Joy Morton

A Lover of Trees

Today is the birthday of Joy Morton, who was born on this day in 1855.

Morton's father was J. Sterling Morton, the founder of Arbor Day and a former secretary of agriculture under President Cleveland. Not surprisingly, Joy's love of trees was instilled in him at a young age.
Raised on a farm in Nebraska, Joy Morton became a powerful businessman in Chicago with his company Morton Salt. Morton liked to hire young people, and then he promoted them gradually to vital positions in his organization.
In December 1922, Joy established The Morton Arboretum - a tract of land dedicated to the ongoing study of trees, shrubs, and grasses.
In 1923, Morton donated his family's Ancestral home, Arbor Lodge, to Nebraska, and the property became a state park and a memorial to his father.
An article from the Chicago Tribune in 1926, offered a glimpse of the passion Morton felt about trees. Speaking at the Arboretum, Morton said,

"I want to appeal to the gambling instinct of the American people. I want a man to come in here and say, 'What can I get out of tree planting?' I want to arouse his venturesomeness. A man old enough to think for himself comes in here and sees a group like that [pointing] group of walnuts over there which is doing so well, and then he says to himself,
'Well, how about it? What can I do now on my land that will mean something to my grandchildren thirty years hence? And, then I want him to keep looking at the walnuts, or what he likes best, until he says, I believe I'll go and do likewise.'"

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Joy Morton
Joy Morton


  1. WK on April 16, 2023 at 9:40 pm

    Joy was born in 1857

    • The Daily Gardener on October 4, 2023 at 8:42 pm

      Hello WK.

      The Morton Arboretum steadfastly insists the year was 1855.

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