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came to Nebraska with his young bride, at the age of twentytwo, in the year named, with the intention of following that profession.
Arriving in Nebraska, he was at first sight infatuated with the New West, and thought there was an opening whereby he could accomplish more good than in the practice of his profession, namely, the development and upnuilding of the new territory. And further, he conceived a newspaper to be the better medium through which he could the more effectually accomplish his desire and object. Accordingly he became the editor of the Nebraska City News, and for years remained as such. And continuously thereafter, until summoned hence by the great Dispenser of events, his able pen, eloquent and forceful voice were directed in demonstrating the worth, resources, and possibilities of Nebraska. More especially in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, and their kindreds, he accomplished a great work, and by a kind Providence was spared to be an eye-witness of the fruits of his labor.
Mr. Morton was a rare, unique character. A close acquaintance with the man revealed this, and its consequent real worth. He was honest to a fault, if such can be. He was a very positive man. Was cautious in formation of his opinions as to men and measures. When conclusions were reached and position taken, next to no. power could change them. Sure in his convictions of right, it made him a fierce defender as well as denunciator. He was a stranger to the word compromise. His friendships knew no bounds. His dislikes were along the same line. He never forgot a friend nor allowed an enemy to forget him. However bitter may have been differences between him and others, no one ever called in question his ability or integrity. No man of his means did more to wipe away orphans' tears or kindle fires on widows' hearths, did more for the betterment of his fellows, more helpful to those in need. All such Samaritan acts, however, were of the scriptural order: “Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."
I remember an instance not many years since, when Shylock stood on the doorstep of a worthy, helpless neighbor of Mr. Morton, demanding the foreclosure of a mortgage, the pound of flesh which would render the family homeless. Mr. Morton paid off the sum, into hundreds of dollars, making the indebted a clear deed, without reimbursement.
Another incident characteristic of Mr. Morton. In the earlier days of the territory differences between men were frequently settled with knife or bullet. For some reason, I can not now call it to mind, a grievance sprang up between him and a then prominent citizen of the territory, since dead. The other party challenged Mr. Morton to fight a duel, and demanded pistols as weapons. His reply was: mean to challenge me to mortal combat? Is there positively a coffin in your polite invitation, and if so, for whom? An early reply will greatly gratify."
The matter was then, by the challenger, referred to his "second" to whom Mr. Morton replied: "Permit me to remind your principal that, as the weather is very warm (July), you impress upon his mind that a recumbent position will be more comfortable, and if he will not assume that, compromise with him upon a sedentary position. I am quite anxious to hear, and do hope you will inform me upon this important question very speedily."
“Convey to your bellicose principal my renewed assurance that he has never, in any way, given me reason to demand satisfaction of him, as I have never held a judgment against him, nor even a note of hand. He will probably be pleased to learn of my good health, and also to know that I enjoy life very much, and love it, too, even better than I do him. His proposition to shoot lead bullets at me is not in accordance either with law or my own ideas of social amenities or amusements. To kill or to be killed would be no particular felicity with me, especially in hot weather when corpses spoil so readily. Not for a moment doubting the bravery of your martial principal, which is proverbial, I would like to inquire whether he is the author of the following stanza:
“The temperature at this place is ardent to such a degree as to prevent my addressing you at length. 'Kiss your principal for his mother.' Enclosed is a copy of Greeley's almanac and Fred Douglas's speeches, for his perusal and consolation."
“With high regard for the law, and especially that referred to, I remain alive,
“(Signed) J. Sterling Morton.” I was some years afterwards the medium by which the two sat side by side at a dinner table at Mr. Morton's residence, when the old grievance was reconciled, and they were ever afterwards friends.
As a social entertainer, especially of well-narrated anecdotes, and imitator of broken foreign languages, he had no superior; as an after-dinner speaker, but few equals. It is said of him while a sojourner at Washington, when a member of President Cleveland's cabinet, a social gathering was next to incomplete without him. He held at command a "reserve fund,” almost unlimited, of anecdote and pleasing reference.
While Secretary of Agriculture in President Cleveland's cabinet he did what no other secretary did before or since —. gave his influence to abolish the shameful expenditure of millions of dollars, furnishing those "rare and valuable" seeds, lettuce, turnip, and poppy, to please members of Congress, in throwing very cheap tubs to cheaper whales.
He was the originator of many trite utterances, among which as to corn and swine are: “Corn is king, swine heir apparent”; “A mother swine is an inter-convertible bond, her family, annual coupons, serving as farmer's mortgage lifters”; “Corn is bullion, fed to swine, the mint, produces gold and silver dollars."
He was the author of "Arbor Day," which has become a legal holiday in all states of this Union as well as in nearly
all civilized foreign countries. Through its influence trillions of trees and vines have been planted. Since I commenced the formation of this paper I received a letter from Miss Nina Prey, a native of Nebraska, now a teacher in Porto Rico, informing me the legislature of that island had, by enactment, made “Arbor Day” in that country a legal holiday, and that it had been generally observed in its inaugural year, 1902.
It was suggested at Mr. Morton's funeral by his many friends that a monument be erected to his memory, as author of “Arbor Day.” To this end a local organization was formed and voluntary subscriptions solicited-no canvassing. Today this fund is over $11,000. A very pleasing incident is of record in this work. A gentleman in Boston who had never met Mr. Morton, but who was an admirer of his life work, sent a check for $500 and added, “If more is needed, I will add another cipher."
In concluding this, a brief and feeble effort to pay tribute to a worthy citizen, permit me to digress and speak a word personal. Mr. Morton was a warm, unfaltering friend of mine for near a half century continuous duration. Friend in all the word can possibly signify. We came to the territory about the same time—he in the fall of one year and I in the spring following. We were editors and publishers of newspapers, differing radically in politics. In those days political editors were virulent in the extreme in their utterances, -could not be more bitter and unrelenting. We were not exceptions to this rule. In all else, such as tended to the welfare of Nebraska, we were in perfect unison. We had not met each other personally. Some time during the year 1856 we came together. Our opening thoughts and expressions were not along the line of politics, but of those of which we were in harmony. At the close of a brief interview, a modest reference was made to our political altercations. We mutually agreed to never talk politics, nor write, or indulge in them personally. That agreement was sacredly observed, and a long and most pleasant life was the result.
I can not realize he is dead.
“There is no death. The stars go down
To rise upon some fairer shere."
HENRY A. LONGSDORF, PIONEER OF SARPY
Henry Augustus Longsdorf was one of the pioneers of Nebraska. In a long and busy life full of activities and full of works, some of the principal scenes of which were laid in this
With his fellow pioneers he came and spied out the land, and later he worked as he found opportunity to develop its resources and to advance its welfare. Good citizenship, honorable service in war, righteousness, kindliness and indus•try in his daily life, helpfulness and fair dealing towards his fellow man, reverence and loyalty to his God—these sum up his life and recount his honors. They mark his name, not as one to be set above, but as one to be written among the names of men.
On November 18, 1829, he was born in Silver Spring township, Cumberland county, Pennsylvania. He was the eldest son of George and Eliza Longsdorf and was of the fourth generation of his family in America. Heinrich Longsdorf, his great grandfather, a native of Baden, settled in Silver Spring in 1754, and on the frontier braved the dangers of the French and Indian War. Martin Longsdorf, son of Heinrich, was next in the line. He was an ensign in the War of the Revolution in Colonel Blaine's regiment.
The childhood and youth of Mr. Longsdorf were spent in his father's home on the old family acres which for 125 years were held direct from the sons of William Penn, proprietors of the province. He learned the art of farming, but his education was not neglected, for he attended school regularly and for a time attended Dickinson College at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, near to his home. Later, while teaching school, he continued his studies, and by self-teaching made himself proficient in the practice of surveying and leveling.