Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris

Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Morris
(December 26, 1811 – March 22, 1904)

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Thomas Morris was only ten years old when his father, Morris Morris, moved the family to Indianapolis from Nicholas County, Kentucky, because he felt he could no longer in good conscience live in a state that allowed slavery. He attended West Point Military Academy, graduating 4th in his class of 36 in 1834 and served a few years as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army before becoming active in its Engineer Corps.

Morris oversaw the division that built the National Road from Richmond to Indianapolis before retiring from the military. He then served as the State’s resident engineer, active in the construction of the Central Canal in Indianapolis and in overseeing the construction of the Madison and Indianapolis Railroad, the first in the state, from 1841-1847. Other projects included railroads to Terre Haute, Bellefontaine, and Cincinnati.

In 1840, Morris married Elizabeth Rachel Irwin of Madison, Indiana. They had two children, John, in 1842, and Eleanora, in 1848. During the 1850s he was president of the Indianapolis & Cincinnati Railroad, and then of the Indianapolis & St. Louis Railroad. Morris also drew the plans and supervised the construction of a Union Railroad Station in 1853, generally credited as being the first such station in the country, if not the world.

When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Morris was appointed the state’s quartermaster general, then transferred to military service as a Brigadier General and served for the first three months of the war. He returned to civilian life at the end of his pledged period of service in late July 1861 and resumed his role as chief engineer on several railroad projects, serving the war effort that way. In 1863 he became president of the Indianapolis Street Railroad Company, and in 1866 became the president of the short-lived Crown Hill Railroad Company, which ran between downtown Indianapolis and the cemetery gates.

Morris was present at the first meeting about Crown Hill on September 12, 1863 and was appointed to the committee to select the land. In the following months he also served as the Director of the Committee on Contracts and Titles and the Committee on Grounds. His technical knowledge made him a valuable member of the board and he served for forty years until his death.

With fellow board member and Civil War veteran, John Love, Morris served on the 1877 state committee charged with building a new state capitol building. He was also active in Consumers Gas Company and the Indianapolis Water Company, serving as the latter’s president from 1881 to 1904. The Indiana Society of Professional Engineers continues to honor his legacy through its Thomas A. Morris Engineering Leadership Award.

Morris died in March 1904 at his daughter’s home in San Diego, California at age 92. He’s buried between his wife who died in 1893 at age 71, and his son who died in 1897 at age 54. His daughter died at age 56, just six months after Morris, and is buried nearby. Morris’ grave is marked with a large ledger stone up the hill from the mausoleum for Dr. John Kitchen, and across the street from Calvin Fletcher.

Buried in Section 6, Lot 1; GPS (39.8205502,-86.1750110)