Robert Morris of Waynesburg, Greene County, Pennsylvania, 1816-1891
Robert Morris of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, was born on March 26, 1816, in Morris Township, Greene County, Pennsylvania. He married Emaline Mills and they had three children together between 1840 and 1844. He then married Catherine Brown and they had three children together between 1855 and 1861. He died on August 7, 1891, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, and was buried there.
Robert did not know who his parents were. He explained the circumstances in a letter to his son, David, in a letter dated 13 Dec 1885 (the spelling and punctuation are his):
"I can't give you very much information about your Grandfather Morris. I was small when I saw him not more than 8 or 9 years old. From what I learned later in life he was born in New Jersy [sic] but in month or year I can't tell. From what parentage I can't tell he came from it was often told to me that he was close related Robert Morris of Philadelphia who in time of the revolutionary war borrowed money on his account to carry on the revolutionary war. Whether we are related to him or not he was a great man in the time of the war but became involved and was imprisoned in jail for debt and it has been stated that he died in jail and that debt was for the money borrowed. You will find in the history of the revolutionary war more than I can tell you. You [sic] Grandfather Morris died about 1846 or 7 about 90 year of age. He left Pennsylvania about 64 years ago and never was back out one time and was 3 or 4 years after he went to Ohio.
“Your Grandmother Morris her name before she was married was Fisher. She was of New Jersy [sic] stock but they lived in this county [?]. She died Febuary [sic] the 14 1820. As to age I don't now [sic] any thing of it. Ther [sic] is record of it as I now of at I never saw any and she died with the consumtion [sic]."
In another letter, dated 21 Jan 1886, Robert explained further: “I will try to answer some of your requests but there is some that I can't give much information on but will do the best I can. First I will give you a record of our ages. I was born on March the 26 1816 in Morris township Greene County 8 miles West of Waynesburg. I was bound to Robert Millikin before I was four years old in till [sic] I was 21 and served my time out.”
Robert had a daughter named Evaline (Eva), born 1861, who married George Harvey Elms (1863-1947). George’s niece, Laura Elms Morris (she married Thomas Henry Morris, son of Andrew Jacson Morris, who was not related to Robert Morris) wrote the following in her family history, “The Story of George and Sarah (Jones) Elms: “Uncle Harvey told me that his father-in-law's father was Dennis Morris. He was much older than his wife. He never cared for children and Robert Morris was reared by the Millikens who lived between Sycamore and Nineveh. Dr. Milliken always considered Robert Morris as being one of the Milliken family. Although Uncle Harvey did state that Milliken told him when Robert Morris was a boy, he would get angry and would visit his Morris relatives at Blacksville, W. Va. This is a clue to his family. He also stated Dennis lived in Ohio until he reached the age of in his 90’s.”
Some people have speculated that Robert Morris was a descendant of Robert Morris the Financier of the American Revolution, but, of course, this is not true. Others have tried connecting our Robert Morris to Robert Morris & Salome Renner. I have studied this family before but have never found any evidence that they had sons named Robert and Jesse (Robert’s one known brother). Robert & Salome were married about 1818, two years after our Robert’s birth. In addition, Robert & Salome were residing in Jackson Township in the 1850 US census. We know that our Robert’s mother died in 1820, and his father, unable or unwilling to care for his young son, bound him over to Robert Milliken as an apprentice. Robert Morris of Jackson Township was the son of John Franklin Morris, who was the son of Robert Morris of Monmouth Co, NJ. .William (Bill) Muller has an extensive database on this family (he is married to a Morris). His information is well-sourced.
So the best evidence we have is that Robert Morris’ father was Dennis Morris. There was, indeed, a Dennis Morris in the 1820 US census living by himself in Morris Township, Greene County. The census was taken after Mrs. Morris had died. As of the date of writing, this is the best evidence we have. If you find any better evidence, please contact me by email.