Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Alexander Morton

Alexander Morton, alias “Alexander Notrom,” was born on October 1, 1839, in Lachute, Quebec, Canada, the son of Alexander (1802-1885) and Mary (Grier 1811-1886).

Alexander (elder) emigrated from Scotland and married Irish (or Scottish) immigrant Mary sometime before 1835, and the family eventually settled in Lachute, Quebec where they resided for some years. Alexander (younger) eventually left Canada, possibly with his older brother John and came to the United States settling in western Michigan by 1860 when he was working as a farm laborer living with and/or working for George Gibbs, a wealthy farmer in Ronald, Ionia County. (There was a John Morton living in Ionia, Ionia count yin 1860.)

Alexander stood 5’11’ with black eyes and hair, and was 21 years old and probably still living in Ionia County when he enlisted in Company D on May 13, 1861.(Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County. He claimed in 1909 that he was living in Fairview, Oscoda County when he enlisted.)

On September 20, 1861, from From Fort Richardson Alex wrote his “dear sister and brother”

I received your letter this afternoon, while I was sitting by the corpse of one of the boys of our company, he died this morning. The doctor said he had the inflammation on the brain; it was a very sudden death. The boys are going to have a tombstone for to mark the spot where he is laid to rest. [Amos Gillot of Company D ]He came from Fish Crick. As for sending a pair of socks or shirt, it is out of the question. I have got more clothes than I can take care of and plenty to eat now since they have enlarged our rations and plenty of work to do to but the boys begin to learn how to soldier by this time. They are beating the taps, so the light must be put out. All remains quiet this morning so far. I have got a bad cold but this will soon be over, as I feel better now. I sent 20 dollars of my government pay about a week ago. I suppose you have got it by this time. I got two papers too. I have seen Bint Smock, he is in the Fifth and E. Olmstead, he is in the Fourth, that is all that I have seen from home that I know. You said that the company that was drilling, had broken up, was Carlos King in it or not. Write and let me know how it is. I am detailed for one of the bearers to carry the caskets to the grave. Not very agreeable task indeed. We can buy apples and peaches and carrots . . . pies and cakes of all kinds. I can't think of any more to write, no more. But remain your brother AM

From near Upton's Hill, Virginia, Alex wrote to his father on October 2,

Dear Father, I received your letter and was glad to hear from you and to hear that mother is getting better. I am well at present all but a cold and that won't last long as we are having very warm weather here at present and dry and dusty. We was on Corp reserve on the 1st and [General] Hentzelman, had . . . us there. Was about 230 of our regt. out of 1000 one year ago, so you will see that we are not in very good trim for the field now. I wrote a letter to James and will go and see him if get a pass and if means any money. I will let him have some as for that cousin, I don't think it would pay for to hurt her, as it is quite a large piece and I don't know where she stays. I will send some money in there and some in another. Me & John, no more at present. A Morton

From Hunting Crick on October 13, 1861 Alex wrote his sister,

Dear Sister, I received your letter yesterday and was glad to hear from home. It is almost ten days where I got a letter from home. I am well at present, hoping this will find you all the same. We moved twice since I wrote last from Fort Richardson quarters and then we come here yesterday. It is about 9 miles down the river from where we left and two from Alexandria. We marched through in good order, the band playing Dixieland, it made the old place ring. This is a very nice place and suppose we will have plenty of work to do here. They say that they are going to mount 40 guns on it and I heard that the fourth brigade has to do it this winter. We have the Regimental Inspection and presenting this morning. The guns looked Firey. Well you wanted to know what regiment I am in, I am in the Third Michigan Infantry and who is that Mcyuin. I don't know him nor do know any way you mean by asking me for. There is more than one hundred Regiments on and around Arlington Heights from almost every Eastern state. I can't think of any more to write at present. I had to burn up 28 of my letters for they were getting heavy to carry. No more at present, from your Brother
Alex Morton

And from a camp near Yorktown, Virginia, Alex wrote on April 28, 1862 to his mother,

Dear Mother, I now take my pen in hand to write a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope this will find you all the same. I have not seen James in some time, but I see the rest of the Orleans boys, he was well then. It is been Mechling spirit on the lines since I wrote last, but this still keep annoying each other whenever they get a chance. We got our pay the other day and I will send ten dollars in this and keep a good lock out for two or three more of the son me kind. I will write one to Jane and send ten in it and then one to Father. It is fine weather today after the rain, the trees are leaving out fine and the orchards have been in bloom for sometime. We have plenty to eat and drink of the hard bread and favorite Coffey, sugar, rice, beans and . . . I will wash for the boys tomorrow. I will have to close for want of news and time. I had a letter from Mary Ann and they are all well. She has got married to Tomas Tittle, she said that Mikle and Amy had the smallpox last winter and that is about all, no more at present. Alexander Morton

He was reported missing in action on July 1, 1862, and was possibly taken prisoner at White Oak Swamp and held briefly, and subsequently reported sick in the hospital from July though November of 1862. He was alleged to have deserted on September 4, 1862, at Edward’s Ferry, Maryland, or on October 31 or November 15, 1862, while the Regiment was on the march to Falmouth, Virginia.

There is no further record.

In fact, Alexander probably did desert and returned to Michigan where he lived under the name of Alexander “Nortrom” -- which is “Morton” spelled backwards. (In 1909 he listed his wife’s married name and the last names of his children as “Morton” while listing himself as “Notrom”).

Alexander apparently settled in the northern part of the lower peninsula and was probably living in Fairview, Oscoda County when he married New Yorker Ada or Adaline E. Hagedorn (1842-1910) on April 22, 1863, and they had at least six children: Mary Maria (b. 1864) Alexander Robert (b. 1867), David G. or Stanley (b. 1869), Lizzie Isabell (b. 1871), Maggie Ardell (b. 1876) and Jennie E. (b. 1883). Alexander claimed that the marriage record was held in Mason County and in fact all of his children were reportedly born in Riverton, Mason County. Indeed, it appears that the family did indeed reside for many years in Riverton.

Apparently Alexander reentered the service (he was drafted) under the name “Notrom” on March 16, 1865, at Grand Rapids, and was assigned to Company G, Fifteenth Michigan infantry. (The very same day that Samuel Reed, also formerly of Company D Third Michigan, and who lived just across the Ionia County line in Grattan, Kent County, enlisted in Company F, Fifteenth infantry.) The Fifteenth participated in the occupations of Goldsboro and Raleigh, North Carolina and in the surrender of Johnston’s rebel army in March and April of 1865. It subsequently marched to Washington April 29-May 19 and participated in the Grand Review on May 24, after which it was moved to Louisville, Kentucky June 1-6, and then on to Little Rock, Arkansas on June 28 where it remained on duty until August 13. Alexander claimed to have been was discharged with the regiment on August 13, 1865, at Little Rock. However, no record of this service is found in either the 1905 Regimental history or descriptive rolls.

Alexander presumably returned to Michigan after the war and he probably lived in Orleans, Ionia County until 1867 when he reportedly moved to Ludington, Mason County. (In 1870 his parents were living in Orleans, Ionia County.) Indeed, by 1870 Alexander was working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Riverton, Mason County. By 1880 he was still working as a farmer and living with his wife and children in Riverton. By 1894 he was residing in Riverton, Mason County. (His mother reportedly died in 1886 in Orleans.) He later claimed to have resided in the Ludington area until about 1908 when he moved to Washington state. (He was living in Ludington in 1888 and 1890, and probably in Riverton, Mason County in 1894.)

By October of 1909 he was living in Orting, Pierce County, Washington (possibly in the State Soldiers’ Home), and in 1910 his wife died in Orting. He was still living in September of 1919 when he was drawing $30.00 per month on a pension (no. 1,162,283) for his service in the Fifteenth Michigan and residing in Tacoma, Pierce County, Washington. He was described as feeble-minded “requiring constant care and attention, requiring some one to look after him at all times.” By 1920 he was living with his daughter Jane and her husband, Robert Graham in Tacoma.

Alexander was drawing $50.00 per month on his pension and living at 4024 South G Street, Tacoma, when he died on June 20, 1921, and was presumably buried in Tacoma.

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