INTRODUCING CHARLES H. MORSE
CitrusLAND Series: 12 Central Floridians
PART ONE: WHO WAS CHARLES H. MORSE?
Frances E. Hewlett, a 24 year old single British gal residing in Washington, DC, acquired 40 lakeside acres in West Orange County on June 30, 1884. Adjoining Miss Hewlett’s Lake Hancock parcel, Eugene P. Mallory, also of Washington, DC, bought land June 30, 1884. Mallory’s parcel was 160 acres. Neighboring these Hewlett and Mallory parcels, encompassing most all of Lake Hancock, much of the Butler Chain of Lakes, and thousands of additional acres extending west into what is now Lake County, numerous other Northerners, each acquiring their land June 30,1884, appeared as though they were working in concert with one another. One of the largest acquisitions was made by a, “Charles H. Morse, Trustee, of Chicago, Illinois.”
Residing at that time in Chicago were two men named, Charles H. Morse. One, a 47 year old ‘Scales dealer’, reported that he had been born in Vermont. The other Charles, age 60, gave his occupation as ‘Lawyer’, and claimed he was born in Connecticut. Over in Washington, DC at the same time was a 60 year old native of Massachusetts fellow who was also going by the name of Charles H. Morse.
William F. Blackman wrote of a, “Charles Hosmer Morse,” in the 1927, History of Orange County. Blackman said of this Charles that he was; “Winter Park’s most distinguished citizen, born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, September 23, 1833, and died May 5, 1921.” A lot has been written about this particular Charles H. Morse of Winter Park. He was indeed a Chicago Scales Dealer, early Winter Park landowner, as well as recipient of a Winter Park street – Morse Avenue - named in his honor. Charles Hosmer Morse also acquired, we now know, 9,700 acres on June 30, 1884.
Two years prior to Chicago’s Morse purchasing a huge chunk of land in west Orange County and east Sumter County, a funeral service was held at Vineland, New Jersey. The 64 year old resident of Washington, DC and native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a man born 1818, was laid to rest, December 20, 1882. An obituary, published in The Evening Star at Washington, DC, sang praises of this remarkable man, an individual who among his many accomplishments had been publisher of an anti-slavery newspaper in Boston. His obituary also said that, “Charles H. Morse, for many years, was an important clerk in the Pension Office.”
The Washington DC Pension Office was responsible for doling our pensions and other benefits to millions of Veterans of America’s Wars, including the Civil War. Two other employees of this Pension Office were Frances E. Hewlett and Eugene P. Mallory, the two 1884 land buyers mentioned at the beginning of this post.
Charles H. Morse of the Pensions Office had married in 1861, to Laura A. Ellis, known at the time of their marriage as Widow Laura A. Haskell. If her former married name sounds familiar, it’s because the Editor and partner of the Boston Herald in the 1880’s was E. B. Haskell, the original partner as well in financing the first train ever to depart Sanford, Florida, heading inland to Orlando and passing through Winter Park along its way.
Central Florida’s story, as CitrusLAND so often exclaims, is America’s Amazing History! Friday, March 13, 2015, 12 Central Floridians Series continues with Part Two: ‘Tipping the Scales of Charles H. Morse’.
Author’s Note: Pension Clerks Frances E. Hewlett, Eugene P. Mallory and Charles H. Morse are featured in the Central Florida History / Mystery Novel: THE RUTLAND MULE MATTER.