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Biographical Sketch
James Granville Morrow
Atchison County, Kansas


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The following transcription is from a 750 page book titled "Genealogical and Biographical Record of North-Eastern Kansas, dated 1900.  These have been diligently transcribed and generously contributed by Penny R. Harrell, please give her a very big Thank You for her hard work!

Gold Bar

James Granville Morrow

The specific history of the west was made by the pioneers; it was emblazoned on the forest trees by the strength of sturdy arms and the gleaming ax and written on the surface of the earth by the track of the primitive plow.  These were strong men and true, who came to found the empire of the west, hardy settlers who founded their rude domiciles and made the trackless prairie yield its tribute.  People of the present end of the century period can scarcely realize the struggles and dangers which attended the early settlers, the heroism and self sacrifice of lives passed upon the borders of civilization, the hardships endured, the difficulties overcome. 

These tales of the early days read almost like a romance to those who have known only the modern prosperity and convenience. James Granville Morrow was one who, more than 45 years ago, came to Kansas, and is today the oldest resident of Atchison.  He lived through the troublous times during the great contest between the pro-slavery and free-soil people.  Railroads had not been built the state had not even been opened up for settlement at the time of his arrival; all was wild, giving little promise of the wonderful changes soon to occur, changes which he has helped to bring about by taking a prominent and active part in the work of progress which has placed the Sunflower state upon a par with many of the older states east of the Mississippi.

Mr. Morrow was born on a farm in Wayne county, Kentucky, June 27, 1827, his parents being Jeremiah and Lydia (Holder) Morrow.  The family is of Scotch origin, having emigrated from Scotland to America at an early period in the history of the republic.  John Morrow, the grand father of our subject, was a native of Virginia.  Jeremiah Morrow was also born in that state, in 1802, at an early day removing to Kentucky, where he engaged in farming.  He married Miss Holder and their farm in Wayne county was the scene of all the boyhood experiences which came to the subject of this review. 

At the age of sixteen Granville Morrow was sent to a select school, but continued to make his home with his parents until he had attained his majority, when he started out to make his own way in the world.  He dealt quite extensively in horses, which he drove from Kentucky to Atlanta, Georgia, there being no railroad at that time.  He was also associated with his brothers in raising, purchasing and selling hogs, which they drove four hundred miles into Georgia, where they were sold to planters. Sometimes the Morrow brothers drove thirteen thousand head, traveling seven miles a day, and to that business our subject gave his time and attention until 1850.

In 1854 Mr. Morrow arrived in Kansas and purchased six hundred and forty acres of land on the Kansas side of the river.  He arrived in the state two months before it was opened for settlement and began working for George M. Million, operating a ferry.  There was only one man living on the town site of Atchison at the time.  In the spring of 1855 Mr. Morrow began operating a ferry by horse power and in the fall of the same year he operated a side wheel steam ferry, which had been brought here from Brownsville, Pennsylvania.  In 1857 he became captain of the steam ferry Ida, later running the steam ferry Pomeroy, after which he went to Brownsville, Pennsylvania, where he built the transfer boat William Osborne, remaining there eight months while the work was in progress.

With this exception he has never been away from Atchison for more than a month at a time in forty-five years.  When he brought the William Osborne to Atchison it was loaded with 300 tons of rails for the Central Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad.  This boat also conveyed across the river the first locomotives used on that road after its construction. 

Altogether Captain Morrow was connected with navigation on the Missouri for fifteen years, thus winning the title by which he is widely known.  His life has been one of the greatest activity and energy.  In 1869 he turned his attention to farming, operating land in the Missouri bottom just opposite the city of Atchison.  He now owns over twelve hundred acres of rich land adjoining East Atchison on the south and has never yet failed to raise a crop. 

He also owns two valuable farms on the Atchison side of the river.  He has been particularly successful in raising wheat, some years producing thousands of bushels; in this way he has gained the greater part of his capital.  Although he has passed the Psalmist's span of three score years and ten, he is still actively connected with business interests.  Indolence and idleness are utterly foreign to his nature, and his activity should put to shame many a younger man who has grown tired of the burdens and responsibilities of business life and would relegate to others the  duties that he should perform.

In 1888 Mr. Morrow became financially interested in the transfer business, and eventually, by purchasing the interests of his partners, became sole proprietor.  He owns several good teams, employs a number of reliable men, and in this way is doing a good business.

In 1874, Mr. Morrow was united in marriage to Sarah J. George, daughter of Dr. J. J. George, of Cass county, Missouri, and they now have three children: Della B., James George and Nadine.  The family have a beautiful residence in Atchison and the members of the household have many friends. Mr. Morrow, however, is better known to the early settlers than to the later citizens of Atchison, so closely is his time given to his business, in which he has met with such creditable success.

He has been an important factor in the commercial interests which have contributed to the upbuilding and improvement of this section of the state, and as one of the honored pioneers of Kansas his name is enduringly inscribed on its history.

  Gold Bar

Last update: Friday, January 13, 2006 23:10:33

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