Biography of James Calvin Morrow

James Calvin Morrow. In the death of James Calvin Morrow, which occurred at Washington July 4, 1912, there passed away one of the men whose works and influence have been most conspicuous in the development of both the City and County of Washington. He was a pioneer in the best sense of the term, a hard worker, a good manager of men, a keen and resoureeful business man, and especially faithful and efficient in the performance of his civic responsibilities and his obligations to friends and family. It is only a matter of simple justice to refer to him as one of the most successful and influential men of affairs in Northern Kansas. As a banker and leader in political life he gained wealth and influence, but it is proper to emphasize the fact that to the end he remained an unassuming, kind and generous man, who possessed the esteem of all who knew him and the affection of his friends and close associates.

His death occurred in his sixty-seventh year. He was born near the Town of Washington in Guernsey County, Ohio, April 3, 1846, a son of William and Elizabeth (Roberts) Morrow. He had personality and individual attributes of his own, but he also exemplified those sturdy and splendid qualities of an old and honorable American ancestry. Most of his forebears were farmers and as a family both in the maternal and paternal line were noteworthy for their patriotism. They developed portions of the wilderness in various successive frontiers of America and there were fighters of the family connection in the French and Indiana wars, the War of the Revolution, and they have been sturdy patriots and citizens in all the suceessive eras of the country.

William Morrow, the father, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1807. He early removed to Guernsey County, Ohio, later to Onley, Illinois, and in 1865 located at Afton, Iowa, where his death occurred April 1, 1889. His career was passed as a farmer. In his young manhood he married Elizabeth Roberts, who was born in Pennsylvania in 1807 and died at Afton, Iowa, February 5, 1892. Both were active workers in the Presbyterian Church. Their eight children were: R. F., of San Francisco, California; Martha J. Bragg, deceased; Mary E. Lorimer, deceased; Esther Laughlin, deceased; Dorcus W. Hawkins, of Olney, Illinois; William B., deceased; James Calvin; and Wilson W. Morrow.

In 1862, when James C. Morrow was sixteen years of age, his parents removed to Olney, Illinois. He had acquired his early education in the district schools of his native county and he flnished his education at Olney. In 1863 he went to Iowa, taught school, and with the savings of that vocation he bought a farm of 160 acres in Union County, Iowa. There he first became identified actively with the buying and shipping of eattle to the Chicago markets.

Mr. Morrow came from Iowa to Kansas in 1874, first locating at Clyde in Cloud County. There he continued the buying and shipping of stock, but in 1876 removed to Washington County, taking a large number of stock. He was at first a “squatter” in section 27 of Union Township, but subsequently he bought land and improved a farm. From 1877 to 1883 he was in the general mercantile business with John Swan, theirs being the third store established at the Town of Haddam. On retiring from this business Mr. Morrow entered real estate as an associate of Reuben Vincent.

In 1884 Mr. Morrow bought the site and laid out the Town of Morrow, now Morrowville, in Washington County. But he was especially identified with the growth and development of the Town of Haddam. He was president of the townsite company, of its town council, its board of trustees, and it was largely due to its efforts that the Burlington & Missouri River Railroad was built through the town. He also brought about the organization of the Western Exchange Bank, which he served as president and there laid the foundation of the experience which made him one of the leading bankers of Northern Kansas.

For all his sucesses in other fields, the late Mr. Morrow was primarily and ever substantially identified with the land, its development, and the cause of agriculture and livestock. His purchases of raw and unimproved land accumolated until at one time he owned about fourteen hundred acres in Washington County. He was not a speculator in land, but made all his holdings of practical use and they were managed in such a way as to become assets to the county. As a farmer and stockman it is said that his activities exceeded that of any other man in his section of the state. He was an expert judge of cattle and in that line had a state wide reputation.

In 1900 Mr. Morrow bought a controlling interest in the First National Bank of Washington. He was elected president, and continued at the head of the institution until his death. With a capital of $50,000, this bank accumulated under his executive supervision a surplus of $40,000 and deposits of a quarter of a million, besides paying regular dividends to the stockholders. Mr. Morrow was also active in the organization of the Bankers Deposit Guaranty and Surety Company of Topeka, serving as a director from its incorporation. He was also a director in the Exchange National Bank of Atchlsom. The success with which he managed his own institution at Washington made him widely recognized in financial sircles in Kansas.

An estimate of his business career written soon after his death may find appropriate place here: “He had early in life acquired the deslre, the habit, the love of making money and the habit of work. His shrewd business judgment, keen insight into business affairs, his knowledge of men and things, coupled with indomitable energy, enabled him to rank with the leading men of affairs in the state, He left at his death one of the largest estates in Northern Kansas, and estate which represents the brain, the pluck and energy of one man, who possessed a peculiar faculty of comprehending the propitious moment and always availed himself of his opportunity. He was an ambitious and tireless worker, conservative in his business methods, and his business integrity and honesty were unquestioned.”

Over the state at large he was perhaps best known for his legislative career. He was a member of the Lower House in the session of 1895, and in 1896 was elected a senator from the Twentieth District, and chosen for a second term in 1900. He served during the sessions of 1897, 1899, 1901 and 1903 and the special session of 1898. He followed closely all the various measures before the Senate during these sessions and early became noted for his judgment and sound reasoning in committee rooms and also as a leader and parliamentarian. At the session of 1901 he was chosan president pro tempore and republican floor leader. His influence was always identified with the progressive legislation of those years. Mr. Morrow was one of the real leaders of the republican party in Kansas. As a delegate he attended various state and national conventions. In 1904 he was vice president of the Kansas Commission at the St. Louis World’s Fair.

Altogether this Kansan exemplified a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his duties and commercial affaira; and always conscientious. While he did not live an exceptionally long life it was an exceedingly busy one and must have fulfilled practically the extent of his ambition. While he was successful in a business way to a conspicuous degree it is necessary to emphasise the completeness and the thorough balance of his character and attainments. He was a wealthy man who at the same time enjoyed a well earned popularity and the esteem which goes with honorable living and which is slowly developed from unselfish work. His family life was ideal. He was a home builder and enjoyed most of all those sacred associations which center around the family hearthstone. On the religious side he believed in the Gospel of help and hope and had many times experienced the satisfaction of kindly helpfulness and good deeds. His religion was a practical one, and was made up more of deeds than of words. Mors than all else he possessed and exemplified character, and it is that which in transmission to his descendants proves the greatest legacy.

At Hastings, Nebraska, June 11, 1889, Mr. Morrow married Miss Rachel Elliott. She was born at Fairsburg, Union County, Ohio, June 8, 1859, a daughter of John C. and Elizabeth A. Elliott. She brought to her duties as a wife and mother a thorough culture and those qualities of heart and mind which distinguish the true and noble woman. She had long been prominent in the real social life of Washington County. Mr. and Mrs. Morrow were the parents of three children: Lena M., James Calvin and William M.

Lens completed her education by four and a half years of work in the Kansas State University and is a member of the Kappa Alpha Theta Sorority. She is now the wife of Mr. E. B. Sutton, who is connected with the National Supply Company at Independence, Kansas, and had two sons, Robert Morrow and Walton Stanborough Sutton.

James Calvin Morrow, the older son, was graduated from the University of Kansas in the law department in 1913 with the degree LL. B. and had since applied himself suceessfully to business affairs. His home is at Haddam on a ranch included in his father’s estate. He is a Hereford cattle breeder and is also a director in the First National Bank of Washington, His college affiliations were with the Delta Tan Delta and the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity, and he is a republican and a member of Frontier Lodge No. 104, Aneient Free and Accepted Masons, and Tyrian Chapter No. 59, Royal Arch Masons, at Washington. James C. married Lillian J. Janicke, a daughter of H. O. Janicke, a retired resident of Washington.

William M. Morrow, the younger son, is now cashier of the First National Bank of Washington. He was born at Haddam, Kansas, attended the public schools there and at Washington, completing the high school course in the latter city in 1911, finished his preparatory training in 1912 at Culver Military Acndemy at Culver, Indiana, and in 1915 was graduated from the law department of the Kansas State University. Like his brother, though possessed of exceptional qualifications for the law, he had applied himself to practical business affairs. In 1915 he entered the First National Bank of Washington as assistant cashier and in July, 1917, took the post of cashier. He is a member of the Delta Tan Delta College fraternity and the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity and is affiliated with Frontier Lodge No. 104, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Tyrian Chapter No. 59, Royal Arch Masons. Mr. Morrow is an active republican and a member of the Congregational Church.


Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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