The Tragedy and Triumphs of the Morris Family

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I thought I knew how I wanted this to go, but then I was reminded that when you’re remembering the dead, sometimes they just have to speak for themselves. The majority of my information came from Emanuel Morris’ grandson, famous journalist, Arthur Krock. But that was only the beginning of piecing the information together, some of which I’ve had for many, many years – involving two lovely, antebellum homes in the East Main Street section of Glasgow.
We will begin with Mr. Emanuel Morris, who was the proprietor of Morris’ Dry Goods Store on the Public Square. His origins were Prussian, and he was of Jewish extraction. A first marriage to a Metcalfe County girl named Marinda Turner produced three children – Victoria, Cornelia Belle, and Frederick. Marinda passed away in the same year that Frederick was born, and Mr. Norris, while on business in Louisville, was introduced to a nice young lady in the Jewish community there named Henrietta Frank, She told her grandson, Krock, later in her life, that theirs was a business arrangement that turned into a love match.
Emanuel and Henrietta Morris added 8 more children to the brood – Caroline, Herman, Edward, Julius, Louis, Gus, Lee, Joe, and Max.
The eldest child, Victoria, married Monroe Dinkelspiel, and they resided also in Glasgow for many years, raising 6 children. Frederick Morris won the heart of one of the prettiest girls Glasgow ever produced, Miss Mary Dickey. These two were married before Krock’s birth, and so were already in their own households before the Morris family moved from the Square when Krock was quite small. The Morris Dry Goods was in the aptly named Morris Building, on the corner of South Green and Washington Streets. Mr. Morris and his large brood resided in a house that stood beside the Glasgow Hotel on Washington Street (better known as the Munford Hotel), just a few doors up from his store.
While there, the family suffered two tragedies that I’m certain Mr. Morris never recovered from the one. Krock tells us in his memoir, “Myself When Young,” that Cornelia Belle, second daughter of Mr. Morris by his first wife, became mentally deranged as the result of an accident which lost her the sight of an eye, and culminated in her being institutionalized.
The tragic street accident was a consequence of the episodic violence that occasionally occurred when some of the citizens had imbibed too much bourbon or moonshine whiskey, which was a Saturday night event in those times. In front of the Morris dwelling on the Square was a stile where guests might hitch their horses. Belle, as the family called her, was seated on the stile, awaiting the arrival of a beau, when a fight broke out in the street among some drunks. They fell to rock throwing, and one of the missiles struck Belle in the temple, costing her her right eye.
Krock added that Belle married a man of questionable repute who claimed to be a nobleman. From few records I can gather, the man’s name was Albert Morey, and he was abusive to Belle, causing further damage to her delicate head. Her condition deteriorated to the point where, by the year Krock was born, 1886, Belle had been admitted to Western State Hospital in Hopkinsville.
Krock’s own mother, Caroline, married his father and quickly got in the family way. The tale of his birth was tragic, as complications of the birth cost Caroline her eyesight, and the baby was quite sickly and almost died. Caroline Krock remained blind for six years, until her husband found a doctor in Chicago who performed a miraculous surgery on her. In the meantime, Krock was taken in by his grandparents, and what a house that was! Krock fondly recalled that there were at least a dozen people sitting down to every meal. If nothing else could be said of Mrs. Morris, she was a saint for that reason alone!
When Krock was about 4 years old, the house on the Square went up in flames one evening, and was a total loss. Thankfully, none of the numerous “small fry” or any other of the quite large household were injured, though Frederick singed his hair returning inside after a book, a keepsake – Krock confides it was a copy of “Fanny Hill.”
From there they lived on Scottsville Pike in a house Krock called “the Ford place.” Then Mr. Morris purchased a house on Burkesville Pike at the edge of town now more popularly known as the Cheek place. But Krock tells us at the time it was known as the Ritter Place, as that was Ritter Hill, and Mr. Morris purchased it from Judge Ritter’s estate. The back boundary of the property at that time stretched back to the Columbia Pike.
Krock told that while he resided there, he began to attend the city school, but that he also took lessons from his Uncle Frederick, who resided with his wife across the street, in that lovely house that sat back from the road on the bluff where Southfork Creek and the Big Spring Branch come together. I know little more about Frederick and Mary Dickey Morris, except that Frederick was an exceptional tutor, and the Dickey family owned the May Street house for many years. That is another story in itself!
Mr. Morris died when Krock was only 7 years old, and Krock states that his grandfather was an invalid for about a year before he died. He sat in an invalid chair in the living room, at the back of the house, with his foot propped up. During the Civil War, he had to hide out at one point, and had badly injured the foot and took a shot to his side he never had removed.
I had a hard time finding where he was buried, but Krock commented that as a boy he never realized how devout a Jew his grandfather was. Mr. Morris was taken to Louisville and buried in the Temple Cemetery, which is a Jewish Cemetery. Both of his wives and several of the children are buried up there as well.
Frederick and Mary Morris are buried in Glasgow Municipal Cemetery, along with Belle, who died in 1929, the same year as her stepmother. Belle was brought to stay with Frederick and his wife a few times in all the years of her institutional. Whenever she stayed, she would take a walk, once a day, to her father’s house across the street, and back, until she wandered off one time, and they had to lock her in her bedroom until she could be returned to Hopkinsville.
On an end note, Krock spoke fondly of his grandmother throughout his memoir, and made note that she kept gardens at both East Main Street and on the Square. He mentioned that she had some of the prettiest rose bushes in the state. It’s a shame there is a parking lot now where their house once stood on the Square, or I’m sure that hillside would be filled with pungent antique roses!

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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One Response to The Tragedy and Triumphs of the Morris Family

  1. Dana says:

    Thank you for posting this. My great great grandfather, Lewis Davison worked in the Morris Store and I’ve always wondered if my great grandmother, Henrietta Davison Robinson was named after his employer’s wife.

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