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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
John T. Morrison

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[This information is from Vol. IV, pp. 118-121 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of John T. Morrison

Portrait: John T. Morrison

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John T. Morrison, a well known practicing attorney of Johnstown, democratic leader and historian of mark, was born in this city on the 25th of April, 1870. His parents were Thomas and Mary (Concanon) Morrison, natives of Ireland, who came to America as young people and settled in Johnstown, where the father was connected with the leather business for years. The Morrison family is of Scotch-Irish antecedents, ancestors having immigrated to Ireland from Scotland.

After obtaining a good general education in the common and high schools of his native city Mr. Morrison started out in life as a newspaper reporter for the Johnstown Daily Republican and followed the profession of journalism for a number of years. Meanwhile, he entered the political arena, in which he has been a prominent actor for a generation. He served in the capacity of the last Clerk of the village and when the city was incorporated he became its first city clerk and served in this office until 1896, when he resigned. That year, in the exciting presidential race between Bryan and McKinley, he stumped the state of New York in behalf of William Jennings Bryan. Mr. Morrison's political activities since then have included running as a candidate for the state assembly from this district and also as state senator, both times on the democratic ticket. He came very near to winning the contest for the last named office and probably would have done so if the district were not so overwhelmingly republican in the regular party vote as to make it almost impossible for a democratic candidate to carry an election.

Mr. Morrison regards politics as an avocation and has never cared to make public life his career. Neither did he see in newspaper work a future that held sufficient possibilities for advancement, so early in life he determined to enter the profession of law as soon as such a step seemed practical. While he was reporting for the Daily Republican he read law in his spare hours and continued this practice after 1896, when he went on the road as a traveling salesman for the local glove houses, and also while serving as traveling passenger agent for the F. J. & G. R. R. Company. Several years later he was able to fulfill his ambition and enter the Albany Law School, where he completed the course and received his diploma in 1906. Returning to Johnstown he opened an office for the practice of his profession, in which he has subsequently met with substantial and merited success. Under the administration of William Sohmer he was transfer tax attorney. In addition to being a thorough student of the law, Mr Morrison is gifted with an unusual command of the English language and is a winning and forceful speaker. This quality is one that is of vast assistance to members of his profession, for eloquence adds strength to the logic of one's plea, and Mr. Morrison has not been slow to cultivate his talents along this line. He is no demagogue, however, and an analysis of any of his pleas in court or public speeches will reveal a carefully thought-out outline and sound reasoning along lines relevant to the subject.

Before her marriage Mrs. Morrison was Miss Ruth G. Brennan, daughter of John and Fanny Brennan of Saratoga Springs. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison have become the parents of four children, three of whom are living: John T., Jr., born September 21, 1913, and died October 21, 1920; William R., born November 24, 1915; Mary E., born August 4, 1917; and Georgia R., born March 4, 1920.

Mr. Morrison is the president of the board of elections of Fulton county and has served in this capacity for several years. As has already been pointed out in this brief resume of his life, Mr. Morrison is intensely interested in politics and has participated in the campaigns ever since he was a mere boy. Here his powers as an orator have been of immense service to his party and he has been continuously called upon to speak at public gatherings and party rallies. He has not confined his speechmaking to political subjects, however, but talks on various civic and cultural subjects as well. During the World war he was one of the foremost of the Four-Minute men in his county, in addition to which he addressed meetings in behalf of all the other war activities. At the close of the war he was the chairman of the Plan and Scope Committee for the big welcome home celebration held for the returning Fulton county service men, the largest event of its kind ever celebrated in Johnstown. When the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary celebration of the founding of Tryon county was held in 1922, Mr. Morrison was instrumental in making the feature a success as historian of the pageant. His "hobby" is local history and there is probably no one living who is better informed regarding Fulton county history, on which he is a recognized authority. He is a member of the Johnstown Historical Society and has contributed many articles of interest to local publications as well as written a "Life of Sir William Johnson," a "Biography of Major Nicholas Stoner" and a "Life of Joseph Brant or Thayendenegea," sketches that display a thorough knowledge of the subject on the part of the author and a careful research into all the phases of the early history of this interesting section of the state. Indeed, there are few regions in the United States where there is such a wealth of historical association as that around Johnstown, and Mr. Morrison is to be warmly commended for his efforts to carry something of the spirit of the early days to the present generation and its successors. In connection with his profession Mr. Morrison belongs to the Johnstown Bar Association, while his fraternal interests are indicated by his membership in the local lodges of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Loyal Order of Moose and the Royal Arcanum.

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