Henry Kirtland Morse (1822-1909)

Mr. Morse was born on May 22, 1822 and died June 27, 1909 on the family homestead located at the north end of Water Street in Poland, Ohio. His father was Elkanah Morse and his mother was Nancy Kirtland, daughter of Turhand Kirtland. Nancy’s dowry was 200 acres of land northeast of Main Street and between Yellow Creek and Youngstown Rd. His family was wealthy by any-day’s standards and his father owned and operated many enterprises within the Poland area. Henry attended the local schools and spent one winter attending a school at Detroit, another at Allegheny College, and a third at Ravenna. His time as a youth on the farm was filled with many duties, including the clearing of land, attending to the broom-corn crop, and general agriculture. (His father raised 400 acres of broom-corn and employed 20 men making brooms.) At the age of 18 Henry was employed as a clerk in a store operated by his father and Isaac Mansfield and at the age of 21 he was appointed postmaster of the village.
After his father’s death in 1849 Henry continued to operate his father’s flour mill on the east side of the dam on Yellow Creek where the Cemetery Bridge is now located. The milling business was successful for the next 12 years. It was then that the Fort Wayne Railroad was completed and wheat from Indiana made the milling business in Poland unprofitable.
Henry Morse sold the mill machinery to the Baldwins of Youngstown in 1866. On the west side of the Morse Dam was a saw mill which was kept busy until 1870. It manufactured shingles, lath, and broom handles. Henry K. and his two sons, Henry G. and Charles, acted as sawyers at this mill. Mr. Morse raised fruits and vegetables to sell in the City of Youngstown. He also had one of the finest orchards in the area located on the land now occupied by Orchard and Centennial Drives in Poland.
Henry K. Morse married Mary Lynn Wick, the widow of Henry Wick in 1848. Mary died thirty years later. Henry then married Eliza Blakelee in 1881. Before her marriage Miss Blakelee had been the Preceptress at Poland Union Seminary. She had been a wonderful teacher and the community had a hard time accepting her replacement, Ida M. Tarbell.
The children of the first marriage were (1) Henry G. Morse who became successively President of the Morse Bridge Co., President of the Edgemore Bridge Co. and President of the New York Ship Building Co.; (2) Charles Morse, noted bridge engineer who resided in Evanston, Illinois; (3) Edwin Morse, a consulting engineer in Pittsburgh for Jones and Laughlin company; and (4) Mary Morse, who never married and continued to live in the Morse homestead until her death in 1952. It was Mary who collected the diaries and journals of the Kirtland and Morse families and donated them to the Western Reserve Historical Society where they may be studied today.

Henry Morse, Cook Kirtland, and Ira Mansfield formed the Robin Hood Club in 1865. When Henry died 44 years later, he was buried behind Riverside Cemetery’s Civil War Monument. His grave today is marked with a huge rock which was once located in the old swimming hole below his father’s dam and used by him when a child as a diving platform.