Benton County


Hon. William P. Morris, a prominent and well known business man and citizen of Camden, Tenn., was born in Sumner County, Tenn., January 12, 1817; son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Brown) Morris, both natives of North Carolina. The parents married in North Carolina and came to Tennessee as early as 1810. In 1820 they removed from Sumner to Dickson County, and in 1822 to Henderson County. The father died while on a visit in Carroll County, in 1826. Our subject attained years of manhood on the farm and secured a limited education in the log schoolhouse of that early day, undergoing many of the hardships incident to pioneer life. At the age of seventeen he began the mercantile life as clerk in Perryville, Tenn., where he continued over two years. He then repaired to a farm in Decatur County, and from there to Benton County in 1841, locating two miles north of Camden on a farm. In March, 1843, he was elected clerk of Benton County Court, and removed to Camden where he served in the clerk's office nine years. In 1850 he engaged in the mercantile business at Camden in the building he is now occupying, and has remained in the business continuously up to the present time.

In politics Mr. Morris was originally an old line Whig but since the war he has been a firm and unswerving Democrat. In 1861 he was elected to the State Senate during the memorable session of 1861-62. Again in 1879 he represented his district in an able manner in the State Senate serving with honor and distinction, also in the House of Representatives in 1883-84. Mr. Morris was not a participant in the war and was strongly opposed to secession, but after the State seceded his sympathies were enlisted with the South from a conscientious sense of duty and right. Mr. Morris has been one of the few very successful business men of Benton County. He started here with little or no capital, but by industry, close application to business and strict integrity has accumulated a very handsome competency. The war caused him great loss of property as it did many others, but he has recovered almost wholly from its ravages. July 2, 1838, he married Elvira Jane Johnson, a native of Perry County, Tenn, and to this union were born these children: John Pitts, of Fulton, Ky.; Dr. Granville T. of Paris, Tenn.; Adelaide the wife of W. F. Maiden; Louisa C., wife of William Carraway, of Big Sandy Tenn.; Virgil F.; Leehentz, wife of Joshua Bowles of this county, and William L. of Big Sandy. Mr. Morris is a Master Mason, and he and wife are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He has always taken an active and leading interest in all public and private enterprises that tended to the welfare of the town and county, in which he has been a highly successful and respected citizen for almost half a century.

Senate, 34th (Confederate) and 41st General Assembly 1861-63, 1879-81; representing Benton, Decatur, Perry, and Humphreys counties in 34th, Benton, Decatur, Hardin, Henderson, and McNairy counties in 41st; House, 43rd General Assembly 1883-85; representing Benton County; had been old-line Whig; of Confederate Party in 1861, Democrat in postwar sessions. Born 12 January 1817 in Sumner County, TN; son of Isaac and Elizabeth (Brown) Morris. Married Elvira Jane Johnson 2 July 1838 in Perry County, TN. Children -- John Pitts, Granville T., Adelaide, Louisa C., Virgil F., Leehentz, William L., Lilly, and Alvin. Began clerking in a store at Perryville, Decatur County, TN at age of eighteen; moved to Benton County, TN two years, later to engage in farming and merchandising; moved next to farm in Decatur County; moved back to Benton County in 1841 and located on farm two miles north of Camden; finally established a store at Camden in 1850 and made that town his home until death. County Court Clerk, 1843-52; constable and probated clerk; postmaster at Camden, 1845-47; member Methodist Episcopal Church; donated a lot on which Morris Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church was built in 1890. Died 22 April 1893 at Camden; buried in Camden City Cemetery, Camden, TN. Father of William L. Morris, sometime member of Tennessee General Assembly.

Biographical Directory Tennessee General Assembly 1796-1969 Preliminiary No 13 Page 15

Colonel William Pitts Morris (1817-1893), also a native of Sumner County, clerked as a young man before moving to Camden. He served as county court clerk, 1843-1852; in the state House of Representatives 1861-1862, 1879; in the state Senate 1883-1884, and was a successful merchant. An active Mason and Methodist, Colonel Morris was a leading citizen of Camden for many years.
Excerpt from "Tennessee County History Series" by Jonathan K.T. Smith Sep 1979