Nebraska Authors

Julius Sterling Morton

AKA: J. Sterling Morton

Born 1832-04-22 Adams, NY (USA)

Died 1902-04-27
Lake Forest, IL

Morton came to Nebraska in 1854 and was a leading figure in the Democratic Party beginning in territorial days. He was acting Governor of Nebraska on several occasions, and would be Secretary of Agriculture in President Cleveland's cabinet, 1893-97. He began his career as a journalist, writing on agricultural and political topics. Morton was an early President of the Nebraska Historical Society. He wrote a history of Nebraska and published a collection of Native folk tales. Late in his career he was an opponent of William Jennings Bryan's populism and tried to limit its influence in Democratic Party circles. He is best known as a founder of Arbor Day, and for his magnificent home Arbor Lodge, near Nebraska City.

While Secretary of Agriculture Morton encouraged Clarence Paine (then Secretary of the Nebraska State Historical Association) to help establish the Missouri Valley Historical Association, which eventually served as the foundation for the American Historical Association.


James C. Olson, J. Sterling Morton: Pioneer Statesman, Founder of Arbor Day, 1942, 1972.
Nebraska Writers Revised, 1964.
Influence on historical studies see: Lauck, Jon K. "The Prairie Historians and the Foundations of Midwestern History.
"The Annals of Iowa" 71 (2012), 137-173. (Also available at: http://ir.uiowa.edu/annals-of-iowa/vol71/iss2/3 )
On Arbor Lodge see the chapter in Lisa Knopp, The Nature of Home: A Lexicon and Essays, 2002


Places Lived

Nebraska City, NE

Author Of

  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Journalism


Nebraska History; Folklore; Agriculture


1854, Union College in Michigan


Acting Governor of Nebraska - twice
Secretary of Agriculture in President Cleveland's cabinet, 1893-97
Founder of Arbor Day


“150 Notable Nebraskans”, Number 11 on the Journal Star Sesquicentennial List of Significant Nebraskans


President of the Nebraska Historical Society
Established Arbor Lodge in Nebraska City
Son, Joy Morton, founded the Morton Salt Company


A History of Nebraska from the Earliest Explorations of the Trans-Mississippi Region.(various editions)
White Cow: And other tales, being some anecdotes about Indian orators of the Territorial Period of Nebraska.

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Julius Sterling Morton

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(e.g. Author is buried in Fremont, not in David City / Also wrote for the Daily Nebraskan during her time as a student)