Morison, Horace
Correspondence of attorney, banker, and trustee, Major Horace Morison, of Boston, Massachusetts and Peterborough, New Hampshire, , and Ms. Arria Frazer Cotton, of Chicago, Illinois and Boston, Massachusetts, with incoming letters to Arria from family and friends, 1871-1906

manuscript archive consisting of 602 letters, 2176 pages, plus 49 pieces of ephemera (telegrams, manuscript notes, typed pages, calling cards, invitations, newspaper clippings, used envelopes, etc.), dated 1871-1906, with the bulk of material dated between 1900-1906.

$ 850.00 | Contact Us >

Of the 602 letters, there are approximately 273 letters written by Horace Morison to Arria Frazer Cotton, as well another 251 letters written by various individuals to Arria Frazer Cotton. These individuals include other potential suitors before Arria married, as well as family and friends. Arria's parents Mr. and Mrs. John Whitcomb Cotton, received 22 letters, Horace Morison received several letters, plus various assorted miscellaneous letters written amongst family, friends, or associates, of the Cottons and Morisons. While the correspondence is from 1871 to 1906, the bulk of the letters were written between 1900 and 1906 when Horace Morison was courting Arria (they married in 1905).

Horace Morison (1878-1975)

    Major Horace Morison was born at Roxbury, Massachusetts, 1 October 1878. He was a lawyer and art collector, the son of Samuel Lord Morison and Nannie Olive Williams (1853-1878). His mother died twelve days after he was born.  He had one sister, Olive, who married Joseph Morrell. Horace's father was born in 1851 in Baltimore, Maryland, the son of Horace Morison, professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland, and Mary Lord. The Morison family came from an old and well-known New Hampshire family, descendants of Thomas Morison, the first permanent settler of Peterborough, New Hampshire in 1750 and his wife Mary Smith.

     Major Morison's father attended Philips Exeter Academy and graduated Harvard Class of 1873. Adopting engineering as his profession, he became identified with important engineering enterprises in America and abroad, among them the large filtration plants at Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt; at Trieste, Austria, and others in England, France, Russia and India. He also designed the works at Little Falls, New Jersey for the filtration of the water supply of Jersey City. For many years he was the president of the Jewell Export Filter Company. He died in 1907 after having lived for many years in London and Paris.

     Due to his father's work abroad, Horace was raised in America by family. He prepared for college at Roxbury Latin School, Boston, Massachusetts, and graduated Harvard College, Class of 1900. He spent sixteen months after college traveling in Europe (six months general travel, five in Italy, four in France, and one in Norway). Afterwards he returned to Boston and entered a banking and bond house (N.W. Harris & Company), where he remained for three years until his marriage on 27 March 1905 to Arria Frazer Cotton.

     By the 1915-1916 winter season, 3 Exeter (Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood) was the home of Horace Morison, a real estate trustee, and his wife. They previously had lived at 3 Louisburg Square with Morison having an office at 148 State Street in Boston. From the correspondence in this collection we find that before his marriage, Horace appears to have been involved with Hale House, a settlement house founded in Boston in 1895, where Morison's sister Olive also appears to have worked, (as volunteers). A number of early letters have references to Hale House and Mr. Hale (Rev. Dr. Edward Everett Hale, president of the Tolstoi Club that founded Hale House) advising Horace that it would be a good idea to work on the problem of rising juvenile crime. Also mentioned in these early letters is a Mr. Cummings, who is the Rev. Edward Cummings, father of the American poet e. e. cummings. The Rev. Cummings took over the church that Hale was minister of in Boston. Horace also writes to Arria telling her of his work at Hale House and his work with the "boys," Russian Jewish immigrant children, who he teaches, takes to the theatre, and to art museums.

     Horace Morison became a “Trustee” of various trust properties in 1905, and made occasional excursions as part of his duties, and was an active participant in an outside business venture, until the U.S. entered World War One. During WWI he applied for commission for Quartermaster Corps, at Plattsburg Training Camp, but didn’t pass the physical exam. He went to Washington to assist Colonel Brackett in the Orthopedic Division office of the Surgeon General and was commissioned Captain in the Sanitary Corps. He was assigned to the Personnel Office of this section of medical work and after his discharge from this department in 1919; he was able to receive a commission as a Major in the Quartermaster’s Section in the Officers Reserve Corps. After several months desk work he was given a chance for active work with the Red Cross in Europe. He was trained in Paris and worked in Romania. After returning to America in 1920, he carried on his trustee work.


     The Morison’s maintained a summer home in Peterborough, New Hampshire, his family's hometown.  By 1917, the Morison's had moved back to 3 Louisburg Square. Horace Morison was active in the Society of the Cincinnati and was President of the New Hampshire State Society.  He was also a member of the Harvard Clubs of Boston and New York, and the Union Club of Boston. Horace Morison died 27 February 1975, still living at Boston and Peterborough. He was buried at Pine Hill Cemetery, Peterborough, and Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.


    Approximately 273 letters in this collection are written by Horace Morison to Arria Frazer Cotton while they were courting (1900-1905). They married in 1905. Some of these letters appear to be copies, or drafts, as they are not signed. Some of the letters look like the pages of a journal or diary, but the content is clearly addressed to Arria. Some letters are on letterhead of the Morison home at 445 Warren Street, Roxbury, Boston. This house, called the "Williams House," was a large Italianate mansion with a prominent mansard roof. The extensive estate was later developed as the site of the Roxbury Memorial High School, which subsequently became the Boston Technical High School, and later, the Boston Latin Academy.

Arria Frazer Cotton (1881-1953)


     Arria Frazer Cotton was the only child of Mary Frazer and John Whitcomb Cotton (1848-1909). Her father was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and died at Peterborough, New Hampshire. He lived for a number of years (1881-1907) in Chicago, where he represented his family’s company, the American Tube Works of Boston. The company manufactured seamless brass and copper tubes and pipes and was a national business. The company was founded in 1852 by John Whitcomb's father, Joseph Cotton, along with William E. Coffin, Holmes Hinkley, and Daniel F. Childs. It was incorporated at Somerfield, Massachusetts. John Whitcomb moved back to Boston when his brother Walter, who had been the company president, died in 1907.


     Arria Frazer Cotton was born 22 April 1881, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was listed with her parents in Boston’s Blue Book at one point as living at the Lenox Hotel (Exeter, corner of Boylston). Before marrying, Arria spent a prolonged stay in Europe (mostly Paris). This took place the year before she married. She was a linguist and associated with French circles of society. Arria and her husband had at least five children: Nancy Olive Morison (1907- ); Elizabeth Cotton Morison (1910- ); Arria "Babette" Morison (1913- ); Mary Morison (1916- ); and Horace Morison, Jr. (1922- ).


     Arria married Horace Morison on 27 March 1905, at Chicago, Illinois. The Rev. Dr. James S. Stone performed the ceremony. The couple went to Rome to spend Easter and then spent the summer traveling on the continent. They set up their home in Boston.

     Arria had lived in Chicago prior to her marriage after her father had moved there to run a branch of the family business. The 1910 and 1930 Census records show Arria living at Peterborough, New Hampshire, with her husband and children. In 1910 she had the help of four live-in servants: a French governess, an Irish cook and waitress, and a Scottish nurse. Her husband was listed as a “farmer,” but obviously he was a gentleman farmer living on his family’s Terrace Hill Farm. In 1930 they also had a house on 3 Louisburg Square in Boston. Horace was listed as a banker at his Boston address. In 1940, the couple is found living in Boston, with two of their children, Horace and Mary, still living at home. Arria died on 6 May 1953 and was buried at Pine Hill Cemetery, Peterborough, Hillsborough County, New Hampshire.


Sample Quotations:

"445 Warren St., Boston, May 12, 1901

      A beautiful day yesterday and in the morning we took a pleasant walk from City Point to Old Fort Independence. It was good to breathe in great draughts of the salt air. I had not seen the harbor since we entered it last November. How I hated it then -

      The lilacs are in full bloom and all the most beautiful shrubs - the garden is scented like the air of a conservatory. The boys are coming out on Tues. to work. These are the days that Walt Whitman writes about and Thoreau too. Aunty and I read some of Thoreau the other evening. He leaves nothing to the imagination that is he does not let one draw ones own suggestions from nature but insists on presenting his [affirmative] conclusions. I like Whitman better for [your] nature.

    I took tea at Longwood last evening. Cous. Wm seemed only fairly well. His knee has been troubling him again. He has a new painting by Thalou part of a Boulevard in Paris in the residence section the road rough with brown trodden snow a glimpse of the facades of several typical hotels in the distance, a lamppost in the foreground and in the middle [xxxxxxxtive] so characteristic of Paris. ....” [Horace Morison]

"Eve. Dec 19 [Boston 1901]

       Thank you for the letter dear, and the enclosures. It was very sweet of you to send me the little bequest...I have nothing new to tell you. I called on the head master of one of the public schools today and he promised to obtain data for one of the number of children in each of his B schools that are connected in any way with the clubs and settlements of the district. Then I called on Mr. Cummings, minister. He wants me to take as a special subject for research and investigation Juvenile Crime for he says Juvenile Crime is increasing alarmingly 2 or 3 times the normal growth of the population. It would be extremely interesting and practical too for I could select that or those preventives - seemingly the best and experiment with them as far as I was in the Hale House district. Hale House district Dr. Hale says' is the worst charitied district in Christendom."

    ...I had a pleasant and instructive talk with Mr. Chaney our family minister this afternoon. It was he you know who married mother and Aunty Poll and who afterwards wrote a memory of mother. He agreed with Mr. Cummings that juvenile crime was if not the serious problem of the future, and advocated my taking hold of it...”  [Horace Morison]

"Jan. 8 [1902, Boston]

      My first day at the Bank and I did not do very well made many mistakes and then you know my penmanship is so atrocious. Still all the clerks were very kind and I think I shall make some headway if I persevere. The Bank you know is only to start.

      Mr. Comstock and I have begun no regular course as yet. He is still cataloguing my photos. He works well and intelligently - and seems to enjoy looking at the photos. He says tho now he has tired of Giotto. O, Arria if you had ever been to Padua and Assisi you could never tire of Giotto.

      Miss Winslow gave me some good advice last night. You may work along she said with national state and other statistics second hand but you will never be sure you have started on the right road to prevent crime and make the people happier until your information comes from the inside. That is you must know certain families and individuals. You cannot make happy families by building model tenements with cheap rooms. Their surroundings, their friend are fully as important to them as better sanitary conditions...” [Horace Morison]

"Jan 10 [1902 Boston]

      Your letters were waiting for me when I returned this evening. Thanks, dear, for so much confidence in me and such hopes for my future. I can only do my best...

       I meant to have written you before about Joe. - Cous Joe he will be for you. It is a very sensible engagement for Olive did not decide in a hurry not until at the end of the summer's trip she felt sure. She and he are both very much in love, sensibly in love - and they will be very happy I know. I have always like Joe from dancing school days until now. I might say of all the fellows Olive ever has known he is the only one at all worthy of her. Of course he is poor - so much the better, it will make him work harder. He has begun well in his profession and has already won a name for himself in municipal politics. He is very fond of out door exercises and will enjoy accompanying Olive on every occasion. Above all he is a perfect gentleman free from snobbishness or the taint of self sufficiency so common with young lawyers. He has a love for books and nature all of which will have its good effect on Olive. A clean, wholesome, manly gentleman found of his home, and excellent husband. Olive already has given up going out as much as she used to and as soon as she begins her work at Hale House I am sure she will go out even less. They will work for each other. They will make each other very happy.

Joe is not brilliant but he is bright and is sure to succeed.....” [Horace Morison]

"Jan 12 [1902 Boston]

      After a short day at the Bank I went in town & looked at some fine old books at Estes &[Lauriats], to Doll & Richards where was [Chese's] portraits are exhibited then for a riding lesson at the school. In the eve. the Copley Hall I did not enjoy the dance as much as the first one but had a fairly good time. Something is the matter I find I cannot "jolly" or even attempt to fence as I used to. Do what I will the usual trivialities seem an effort quite half hearted. I must try again...

      ...A lady said to me at the dance last night "the modern girl is vulgar - many smoke drink swear and in fact try to appear as mannish as possible." I think there was something in this she overlooked. First that a great deal of the present society rowdyism is a fad, secondly that there is a tendency for the modern girl to fit herself to be more of a companion to any man she may choose - physically and intellectually. The modern girl has something better to do than gush over the latest novel or embroider doilies. She can walk five miles or ride twenty with ease and then when she returns in the evening she can talk intelligently on subjects aside from ordinary table talk. Am I right? Yet the man's ideal is and must be as high as the woman's! If you say a woman's should be higher you claim at once superiority for the feminine sex and I do not admit superiority. Superiority is only a few things....My thoughts ramble, but I find they all return to the magnet What is the magnet? - ma petit”  [Horace Morison]

"Mon. Jan 20 [1902]

     Saturday after banking hours I passed in study...I must prepare a petition to be sent to the mayor and I have been delegated to obtain the signatures of various government philanthropic societies & citizens. It means a good deal of work for one must know the subject thoroughly if one is to interest persons in it. As I have written you it is to obtain a playground for the So. End District.

     I went into the Art Museum yesterday afternoon - there are some very good paintings one of our friend Cazin but nothing to speak of in the Italian School we love so well. I was more interested in studying the type of visitor - there seemed to be many Italians in fact a very large proportion of foreigners to the whole no. present. I presume they hoped to see a glimpse of some corner of their fatherland - a sketch or even an engraving.

      At the meeting of the sociological club Sat. it was decided to ask the Copley Hall Art Committee which is shortly to give an exhibition of "Fair Women" for a day on which the poor could visit the Hall free. I was named as one of the committee. These committees mean nothing so don't get an exaggerated idea of the importance of membership... [Horace Morison]"

"445 Warren St., Feb 6 [1902

       I was much interested in one of the articles you sent me - about the plan for a Y.M.C.A. Hotel in New York like the [Mills] Hotel in New York and similar to the great Rowton Houses in London. I have told you about such a hotel should and must be a reality some day in every large city. There is none in Boston and yet Boston has a large floating population of single men from the country and the provinces who starting in at #5 & #6 a week are obliged to find cheap lodgings. They are compelled for lack of better to choose rooms in the oldest, vilest and often most disreputable buildings - no wonder loose self respect and develop criminal tendencies. I doubt if any one realizes how much such hotels are needed....” [Horace Morison]

"[Boston] Mar [1902]

Monday night we stayed late at the office but last night I left early and met my class of boys at Hale House. It seems they are Russian Jews. I never liked to ask them but they told me last night and they 2 of them remember the voyage across distinctly. I want them to tell me sometime about their home life in Russia and what customs they still continue. Thurs. eve. through the kindness of Mr. Keith we are to have passes for the 1st balcony of Keith's Theatre 30 or more boys are going and I believe I am to have charge with 2 other fellows. It will be awfully amusing to watch them, but how will they enjoy it....” [Horace Morison]

"[Boston] Mar 7 [1902]

     O they enjoyed it so that is the boys at Keith's last night. We met at hale House and marched down 2 + 2 then at the theatre were met by Mr. Keith and various officials, whence we were given splendid seats in the first balcony. We stayed until the last gun though some of the little fellows I could see were completely tired out. We are going to write a letter to Mr. Keith signed by all the boys thanking him.

     I wish I could tell you the comments on the various performers what cries of joy the sea lions and trained birds met with and how some of the little fellows stood up by their seats during the entire performance so as not the least [to miss] breath or gesture....” [Horace Morison]

'[Boston] Sunday Mar 16 [1902]

      We have worked late at the office the last few days and I have been too tired in the evening to write much as I have wanted to...

     The evening at Keith's was a great success but the best part of it all was afterwards when the boys discussed what they had seen. And then at my suggestion they wrote a lett4er to Mr. Keith thanking him and all signed it. This afternoon we are going to the portrait exhibition - not that I think they will appreciate or understand the paintings but I think it is a good opportunity to talk to them and I think unconsciously it stimulates their love of the beautiful so that in enjoying the paintings they may of their own accord drop into the Art Museum just as now every Sunday they meet at the Public Library. In loving the beautiful they may try to make their homes more attractive and in making their homes more attractive they may save money to buy useful objects when otherwise they would spend the same money foolishly. One never can tell what seed is being sown but there is no harm in trying. Last Tuesday I asked the boys if they would like to save towards a holiday in July. They all agreed and next Tuesday each is going to bring 5¢. By July that will amount to enough for carfare to pay for the expenses of a day's holiday at the seashore or in the country...” [Horace Morison]


"April 3, 1902

     I have just returned dear from the celebration on the occasion of Dr. Hale's 80th birthday. It was most impressive four or five thousand friends gathered voluntarily together to do him honor. Sam. Eliot & Pres. Eliot together with Senator Hoar and Henry L. Higginson were on the stage. Senator Hoar was very happy in his remarks but what Dr. Hale said touched me most. In looking back over sixty years of ministry he said he had other opportunities the navy, an executive position in brick manufacturing, but he had declined them because it seemed to him a man with a trade was divided between his business interests ad his Christian impulses and said Dr. Hale I stayed where my only object was other's welfare - What is the result? After 60 years I have more friends than any man living I know of. It used to be the fashion for a man to nurse his own soul but now we care for the souls and bodies of others and take it for granted our own will come out all right. Each for all and all for each is the matter of the present day and coming generations. What a splendid thought.

Dr. Hale as the papers said this morning is truly the "Grand Old Man" of the country. He wrote "A Man without a Country" but as Senator Hoar said "What can this country do without such a man?"... “[Horace Morison]

[Boston] April 26 [1902]

      Thanks for your letter dear. I was glad to hear of your escape from burglars from Alice -...I have done nothing this week but work on my photographs - with the usual night at Hale House. Phil was so much interested in Hale House after his Prospect Union work that I hope he will find time to take an abandoned class for several weeks until June...

     Tonight was the usual monthly social at Hale House; a couple of farces a little music - and a few words addressed the boys by Mr. Sawyer and Mr. [xxxx] completed the program. My Sawyer spoke simple but well about Booker Washington using his life as an example for the boys in their daily work. He caught the boys attention and held it then dismissed them...I am going to take luncheon with him tomorrow and shall be interested in exchanging ideas. Mr. [xxxx] today told of an affair he had had of 11 acres of good land in West Roxbury rent free which could be used as a small farm this summer if the boys would take hold and work hard. A small house might be built the land fenced and a practical gardener as instructor employed but the money come from sale of market produce must be enough to pay expenses incurred. It seems to me rather a Utopian scheme but we have only to wait before we can decide....Horace"

"177 Sixth Ave, Brooklyn, NY, June 11, 1903

Dear Arria,

      I was much pleased to receive your last letter and learn that you are all so nicely settled, despite the storm of labor in Chicago. In the N.Y. papers appear most minute accounts of walking delegates with magic whistles, which they blow - presto charge - all the waiters, cooks, &c disappear - and the poor hungry public goes dinnerless. The invasion of a club was minutely pictured; a human pyramid with the delegate on top - a jump for the fire escape a quick ascent to the roof - descent down the scuttle and entry into dining room - Blast on whistle - all the waiters doff their coats - cooks leave dishes - and troop out of the house - I believe your labor agitators wishes to do the same to us suffering New Yorkers. It is hard enough to get help in private families - comparatively easy in the public restaurants. For instance in Childs' large lunch rooms, their manager tells me help is never lacking, he can always secure more than he needs. They get good pay too - Waitresses get $8 a week for a day 8 to 3 or 4. Some are hired on half time, Sundays the places are closed, except on Union Square. Three of the partners are brothers, neighbors of Freddy? All have neat places, and keep open house. Besides the N.Y. houses all over the city, they have branches in New Haven, Conn., Pittsburg, and Philadelphia. Just think - the smaller sizes of their lunch places seats 150 to 200, and people change places at least every 15 minutes for over two hours. That is housekeeping on a large scale is it not? I believe that New Yorkers going for good living as deeply as any citizens in the U.S. N.Y. is honeycombed with restaurants, good, bad, & indifferent, but there are many good ones - at reasonable prices. One of our chemists is somewhat of a Bohemian - and he is going to show me some of the places where good dinners are served for 50¢ up -! He tours the haunts of the artists & actors as yet undiscovered by the general public. I anticipate some novel things before the summer is over. We are also going to "Do" Coney Island, if we do not get "Done" first....your sincere cousin Langden Pearse"