The Mortons

Compiled with the help of William E. Madden

Edward Morton, Sr. and his wife, Margaret (1837-1903), emigrated from Birmingham, England to the United States in 1875 with their children Edward Jr., age 7; Ann Jane, age 17; Maggie E. age 3; and Dorathy M. (correct spelling), age 1. Edward Sr. had worked in Birmingham steel mills and sought similar work in Pittsburgh.

The family first lived on the southern side of Mt. Washington near what is now the entrance to the Liberty Tunnels. Maggie died in 1878 at age 6; two years later Edward and Margaret had a second child they named Maggie. By 1890, the family had raised enough money to put a down payment on a 60-acre farm off what is now McNeilly Road. Purchased January 18, 1890, from the Hughey family for $18,000, the Mortons placed $9,000 down and took a mortgage for the balance which they managed to pay off in seven years.

Run as a dairy, the farm was bounded by McNeilly Road on the north; the Fetterman farm (now Dormont) on the west; the Simbet and Weiler farms on the east; and what is now the Sunset Hills area of Mt. Lebanon on the south. The Mortons sold their milk and dairy products to families in the Mt. Washington area.

Maggie died a year later (1891) at age 11. Her older sister Dorathy would die at age 26, nine years later. The family were members of MLEPC.

At some point Margaret divorced Edward and he returned to England, eventually losing touch with his family. Edward Jr. became an American citizen in February 1895, at the age of 26.

Margaret Morton met with a tragic death on May 19, 1903. According to a profile in “Memoirs of Allegheny County” while riding in her daughter’s buggy, the vehicle overturned and Margaret was thrown out with such force that her skull was fractured. She lived for a short time before succumbing to her injuries. The profile says Margaret was “one of the best-known and most generally-loved women in Scott Township.there is something both nobel (sic) and pathetic in the love of Edward Morton and his sister for their honored mother and for each other. During her life their highest ambition was to please her and lighten her burdens.”

The Morton Home.

Three months after his mother’s death-August 5, 1903-Edward married Mary Ann Taylor (1880-1950) of Mt. Washington at Mt. Washington Presbyterian Church. Mary Ann was an excellent seamstress and had met Edward while sewing for his sister Ann Jane.

The 1932 City Directory lists Edward and Mary Ann living at 947 McNeilly Road and Ann Jane living at a duplex she built at 1237 McNeilly Road. Ann Jane-known as “Aunt Jane”-never married, but managed to make two trips back to England in her latter years. Descendants remember that as an older women she tended to wear black and carry a cane.

Edward Jr. and Mary Ann had nine children between 1904 and 1924: Margaret, Lucy, Dorothy, Edward, Ann Jane, Thomas James, Samuel, Comfort and William. All the sons served in World War II. A house once owned by Margaret and her husband, Fred Meyers, still stands at 1097 Mississippi Avenue in Mt. Lebanon.

Mother’s Day 1946. Mary Ann Taylor Morton, seated, and her daughters (left to right) Lucy, Dorothy, Ann Jane and Margaret

Edward Jr. died in 1938 at age 69 after a day spent working his land. According to “Memoirs of Allegheny County” profile, Edward took “a keen interest in political matters and is one of the acknowledged leaders of the Republican party in Scott Township.” He was a member of the West Liberty Council, No. 273 the Junior Order of United American Mechanics and of Washington Camp No. 2, Patriotic Order Sons of America.

Mary Ann lived another 12 years after her husband’s death. When she died in 1950, the farm was divided among her nine children. Much of the land was later purchased for the Keystone Oaks School District and the Beggs Snyder Park at the end of Arkansas and Illinois avenues.

The Morton farmhouse, a grand frame structure, was located just to the west of what is now Mississippi Avenue where it intersects with Illinois Avenue. Behind the barn, in the valley, ran a creek that was fed by natural springs (and later by rain runoff from the storm sewers of Arkansas Avenue). Another creek ran from the juncture of Eastmont and Kelton avenues and the two creeks joined just east of the farm buildings and flowed parallel to McNeilly Road, eventually joining Saw Mill Run. In the 1920s, Dormont purchased five acres of the farm for Kelton Elementary School (it has since been razed and is now an athletic field). The lane, which ran from the house, past the barn and up the hill to McNeilly Road became Morton Lane in the 1950s. There was a windmill, which pumped water into the home, until the early 1950s. The farm had at least 22 Guernsey cows and an apple orchard.

The bronze markers over the graves of Edward, Mary Ann and Ann Jane have been stolen. A fence with an elaborate gate once enclosed the family plot.

Mary Ann Taylor Morton making apple butter.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: