MORTON — Morton history has come to life on the Morton Chamber of Commerce’s website.
The Morton History Project is housed on the website (www.mortonchamber.org) under the community tab. The project contains oral histories, written narratives and a Morton History Storymap that were compiled starting in May.

The map contains 50 addresses along with historical photos of what was at those locations in years past. The photos come from the Morton Public Library’s history room.

“The best way to use the map is to walk around and check out the locations using your smartphone,” said Lenora Fisher, the chamber’s community development director, who has been the driving force behind the project.

Former Morton Village Board member Stephen Newhouse conducted several interviews for the oral histories.

“I did about six or eight interviews over three or four months. Several interviews were with people I have a working relationship with, people who I felt would be comfortable talking to me,” he said.

“There was a format for the interviews, but I often used my journalism training. Some people opened up without prompting. Others needed to be guided a bit.”

Family heritage, favorite memories and businesses and historical efforts like the construction of Interstate 155 were among the topics discussed in the oral histories.
Newhouse has long been intrigued by the origins of Morton families.

“In a word, I’d say doing the interviews was rewarding for me because I was able to connect real-life experiences with the research on Morton families that has been done,” he said.

That research shows many Morton families can trace their roots to a German-speaking area in Switzerland in the canton (state) of Bern.

The Morton History Project was funded by a $1,250 grant the chamber received from the Morton Community Foundation. Fisher said donated services covered the rest of the cost.

“The foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Morton area residents,” said foundation executive director Scott Witzig. “We’re pleased to have provided the necessary funding for the project because it has created an archive of resources for students, businesses, residents and tourists to use for years.”

The project also will be housed on the Morton library’s website (www.mortonlibrary.org) after the website is updated later this year. Project materials will be stored permanently at the library.

Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.