Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Morrills of Portland, Maine

There were over a dozen different historical families bearing the name Morrill in Portland Maine during 19th Century Portland.  Some of these families appear to be of immediate relation, at current estimation.  In fact, it is believed that generally all New England Morrills can trace their heritage to either of these two early settlers, who are unrelated to each other:

-John Morrell of Kittery, Maine (1640-1723), a Quaker and a plasterer of unknown parentage, probably English (though some believe he may have been Irish), who was an early citizen of Kittery, which had only settled from the Abenaki Indians in 1623.  In 1693, John was the first settler of North Berwick, which was annexed from Kittery under the name "Kittery Commons", and built his log cabin on Wells Street.  It is reported that John's young great granddaughter, Sarah Morrell, was killed and scalped by Indians within the limits of North Berwick village in 1748, when she was 12 years old, so peace wasn't achieved even a century after settlement.

-Abraham Morrill of Salisbury, Massachusetts (1595-1662) (originally from Essex, England).

The name was occasionally spelled "Morrell" in the States, which is the traditional English spelling.  The use of that spelling in the USA appears to be arbitrary, upon examination of all vital records, censuses, and city directories involving the below families.

This blog post will seek to identify most of the old families, including the Morrills who were the namesake of Morrill's Corner in Deering, where only a couple of the different Morrill families lived during the 19th Century.  The Morrill House on 1229 Forest Avenue, which was north of an Amoco service station (now a Subway sandwich shop) in the heart of Morrill's Corner, appears to have been a prominent house during its heyday, but I'm not sure which Morrill owned it, and when.  I believe it could have been owned by Levi Morrill (son to Stephen, brother to Bruce).  It was razed around 1933.  More on this below.  Another Morrill House just south of the corner, at 1163 Forest Avenue, owned by Rufus Morrill, Jr. (where the Meineke now is), is also a subject of study below.

This list cannot be deemed exhaustive, so any Morrill researcher wishing to assist with this is more than welcome to email me.

The first six families listed below represent the only families I have found to have arrived in the Portland area by 1840, most of which have an established link to the historical Morrell family of Berwick, Maine, which traces its roots to John Morrell:

1.  Jonathan Smythe Morrill (1804-1881).  Jonathan, my third great grandfather, was a carpenter born in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire to Jotham Morrill (born 1768 in Berwick Maine) and Catie Brown.  Jotham is my current 'brick wall', as I cannot seem to find his parentage so that I can link him to either John or Abraham, but I suspect it's John, given his birth occurring in Berwick.

Shortly after Jonathan's marriage in Tuftonboro to his new wife, Sally Elliot, they moved to the Deering district of Westbrook Maine by 1830 (later this area was later officially named the Town of Deering, and soon thereafter annexed to Portland).  As early as 1840, they lived on 62 Washington Street, in Portland's East Bayside district.

An entire blog post is dedicated to this family here, but his five children which survived to adulthood were:  Sarah Jane Morrill-Andros-Morse (1828 – ), Statira G. Morrill-Tucker-Carey (1831 – 1862), John Henry Brown Morrill (1834 – 1894), Martha W. Morrill-Curtis, and Emily N. Morrill-Morgan-Hall (1844 – 1900), who was my 2nd great grandmother.

His five adult children bore him 21 grandchildren, and at least 47 great grandchildren, all of whom are deceased at this writing (2012).  A great many of the descendants of these great grandchildren reside in the Portland area today.  Jonathan's family is the largest of the Morrill families of Portland.  But he wasn't the first Morrill to arrive in Portland...


EMILY N. MORRILL-MORGAN-HALL
(ca 1890)
The youngest child of Jonathan Smythe Morrill

2.  Stephen Morrell (1737-1816) was from Berwick, and was brother to Attorney Peter Morrell (mentioned at #3 below), and first cousin to Josiah (mentioned at #4 below).  Stephen and his wife, Elizabeth Winslow, married in Falmouth in 1767, and settled in the Stevens Plains area at some point thereafter, the area which later became known as Deering, and Morrill's Corner being named as an area thereof.  Stephen was the first Morrill to settle in this area, and arrived prior to any other Morrill  in Portland.  Sometime before 1809, according to City tax records, his house was built on Forest Avenue, an eighth mile south of Morrill's Corner, and about a half mile north of the Morrill family tannery which would eventually be built just north of Grove Street.  The house had an initial address of 493 Forest Avenue, until 1899.  After Deering was annexed by Portland in 1898, Forest Avenue was eventually renumbered, and the Morrill House was then known as 1163 Forest Avenue, starting in 1900.  It was a two family house owned and lived in by his son Rufus, Rufus' son, Rufus Jr., and Rufus Jr.'s daughter, Sarah Sawyer Morrill (who was the last Morrill to live in this house, just before it was razed in 1941, and the last Morrill to live in Morrill's Corner).


RUFUS MORRILL HOUSE
1163 FOREST AVENUE
MORRILL'S CORNER
(1924)
Some children playing and waving might be grandchildren of Rufus Jr.

MEINEKE MUFFLER
(2010)
CURRENT USE OF LOT OF FORMER
RUFUS MORRILL HOUSE
Stephen and his two wives had thirteen children, but two were most instrumental in the development of Morrill's Corner, and a third son was instrumental in fathering the Burnham & Morrill empire:

-Rufus Morrill, Sr. (1796-1860), a sheep skin tanner, married both Webb sisters (Mary and Sally), and had nine children in Westbrook, most likely in the house above, which was situated next to a toothpick factory for quite some time.  Rufus Jr. (1834-1911), a nurse, who was second to youngest, had three children in Westbrook. Rufus Jr. was a railroad engineer , and he kept the house until his death, where lived with his sister Susan and his daughter Sarah (both spinsters).  Sarah owned it for many years after Rufus' death (Rufus' Sr. son Edmund had moved to Ellsworth, NH, and his eldest daughter Mary had died in China in 1900 - Edmund later became the Governor of Kansas).  Sarah rented the 2nd apartment to a variety of tenants (George A. Thombs, James Sneddon, Albert T. Stults, Truman E. Estabrook) during Sarah's final years there.  Around 1938, Sarah ended up at an elderly care private hospital on 554 Stevens Avenue (owned by Mae Ward) and Sarah's tenant, Truman Estabrook, stayed with the house until it was razed in 1941, in favor of an automotive shop.  The hospital Sarah stayed at also served as the quarters for the sexton of Evergreen Cemetery.  Sarah died there in the 1940s. Below is an article concerning Governor Edmund Morrill of Kansas and his visit home to Portland, and this article provides quite a bit of information about the Morrills Corner of the turn of the century.

ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT GOVERNOR MORRILL'S VISIT TO PORTLAND
KANSAS CITY JOURNAL
AUGUST 29, 1895

-Levi Morrill (1802-1868) was a manufacturer.  He and his wife Harriet Quimby had two children. According to the above, he built the red brick mansion which was then occupied by Keeley Cure hospital (which might be where the Amoco station was-see photo at bottom).  Levi tanned hides, while his brother Rufus tanned sheep skins.  Levi's son, Charles Edwin Morrill (1841-1891), fought in the Civil War.  By 1871, Charles was in charge of the tannery (located a half mile south of Rufus' house), which was then called the "C.E. Morrill Tannery", located on Forest Avenue - just north of Grove Street.  According to Morrill Online, in 1871 and 1874 he patented methods of manufacturing shoe bindings (patent no. 121,400 and 134,763), and with Charles Hardy, he patented a method of evening leather in 1874 (patent no. 147770).  This tannery could well have been previously run by his father Levi, uncle Rufus, and grandfather Stephen, prior to that.  Charles Edwin Morrill's son, Levi Morrill, carried on the family business to some extent.  He moved to Boston and worked as a leather merchant.  Levi married Anna Hill Lee of DC in April of 1904.  Two weeks after the wedding, during their honeymoon in Atlantic City, Levi suffered from morphine poisoning and died in their room at the St. Charles Hotel.

CORNER OF FOREST AVENUE
AND GROVE STREET
(2009)
FORMER SITE OF MORRILL TANNERY

-A third child of Stephen's, one Asa Morrill, was father to Charles Sumner Morrill, Sr. (1811-1849).  Charles Sr. was a lumber dealer who lived on 37 Sumner Street.  He was in Portland as early as 1833 (according to his marriage record).  He and his wife Charlotte Vose had six children:  Mary, Charles Jr., Charlotte M., George A., Walter H., and Hattie Morrill-Stewart (who was born just seven months after Charles' death).  Charlotte and her family relocated to Boston in 1873, but Charles Jr. (1933-1901) stayed behind in Portland, becoming a famous merchant, and carrying on his father's business affairs.  He lived at 307 Brackett Street in the West End with his wife Calista.

Charles Sumner Morrill, Jr., was a founding member of Burnham & Morrill Company, which owned, among other things, the famous B&M Baked Beans plant in Portland.  The Company was started by George Burnham, Jr., in 1867, and later joined in ownership by his brother John E. Burnham, and Charles Sumner Morrill.  Their first location was 61 1/2 Commercial Street, on Burnham Wharf, one of many new businesses launched in the wake of the Great Fire.

1871 PORTLAND DIRECTORY


George Burnham brought his meat and fish packing experience from his days with Rumery & Burnham (a packing company he helped establish earlier), and Morrill brought his corn canning experience from his work at Richardson & Robbins in the mid-1850's. Morrill had been one of Burnham's foremen at Rumery and Burnham in the late 1850's, and that's where the relationship began.

The above history was mostly provided by the B&M business website.  However, the 1847 City directory shows Charles Sumner Morrill, Sr. living at 37 Sumner Street, with occupation as a lumber dealer at Burnham & Morrill on Burnham Wharf, so the connection likely goes back a bit further than the 1850s...

1847 PORTLAND DIRECTORY

Women at the Burnham & Morrill plant
fill cans with fish flakes.
(1934)
Courtesy of Maine Historical Society


B&M PLANT

Charles Jr.'s son, George Burnham Morrill (1836-1934) was named after Charles' business partner, and had inherited his father's interest upon his death in 1901, bought out the remainder of the business in 1910, when he then moved the business from 13 Franklin Street to its current site on Casco Bay (pictured above).  George lived briefly at 47 Chadwick Street and 22 Carleton Street, but upon his inheritance, moved to the palatial eight bedroom mansion at 150 Vaughan Street in the West End with his wife Margaret P. Elwell (1873-1939), children Catherine, Charles Sumner and George, Jr., and many servants and in-laws.  Margaret was a published author.  In 1930 she wrote a book entitled "The Love That Abideth", which was a tribute to her children, and especially her daughter Catherine, who had died at age 21 of a heart condition.

CALISTA MORRILL ON VANDA THE HORSE


More about the B&M history can be read here.

GEORGE MORRILL HOUSE
150 VAUGHAN STREET

3. Peter Winslow Morrell (1797-1881) was born in Berwick, Maine, to Attorney Peter Morrell (brother to Stephen above) and Amanda Winslow of Berwick.  For the 1830 census, Peter and his wife Ruth were living in Westbrook (same time period as Jonathan's move).  In 1840 they moved to Portland and lived at 26 Pearl Street, where they had two children:  Mary and Edwin.  Peter worked as a farmer and a tanner, and Edwin (who married Amanda Houston) worked as a grocer.  Peter was the only one of his dozen siblings to move to Portland.  The rest all stayed in Berwick, or moved to Dover, NH.  But as indicated in this blog, it appears that he followed his uncle Stephen and his cousin Aaron here.

Below is a tree outline of this historic family (click to enlarge), and the elder Peter Morrill was grandson to John Morrell of Kittery:





I created the above to give you an idea of the Morrill migration from Berwick to the Morrill's Corner area, and it omits many people.  This is subject to further update, of course, should I discover the need for it.  But as for this writing (September 2012), it gives a relatively accurate picture of the history of this family, for which Morrill's Corner is named.

This family is historic to York County, since they can trace their line back to John Morrell

An interesting side note to all this is that Jonathan Smythe Morrill's family (mentioned above) was from Tuftonboro and Moultonboro, NH.  A William Morrill of Moultonboro had originally come from Berwick, Maine and descends from John Morrell.  William's age is close to that of Jonathan's father, Jotham, of Moultonboro.  So I feel there is a possibility that Jotham and William were brothers.  To add fuel to this theory, Peter W. Morrell appears in the Westbrook, Maine 1830 Census, the same census which shows Jonathan Morrill, having recently moved from Tuftonboro, NH.  If Peter and Jonathan were cousins, it's possible they planned their move to Westbrook together in the 1820s, just after they both had began their families.

4.  Aaron Morrill (1780-1833) was born in Berwick, Maine to blacksmith Josiah Morrill (who was uncle to Stephen above).  By 1820, he had moved his wife Jennie and sons Josiah and Luke to Falmouth proper (which at that time had already excised the City of Portland).  Aaron's siblings and parents all moved to Litchfield in 1824.  Luke's son, Carroll W. Morrill (1853-1940), relocated to Portland and was an attorney, bail commissioner, and city solicitor, who lived on 818 Congress Street.  Aaron's grandson was Edwin Morrill (1828-1909) who also lived in Portland.  He married Amanda Houston in 1854, and had two children, Alice and Mary.  They divorced in 1876.  Edwin appears in the 1900 Census at the Veterans Home in Chelsea, Maine.  This Edwin worked as a wagoner, and he's easily confused with his 2nd cousin Edwin born around the same time, who was son to Peter Winslow Morrill above. 

5.  John Morrill Jr. (abt 1780 - ) appears only in the 1830 Census of Portland, but with a household of 23 people.  I cannot seem to match this apparently wealthy early settler with other records yet.  It's quite possible that John was some relation to the North Berwick Morrills, given the rich heritage of this family.

6.  Nathaniel Morrill appears in the 1820 Census, with a family of seven.  A Nathaniel Morrill also appears in the 1847 City directory on 74 Sumner Street, with occupation listed as "truckman".  Since he lived a few doors down from Charles Sumner Morrill, I'm inclined to believe there may have been a relation here as well.

The following are Morrill families which had arrived in Portland after 1840, some of which appear to also descend from John Morrell of Kittery and later North Berwick.

7.  Edward J. Morrill (1846- ) and his wife Ella had two children, Edward and Elfreda.  They lived on Lincoln Street and Edward worked as a post office clerk.  His parents were from New Brunswick, and he was born in Washington County, Maine.  This family only arrived in Portland around 1869, and didn't stay long past 1900, since everyone appears to have moved to Los Angeles.

8.  Paschal Morrill (1827- ), son to a Francis James Morrill of Livermore (and great grandson to Stephen Morrill listed above), was a cabinet maker and tailor.  He and his wife Nancy Ballow moved to 103 Oxford Street in Portland just after having their daughter, Ada in Massachusetts in 1855.  In 1858, the family lived at 30 Gray Street.  By 1870, they had moved to Monticello, Minnesota, where Paschal started a farm.  The only record I have of them being in Maine is the 1860 Census, and a few city directories.

9.  Moses Morrill (1799- ) and his wife Margaret.  No further information. It's difficult to differentiate between this Moses and the ones below, but I believe he lived at 95 State Street, and worked as a trader.  He had one daughter, Harriet.  No descendants remained in Portland.

10.  Lot Myrick Morrill (1813 - 1883) also descends from John Morrell, founder of North Berwick.  Lot was great grandson to Peter Morrell (born 1709).  He was Governor of Maine, 1858-1861; United States Senator from Maine, 1861-1869; member of the Peace Convention in Washington, D. C., 1861; again United States Senator from Maine, 1869-1876; Secretary of the Treasury under President Grant, 1876-1877; Collector of Customs in Portland, Maine, 1877-1883; and brother of politician Anson P. Morrill.  He lived most of his life in Augusta, but he had a home on 73 Deering Avenue, and lived there quite often through the 1870s and 1880s while working as the main collector of customs at the Customs House on Fore Street.  It doesn't appear that any other Morrills from his immediate family lived in Portland.

LOT MORRILL

11.  F.J. Morrill (   ) ran the Portland arm of a business, originally started by a doctor in Skowhegan, called "Conant Vapor Baths" in 1899 on 162 Brackett Street.  I cannot yet determine who this is.

12.  Frank H. Morrill (1849-1911) was born in Lewiston to Franklin & Miranda Morrill of Falmouth Portland.  He attended Bates College, then moved to Portland in 1872, and started up a business with Charles Ross called "Morrill and Ross Grocers" on 671 Congress Street.  He lived on 25 Tate Street, 25 Crescent Street, and 377 Cumberland Avenue.  He and his wife, Mary Roberts, had two daughters, Anna and Alice.

13.  Levi N. Morrill (1803- ) married Phebe Kennard in Portland in 1846.  He worked as a joiner, and lived most of his life in the West End, at 75 Brackett Street, also at the corner of Winter and Spring Streets.  They lived the remainder of their lives at 24 Spruce Street.  He and Phebe had no children.  Phebe worked as a tailoress.  I'm not certain if Levi was born in Portland or who his father was.  This Levi is easily confused with Levi, born 1802, who was descendant of the Berwick Morrills.

14.  Moses C. Morrill (1827- ) was a house carpenter.  He and his wife Elizabeth lived on Spring Street, and had a servant in 1880.  No further information.

15.  Sadie Strout-Morrill (1864-1944) of Raymond Maine married Linwood Morrill of Buckfield Maine (whose parents were from Turner but they also descend from John Morrell of North Berwick).  Upon Linwood's death in 1912, Sadie moved to Grant Street in Portland with two of her children, Ruth Morrill-Lavigne and Emma W. Morrill-McCabe, both of whom stayed in Portland with their families, while Sadie removed to Poland Maine in her later years.

The below Portland Morrill families descend from Abraham Morrill of Broad Oak, Essex, England, who was an early settler of Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1640, formerly owned by the Pennacook Indians.  There are many Morrills in Salisbury, and most of them are likely descended from Abraham, who doesn't appear to be any relation to John Morrell of North Berwick.

16.  Moses Morrill (1823-1905) was born in Limerick, Maine (no relation to the above Moses).  His father was Colonel John Adams Morrill, whose ancestors came from Salisbury Massachusetts.   Moses moved to Portland in 1840 and married Miriam Harmon, and had four children:  Mary, Arthur (who founded the New Haven Normal State Training School, and got an honorary degree from Yale), Charles and Grace.  From 1877-1888 he was apparently working in 'aerated oxygen treatment', and also as a confectioner (probably at Brown Company Sugar Mill), according to Portland City Directories. He was the only one of his family that had left Limerick for Portland.  He lived at 778 Congress, where he died in 1905.  The only grandchild of Moses was Miriam Gertrude Morrill-Colby, who settled in Berkeley, California, having only one child, Thomas Colby.  No descendants remained in Portland.

17.  Jedediah Nathaniel Morrill (1805-1895) was born in Strafford, Vermont to Stephen Morrill and Betsey Bliss.  Jedediah worked as a bookkeeper and merchant, and was the only one in his family to make the move to Portland.  He married Abbie Whitmore in Portland in 1834, where they had four children and lived on 12 Park Street and later at 78 Danforth.  His advertisement in 1858 City Directory reads:

"J.N. Morrill will attend to weighing and gouging at short notice
- 117 Commercial Street." 

The entire family moved to Boston and New Jersey somewhere between 1864-1868.  No descendants remained in Portland.

18.  Enoch Osgood Morrill (1832-1892) was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, and migrated as a young man to Portland.  He worked as a trader and grocery retailer who lived and worked on St. Lawrence Street.  He and his wife Eliza, and children Edward and Fred moved to North Yarmouth around 1868.  Edward and his wife Fannie moved to Portland but never had children.  Fred stayed behind in North Yarmouth and tended the family farm.

Other Morrills in Portland during the 19th Century, unknown ancestry.

19.  William B. Morrill (1852-abt 1906) was a dentist from Woodfords, but was born in Illinois.  He married his wife, Julia Chenery, in 1882, and had one son, Frank O. Morrill, who worked for Standard Oil Company.  Dr. Morrill's business was located at 499 1/2 Congress Street, from 1880 to 1897.  By 1900, he had moved his practice to 5 Perkins Street, then later to 66 Kenilworth Street, where the business folded in 1906 and Dr. Morrill died.  His wife and son moved to Seattle shortly after his death, and then this family later relocated to Beverly Hills, CA.

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PORTLAND FLORAL MONTHLY
JULY 1880
20.  William E. Morrill (1878-1907) was born in Portland to a laborer named Charles F. Morrill and Lucy Anne Berry, from Farmington and Gray, ME, respectively.  He worked as a brakeman on the railroad, and was in an accident at work.  He died from shock resulting from the accident.

21.  Ferdinand "Ferdo" Archie Morrill Sr. (1879-1935), son to Francis "Frank" Asbury Morrill (1844-1906) of New Sharon, Maine and Somerville Mass.  Ferdo was born in Somerville, and moved to Scarborough Maine with his sister Mabel and mother Rose.  Mabel remained in Scarborough, and Ferdo moved to Franklin Street in Portland as early as 1920, later moving to Oxford Street, and worked as a baker.  Ferdo had five children in Portland:  John Alvin Morrill (who worked as a packer and also as a cab driver), Ferdo, Jr. (who fought in the Army in WWII and lived in Bangor for a while), Edna (who never married, but ran the family house on Oxford Street after her parents died, Charles (who died in France during WWII), and Francis Asbury (named after his grandfather), who worked as a chauffer and also fought in the Army during WWII.  Ferdo's great grandfather was Joseph G. Morrill Sr. of New Sharon, Maine, born around 1790, and that's as far back as I can trace to date.  I've been told in 2016 by a descendant of Ferdo that they are linked to John Morrell of Kittery.

***



"MORRILL HOUSE"
BEHIND AMOCO STATION
MORRILL'S CORNER
1229 FOREST AVENUE / 6 ALLEN AVENUE
(Became a lodging house up until 1932)

(PHOTO COURTESY MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

SERVICE STATION IN 1924
(MORRILL HOUSE NEXT DOOR)

(PHOTO COURTESY MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY)

The large colonial brick house above was also known as the "Morrill House".  In its later years it was a rooming house run by George and Loretta Beach.  It was closed for business in 1932, and it was razed sometime shortly thereafter.  I don't know which Morrills lived here, though, or when.  It might have been the family of Levi Morrill, son to Stephen and brother to Rufus.

In 1900, another business started up on The Corner.  It was called "Morrill's Coal & Grain Company" on 35 Allen Avenue.  The business ran until at least 1940.  This business was not owned by anyone in the Morrill family, however.

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1940 CITY DIRECTORY

Many of the Portland Morrills are buried at Pine Grove Cemetery.

Sources:

Morrill Kindred in America by Annie Morrill Smith published 1931, The Grafton Press

Deering:  A Social and Architectural History by William David Barry and Patricia McGraw Anderson, published 2010 by Greater Portland Landmarks, Inc.