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Morse family papers

   Biographical Note


R.I. (Robert I.) Morse, founder of Morse Hardware Company in present-day Bellingham, Washington, was born in 1858 in Sidney, Maine. The son of Comfort Taylor Morse and Rhoda Ann (Balentine) Morse, Robert moved from Waterville, Maine to San Francisco, California in 1875, seeking gainful employment.


In San Francisco, R.I. Morse worked as a salesman, streetcar conductor, and milk deliveryman, and also attended business school. He met and married Etta Fowler (1861-1906), with whom he would have five children: Cecil A. (1883-1958), Roscoe Irvine (1887-1903), Luta Ivy (1890-1890), Charles Leland (1891-1955), and Hosea (1896-1896).

In 1884, Morse moved with his family to Whatcom County, where he founded the successful Morse Hardware Company in the town of Sehome. In 1909, three years after the death of his first wife, R.I. Morse remarried Ada C. (Margaret Chisholm) Morse (1881-1961). The couple had three sons: Robert Irvine Jr. (1910-1993), William Howard (1911-1984), and David C. Morse (1913-2007).

R.I. Morse served as President of the family business from its inception until his death in 1920. His oldest son, Cecil A. Morse, served in the same capacity until he passed away in 1958. R.I. Morse's youngest son, David C. Morse, served as President of the family business until 1975, and then acted as Chairman and Chairman Emeritus until he died in 2007.


Heller, Ramon, SELL’ EM LOW—SEND AND GET MORE/A Centennial History of MORSE HARDWARE COMPANY, Bellingham, WA, 1984.

Obituary of David Chisholm Morse—Bellingham, WA. February, 2007.

Morse family genealogy