The first John Andrew Morrison was probably born in Gordon County, Georgia; he was the eldest child of Z. C. and Mattie Boyd Morrison.
John grew up as a farmer’s son, but he was fascinated by the railroad. Shortly after 1885, his father sold railroad and telegraph right-of-way through the farm owned by his grandfather. John watched the railroad being built and must have been taken by the idea of being an engineman. Later, his dream came true; he was hired as an engine fireman on the Marietta and North Georgia Railroad. The line ran from Marietta, north of Atlanta, to Etowah, Tennessee, north of Chattanooga. The railroad entered Tennessee through the ore rich Copper Basin. He must have had layovers in Ducktown; he met his future wife, Florence Grace Jory, who lived nearby; before either was 19 years old, they married on May 19, 1874. Just a tad more than nine months later they were parents.
In 1896, John and Grace decided to move to Texas; John’s father and the rest of his family moved about the same time. John and Grace lived in a log cabin in Erath County for about two years on the farm of a cousin, Will Gordon. Their second child, a daughter, was born there in 1897. Then the two decided to return to Tennessee and railroading. They lived in Polk County near Grace’s people. Another daughter and son were born there; while the little boy was still an infant they returned to Texas, this time to stay. Asked why he quit the railroad, John told his son, Sid, “The boiler was cracked and couldn’t keep steam up; the railroad wouldn’t repair the boiler, and it was working me to death.” So they returned to farming.
By 1904, the family had bought a farm in Hood County, about nine miles from the county seat, Granbury. John was given a two loans by his father’s cousin, Dr. Joe Gordon, and used the money to buy first, 40 acres; then, later on, 32 1/2 additional acres. He repaid the loans in about 10 years. The sandy soil was suitable for cotton, but during the 1920s, the depredations of the boll weevil drove them to cultivate peanuts instead, which remained the principal crop in that area until the 1970’s.
John and Grace had seven children, five sons and two daughters:
- John Benton (Jack), who died in a spinal meningitis epidemic while working in a mine in Bisbee, Arizona, at the age of 21.
- Ella Mae, who married Robert Schoonover
- Carrie Edna, who married Henry Vest
- Frank William, who married Ardis Caffall
- James Young, who married Lillah Mae Deaver
- Sidney Maxwell, who married Susie Iola McInroe
- Tony Dawson, who married Grace Iowa Long
John was a hard worker and a thrifty farmer. The family lived in a one and a half story farm home about four miles from the nearest town, and reared their children to be equally hard workers. John was hale, hearty, and seemingly healthy until 1931, when he suffered a stroke. He lived two more years, dying on May 12, 1933.
Grace remained on the farm until 1940 when she sold it. Grace lived 31 years after John’s death, passing away in Dallas on March 23, 1964.