Although Zalmunna Morton has passed the seventy-fifth milestone on life’s journey he is yet a hale and hearty man, actively interested in farming operations in Adams county, where for many years he has carried on agricultural pursuits, gaining success through his diligence and honorable effort. He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, September 24, 1830, and is descended from ancestors who came to America on the Mayflower. His grandfather was a native of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and espoused the cause of the colonies at the time of the Revolutionary war, rendering valiant aid in winning the independence of the nation. He became a successful contractor and builder and in an early day in the development of Cincinnati, Ohio, established his home there and assisted materially in its early upbuilding and progress. He became well known throughout that locality, where he spent his remaining days, and was a loyal member of the Methodist Episcopal church.
Zalmunna Morton, Sr., the father of our subject, was born in Massachusetts and was one of a family of five children. In his youth he worked at the mason’s trade with his father and was associated with him in contracting enterprises in Cincinnati. In 1848 he established his home in Quincy, where he spent the winter, and then purchased two sections of land in Gilmer township, after which he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits which he carried on extensively. In whatever he undertook he prospered, owing to his close application, keen business sagacity and unfaltering enterprise. As his financial resources increased he made judicious investments and became the owner of valuable property in Cincinnati. He married Clarissa Marshall, who was born in New Jersey and with her parents removed to Cincinnati. His death occurred when he was fifty-two years of age, and his wife passed away in 1852. They were members of the Methodist Episcopal church and were held in the warmest regard by all who knew them. Their family numbered six children.
Zalmunna Morton spent the days of his youth in his native city and attended its public schools. Following the removal of the family to Adams county he began life on his own account as a farmer of Gilmer township, where he resided for eight years.
In 1860 he purchased one hundred and sixty acres of land in section 27, Honey Creek township, and as the years passed by extended the boundaries of his farm by additional purchases but later divided with his children. He has always been a progressive and enterprising agriculturist, quick to adopt new methods which promise to prove of practical value and benefit. He has used the best machinery in cultivating his farm and he has excellent buildings upon his place, keeping all of them in good condition and repair.
Mr. Morton has been married three times, Miss Sarah Byler becoming his first wife in 1855. She was a representative of one of the old pioneer families of this county, her father, John Byler, having settled in Honey Creek township at an early day. He was born in Hawks county, Tennessee, April 29, 1798, and received but limited educational privileges, for there were no free schools in his district at that time. He was reared to farm life and he also worked in a tannery for six years but his love of nature caused him to return to agricultural pursuits. He remained in his native locality until thirteen years of age, when he removed to Indiana and in 1835 he visited Missouri and Illinois, looking for a favorable location, where he could find good prairie land for farming purposes. He decided to establish his home in Honey Creek township and became a leading and enterprising farmer of that locality. The land at the time of his arrival, however, was not in the market and he returned to Tennessee for his family, coming again to Adams county the following year. He then purchased his farm and began its improvement, paying three dollars per acre for the property. This farm today is worth eighty dollars per acre. He made purchases of three hundred and twenty acres and afterward added to the property until he had four hundred and fifty acres. He was married twice and had fourteen children. He was called to fill a number of local offices and was prominent in community affairs, assisting materially in the pioneer development of the county and in its later progress. He was a beneficiary of the church, a friend to the poor and needy, and was a man of unquestioned integrity. He died at the age of eighty years. His daughter, Mrs. Morton, departed this life in 1865, leaving three children; John W., Joseph H. and Silas Z., all of whom are now married and are leading and successful farmers of Adams county.
In 1868 Mr. Morton wedded Lydia E. Laugh, who was born in Ohio and died in 1878, leaving three children; Elmer, Wesley and Annie. For his third wife Mr. Morton chose Olive A. Allison, who was born in Clermont county, Ohio, July 13, 1858. Her parents were William and Hannah (Titus) Allison, the former a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Ohio, in which state they were married, coming thence to Illinois, when Mrs. Morton was young. By his third marriage our subject has five children, namely: Grace E., Edward L., Clara O., Arthur C. and H. Pearl. The parents are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, in which Mr. Morton has served as deacon and in the work of which he has taken an active and helpful part. His political support is given to the democrat party and he has filled local offices in a most capable and trustworthy manner. He is a gentleman of sterling worth, commanding the confidence and good will of all who know him and during his residence in Adams county he has been classed with its honored pioneer settlers.
Source: Past and present of the city of Quincy and Adams County, Illinois, p. 371-372; by William H. Collins, Cicero F. Perry, joint author; John Tillson. History of the city of Quincy, Illinois. [from old catalog]. Chicago, S. J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1905.