REV. J. A. MORRIS was born in Harrison County, West Virginia, July 1, 1833. His parents, Joseph and Nancy (Davison) Morris, were reared in Virginia. His father was a Baptist minister; was in the ministry fifty years. He died in Harrison County at his old home in 1863, aged eighty-one years. He had a brother, Hon. Thomas Morris, of Cincinnati, Ohio, who at one time was a member of the United States Senate. His mother died at the old home in 1868, aged nearly eighty years. Rev. J. A. Morris was the youngest of thirteen children. Three brothers and one sister are living – Calvert L., of Medora, Warren County, this State; William N., a resident of Gilmer County, West Virginia; Allen J., of Lewis County, West Virginia; Mrs. Harriet Cozad, now living in Corydon, Iowa. Mr. Morris was reared on a farm. A portion of his time was spent in a mill and in carpenter work. His educational advantages were good for that period, and he early qualified himself for teaching. Being a natural student, much of his education was acquired outside of the school room. In 1855 he was converted to the cause of Christ, and joined the Methodist Episcopal church. He was soon after made a class-leader; was licensed exhorter on the 12th of March, 1859; was ordained deacon in 1863, and was ordained elder in 1870. He was appointed chaplain of the One Hundred and Thirty-eighth Virginia Militia during the war. March 15, 1859, he was united in marriage with Miss Cynthia J. Read, daughter of Francis and Arah Read. She, also, was the youngest of thirteen children, and was born in Barbour County, West Virginia, August 17, 1833. Mr. and Mrs. Morris lived in West Virginia until they came to Liberty Township in 1864. In that year he purchased his homestead. He owns 350 acres on sections 7, 8 and 20; forty acres of timber being on section 20. The residence portion was purchased of Rev. A. W. H. Millard, now deceased. The residence of Mr. and Mrs. Morris is one of the best in Clarke County. It was built partly by himself with a view to comfort and convenience. They have had nine children – Louella is a literary and music teacher, now engaged in Fairview, Warren County; Michael C., now attending Simpson College, at Indianola; Waitman T., now teaching in Liberty village; Emeline V., Boyd T., Arah May, Rose Altha, and Martha V. Anna, the eight child, an infant, died in 1872. While at all times holding himself ready to work in the Master’s vineyard, Mr. Morris is not regularly engaged in ministerial labor. His services are always to be relied upon in the upbuilding of the cause, or in any other good work. He always endeavors to deal justly and fairly with all men, and if he makes mistakes they are of the head and not of the heart. As a writer he is forcible; as a speaker he always commands attention. In early days Mr. Morris was a Whig, but is now a Republican.
SOURCE: Biographical and Historical Record of Clarke County, Iowa, Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1886 p. 287-8