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Diary of J. Sterling Morton, Statesman

J. Sterling Morton was born in Jefferson County, New York, in 1832.
In 1850 he entered the University of Michigan and subsequently received degrees from both that institution and from Union College in Schenectady, New York. In 1854 he married Caroline Joy French of Detroit and that same year they moved to the Nebraska Territory. There he became editor of the Nebraska City News. He had an active political career as a member of the territorial legislature, secretary of the territory, acting governor, and finally, in 1893, United States Secretary of Agriculture. In 1897 he returned to Arbor Lodge, his home in Nebraska City, where he spent his remaining days editing his newspaper, The Conservative, and compiling a history of Nebraska.

Morton is best known as the father of Arbor Day. In 1872 the State Board of Agriculture adopted Morton's resolution that April 10th of that year be set aside for tree planting. In 1874, Governor Robert W. Furnas issued the first proclamation designating Arbor Day, although it would not become a legal holiday until 1885, when the legislature set aside Morton's birthday, April 22, as the holiday.

Diaries offer insight
into what their creator believes to be his or her most important achievements in life. J. Sterling Morton's 1874 entry celebrating the establishment of Arbor Day shows a reserved pride in his role in the creation of the holiday

April 8, 1874
Arbor Day, an invention of mine, now become a public holiday, destined to become a blessing to posterity as well as to ourselves. It is devoted to tree planting & premiums are given to the largest planter by State Board of Agriculture. On the Morton place, today, Two Hundred Elms, Ash & Linden trees are set out on East Line and East Avenue..

Arbor Day spoon given to Dawson Collins by his great nephew, J. Sterling Morton.



Hide Paintings and
       Ledger Books

Diaries and Journals
  J.A. Hill, Civil War
  W. Richards, Surveyor
J.S. Morton, Statesman
  Sara J. Price, Teacher
       & Homesteader
  W. Danley, Businessman
  J. & E. Green, Farmers        & Homesteaders
  S. Buck, Farm Wife

Autograph Albums
  S. & E. Allis, Missionaries
  E. & L. Correll, Suffragists
  W.J. Bryan, Orator
  Lucy Drexel, Student
  Viola Barnes, Student

  D. Canfield, Author
  Willa Cather, Author
  C. Calvert, Educator
  Fenton. B. Fleming,
  Myrtle Soulier, Student
  Verna Cort, Student
  Martha McKelvie,
       Movie Columnist
  Emogine Moor,
       Women's Army Corps
  Scrapbooking Today

Photograph Albums
  W. B. Watson, Porter
  Margaret and Edward
       Gehrke, Adventurers
  Nan Aspinwall,
  Frances M. Creech,

  Edith Withers Meyers,
  Sierra Nevada Bunnell,

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Last updated 8 April 2010  

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