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Morton Family Papers

A description of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 17 Nov 2010

Biographical History

Based on information in the collection and a moderate amount of online research, this material appears to be connected with the family of Gavin (1771-1830) and Janet (1780-1863) Morton of Darvel in Ayrshire, Scotland. Gavin was a weaver, and the Morton family in general appears to have been in that trade for many years, as the name of Morton appears in the history of textiles in Darvel and nearby Kilmarnock (see for example the records of Blackwood, Morton & Sons).

Gavin and Janet had eight children: William, John, James, Gavin, Thomas, Robert, Marion, and Janet. The five youngest Mortons emigrated to the United States during the mid-1800s and at least three of them settled in the Central New York region. Gavin (wife Janet) and Marion (husband John Findlay) settled in Skaneateles, New York. Thomas and his wife Margaret (Mitchell) settled in Mottville, New York; he eventually became the owner of at least two woollen mills.

Agnes Mitchell Armitage Thompson (1822-1893) was also from Darvel. She marrried twice and had six children. the first two of whom were born in Mexico where her first husband, David Armitage, was involved in a woollen mill venture and later in silver mining. Her connection with the Morton family cannot be established for certain; a reasonable guess is that she was the sister of Margaret Mitchell, Thomas Morton's wife.

[Sources: Gavin Morton on; Agnes Mitchell Armitage, Find A Grave; Records of Blackwood, Morton & Sons Ltd (BMK), carpet manufacturers, Kilmarnock, Scotland, University of Glasgow; "The Muddle of Mills", Kihm Winship]

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Morton Family Papers consists of personal and business material. The entire collection consists of photocopies. There are no originals.

Personal material contains a few pages of genealogical material and several folders of correspondence amongst members of the Morton family in Scotland and America, including siblings William, John, James, Gavin, Thomas, Robert, Marion, and Janet Morton; their parents Gavin and Janet; and their children. There are also letters from friends and relatives, including Agnes Mitchell Armitage, her father John Mitchell, her second husband Jared Thompson, and her children Albert and Jennie.

The letters are chatty, consisting mostly of family news, inquiries, and gossip. In a letter dated 16 May 1847 from Darvel, John Morton writes: "Dear Brother Robert, our Brother Gaven his wife and family and our sister Janet all sailed for amaruca on the first of april the should be landed with you by this time if all have gone well with them our mother laments there loss veray much as shee is left alone." In another letter to "Dear Mr. Morton" dated 1 Jan 1853, Cordelia (surname unknown) writes: "I stopt in Oriskany on my way down George was well said he would give me a loom any time that I wanted to go to work but I had rather go back to Skaneateles that is if every thing was right" and later she inquires "How does Martha get along? Has she left her Husband yet?"

The bulk of the letters are dated from locations in New York, including Mottville, Throopsville, Whitney's Point, Cazenovia, Ithaca, Utica, and Syracuse. Outside of New York, there is correspondence from Plattsville and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and from Kansas City, Missouri.

Business records appear to relate mostly to Thomas Mott's textile businesses, including the Aberdeen Woollen Mills. It contains accounts payable, accounts receivable, insurance and tax paperwork, and a small amount of correspondence.

Arrangement of the Collection

Both personal and business material are arranged alphabetically by type and, within that, chronologically.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Morton family.


Business enterprises -- New York (State)
Scottish Americans.
Textiles -- New York (State)


Scotland -- Emigration and immigration.
Skaneateles (N.Y.)

Genres and Forms

Financial records.
Genealogies (histories)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Morton Family Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Unspecified, 1964.

Table of Contents

Personal material

Business records