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John K. Morris Papers (Chadwick)


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

House of Representatives

Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB)

Elmcrest Farm

Addendum 1

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John K. Morris Papers (Chadwick), 1919-1989 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: John K. Morris Papers (Chadwick), 1919-1989

ID: RHC/RC/161

Extent: 5.0 Linear Feet

Subjects: Agriculture, Chadwick (Ill.), Dairying, Democratic Party, Illinois. General Assembly, Legislators, Livestock, Morris, John K., Property tax--United States, Tax Assessment

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The John K. Morris Papers contain documents related to Mr. Morris’ career as a State Representative, chairman of the State Property Tax Appeal Board and farmer.  The collection is arranged into three series, one for each aspect of his career.  Papers in the collection date from 1919 to 1982.  The collection contains biographical sketches of Morris’ life.  There are also some papers from his grade school and college days.

The first series contains material from Morris’ career as a State Representative in the Illinois General Assembly, from 1946 to 1966.  Material for elections includes letters of endorsement, campaign literature, and election returns.  The amount of material varies for each election.  Correspondence from his term in office follows the appropriate election year.  This series also contains memorandums from the Legislative Council.  The Legislative Council performed research for state officials to provide them with information on current topics of legislation.

The second series is the largest and contains most of the material in the collection.  It spans the years Mr. Morris served as Chairman of the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB), 1967-1980.  The Board was appealed to by taxpayers who considered their assessments unfair.  This series contains some of the Board’s decisions for 1967-1970 and 1972-1974.  These decisions are arranged by docket number.  The docket number is a string of numbers indicating the year, the county, and the number of the docket.  It is the second number in the string by which the decisions are arranged numerically.  Morris created indexes to the 1967-1970 decisions, so that a decision can be found if one knows the Board’s decision number.  The Board had its own numbering system for appeal decisions.  Although termed petitions for property assessment appeal, the 1972-1974 decisions contain the same information as the earlier decisions.  If the taxpayer or the County Board were dissatisfied with the PTAB’s decision, they could take the PTAB to court.  Decisions defended in court which are in this series include, the

Commonwealth Edison dispute over the Zion Nuclear Power Plant.  Also defended in court, was the decision on the Belvidere Chrysler plant assessment.

Material related to the Board’s activities, such as farmland assessment and various bills, can, also, be found in this series.  Personal papers of Mr. Morris’ are included, too.  These personal papers cover his correspondence with people asking for his help in bureaucratic matters and his correspondence with various state and federal officials on current political topics.  Copies of letters he sent to President Carter are among this personal correspondence.

The third series concentrates on Morris’ activities as a farmer.  It contains farm account books, agriculture census forms and a few income tax returns.  Awards that Mr. Morris received, some for non-farm related services, are included in this series.  Also, two articles written about the Morris dairying enterprise can be found in this series.

The addendum dates 1970-1989 and includes the remainder of series III, Elmcrest Farm.  While State Representative, Mr. Morris divided his time between Springfield and his farm in Chadwick.  Great detail was needed in documenting the herd and their production because of Mr. Morris’ absence from the farm.  The series consists of records kept by Mr. Morris and his employees regarding the status of the herd.  The records include herd health and production records, pedigree and performance evaluations, herd listings and registrations, computerized herd reports, and other material pertaining to the herd and the farm.  There are also herd identification photographs.  These photographs include vital statistics about the cattle. The series contain photographs of cattle sold or deceased and the reason behind such action.

Collection Historical Note

John K. Morris was born in Lanark on June 3, 1909. He attended the College of Agriculture at the University of Illinois, receiving his B.S. degree in 1932. In 1937, he married Ealy Grobe and had two children, a son and a daughter. The son is deceased.

Morris served on the school board from 1934 to 1936, was Rock Creek Township’s Justice of the Peace from 1936 to 1952 and was first elected to the State House of Representatives in 1946. He represented Stephenson, Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties. During his twenty years as a representative, Morris was Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee (1949-1952), a member of the State Fair Advisory Board (1949-1952), and Chairman of the House Revenue Committee (1959, 1961, 1965). Morris advocated the Farm to Market Road System, brucellosis vaccination for livestock, lowering assessed valuation of farmland from 100% to 55%, instituting a state income tax and abolishing the personal property tax.

In 1964, Morris received the second highest number of votes in the at-large election. This was on a state-wide basis. However, due to a district change because of reapportioning, Morris found himself running against another incumbent Democrat in 1966. He lost that election. The governor appointed him Chairman of the Property Tax Appeal Board in 1967. Morris served as chairman until 1980, when he lost the position due to a changeover from a Democratic to a Republican administration. During his years as chairman, Morris continued to voice his opinions on legislation to political contacts he maintained.

Elmcrest Farm took its name from the old elm tree which stands in front of the Morris home. The Morris’ run a dairy farm but, also, raise purebred Aberdeen-Angus cattle for show. In 1977, John Morris was named an Honorary Master Farmer by the Prairie Farmer publication. Morris retired in 1985 with a complete dispersal sale of stock on September 18, 1985. His daughter owns the farm and rents the property to a farmer in the area. At the time of the donation of his addendum to his papers, John and his wife Ealy still live in the farm house.

Subject/Index Terms

Chadwick (Ill.)
Democratic Party
Illinois. General Assembly
Morris, John K.
Property tax--United States
Tax Assessment

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Accruals: An addendum was added on November 28, 1989.

Access Restrictions: There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Use Restrictions: Property rights in the collection are held by the Northern Illinois Regional History Center; literary rights are dedicated to the public.

Acquisition Source: Mr. John K. Morris

Acquisition Method: Mr. John K. Morris donated his papers to the Northern Illinois Regional History Center on February 4, 1983.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: House of Representatives],
[Series II.: Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB)],
[Series III.: Elmcrest Farm],
[Addendum 1],

Series III.: Elmcrest Farm
Box 4
Folder 15: Awards, 1942, 1949, 1963, 1968, 1977
Folder 16: Farm Correspondence, 1951-1980
Folder 17
Item 1: "Checkerboard News" article, 1942
Item 2: "Kraftsman" article, 1945
Folder 18: Aberdeen-Angus Certificates, 1948-1968
Folder 19: Soil Conservation Project, 1938-1949
Folder 20: Farm Statistics, 1949, 1952, 1967, 1969, 1982
Folder 21: Financial Records, 1940-1963
Folder 22: Federal Home Administration Loan, February 1978-July 1978
Folder 23-30: Farm Account Books, 1935-1961
Folder 31: Farm Account Books and Depreciation Schedules, 1962-1963; 1948, 1954, 1966

Browse by Series:

[Series I.: House of Representatives],
[Series II.: Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB)],
[Series III.: Elmcrest Farm],
[Addendum 1],

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