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The progenitor of the Morse family in Woodstock is Anthony Morse, who, on his emigration to America, settled in Newbury, Mass., in 1635, and died in 1686. His son, Deacon Benjamin Morse, born in March, 1640, married Ruth Sawyer. His son, Benjamin, Jr., born in 1668, married Susannah Merrill. Their son, Abel, was united in marriage to Grace Parker, whose son, Doctor Parker Morse, A.M., married Hannah Huse, and became the father of eight children, one of whom was Abel Morse, who married Sarah Holbrook, and had twelve children. Leonard Morse, a son by the latter union, was born October 27th, 1770, and resided in Woodstock. He married Remembrance, daughter of Joseph Meacham, to whom were born six childreni, as follows: Albert (deceased), Nathan, Nelson, Stephen, Joseph M. and Charles D.
Joseph M. Morse, the subject of this biography, and the fifth son of Leonard and Remembrance Morse, was born in Woodstock, April 1st, 1823, and educated at the common schools. He until the age of seventeen, assisted at the work of the farm, and then learned the carriage maker’s trade, which he followed for several years, first in Woodstock and later in Wilmington, N. C., Bowling Green, Ky., and elsewhere. In 1862 he responded to the call of the government for troops to suppress the rebellion, and joined the Twenty-sixth regiment, Connecticut Volunteers, for a period of one year. He served with the Banks expedition, in the Department of the Gulf, and participated in the fights at Port Hudson, May 27th and June 14th, his regiment doing good service in both engagements. Mr. Morse, on abandoning his trade, turned his attention to farming, and in 1873 removed to his present home in Woodstock, where his attention is given chiefly to the cultivation of his land.
He has meanwhile not been unmindful of the public interests, and identified himself with the political measures of the day. He has been selectman, assessor and a member of the board of relief. In the year 1871 he represented his town in the Connecticut house of representatives. He is one of the directors of the National Bank of Webster, Mass., and an incorporator of two savings banks.
Mr. Morse was on the 11th of December, 1873, married to Lucy, daughter of Abiel May, of Woodstock, the latter being a son of Captain William May and a grandson of Thomas May, all of Woodstock. George A. May, a brother of Mrs. Morse, joined the army during the late rebellion as a member of Company D, Eighteenth Connecticut Volunteers, and participated in many important battles. The children of Mr. . and Mrs. Joseph M. Morse are a daughter, Florence May, and a son, Arthur George.
The brothers of Mr. Morse are deserving of mention as enterprising and successful men. Albert, a progressive farmer, occupied the ancestral land in East Woodstock, where he ranked as a foremost citizen; Nathan has been much of his life engaged in the manufacture of sash, doors and blinds, and recently purchased a valuable mill privilege in Woodstock, to which his attention is now given; Nelson was formerly a carriage manufacturer, but at present devotes his time to the cultivation of a valuable farm; he has held various town offices, been county commissioner, member of the legislature and is active and efficient in public matters; Stephen owns and cultivates the farm on which his father formerly resided, has represented his town in the state legislature and been otherwise prominent in public affairs; -Charles D., a resident of Millbury, Mass., is an extensive manufacturer of builders’ materials, including sash, doors, blinds, etc., is one of the most influential residents of his town, has filled various local offices, and represented his constituents in the state legislature, and is president of the National Bank of Millbury.