Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wiley J. Morris Family Reunion, 2017

It's time to get together again!  In 2015 at the Omaha, NE family reunion we voted to take a Reunion Trip to the Wiley J. Morris homefront in Rutherfordton, NC., (Rutherford County) for our 2017 Reunion.  The goal was to take a tour to see the family land and plantations of our ancestors and the land where Wiley Morris, 1807 and sons worked as blacksmiths.  We will be visiting FoxRun (the original Morris plantation), Sydney Villa (the Cox(e) plantation, Green River (the Carson plantation). We acknowledged this reunion would be a bit different but we could see the beautiful landscape of our North Carolina ancestors. And of course, we could hang out with each other.

We hope all will join us, the more the merrier and better pricing for all!

Contact: Kathleen Brandt @ 816-729-5995
P.O. Box 414640
Kansas City, MO.  64141

Reunion Dates
Friday June 23 - Sunday June 25
Charlotte, N.C.

Why Charlotte? We chose Charlotte as our Morris reunion headquarters because it has the international airport closest to Rutherfordton, NC. and Charlotte has great activities.  Plus we needed a "real hotel." Transportation to Rutherfordton, NC. will be provided by a private tour bus and driver.

Registration Packet
1 Adult $85.00
1 child (under age of 15) $40.00
2 Adults $170.00
Toddlers (up to 4 years old) $20.00 for bus seat must provide own carseat as required by law.

All registration must be received by May 31, 2017. Please provide names of attendees and age of all children and toddlers. Please also be sure to include your correct address, telephone number and email. No refunds after May 22, 2017.

Friday Evening - Charlotte, NC 
  • Meet and Greet Hors d'oeuvres (menu based on number of attendees).

Saturday Day - Rutherfordton, NC
  • Walking with the Ancestors.  Tour Bus to Rutherfordton, NC. with driver - we can bring food and drinks on trip. The driver is ours for the day. We will be able to see and take photos of the Morris, Carson, Coxe and Mills plantations. 
  • Plantation Luncheon. Full meal luncheon banquet at Carson - Green River Plantation (it's a B&B and beautiful)
  • Tour of the Green River Plantation.  Did you know Wiley Morris, Tobe Morris and David Morris worked on this plantations?
  • Photo stops. We will have opportunities to take pics of the Morris (Fox Haven) plantation and Sydney Villa plantations (these are privately owned, but we will have street views). And I'm still working to see if we can at least walk the land of the Morris ancestral home. 
  • Shopping. Short shopping stop in downtown Rutherfordton. Wiley, Tobe and David worked in Rutherford as Blacksmiths
  • Happy Hour. Return to Charlotte in time for Embassy Suites happy hour (included in room rate)
We will be on the bus together, so we can have a short family meeting on our return trip.  

Room Reservation
Rooms are limited: Embassy Suites Uptown is in the best area of Charlotte for sightseeing and walking and we got an EXCELLENT rate:
 Embassy Suites by Hilton, Charlotte Uptown
401 E. MLK
Charlotte, NC 28202
Tel: +1-704-940-2517
group: a3G
 Reservations are easily made online or by telephone.

Check in time: 3:00pm

Single or double suites - yes suites include free full made-to-order buffet breakfast and free nightly reception (light snacks): 

This rate is good only until 23 May 2017. Again, these rooms are limited, so secure your reservation early. Credit Cards are required at check-in!

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Attendee Registration Form
Forward with your check or money order:

Please list all family members or friends that will be attending the union.  Be sure to include ages of all children (as of June 23, 2017).  I am able to accept registration by all major credit card
(2.75% fee apply). Please call Kathleen directly for this option: 816-729-5995.

(include age of children)

Payable to: Wiley J. Morris Family Reunion
Mail registration to:
Kathleen Brandt
P.O. Box 414640
Kansas City, MO.  64141

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hayes Thompson, 1923 - 1915

Memorial and Fellowship

Join the family of Hayes Thompson 

When: 18 Jul 2015 
  1-4 pm
1146 W. Cermak Rd. 
Chicago, IL 60608

Hayes Thompson, son of Octavia Morris and Hayes Thompson passed away 30 Jun 2015 in Chicago IL. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

1954, Connected by Letters- Wiley, David and Sarah Morris

From Kansas to California
Sometimes it's just fun to find old letters that piece together the family photos, the family bible, death certificates, and obituaries.  We know that Wiley J, 1807 and Louisa Morris, 1817 had five children. Three of these offsprings, Wiley (Tobe) 1838, sister Adelade (married Willis Cox), and youngest brother David Morris, 1850 settled in Kansas. One son of Tobe's and many of David's offsprings to include his daughters Addie, Hoolie, April and Lou  [Louise] went to California. But this railroad family (many of the husbands worked the railroad), travelled between Kansas and California to visit first cousins. They also wrote, confirming their close-knit family and relations.  Today cousins from these three Morris branches still celebrate in the Wiley J. Morris Reunion.  For 2015, it will be held in Omaha, Nebraska.

The following two letters are between all 3 cousin "groups" with the following mentions:
         Pearl (Morris) Simpson, daughter of Tobe, nicknamed "Duck"
         Jessie (Jess), Granddaughter of Wiley (Tobe) Morris
         Addie Belle Tucker, daughter of David, nicknamed "Sister"
         Hoolie (looks like Ollie), daughter of David
         Louise, daughter of David, seamstress in CA. (Often called "Big Sister")
         Cleave, son of David, lived in Kansas but visited California
Sarah Adelade
         Myrtle and Pauline, granddaughter of Sarah Adelade (Morris) Cox
         Mattie Cox, daughter of Sarah Adelade Morris Cox (mother of Myrtle and Pauline)

Letter 1 from Addie Tucker, CA to cousin Pearl Simpson, KS 28 Sept 1954

Hello, well I don’t know what to say_______this is I am so glad to rite you.  This is your cussin Addie, your uncle Dave Addie they called me Sister.  Duck I wish I could see you. Can you come to see me. I would come to see you but I am sick all the time with hi-blood pressure [pressure] & haven’t seen you in a long time. I got  a chance to see Jessie last night but I were [was] so glad she gave me your address. I have thought aboutyou so much thinking I would never here [hear] from you. But thank God for this blessing.  Send me your picture so I can see you.  Well all of us is about dead so I sure do want to see you cousin. Mat [Mattie Cox] girls live out here. Mirtle [ Myrtle] and Pauline. I have Pinks picture taken with me when I was 17 years old and have 2 sister out here April and Lue. Borther Cleave did last month. Excuse Bad spelling. All so [?} and don’t see to good. But I am ok and I do thank God for my youth. Well answer at once. I sure do want to see you all [and] hear from my you and family. So goodbye. Hope to hear from you. Your cousin Addie Tucker 631 E 52nd St, Ph ad4-1056, Los Angeles, CA. 

 Letter 2 to Pearl (Morris) Simpson, Great Bend Kansas from Jessie and Myrtle

Dear Aunt Pearl

Here I am at Myrtle’s and we both have said how we wished you were here. I told her yesterday I could all most see you laughing at us fussing. Myrtle is just as fast as ever. Last night she had a beautiful party for me. Alright in the morning before the party she went out to her club. I went sight seeing. Se got home about 4:30. She fixed a wonderful dinner. Had her party food already and was yelling at John and I to come to dinner at about 6. And she did have love party food.  Some gal. Her house is beautiful I will tell you about it when I see you in Omaha.  But I have found nothing more beautiful in L. A. I surely have gone to many one [ size] with ever convenience. She sill has some body coming and going all day. [  ] He has a nice job with the telephone company. I had a visit with [Hoolie]. She is fine. Today Myrtle and I going out to day to a place they call Farmers Market and to Lane Bryants store. Then on & on into the nte. Well also todayI am going to see Sister Addie. I can’t tell her last name. But will later. She keeps saying how she would love to see  “Duck” when , well Aunt Pearl there was 25 all together 1-3-3- cousins that goes to 7 [?] that was a party. Mattie Earl’s family and Uncle Dave’s kids. Oh I will tell you later. But fun O yes Ollie [Hoolie] had a nice [  ] down town for me. Will see you later. Love Jessie. 

Hi Simpson sorry I didn’t get to see you again. We went on [stopped] every place and finally got to NY and we sure did our number there. Great to have Jess. [?] meddled with her business to my own[?]. Smile. Love Myrtle. 

Where possible or needed for understanding we made spelling/grammar adjustments. Due to the difficulty in writing and numerous spelling errors, an actual transcript was not included. If this is needed, order via a3Genealogy  The highlighted sentence 'Aunt Pearl there was 25 all together 1-3-3- cousins that goes to 7 [?] that was a party. Mattie Earl’s family and Uncle Dave’s kids" tightly links all three families and verifies their recognized kinship. The family bible also confirms kinships as do many newspaper articles and other family records. 

Kathleen Brandt
Accurate, accessible answers

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Forging Metal to Freedom



For as long as I can remember, I would boast to any victim who would listen to my diatribe about my family. It usually included my heritage of a slave-free ancestry, the black relatives who passed for white, the Indian blood I possessed, and the diversity of my family and church. To me, these stories were a necessary reality of unproven truths that defined the “me” of me. I willingly accepted the twisted family stories, spun them and massaged them into epoch size fairy tales that defied logic. Perhaps under microscopic review, one could find 20% reality but the other 80% was clearly muddied by the storyteller’s liberty.

I’m not sure why or how I became so suckered with the theory of a slave-free “Tobe” Morris family. Looking back, I can only assume that being a “free-colored” was an anomaly, and somehow under-underhandedly explained my less than usual lifestyle. Perhaps it was the pride in which these compilations of passed-down stories were told: Tobe was part Indian; Aunt Laura staked land in the Cherokee Run; Great-Grandpa Thomas had Indian head rights. Maybe it was the fact that we were one of the few blacks from Kansas without the term “Exoduster” attached having never residing in the all-black settlements of Kansas. But if you listened closely to my pride of a “slave-free” heritage, at least on the Morris side, you would also hear my doubts, my questions, and the absurdity of the stories.

In less than two months of research, I came to some mouth-dropping-open realities. Tobe wasn’t Tobe, we had no Indian blood, we were actually not from the Midwest, and there was at least one Morris ancestor who was indeed a slave.

And those aren't even the stories to tell. They weren't even the questions needing to be answered. They didn't even quench my thirst for ancestral knowledge. Why was my family listed as free-coloreds in the Appalachians 1860 census? Who taught the free-colored Morris’ to read? Why did they change not only their surnames but frequently their given names? Why did they choose to live in communities where they were the only coloreds?

This isn’t the story of another migratory family, it’s not a documentary of the Exodusters through Kansas, it isn't even a tracing of my Morris family’s roots, (although I was able to trace their paths through several states), these next few pages, challenge and defy the standard educational teachings of our American history, it erases the stereotypes of the masses, and formed for me a new reality.

Kathleen Brandt, AuthorForging Metal To Freedom:
To be released summer 2014

Sunday, May 27, 2012

African American Families In Central Kansas

        Tobe: Father of 11                          Thomas (6 child of Tobe) 

Grandpa Morris’ Paternal Side
First it’s important to note, that if you are an African American from central Kansas you are probably related to me either by blood or marriage.  The Morris family left Eastern Tennessee 1883 and landed in Harper County, Kansas; later settling in Comanche County, Coldwater Kansas. By late 1890’s this family unit moved to Anthony, Coffeyville, Kingman, Iola and every little “white” town between.  They integrated the towns, the businesses, and the schools, and bought land, set up businesses, and married – yes they married black, white and Native Americans.

                                      Sons of Thomas Morris and Ida Martin
After Kansas
During the late 1890’s when marrying Native Americans were in fashion (yes a trendy era for the Morris family), many went “looking for suitable mates” in the Indian Territory (Oklahoma).  They married mostly Freedmen Indians, but they also intermarried. Here they settled in Nowata and Vinita Oklahoma. The children were educated in Coffeyville schools for the “colored” kids.

Many moved to Nebraska, others to Nevada and California,  but mostly they settled in the Midwest never venturing further south than Arkansas or Oklahoma, north to Colorado and Nebraska.

Here are the surnames of Wiley Tobe Morris families. I have to divide the family, since Tobe had 11 children and brother David had 13. 
Bell Cox Davis Earl Gordon Green Griffin Hildebrand Howard Jackson King Martin Morris Morrison Parks Pembleton Porter Robinson Simpson Underwood Vann Wells
Many are buried in Anthony - Forest Lawn Cemetery, Kingman - Walnut Hill, EastLawn - Hutchinson,and Hickory Creek Cemetery (south of Coffeyville in Nowata).

For more information on this family visit Wiley J. Morris Family, 1807 -.

Kathleen Brandt