This week's theme for Amy Crow’s 52 Ancestor Challenge is to write about a king. The famous freedom fighter, Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday is on the 15th of January. We all know of the great work Dr. King did as a champion of equality. With this in mind, the first ancestor of mine who came to mind was Representative Milton Morris.
Milton was born circa 1829 in Howard County, Missouri as chattel property.
Milton's humble beginnings did not limit his aspirations for improving life for himself or those around him. He remained enslaved until the Civil War broke out. He enlisted in the United States Colored Troops, 80th Troops Regiment. He served in the infantry at Port Hudson, Louisiana.
According to his pension file, his last known owner was Mrs. Harriet Cole of the Cole Plantation in Iberville, Louisiana. It is unknown when he was purchased by Mrs. Cole and made the move from Missouri to Louisiana.
About 1853, Milton married Lucy Ann Richard. Together they had three known children: Madeline, Charlie and Susan. Lucy passed away after 1870. The exact date and location is unknown. However, the family was living in Ascension Parish, Louisiana before her death.
Milton Morris set his ambitions to becoming a landowner. On 27 September 1865, Milton applied for land where the Ashland Plantation stood, with other freedmen. With the combined effort of five other freedmen and their families, they applied for 100 acres of land. Records reveal they had a combined $500 in cash, one horse, two carts, two plows, 300 bundles of corn and two and a half acres of cotton. The families wished to use the land to raise cotton and corn.
After serving in the military, Milton pursued a career in politics during Reconstruction. Serving under the first black Lieutenant Governor, Milton Morris served as the state representative for Ascension Parish, Louisiana. He was a Republican. (He is the third, from the top right.)
Milton attended the Convention to Create a Constitution for Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served on the Militia committee.
Though Milton and his family were free, they had to fight an uphill battle against racism. Milton was arrested by white supremacist in an attempt to intimidate him after running for public office in 1870, according to a newspaper article.
However, Milton Morris was praised by his hometown for his service:
Hon. Milton Morris, from this parish, has proven himself a staunch and consistent Republican, be it said to his honor. His vote has been cast invariably in opposition to the mongrel coalition headed by that ex-Confederate Colonel, Geo. W. Carter, and in favor of the friends of the administration, who have had such a hard fight to perpetuate Republicanism in Louisiana. Mr. Morris will come back to his people with his hitherto bright record still brighter, and will receive their hearty thanks and unqualified endorsement for representing them so faithfully.
14 Jan 1872
After all Milton had accomplished, he decided to start another family. Milton married a young woman (27 years his junior) named Faith A. Stewart. Together they had two known children: Ruth and James. Faith stated she met Milton about 1867 (when she was 11 years old and he was still married to Lucy) on the Ashland Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Milton and Lucy married 3 April 1879, when Lucy was 23 and Milton was 50 years old.
Ascension Parish has home to Milton and his descendants for many years.
Milton passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana on 6 June 1896 at the approximate age of 67 years-young. His burial place remains unknown. It is my heart’s desire to find his resting place and place a marker for his service as a veteran and politician.
I descend from Milton Morris via:
Morris Keller, Sr.
Morris Keller, Jr.
Sources used in this complication include:
U.S. Civil War Pension File
1850 Slave Schedule
U.S. Census: 1860-1880
Freedman’s Bank Records
U.S. Military Troops Records
Louisiana State Legislators List