred in Clackamas County, on March 1858, and they became the parents of six children, as follows: James, Robert, William L., Cyrus W., Charles H. and Iona. In 1893 Mrs. Morfitt died. In 1899 Mr. Morfitt was married a second time, the lady becoming his wife at this time being Elizabeth M. Carlisle, a native of what is now Malheur County, and they have been blessed by the advent of two children Julian and :Ashton. Mr. Morfitt served as scout for General Howard during the Bannock war.



Whitman, Marcus. An Illustrated history of Baker, Grant, Malheur and Harney Counties: with a brief outline of the early history of the state of Oregon. Chicago: Western Historical Publishing Co., 1902, 871 pgs.

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