Morse, Ira Elisha
Age: 19, credited to Benson, VTVITALS
Birth: 08/17/1845, Orwell, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Mountain View Cemetery, Orwell, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions
and other veterans who may be buried there.
Ira Elisha Morse had a typical American Dream existence. He was born into a poor, rural family eking out a living from the land and ended his adult life as an enterprising and successful member of the upper middle class.
Ira was born August 17, 1845 in Ticonderoga, New York.  He was the son of George W. Morse and Melissa Munger, aka Hannah Melissa, Malissa, Melicient Munger. George was born in Massachusetts and Hannah Melissa was born in Orwell. The 1850 Federal Census had the Morse family located in Orwell, Vermont on a farm worth about $500. The clan consisted of the father, George, 34: mother, Malissa, 32; Lodilla, 9; Clarence. 7; Ira, 5; Frances, 3; and Clarence, 0 (actually about 8 months). 
By 1860, the Morse family had grown by two additional members: George (1850) and Warren (1852). George's farm operation had also increased in value since 1850. His real estate worth was set at $1,800 and he had personal property listed at $1,000.  It was from this flourishing farm that Ira left for war in 1864.
Ira enlisted in the Union Army on September 7, 1864 as a Private in Company A of the Ninth Vermont Regiment. His service record stated he was born in Orwell. He was nineteen years old and farmed. He stood five feet seven inches tall and had blue eyes, light hair and a light complexion. He enlisted in Benson for a term of one year. On September 8 he was mustered-in and paid his first installment of his bounty money- $33.33. By September 19, 1864, Private Morse was in New Haven, Connecticut for final processing and equipping. 
The Ninth Regiment was organized at Brattleboro and mustered into the service there on July 9, 1862 for three years. It was ordered at once to Washington. By July 19, the command was attached to General Sturgis' division at Cloud's Mills. Five days later, the Regiment was moved to Winchester where it was employed in the construction of fortifications and other fatigue duties for several months. Early in September it was sent to Harper's Ferry on the approach of Stonewall Jackson's forces. Due to the Federal command's indecisiveness and questionable loyalties, the Ninth, along with nearly twelve thousand other Union troops, were forced to surrender to General Jackson.
Harper's Ferry was humiliating to the Union but not to the Ninth Vermont. Colonel Stannard, commanding at the time, initially refused to surrender his men to the Confederates. For two hours after all other Federal troops had stacked arms, the Ninth and its Colonel attempted to fight its way out of the trap it was in and break through to reach the Army of the Potomac located nearby. Only when a Confederate division cut off its route of escape did Colonel Stannard, out numbered ten to one, order his command to Bolivar Heights to stack arms with the other Federal prisoners. Before reluctantly surrendering, the officers of the Regiment cut the national colors into strips and parceled them out among themselves thus keeping it out of the hands of the enemy. They had intended to do the same to the State flag, but, in the excitement and haste, was not completely successful and a large part of it ended up in the hands of the Confederates. It was sent to Richmond as a trophy. Later, in 1865, when the Ninth marched into Richmond at the head of the Union Army of the Potomac, the flag was recaptured form the Rebel archives by the same command that had lost it. At the request of the Governor of the State of Vermont, the flag was returned to the State Capital where it resides to this day. The Ninth had the dubious distinction of being the only Regiment from Vermont that lost its colors at the hands of the enemy.
From Harper's Ferry, the Ninth was sent to Chicago on parole. They spent the next four months there. On January 10, 1863, the Ninth was exchanged. The Regiment received new Springfield rifles in anticipation of returning to the field of combat after a long and embarrassing detention as prisoners of war. Unfortunately they were assigned to guard the newly arrived Confederate prisoners captured at Murfreesboro and Arkansas until April 1 when they returned to City Point, Virginia. The Regiment was at Suffolk during the siege in April and May of 1863. From there, it was sent to Yorktown and occupied West Point during the Gettysburg campaign. A futile attempt was made to capture Richmond while its defenders were drawn off to take part in Lee's push into the North. July, August and September found the Regiment once again at Yorktown where the health of the Regiment suffered greatly from the climate and malaria. For this reason, and because of the persistent urging of the Governor of Vermont on behalf of the troops, the command was transferred in October to the Newport barracks located between Morehead City and New Berne, North Carolina. Early in February, 1864, at the time of the attack upon New Berne, a detachment of Confederates were sent by General Pickett to capture Newport barracks. The ensuing fight resulted in three men of the Ninth being awarded medals of honor for gallantry. As a result of the Confederate assault, the Ninth was obliged to withdraw to Morehead City. Three days later, the Ninth reoccupied the Newport barracks. During the summer of 1864, various detachments of the Ninth were employed in dealing with Confederate activity around the New Berne area. September 15, 1864 was the second anniversary of the surrender at Harper's Ferry and was also the date on which the Ninth arrived in front of Petersburg.
Two days after its arrival, the Ninth received a detachment of recruits, increasing its numbers to 1, 129. Among those new arrivals to fill the Regiment's ranks was Private Morse. On September 17, 1864, one hundred picked men of the Ninth were sent as a support to an isolated, exposed earth-work known as Redoubt Dutton. The detail from the Ninth lived in gopher holes (rifle pits) under the muzzles of the Union guns of the redoubt. A one hundred gun salute on September 24 and again on the 30th brought on a determined attack from the Confederates and the brunt of it fell on Redoubt Dutton. The steady, well-directed fire of the Vermont line disarranged and broke two well organized lines of battle at less than one hundred and fifty yards.
On September 29, the Ninth participated in the Battle of Chapin's (Chaffin's) Farm. On the 27th of October, the Regiment took part in the Battle of Fair Oaks. The Ninth was recalled to form part of the troops sent to New York under General Butler to protect the city from anticipated riots during the presidential election. From New York City, it was sent back to Richmond. April 3, 1865 the Ninth, along with the Twelfth New Hampshire, were the first two Federal Regiments to enter the abandoned Confederate capital. Running through the burning streets of Richmond, they did not halt until they reached the front door of the Confederate White House. For the next two weeks, the Ninth was part of the provost guard in Richmond. Soon, Lee, Johnson and other segments of the Rebel Army surrendered and the shooting war was over. On the 13th of June, the original members of the Ninth were mustered-out. About four hundred recruits remained in the service until December when they were disbanded and sent home. The Ninth then became a thing of the past. 
Private Morse saw very little of the action in which the Ninth was a part. Only one month after he reached New Haven, Connecticut he was in a hospital sick.  The Muster Roll for Nov/Dec, 1864 placed him in the General Hospital at Fort Monroe, Virginia in Ward 15, Hampton section.  On January 20, 1865, Private Morse was transferred to the Fourth Vermont Regiment, Company D.  Although he had changed Regiments, Private Morse had not changed location. On February 7, 1865 he was still in the General Hospital at Fort Monroe sick.  By February 13, 1865, he had been moved to the General Hospital at Brattleboro, Vermont.  From the hospital in Brattleboro, Ira was sent back to rejoin Company D of the Fourth just in time to be discharged from the service at the Defenses of Washington, D.C. on June 19, 1865. The nineteen year old was a lucky soldier. He had survived being sick in the army which had killed thousands of young men like him. He had avoided, because of all his time sick in one hospital or another, duty on the front line which would have exposed him to a death by a different means. At the time of his discharge, he was owed $31.65 for clothing allowance and another $33.33 bounty installment. When he left the service, he took $6.00 worth of government property allowed to him by General Order No. 101 W.D. 1865. 
Like most ex-soldiers, Ira went home to take up life where he had left it. By 1868, he had found a woman to marry. Her name was Sarah Jane Dikeman of Hubbardton, Vermont. She was the daughter of Gardner Dikeman and Sarah Steel. They were married on October 14, 1868 in Orwell. She was 24 and Ira was 23.  Two years later, Ira and Sarah had a daughter named Clara, born in 1869, who was seven months old at the time of the 1870 Census. George, Ira's father, was not listed in the household members, but his mother, Melissa was. Apparently widowed, she was living with her son and daughter-in-law and ”helping in the house." Sarah Morse, Ira's sister, age 14, was also a member of the household. She was noted as just being "at home". By the end of 1870, a second daughter was born to Ira and Sarah. This was Jennie who was born December 17, 1870. The whole extended family lived in Benson, Vermont where Ira was a farmer.  Between 1872 and 1876, four more children were born to Ira and Sarah. On April 14, 1872, a son, Frank, was born. Another boy came on October 26, 1873. His name was Charles Hawks Morse. A third son, William, was born August 6, 1875. Eva Morse, the third daughter of Ira and Sarah was born in 1876.  That same year, six year old Jennie died of scarlet fever on April 6 in Benson.  "Willie" (William) also died of the fever a week after Jennie passed. March 8, 1880 saw the last Morse baby arrive. She was named Addie Mable Morse. 
While all the babies were being born, Ira was also busy being an entrepreneur in and around Benson. He had become involved in the lumber business. He had acquired forest land in the area of his home town and had even operated a saw-mill on the north branch of the Hubbardton River which had been built in 1875.  The 1880 Federal Census listed Ira and family as residents of Benson and Ira as a "manufacturer" of lumber. Sarah, of course, was busy raising and caring for the children as well as keeping house. Melissa, now 68, lived in the household and helped Sarah maintain the family.  By 1890, the Morse's had moved to Orwell. 
1900 found Ira, now 54, his wife and three of their children still living in Orwell. Ira still farmed with the help of two of his sons - Frank, 28 and Charles, 26. Addie, age 20, helped her 56 year old mother in keeping the house.  Ira may have begun to feel poorly long before he turned 62. Back in 1875, he had applied for and was granted an invalid pension by the Government.  And the fact that two of his grown sons in their mid to late twenties were still living with their parents suggested that Ira may have been less than in robust health. Whatever his condition, he died suddenly on May 7, 1908 in Orwell of cerebral apoplexy (stroke). 
The records of the probate court dealing with Ira's estate provided a wonderful glimpse into the accomplishments of an enterprising man who started life living on a small rural farm that was valued at $500. The inventory of his estate required by the Probate Court revealed:
- owned 2 cows, 1 horse (valued at $100)
- standing timber ($800)
- furniture (eventually given to the widow by the heirs) consisting of (7 rooms) six chamber suits, carpets, dining table &chairs
- home place with two cottages & contents on 140 acres ($1,500)
- 1/2 interest in 117 acres in Benson known as the Howard farm ($1,000)
- one parcel of land of 21 acres (Town lot) in Orwell ($150)
- one shoat (young pig just weaned) ($7.00)
- 1/4 interest in broad sow ($5.00)
- 12 cows ($360)
- 1/4 interest in 6 calves at $6.00 ea. ($9.00)
- 1/4 interest in 2-two yr. old collies (?) (sheepdog) at $20.00 ea. ($10.00)
- 1/4 interest in 3 yearlings at $15.00 ea. ($11.25)
- 1/4 interest in yearling colt at $50.00 ($12.50)
- one broad mare ($30.00), 1 horse ($100.00) ($130.00)
- 1 farm wagon ($10.00)
- 1 wheel harrow ($10.00)
- 1 plow ($5.00)
- 1 mowing machine ($5.00)
- 5 boats at $5.00 ($25.00)
- 1 square box sleigh & 1 old cutter ($7.00)
- Fred Kimberley ($75.00)
- L.J. Putney ($45.00)
- Other personal property:
- 1,000 feet Pine novelty siding ($24.00)
Total estate value: $3,550.00 
Not too bad an accumulation of assets for a small town dirt poor farm boy!
There are a number of things evident from the inventory of Ira' estate. One, he had diversified investments. He owned timber, mills and real estate as well as a basic agricultural business. He was doing well enough to lend money to relatives (the two notes were to his son-in- laws) Third, he had business partners - probably his sons, but maybe not. Lastly, he owned a home large enough to house six bedroom sets of furniture (with carpets).
The heirs to Ira's estate, besides his widow, Sarah were;
- Clara Putney, wife of Lorenzo, daughter, age 42 from Orwell - Frank, son, age 40 from Orwell - Charles, son, age 39 from Orwell - Eva Munger, wife of Clayton, daughter, age about 36 from Benson - Addie Kimberley, wife of Fred, daughter, age 33 or 34 from Orwell 
Most of the assets of the estate sold for cash went to non-family members. On August 13, 1913, L.J. (who had been appointed administrator of the estate) sold four acres of land along Sunset Lake to William Bascom from Whitehall, N.Y. for $200.  September 9 of the same year, L.J. sold to Fred Brett of Whitehall two lots along the shores of Lake Sunset adjoining that previously sold to Bascom.  The following spring, June 6, 1914, L.J. informed Judge Button of the Probate Court that "…I have sold all standing timber on the home place of the Ira E. Morse estate to Page & Farrington at private sale for $800.00…."  Two years later, on January 26, 1916, L.J. sold Harry Howard 1/2 interest in the 117 acres of land in Benson for $1,000.  The only relative to buy any the items in Ira's estate was his son, Charlie. February 28, 1916 L.J. sold Charlie the home place, the 140 acres, one horse, two cows, the farming tools and the boats for $1,000. The same day, L.J. also sold Charlie the 21 acre Town lot in Orwell for $150.00. 
Sarah Morse, Ira's widow, continued to live in Orwell after Ira died. In 1920, she lived on Sunset Lake Road. She owned her home free and clear. She was 75 years old and lived with Clarence, 76, a male and single. He was Ira's brother.  Sarah Jane Dikeman Morse passed away on December 6, 1923 of labor pneumonia and chronic bronchitis. 
NOTES:1. Ancestry.com, 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Ira Morse; Ibid., Morse Family Tree; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 (Death) for Ira Elisha Morse; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 (Marriage) for Ira E. Morse.
2. Ancestry.com, Morse Family Tree for Ira Elisha Morse; Ibid., 1850 & 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Ira Morse; Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 (Death) for Ira Elisha Morse.
3. Ancestry.com, 1860 U.S. Federal Census for Ira Morse.
4. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records of Volunteer Union Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Vermont, p. 3, image 311754671. Hereinafter referred to as Compiled Service Records.
5. Vermont in the Civil War.org/Units/Ninth Vermont/Regimental History; Ibid., Units/Ninth Vermont/Introduction.
6. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records, p. 4, image 311754674.
7. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 6, image 311754680.
8. Ancestry.com, U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 for Ira E. Morse.
9. Fold3.com, Compiled Service Records, p. 9, image 311754689.
10. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 8, image 311754686.
11. Ibid., Compiled Service Records, p. 9, image 311610523.
12. Ancestry.com, Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Ira E. Morse and Sarah Jane Dikeman.
13. Ancestry.com, 1870 U.S., Federal Census for Ira Morse.
14. Ibid., Morse Family Tree for Ira Elisha Morse.
15. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908 for Jennie Morse.
16. Ibid., Morse Family Tree for Ira Elisha Morse.
17. History of Rutland County, Vermont: with illustrations and biographical sketches of some of its prominent men and pioneers, Chap. XX, p. 472.
18. Ancestry.com, 1880 U.S. Federal Census for Ira E. Morse.
19. Ibid., 1890 Veteran's Schedule for Ira E. Morse.
20. Ibid., 1900 U.S. Federal Census for Ira Morse.
21. Ibid., U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 for Ira E. Morse.
22. Ibid., Vermont, Vital Records (Death), 1720-1908 for Ira E. Morse.
23. Ibid., Vermont, Wills and Probate Records, 1749-1999, Account of estate and "An Inventory" of estate dated Jan. 27, 1913 signed by L.J. Putney.
24. Ibid., petition to appoint L.J. Putney administrator of estate of Ira E. Morse dated 20th Jan. 1913.
25. Ibid., transaction dated Aug. 19, 1913.
26. Ibid., transaction dated Nov. 17, 1913.
27. Ibid., letter dated June 6, 1914 to Judge Button from L.J. Putney, admin.
28. Ibid., transaction dated March 10, 1916.
29. Ibid., transaction dated March 10, 1916.
30. Ibid., 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Sarah Morse.
31. Ibid., Vermont, Death Records, 1909-2008 for Sarah Jane Morse.
Courtesy of Bernie Noble.