Biography of Judge Morgan White Cotton

JUDGE MORGAN WHITE COTTON. Judge Morgan White Cotton, probate judge of Ripley County, Missouri, and a man well and favorably known in this part of the State, was born in Reynolds County, Missouri, May 10, 1847, to the marriage of Isaac White Cotton and Christine (Jeffrey) Cotton.

Like many of the prominent citizens of this county, Isaac White Cotton was a native of Tennessee, and there made his home until about 1840 when he came to Missouri. Here he settled in the woods of Reynolds County, on Webb’s Creek, and began improving and clearing. Few settled here before he did, and he experienced all the hardships and privations of the early pioneers. His entire life was spent in tilling the soil, and he remained in Reynolds County until his death in 1884, when fifty years of age. Previous to the Civil War he was elected county assessor, and about the time of the breaking out of hostilities he was holding the office of sheriff. He was in the first six months’ service during the war. Mrs. Cotton died during these stirring times. Mr. Cotton was afterward married to Miss Jeanette Davis, and after her death he married again. Politically he was a strong Democrat, and fraternally a Mason.

Judge Cotton was one of a family of eight children born to his father’s first marriage, and he spent his school days in Reynolds County. During the latter part of the war he was in the Confederate service, Col. Pollock’s regiment, and was in the Missouri raid. He surrendered at Jacksonport, Arkansas, in June, 1865, and afterward commenced farming in Reynolds County, continuing that occupation until 1870, when he became a minister in the Missionary Baptist Church. For two years he followed his ministerial duties in Reynolds, Carter and Ripley Counties, and after that located in Ripley County, Kelley Township, where he cultivated the soil. While there he was justice of the peace, but at the end of four years he moved to west Missouri and Kansas, where he worked at blacksmithing and wagon making for some time. Returning to Ripley County he followed the same occupation for six years, and during that time was elected county assessor, which position he held for two years. Later he was elected probate judge, held the position four years, and received the nomination for the same office by the Democratic party recently. In the year 1868 he was married to Miss Mary E. Webb, of Reynolds County, but she died a short time afterward. His second marriage occurred in 1871 and his choice was Miss Margaret E. Bell of Tennessee. They have four living children: Isaac E., James M., Rosalee and Ella 13. Judge Cotton joined the Missionary Baptist Church in 1869 and has been deeply interested in church work since. He is a master mason, a K. of H. and in politics is a Democrat. Judge Cotton still carries on his farming interests and owns 140 acres near town. He is now mayor of Doniphan, was constable, and has held other positions of trust and honor.


A Reminiscent History of the Ozark Region: comprising a condensed general history, a brief descriptive history of each county, and numerous biographical sketches of prominent citizens of such counties. Chicago: Goodspeed Brothers Publishers. 1894.

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