J. Sterling Morton and his wife, Caroline Joy French Morton, came to Nebraska in about 1855, and he went to work for the Nebraska City paper. He soon had the local townspeople planting trees all over the flat, treeless prairie. In the 1870's the first Arbor Day was held in Nebraska, and over a million trees were planted that day. The holiday soon became a national one, and went on to become an international phenomenon, the only truly American holiday adopted the world over.

J. Sterling was also Secretary of Agriculture under Grover Cleveland, and a member of the Nebraska Legislature. He and his wife built a small farmhouse into an enormous mansion, with is now called Arbor Lodge. It was given to the people of the State of Nebraska in 1923, and is open from April to October.

I've heard from a direct relative of the Morton family that both Joy Morton, the oldest son and the Morton who founded the Morton Salt Company, as well as Mark Morton, are buried at the Morton Arboretum in Chicago (Joy died in 1934 and I don't yet know the date for Mark, though, with many more thanks to Albert, we're pretty sure he died sometime in the 1940's). What is odd is that Joy's first wife, Carrie Lake Morton, is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Omaha, with her family in the Lake plot (see the Prospect Hill Listing page under M). The Lake family was prominent in early Omaha history, and we have a Lake Street here. When Carrie died in 1915 she was not buried in the Morton plot in Nebraska City, which seems strange to me but could have been at the request of her family, or Carrie herself. In 1917 Joy married Margaret Gray, who was over 20 years younger than him but survived him by only five years. She died in 1939 and is buried beside him in Chicago. Paul Morton died February 19, 1911, and is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. My sincere thanks to the person who sent me this information.


The Morton Family plot. Wyuka still has many old brick roads that are in very good condition.

 


Steps leading into the plot, with "Morton" and "Arbor Lodge" on the side

 

 


The individual markers of the family


Caroline Joy French and J. Sterling Morton


Caroline Joy French Morton's individual marker

 


J. Sterling Morton's individual marker

 


Emma Morton, J. Sterling's sister

 


Emma Morton's individual marker

 


Cynthia A. French, foster mother of Caroline Morton, Carl Morton, J. Sterling and Caroline's son, and his wife, Boatie Payne Morton. Carl Morton founded the Argo Starch Company. No one thinks of starch much today, in this era of t-shirts and jeans, but he made a fortune in the late 1800's, when people used starch to make their Victorian clothing stay stiff and smart-looking for a long time. Starch is still used extensively, though, in cooking for thickening soups and gravies.

 


Cynthia A. French's individual marker

 


Boatie Payne Morton