R.I.P. Nellie Ellen Morris

No love, no friendship can cross the path of our destiny
 without leaving some mark on it forever.
– Francois Mauriac

Not a lot is known about Nellie Ellen Morris.

She was born in Athelstan, Iowa on November 22, 1886, to Jacob and Sarah Elizabeth (Martin) Arnold. She had two sisters, Cora and Emma, and a brother, James.

Her obituary in the Bedford Times Press states: “She lived and grew to maturity in the Athelstan community where she attended the public school and became a member of the Baptist Church.”

Nellie married Jesse Payton on January 30, 1907. They had a daughter, Vivian Hortense. Jesse died January 20, 1914, after suffering from tuberculosis for several months, leaving Nellie a widow with a young daughter.

On November 11, 1920, Nellie married Charles Thomas Morris. They had three children; Gerald Ray was born Aug. 16, 1924. Doris Ellen was born September 26, 1926 and Rex Avril (unknown birth date).

When Nellie Morris died, August 17, 1977, at the age of 90 years old, she left three of her children, all married (Rex had already passed away), 15 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren and one great great grandchild.

She was buried in AthelstanCemetery, joining her husband Charles, her father Jacob, a brother James that died in 1903 at 15 years old, and her sister Emma & Emma’s husband. Later her son Gerald and his wife and her daughter Vivian and her husband would be laid to rest in AthelstanCemetery also.

hand sewing picBesides the children and grandchildren, she left this set of quilt squares, a gift she’d gathered for her daughter Doris’ Christmas present in 1934. Doris kept this special gift for the rest of her life. I doubt when Nellie planned this surprise in 1934 that she knew that the set of 30 quilt squares would outlive both her and Doris, leaving a legacy honoring the women and young girls of Athelstan Iowa.

Rest in peace Nellie Ellen Morris, today we remember you.

Life gives us brief moments with another…
but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a life time…
– Author Unknown



  1. What a wonderful tribute. No one lives without touching others. We never know what our contribution will be but I love the quilt squares that have survived to touch us all through your sharing. BTW, there has to be one quilt shop near the wedding where you could quietly sneak away. 🙂

    • Thanks for the sweet words of encouragement Ann!
      PS I looked at the quilt map last night. They live in Wrightwood and the wedding is in Lytle Creek. I saw one shop in Glendora (which is where I was born) so may sneak a quick trip over that way lol
      Have a great week!

  2. That’s a beautiful quilt and a great retelling of the history of the woman. So much of family history gets lost through the years.


    • Thank you Joyce!
      Yes, too much gets lost through the years.
      Now I wish I would have asked my grandmother more questions about her life.

  3. Nellie sounds like an interesting person. This is a nice tribute to her.

    • Thank you! I’ve become attached to these people from the past. I wish I could time travel and go meet them.

      Sent from my iPhone

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