Contact Us

Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Overview

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Contents of the Papers

Organization of the Papers

Restrictions

Index Terms

Related Material

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Court of Criminal Appeals campaign correspondence and notes, 1915-1916, undated,

Financial correspondence and records, 1916-1919,

Personal correspondence, 1918, undated,

Texas State Library and Archives Commission

W.C. Morrow Papers:

An Inventory of W.C. Morrow Papers at the Texas State Archives, 1900-1919, bulk 1915-1916



Overview

Creator: Morrow, W. C., 1858-1942.
Title: W.C. Morrow papers
Dates: 1900-1919
Dates (Bulk): bulk 1915-1916
Abstract: Wright Chalfant Morrow was a lawyer, Democratic state senator, and Judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The W.C. Morrow papers focused on W.C. Morrow's campaign for judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Texas in 1916. The papers also provide insight into his personal finances through a collection of personal letters, receipts, and checks.
TSLAC Control No.: TX009856
Quantity: 0.67 cubic ft.
Language: These materials are written in English.
Repository: Texas State Archives
Sponsor: This EAD finding aid was created in cooperation with Texas Archival Resources Online.

Biographical Sketch

Wright Chalfant Morrow was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, on October 12, 1858, to William and Gabrielle Morrow. At the age of 17, W.C. Morrow went to live with his aunt in Fort Worth, Texas. After several months in Fort Worth, Morrow moved to Hill County, where he ran a drug store. In 1884, he married Fanietta Tarlton, and together they had four children: John Tarlton, William C., Wright F., and Lyde G. Morrow studied law in Hillsboro, Texas, and attended law school at the University of Virginia. Upon his graduation, Morrow returned to Hillsboro and began practicing law with his brothers-in-law at their firm Tarlton, Tarlton, and Morrow. His brother-in-law Benjamin Dudley Tarlton would go on to have a distinguished legal career, with the University of Texas Law School named in his honor. At this time, most of Morrow's cases related to land disputes. One such case, concerning a dispute over the ownership of a homestead, reached the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1900.

Morrow was first elected as District Judge of Hill County in 1897 on the Democratic ticket. He was re-elected in 1889 but resigned shortly after to start the firm Wear, Morrow, and Smithdeal. After practicing with this firm for a few years, Morrow was elected and served as a state senator for Hill, Ellis, and Johnson Counties from 1912 until 1916. While in office, he served on several committees, including the labor, public roads, towns and city corporation, and judiciary committees. He also served as the senate president pro tempore during his first term. While in office, Morrrow helped to draft and pass Senate Bill 166, which revised the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals' reversal policy. It held that "the case shall not be reversed unless an error was committed calculated to injure the rights of the defendant, and not then unless the error was pointed out in objections made as the charge was given, or in the refusal of special charges requested, made at the time of trial." After his final term, he briefly practiced law with his sons John Tarlton, William C., and Wright F. Morrow.

In 1916, Morrow ran successfully for the office of judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. He served in this position until 1921, at which time he was appointed presiding judge of the court. Morrow supported the Robertson Law, which required out of state life insurance companies operating in Texas to invest 75% of their Texas revenues in Texas securities. At the time of his first re-election, he received the largest number of votes for a state office in Texas to that date, demonstrating his favor among his constituents. The Ku Klux Klan, while choosing not to endorse him, listed him as being "favorable" to their interests during the 1916 campaign. However, during his first term in office, Morrow held Klan members accountable for their actions, and he thus lost this status among Klan members in subsequent elections.

Morrow is best known for his role in establishing the rule that all motions for rehearing should be considered by a judge other than the judge who heard the original case. He also established the right to present oral arguments for rehearing motions. As a lawyer and judge, Morrow was noted for his dedication to the letter of the law. His son Wright Morrow described his father as someone who "cleave[d] to the integrity of the law and to that alone." He believed in enforcing the law to the fullest extent. Governor Dan Moody, a close personal friend of his, recalled in his memorial address, "The Constitution was the touchstone of his official action. He was not a legislating judge, for over and over again his opinions revealed his belief that laws should be made by legislators and not by judges."

Morrow continued to serve as presiding judge at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin, until his retirement in 1939. W.C. Morrow died on October 6, 1942, at his home in Hillsboro.

(Sources include: "Executive Secretary,"Texas Bar Journal 1, no. 2 (February 1938): 44-58; Wright C. Morrow Papers, 1922-1942, Tarlton Law Library, the University of Texas at Austin; The Paris News, October 7, 1942; "W.C. Morrow," Legislative Reference Library of Texas; Harwood, Brown. "To All Exalted Cyclops," Hearst's International 131 (July 10, 1933); Townes Hall Notes (Austin, TX). "Three New Professionships Given Law School." December 1967, 2nd edition, 1-2; Fisher, O.C., "Extension of Remarks," Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the 90th Congress, Second Session Volume 114, Part 2 (January 31, 1968): 1738-39, all websites accessed on February 19, 2020.)

Return to the Table of Contents


Scope and Contents of the Papers

Wright Chalfant Morrow was a lawyer, Democratic state senator, and judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The W.C. Morrow papers predominantly reflect his campaign efforts and his personal and professional financial interests. The papers span the years 1900-1919, with the bulk of the materials from the years 1915 to 1916. The papers contain letters, notes, Christmas cards, bills, and receipts.

The bulk of the papers consists of correspondence received by Morrow and his son Tarlton Morrow regarding Morrow's 1916 candidacy for judge of the Court of Criminal Appeals. There are also several letters addressed to other Morrow supporters, typically other members of the Texas Bar or government, discussing his candidacy. Morrow retroactively marked each letter with the county from which they originated.

Financial correspondence and related records document Morrow's professional and personal financial interests between 1916 and 1919. His professional purchases consisted of items such as stenographic services, posters (likely for his 1916 campaign), and letterhead. Personal purchases varied considerably, including dry cleaning services, newspaper subscriptions, country club memberships, and drugstore recipes. This series also includes several letters regarding his search for an apartment or a home in Austin, Texas.

Personal correspondence includes Christmas cards, an announcement, and a calling card, which Morrow received from friends, colleagues, and businesses in 1918.

Records detailing the proceedings of the court cases State of Texas v. J.R. Vinsant and Abe Little v. State of Texas, dated 1900-1901, were transferred to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals records.

Return to the Table of Contents


Organization of the Papers

The papers are organized into three series:
Court of Criminal Appeals campaign correspondence and notes, 1915-1916, undated, 0.5 cubic ft.
Financial correspondence and records, 1916-1919, 0.08 cubic ft.
Personal correspondence, 1918, undated, 0.08 cubic ft.

Return to the Table of Contents


Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

None.

Restrictions on Use

Under the Copyright Act of 1976 as amended in 1998, unpublished works are protected for the life of the author plus 70 years. The term of copyright for published material varies. Researchers are responsible for complying with U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17 U.S.C.).

Technical Requirements

None.

Return to the Table of Contents


Index Terms

The terms listed here were used to catalog the records. The terms can be used to find similar or related records.
Subjects (Organizations):
Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals.
Subjects:
Judges--Texas.
Political campaigns--Texas.
Places:
Austin (Tex.)
Hill County (Tex.)
Hillsboro (Tex.)
Document Types:
Christmas cards.
Correspondence.
Financial records.

Return to the Table of Contents


Related Material

The following materials are offered as possible sources of further information on the agencies and subjects covered by the records. The listing is not exhaustive.

Texas State Archives
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals records, 1892-2012, 1,480 cubic ft. [Restricted]
Texas Court of Criminal Appeals centralized court case files 1909-1950, 7,545.75 cubic ft. [Restricted]
Tarlton Law Library, The University of Texas at Austin
Wright C. Morrow Papers, 1922-1942, 0.5 linear ft. (one box)

Return to the Table of Contents


Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), W.C. Morrow papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Accession Information

Accession number: 2020/046

The accession file for the W.C. Morrow papers was reported missing on October 17, 1970. Because the accession file was lost, there is no deed of gift or donor information available. The papers were likely obtained sometime after W.C. Morrow's death in 1942. An accession number was assigned for control purposes on March 10, 2020.

Processing Information

Inventoried by Archives staff, date unknown

Processed and finding aid prepared by University of Texas School of Information students Laura Grove and Anne Morgan, 2019 November

Return to the Table of Contents


Detailed Description of the Papers

Court of Criminal Appeals campaign correspondence and notes, 1915-1916, undated,
0.5 cubic ft.

This series provides insight into W.C. Morrow's campaign strategy for the office of judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1916. It contains correspondence received by W.C. Morrow, his son Tarlton Morrow, and other individuals, including supporters of his campaign. Many of the letters of support contain promises to promote Morrow to the writer's friends and colleagues. Some letters describe Morrow's support for various pro-labor measures. Other letters discuss the impact of Prohibition on Morrow's campaign but do not reveal his personal views on the matter.
Arrangement
These papers are arranged chronologically.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Court of Criminal Appeals campaign correspondence and notes, W.C. Morrow papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Box
2-23/948 1915 October 21-December 31
1916 January 5-February 29
1916 March 1-April 30
1916 May 1-June 30
1916 July 1-August 4
Box
2-23/949 Campaign notes and correspondence, undated

Return to the Table of Contents




Financial correspondence and records, 1916-1919,
0.08 cubic ft.

This series provides insight into W.C. Morrow's financial situation and interests between 1916 and 1919. This series is arranged by subject matter. The series consists of receipts for work-related materials, receipts for personal materials (this makes up the bulk of the collection), and letters to and from W.C. Morrow regarding financial matters.
The receipts concerning work-related materials document purchases of stenographic services, letterhead, and posters (likely for his 1916 campaign). Personal receipts include purchases of groceries, dry cleaning services, tailor services, auto repair services, a subscription to the Dallas Morning News, a membership at Austin's country club, drugstore items, flowers, jewelry, plumbing services, gas and light, telegraph and phone services, and furniture. There are also tax records, as well as several stapled receipts from the Austin National Bank.
Many of the letters in this series serve as reminders to W.C. Morrow to pay his debts. Several also detail his attempts to locate and rent an apartment in Austin, Texas, in 1919. There are two letters written by W.C. Morrow on this subject. Finally, this series contains two letters, one from W.C. Morrow and one addressed to his wife, regarding a diamond that was mistakenly sold by a pawnbroker.
Arrangement
The items are arranged chronologically.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Financial correspondence and records, W.C. Morrow papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Box
2-23/949 Financial correspondence and records, 1916 May 3-1919 September 17

Return to the Table of Contents




Personal correspondence, 1918, undated,
0.08 cubic ft.

W.C. Morrow's personal correspondence consists of 18 Christmas cards, an announcement, and a calling card. The Christmas cards were sent by personal friends, including two from State Senator Isaac E. Clark, and by businesses, local and out of state. Several are unsigned. Many of the cards, sent shortly after the end of World War I, are adorned with emblems of the American flag and greetings of peace.
There are no dates on the announcement and calling card. The announcement advises that Judge Steve M. King, who has just stepped down as Associate Justice of the Court of Criminal Appeals, Chas. D. Smith, and L.J. Benckenstein have formed a new law practice called Smith & King. The calling card has "M.S. Barmlett" written on it.
Arrangement
This correspondence is arranged chronologically.
Preferred Citation
(Identify the item), Personal correspondence, W.C. Morrow papers. Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.
Box
2-23/949 Christmas cards, 1918
Announcements, undated

Return to the Table of Contents