Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Vincent Lea Morton

Vincent Lea Morton--(son of Elijah Morton and Mary "Polly" Lea) was born April 30th, 1823 in Leasburg, Caswell County, N.C., and died there August 26th, 1902. He married Isabelle Frances Oliver (daughter of Rueben Oliver and Nancy Lea) December 4th , 1848 when Isabelle was only 14 years old and remarkably would not only become a child bride of 14 but would go on to have 14 children as well. Isabelle was born October 20th, 1834 in Caswell County and died in Leasburg Sept. 18th, 1915.

Vincent and Isabelle lived in the Gabriel Lea house in Leasburg, the home of his maternal grandfather. Vincent Lea Morton and his wife Isabelle Frances Oliver are both buried in the Leasburg Community Cemetery in Leasburg, N.C.

Vincent Lea Morton had one brother and three sisters, all children of Elijah Morton and Mary "Polly" Lea.

1) James M. Morton--Born October 12th, 1831--Died April 10th, 1849--17 years old

2) Phoebe L. Morton--Born September 2nd, 1812--Died December 10th, 1896. Phoebe married Benjamin F. Stanfield, another prominent citizen in Leasburg.

3) Barbara H. Morton--Born October 23rd, 1821--Died July 31st, 1896. Barbara married Archibald Baynes of the Baynes Community, Son of Thornton Yancey Baynes. Archibald Baynes was involved in a murder and trial during the Union Army occupation of Caswell County:

Civil War History, March, 2003 by Thomas P. Lowry

Line upon line; line upon line; Here a little, and there a little. ---Isaiah 28:13

For ten years Manuel had been a slave of Archibald Baynes, a planter of Caswell County, North Carolina. With emancipation, Manuel became a contract laborer.After several months of work he went to Baynes and asked for his wages, which were refused. After some words Manuel walked away and his employer shot him in the back, killing him almost instantly.

Baynes was tried by a court of the occupying Union army and sentenced to hang. A large number of local politicians and neighbors petitioned President Andrew Johnson, describing Baynes as a pillar of community and citing the state law whereby the "insolence by a colored person" should be regarded as a battery. The president referred the case to Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, whose blistering opinion branded the crime as cold-blooded murder, the defense testimony as perjured nonsense, and the state law on "insolence" as not only wrong but also unsupported by testimony.
The death sentence was approved.

This case provides only one example of the rich details contained within one of the most underused resources for Civil War scholarship, the records of courts-martial for the Union and Confederate armies
and the Union navy.

After her husband's death Barbara Morton Baynes purchased a house and 40 acres of Land in Leasburg from her 1st cousin, Solomon Lea, adjoining the Lands of V. L. Morton. In her will she left this property to "Henry Baynes (colored) and Eliza Ann Richmond (colored)" "to revert to Benjamin E. Stanfield (son of Benjamin F. Stanfield) if they do not live on the premises". Benjamin E. Stanfield was the son of Phoebe Morton Stanfield (Vincent's sister) and Benjamin F. Stanfield.

4) Maranda Morton--married John C. Love

Vincent Lea Morton's maternal grandparents were Gabriel Lea and Elizabeth Ashburn. Gabriel Lea was the son of James "Kilgore's Branch" Lea. Gabriel Lea was one of the most prominent citizens of Caswell County, at one time owning over 5000 acres of land. He had served as a Captain in the Revolutionary War and later as Sheriff in 1801 and Representative to the North Carolina House of Commons 1793-94 from Caswell County.

Vincent Lea Morton's paternal grandfather was Meshack Morton who came to Caswell County from Prince Edward County, Va. around 1780 or before

Isabella's father Rueben Oliver (son of Stephen Oliver) was killed by lightning while fishing on the banks of Country Line Creek in Caswell County in the summer of 1837. Rueben's wife Nancy Lea Oliver after the estate was settled and her children provided for, re-married James Eli Murray of the Crossroads Church community in neighboring Orange County, present day Alamance County. The Oliver's had come to Caswell County from Caroline County, Va. in the late 1700's.

Vincent Lea Morton was 1st Cousin to Solomon Lea, renowned educator. Vincent's Mother Mary "Polly" Lea and Solomon's father William Lea were brother and sister, both children of Gabriel Lea.

Vincent Lea Morton's father Elijah Morton was a prominent farmer and citizen of Leasburg as well. In 1825 when the Racetrack opened north of Leasburg, Elijah Morton enjoyed regional fame for his five Arabian stallions known as "Morton's Bays."According to William S. Powell, who wrote a book on the history of Caswell County, Elijah Morton also owned this Racetrack. He was also a Caswell District Patroler, meaning he chased down runaway slaves. In a December 1856 Court record he paid the Clerk 15.00 for old timbers from Love's Ford on Hyco. In October 1857 Elijah was a bondsman (witness) for William Lea as administrator for the estate of William Lea Jr. Along With Elijah was Solomon Lea also as bondsman. In October Court 1825 he was Administrator in account current with the estate of Martin Morton, deceased. (his brother) Caswell Co. Wills Book K Page 289.

There is reference made to Elijah Morton in the List of Taxables in the Richmond District of Caswell County of 1838,the listing reads as follows:Elijah Morton 723 acres valued $2.75 per acre, total land value $1988.00. He also had 5 slaves and his tax that year was $5.49.

In the List of Taxables for the year 1863, his property was less in acreage, but substantially more valuable. However this being 25 years later and in the midst of the Civil War we see this listing:

Elijah Morton

530 acres--@9.00 per acre---$4770.00
63 acres--@15.00 per acre--$945.00
104 acres--@6.00 per acre---$624.00
25 Slaves valued at -----------$15,702.00

His tax that year of 1863 was: $88.26 State Tax
$66.20 County Tax
$154.46 Total

In William S. Powell's "When the Past Refused to Die--A History of Caswell County" Page 266, Branson's North
Carolina Business Directory for 1872, listed among the most outstanding farmers in Caswell County in Leasburg is:
V. L. Morton---630 Acres--Value 3.50 per acre

Children of Vincent Lea Morton and Isabella Frances Oliver are:

1) James Monroe Morton, b. 02 Sep 1850, d. 19 Jul 1924 married. Cannie Elizabeth Blackwell b. 1888, Caswell County NC d. 1909 Married 18 May 1905, Caswell County NC James Monroe and Cannie were my Great-Grandparents

2) Quinn Eli Morton, b. 16 Apr 1852, Caswell County NC; d. 27 Mar 1920

Quinn Eli Morton was a Commissioner of Person County, N.C.

3) Mary Ann "Nannie" Morton, b. 21 Feb 1854, Caswell County N.C. d. 28 Oct 1938, Caswell County NC; m. Thomas Josiah Stephens, 19 Dec 1878, Caswell county NC; b. 22 Jun 1846; d. 07 Feb 1893.

Nannie Morton and Thomas Stephens had a daughter named Annie who married George W. Trollinger. She was called by my mother's family "Cousin Annie Trollinger" and dearly beloved by the family. My mother and aunt have told me stories about how "Cousin Annie" used to take them with her to the mountains of North Carolina to visit her daughter-in-law who had remarried a gentleman that owned some diamond mines and was apparently wealthy.

They would be furnished with a car and driver the whole time and had some wonderful adventures during their stays there. "Cousin Annie" was adamant that the young girls were properly attired and on their best behavior whenever they traveled with her. I was told that if the proper shoes, dresses, hats, etc. were not available that she would provide them. Even when not traveling she would admonish my grandmother if their dresses weren't properly pressed or their hair not properly kempt. Fittingly my mother is buried between "Cousin Annie" and her parents Perry and Hattie Belle at Union United Methodist Church in Leasburg, N.C.

4) Eugenia "Jenny" Demarius Morton, b. 28 Jul 1856, Caswell County NC; m. (1) David Wells; m. (2) -------- Smith.

5) David Lea "Cap" Morton, b. 27 Sep 1858, Caswell County NC; m. Ida Scott.

6) William Elijah "Uncle Will" Morton, b. 11 Oct 1860, Caswell County NC; d. 10 Aug 1912; m. FannieWagstaff.

William and Fannie had a daughter named Mae who married Thee Hester Sr. "Cousin" Mae had beautiful flowers and a large Japanese pool with large golden Japanese Carp fish. She also had a house out back where she raised Guinea Pigs. I don't know why but I loved to go out there as a child and play with them. Margie Monk Thomas, a granddaughter of Glendora Belle Morton, relayed this story to me. My mother and my aunts also told me of going with their mother Hattie Belle Morton Lunsford to visit their Hester cousins when they were children. There is a road in present day Person County, NC just over the Caswell County line called "Thee Hester Road"

7) Lizzie Polly Morton, b. 03 Dec 1862, Caswell County NC; m. ------- Paylor.

8) Lula Phebe Morton, b. 01 Feb 1865, Caswell County NC; m. Oscar Vanhook

9) John Alvis Morton, b. 16 Apr 1867, Caswell County NC; d. 04 Sep 1932.

10) Emma Caroline "Kattie" Morton, b. 26 Jun 1869, Caswell County NC; m. John Murray.

11) Edward Vincent Morton, b. 06 Oct 1871, Caswell County NC; d. 28 Aug 1937; m. Sally Winstead.

12) Charles Wheeler Morton, b. 20 Oct 1873, Caswell County NC; d. 23 Dec 1912.

Wheeler Morton died from a wound received while cutting mutton, he bled to death later after falling down some steps and re-opening the wound.

13) Glendora Belle "Glennie" Morton, b. 29 Mar 1878, Caswell County NC; d. 1943; m. Nathaniel Harris.

14) Rosa Matilda Morton, b. 30 Jun 1881, Caswell County NC; d. 06 Feb 1887.

Rosa Matilda Morton, on her first day at school fell into a large open fireplace at the schoolhouse and burned to death. She was brought home wrapped in a sheet. This story was told to me by my grandmother Hattie Belle Morton and confirmed by Margie Monk Thomas, a granddaughter of Glendora Belle Morton. This must have been a tragic occurrence for the whole family to lose their baby daughter in such a way.

In 1869 Vincent was deeded by his father Elijah 500 acres of land with the consideration to support and Maintain Elijah. As Vincent was the only living son this was a common practice to deed over the family lands before one's death and to be cared for by the family after that. At the time of this deed Vincent and Isabella were expecting the 10th of their 14 children

Elijah Morton to Vincent L. Morton
January 21st, 1869
Caswell County, North Carolina

State of North Carolina Caswell County
This Indenture made and _______this the 21st day of January 1869. Witnesseth that for and in consideration the natural love and affection which Elijah Morton bears his Son Vincent L. Morton and for and in consideration of a bond executed and delivered by said Vincent L. Morton to support and maintain the said Elijah Morton and for other good causes and considerations the said Elijah Morton hath given granted bargained Sold & delivered to the said Vincent L. Morton his heirs and assigns the tract of land whereon he the said Elijah Morton now lives containing five hundred 500 acres more or less adjoining the lands of John S., Wm. Peterson, William______and others to have and to hold the Said tract of land to the only proper use & behoof of the said Vincent L. Morton his heirs and assigns forever.
Elijah Morton *Seal*

Wm. Paylor Jr.
A.W. Garner

In 1875 Vincent Lea Morton was named Executor in his father Elijah Morton's will.

Last Will of Elijah Morton
Caswell County Court 1875

I, Elijah Morton, being of sound mind and memory and calling to mind the uncertainty of Life do make publish and declare my last Will and Testament as follows:
My desire is that all just debts and funeral expenses be paid and all my other property, Money and estate be divided between my four children, Vincent L. Morton, Phoebe L. Stanfield, Maranda R. Love and Barbara Baynes I hereby appoint my son Vincent L. Morton my executor to this my Last Will and Testament.
Signed and acknowledged in the presence of this 21st day of January 1869.

William Paylor Jr. Elijah Morton (Signed)
A. W. Graves

Record of Wills Caswell County Page 173
Vincent L. Morton being sworn, doth say that Elijah Morton late of said county, is dead, Having first made and published his last Will and Testament and Vincent L. Morton is The executor named therein. Further that the property of the said Elijah Morton Consisting of Lands, Goods, Chattels, Bonds, and Monies, is worth $4000.00 so far As can be ascertained at the date of this application and this V. L. Morton, Phoebe L.Stanfield, Maranda R. Love and Barbara H. Baynes are the parties entitled under said Will to the said property.
V. L. Morton (Signed)
May 1875
G. H. Kerr
Probate Judge

Vincent's wife Isabella Frances Oliver's family were heavily involved in the clandestine resistance to the Union Army's being there along with their northern sympathizers. Two of Isabella's cousins John G. Lea and James T.(Tom) Oliver were intimately involved in the now infamous murder of Senator John "Chicken" Stephens in the Caswell County Courthouse in 1870. John G. Lea and Tom Oliver were both Confederate veterans and had no love for the Union.

John G. Lea organized and became the head of the Ku Klux Klan in Caswell County and
Tom Oliver actually delivered the Killing blows to John "Chicken" Stephens. This was an unsolved murder for65 years until the sealed confession as well as account of the murder, written by John G. Lea and opened after his death when he was in his 90's.

The Confession of John G. Lea as to his involvement in the murder of John "Chicken" Stephens at the Caswell Court House just after the Civil War. John G. Lea was the son of Thomas L. Lea(former Sheriff of Caswell County), the grandson of John "Canebrake" Lea, The great grandson of John "Country Line" Lea, the great-great grandson of James "Country Line" Lea, and my 2nd Cousin 4 times removed.

Alas, another 2nd cousin of mine was the one who actually delivered the killing blows-James Thomas Oliver, son of Lindsay Oliver, grandson of Durette Oliver (brother of Reuben Oliver-my 3rd great-grandfather),with Durette and Rueben being great-grandsons of Stephen Oliver.

James Thomas Oliver and John G. Lea both served in the Civil War from Caswell County. Tom Oliver was in the same unit, the 6th Regiment Company H "The Caswell Boys" as was Payton L. Lunsford and Joseph R. Lunsford my 2nd great-grandfather and 2nd great granduncle respectively.

Vincent Lea Morton died in 1902 having made his will in 1898

Last Will of Vincent Lea Morton

State of North Carolina
Leasburg, Caswell County
March 10th 1898

I Vincent Morton being of sound mind and recognizing the uncertainty of human life, do make and declare this to be my last will and testament namely: My wish is first that all my just debts and burial expenses be paid, after which I bequeath to my wife, Isabella F. Morton, my entire estate, to have and to use during her life.

Vincent L. Morton
George Connally
J. A. Wade

For more on the Morton family see "The Morton Family in Caswell County" at the Caswell County, N.C. GenWeb site

Composed by: Latham Mark Phelps--Gr-Gr-Grandson of Vincent Lea Morton