Biography of Calvary Morris

Calvary Morris, was born near Charleston, West Virginia, in 1798, and spent his youth in the Kanawha valley, laboring on a farm, and battling with the hardships of pioneer life. In 1818 he married the eldest daughter of Dr. Leonard Jewett, of Athens, and in the spring of 1819, located permanently in that town. “Finding myself,” says Mr. Morris, “a stranger in a strange land, and obliged to make provision for the support of my family, my first step was to rent five acres of ground, upon which to raise a crop of corn. While cultivating that ground, during the summer of 1819, the Rev. Jacob Lindley (then acting president of the Ohio university) came to me and said that a school teacher was much needed in our town, and proposed that I undertake it. I informed him that I was not at all qualified-that reading, writing, spelling, and a limited knowledge of arithmetic was the extent of my education. He said that the wants of the community required that arithmetic, geography, and English grammar be taught in the school, and, ‘now,’ said he, ‘I will tell you what to do. I have the books and you have brains; take my books, go to studying, and recite to me every day for three weeks, and by that time I will have a school made up for ‘you; you will then find no difficulty in keeping ahead of your scholars so as to give satisfaction in teaching, and no one will ever suspect your present lack of qualifications.’ I consented, went to work, and at the end of three weeks went into the school. I taught and studied during the day, and cultivated my corn-field part of the time by moonlight, and if there was ever any complaint of my lack of qualifications as a teacher, it never came to my knowledge.”

In 1823, Mr. Morris was elected sheriff of Athens county, and re-elected by an almost unanimous vote in 1825. In 1827, at the close of his term as sheriff; he was elected to the lower branch of the state legislature, and re-elected in 1828. In 1829, he was elected to the state senate, and re-elected in 1833. In 1835, when the project of the Hocking canal was being warmly agitated, Mr. Morris was elected again to the popular branch of the assembly from Athens and Hocking counties as the avowed friend of that measure, and in the belief that he was the best man to engineer it through. To his adroit management and indefatigable efforts, the measure was mainly indebted for success, as he had to overcome the almost unanimous opposition of both branches of the legislature and the whole board of canal commissioners.

He had the pleasure of seeing the bill triumphantly passed a few days before the close of the session, and on his return home his constituents tendered him a public dinner.

In 1836 Mr. Morris was elected to congress, and re-elected in 1838 and ’40.

In 1843 he retired from public life and engaged, to some extent, in wool growing and in the introduction of fine-wooled sheep into the county, in which business he rendered great service to the farming community.

In 1847 he removed to Cincinnati and engaged in mercantile pursuits, which finally proving unfortunate, he returned to Athens in 1854, and in 1855 was elected probate judge of the county, which office he still holds.

Few men, if any, now living in the county, have filled a larger part in its official history than Judge Morris, and, during his varied services, he has discharged every trust with honor and fidelity. His public life lay chiefly in the better days of the republic, and of our politics, and, from his present standpoint, secure in the confidence and respect of all his neighbors, he has the rare and happy fortune of being able to review his whole career without shame and without remorse.

Judge Morris is a brother of the Reverend Bishop Morris of the M. E. church. William D. Morris, of Illinois, and Levi Morris, of Louisiana, are the other surviving brothers.



Collection: Athens County Ohio Genealogy.

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