Submitted by Bob Morrison
firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-937-3970
My Journey and Discovery – The Search for Great Grandpa George
My journey began at the passing of my father who was an only child. As I worked through my own issues with his passing, I noticed how much I really DIDN’T know about my father. We never really spoke about our lineage and while we had (in my estimation) a good relationship, some things (especially in his generation) were just not spoken about.
I “inherited” a large box of family information and early on it sat in a corner in my basement collecting dust. Once I found the energy to sift through it, I found some real treasurers, which I will pass down to my own children. Among them were my grandfather’s yearbooks from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis where he was born. Herschell Alexander Morrison was born in 1891 to George R. Morrison and Ida M. White in Indianapolis, Indiana. Herschell, too, was an only child, so there weren’t many stories from Aunts, Uncles, Cousins etc…in fact my only brother and I thought that we were the last of our line and that there wasn’t much chance of finding out about our roots. How wrong could I be!
I guess I could start with what I knew when I started my family search. Of course I knew who I was, and I knew my own parents, but I never knew my Grandparents, much less anything about their families. To give you a better picture, here’s how my immediate line goes. Robert Morrison, Jr. (ME), Robert Morrison, born in 1921, died 1999, Herschell Alexander Morrison, born 1891, died in 1948 in Chicago, IL. He was also an only child.
All I knew about Herschell’s dad was his name and the fact that he was born in Ohio. Now rummaging through the box of family history, I came upon Herschell’s death certificate listing George as his father and a copy of the 1900 census for Indianapolis listing George Morrison, his wife Ida, Herschell and Ida’s mother Adelaide. It gave me a bit more information to go on, but not much more. George’s birthplace was listed only as Ohio, and his birth date was June 1846. I was fortunate enough at the time to live close enough to New York City that I could make an occasional trip to the Archives there to do research. So off I went, and found (quite literally) several hundred Morrisons in Ohio. Frustrated and somewhat daunted, I refocused my efforts to work backwards and found George in the city directories… the mystery of George thickens and by now I am hooked and a bit obsessed with my family history. With no specific birth location and no specific death date I was having a very difficult time finding more information. In the meantime, I was able to locate several other branches and lines of my family going as far back as the year 1200, so this made finding George all the more interesting.
I had so many questions about George. Where was he born? Who was his father? When did he die? Why did he die? Why did he end up in Indianapolis? Why was he listed in various city directories with several occupations? Was he unschooled? Who was this man?
It was very easy to make assumptions and rationalizations that never panned out, such as thinking the family moved to Indianapolis from “somewhere” in Ohio while George was very young. This was not true! It wasn’t until I started to put a historical timeline together against my family timeline that I started to piece things together. If George was born in 1846, what was going on in the world around him I asked myself. It took me awhile to really figure it all out, but once I saw the Civil War occurred while George was still a young man, I decided to look him up on the Internet. Of course, there were many George Morrisons and I wrongly surmised that he would have been in the Indiana troops or musters. Then I looked at George Morrison’s enlisted from Ohio, so I decided to look at each one of them and found only one George R. Morrison. Once I found that, it gave me the county he was mustered from and lo and behold, the long sought after key to my mystery sat in Jefferson County, Ohio.
The Civil War index lead me to the county in Ohio from which he was mustered and that in turn, lead me to the census for 1870, 1860 and 1850. Success. I had found George on all of these census documents. He was the son of Alexander and Eliza Morrison. He had one brother, Isaac and three sisters. In 1870 he is listed as a schoolteacher in Salem Twp. I have sent for George’s Civil War Pension files, which undoubtedly will give me some more information to go on. Now I can send for a death certificate in Indianapolis as I have a closer date range, and there is much already written about his family in Jefferson County. Now the real fun begins – of discovering the identities of the people behind the names!
Morrison Generations Charted:
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