Former Gov. Morrow had Madison Co. Roots

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Former Gov. Morrow had Madison Co. Roots


A few weeks ago at the Richmond Mall, the Kentucky Chautauqua gave a performance on the life of Edwin P. Morrow, Republican Governor of Kentucky from 1919 until 1923. It was an excellent one-man portrayal. Isaac Bradley, the great-grandfather of Edwin Morrow, settled in Madison County in the late 1700s. William O. Bradley, uncle of Edwin P. Morrow, was born in Lancaster on March 18, 1847. Edwin and his twin brother, Charles H. Morrow, were born in Somerset on November 30, 1877. The twins' father, Thomas Z. Morrow, was defeated for governor of Kentucky in 1883 by James P. Knott. Edwin graduated from Cumberland College in Williamsburg and from the University of Cincinnati Law School. In 1895, his uncle, the aforementioned William O. Bradley, was elected as the first Republican governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Edwin first ran for governor in 1915. He and the Democratic candidate, A. O. Stanley, campaigned all over the state together, speaking at the same time in different courtrooms of the same courthouse, eating and drinking together, and sharing a hotel room. They lambasted each other in political speeches, but became the best of friends. Stanley finally won the election by 471 votes. Morrow declined advice to contest the election, citing the 1899 election when Taylor, the Republican, won in November only to be ousted by the legislature, who declared Goebel (D) the winner. All of which led to chaos, two governors, and Goebel's death. However 1919 again found Morrow as the Republican candidate for governor. Running on a very modern progressive platform, plus attacks on the Democrat law to force hound dog Ring to wear a dog tag and collar, Morrow defeated incumbent Governor James D. Black by 41,000, a tremendous majority for a Republican. Stanley, by the way, had become U.S. senator, being succeeded by Lt. Gov. Black. Locally, we find that in 1920 Morrow approved the appointment of Joe S. Boggs, Democrat, of Richmond, as State Highway Engineer. How did Republican Morrow fare in normally Democratic Madison County? Very well. In 1915, the November 3 headline in the Climax-Madisonian said in big bold letters: MADISON GOES REPUBLICAN IN ALL RACES EXCEPT WAGERS FOR CIRCUIT CLERK. Wagers' opponent was Independent Republican W. H. Grider. Morrow carried the county by a small majority. G. B. Moores (R) defeated John F. White (D) for State Representative by 200 votes, while J. H. Evans (R) won by 600 over N. B. Turpin for State Senator. It is interesting to note that in 1919, in the Republican primary, Leonard Ballard defeated incumbent G. B. Moores for the legislature by 976-362. The reason given was Moores' vote in favor of a State Tax Commission in the last session. In the governor's race, Morrow carried Madison over Gov. Black by 326 votes. The Republican also carried Jefferson County by 9,000 votes, carried all the mountain counties in the old 11th District, and all but one of the mountain counties in the old 10th. Locally Leonard Ballard (R) won by 419 votes over Tom Collins (D) for State Representative. Democratic party leaders said they lost the election because the Republicans were paying $10$ 15 per vote (according to the Climax-Madisonian). The Republicans statewide controlled the House of Representatives by 54-46, a first. Democrats kept control of State Senate by 20-18, according to the newspaper because of the holdover system. However, one Democrat bolted, making it a 19-19 tie, thereby giving control to the Republicans via the Lt. Governor, who was a Republican. I hope you attended the Chautauqua. Edwin P. Morrow was an outstanding speaker and story teller and a very popular governor.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “Former Gov. Morrow had Madison Co. Roots,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed May 19, 2024,