Julius Sterling Morton

Julius Sterling Morton

Adams, Jefferson County, New York, USA
Death 27 Apr 1902 (aged 70)
Lake Forest, Lake County, Illinois, USA
Burial Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska, USA
Memorial ID 6580321 · View Source
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Nebraska Territory Governor, Presidential Cabinet Secretary. Born in Adams, New York, his family soon moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he grew up. Traveling to Nebraska City, Nebraska, he took a job writing for the "Nebraska City News". After building a house on the treeless Nebraska plains, he began planting trees, researching the varieties that would grow best in the Nebraska climate. His efforts also influenced the local populace, who began planting trees as well. He served in the Nebraska State Legislature in 1855, and was appointed Governor of the Nebraska Territory, serving from 1858 to 1861. Still heavily involved in nature issues, he then joined the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture. In 1867 he came upon the idea of setting aside a day to celebrate trees, which he named "Arbor Day". The concept was embraced by Nebraska citizens, and over a million trees were planted on that first Arbor Day, which was held on April 10, 1872. It quickly went from being a local event held every few years, to a national yearly holiday. The date was later changed from April 10 to April 22, to coincide with J. Sterling Morton's birthday. He was appointed as Secretary of Agriculture by President Grover Cleveland, serving from 1893 to 1897. He spent the remainder of his years in semi-retirement, writing and visiting his grown children. He died in 1902 while visiting his son in Illinois, and a special train took his body back to Nebraska City. His family gave their mansion to the people of the state of Nebraska in 1903, and is now known as Arbor Lodge State Park. The house and furnishings are intact and reflect how the Morton family made the prairie habitable. One of his sons, Paul Morton, would go on to serve as Secretary of the Navy.

Bio by: Marta Dawes

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Marta Dawes
  • Added: 6 Jul 2002
  • Find a Grave Memorial 6580321
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Julius Sterling Morton (22 Apr 1832–27 Apr 1902), Find a Grave Memorial no. 6580321, citing Wyuka Cemetery, Nebraska City, Otoe County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .