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Morton, Oswald Gordon (1863–1940)

The late Mr. Oswald Gordon Morton, who died at Brentwood Hospital on Tuesday last, was a member of a family that had figured prominently in the public life of the State. Three of his brothers were members of the Legislative Assembly. They were the late Mr. Harry Morton (Oxley), the late Mr. Mark Morton (Wollondilly), who was the "Father of the House" for many years, and the late Mr. P. H. Morton, who also represented a South Coast electorate. Deceased was prominently associated with the Muswellbrook Municipal Council, Brentwood Hospital and St. Alban's Church of England during his residence of over 30 years in the town. He was a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. H. G. Morton, and was born at Shoalhaven 77 years ago. With his late wife, who died in December, 1938, he celebrated the golden anniversary of his wedding in August of the same year. The late Mr. and Mrs. Morton took up residence in Muswellbrook in 1903, and had resided here ever since, with the exception of six years, when the family resided at Singleton.

The late Mr. Morton first came to the Upper Hunter 47 years ago, when he succeeded the late Mr. R. E. Jones as district roads engineer, of the Roads and Bridges' Branch of the Public Works Department. His district then embraced the shires of Patrick Plains, Muswellbrook, Upper Hunter, and parts of Merriwa and Kearsley Shires. He was appointed engineer to the Muswellbrook Shire in 1910, and held that position until his retirement in 1934. The present chairman of the Main Roads Board, Mr. H. Newell served under the late Mr. Jones and the late Mr. Morton in the Muswellbrook district.

The late Mr. Morton was an alderman of the Municipal Council for a number of years, and as chairman of the works committee supervised many important jobs in the town. Mr. Morton prepared the first plans to construct the subway which now connects the southern and northern sections of the town, and it was as a result of his efforts that the work was carried out by the Main Roads Board and the Railway' Department. During his term as Shire Engineer he instigated and supervised the work in connection with the Grasstree deviation on the New England Highway, bridges over Ramrod and Sandy Creeks, and the extensive road deviation in the basin country between Muswellbrook and Limestone. Following his resignation as Shire Engineer, he acted as supervising engineer on the relief works carried out by the Municipal Council. For many years he was a member of the School of Arts committee, and Upper Hunter Show committee, and the Bowling Club, of which he was a foundation member. His favorite pastime in later years was chess, of which game he was one of our best exponents.

Deceased was a life member of Brentwood Hospital, of which he had been a committeeman and had occupied the office of hon. secretary for 18 years. He was also a leading member of the Church of England Parochial Council for a number of years.

The late Mr. Morton is survived by two sons and two daughters, viz., Mr. Frederick Morton, Mr. Donald Morton, and Misses Dorothy and Barbara Morton, all of Muswellbrook; and by one brother, Mr. F. S. Morton (Nowra).

Before the opening of formal business at Wednesday's meeting of the Municipal Council, the Mayor (Alderman E. W. Shaw) referred to the loss sustained by the town by the death of Mr. O. G. Morton. The late Mr. Morton, he said, had been an alderman of the council and had acted as the council's engineer during the time the relief works were being carried out, and had been a great help to the council. The late Mr. Morton was a wonderful Churchman, and even when his health was failing in later years he could be seen walking to the, Church each Sunday. Through his death, the community had lost a good citizen.

Ald. Jordan recalled that he first knew the late Mr. Morton when the latter was inspector of roads, in the days prior to the establishment of Local Government, and when the roads office was located in Nagle House. In those days Mr. Newell, the present chairman of the Main Roads Board, was in charge of bridges, while the late Mr. Morton was in control of the roads. As an alderman the late Mr. Morton had rendered valuable service, and the council had also benefited from his knowledge and experience. The town had lost a good man, and one who had given a great part of his life in the interests of Muswellbrook.

On the motion of the Mayor the council carried a resolution expressing the deepest sympathy with the bereaved family in their great loss.

A large and representative gathering attended the funeral on Wednesday afternoon, when the remains were interred in the Church of England cemetery. The Shire Council was represented by Cr. R. Clendinning and Mr. W. R. Nowland (Shire Clerk), and the Municipal Council by Ald. E. W. Shaw (Mayor) and Mr. H. E. Simpson (Town Clerk); Mr. W. Campion (School of Arts); Mr. J. E. Lowe (Bowling Club), and Mr. E. Hunter Bowman (Upper Hunter P. and A. Society). All professions and commercial interests in the town were represented. The officiating clergymen were the Rev. Canon B. C. Wilson (Scone) and Rev. H. Hampden-Hobart (Muswellbrook).

In the course of an address in the chapel, the Rev. Canon B. C. Wilson referred to his long association with the late Mr. Morton, who had, he said, made a valuable contribution to the welfare of the people of the district as a shire engineer or in his activities in connection with many public bodies. In his capacity as shire engineer, the late Mr. Morton brought to bear in his work technical skill of the highest order, and it could be said of him that none of the major works instigated and supervised by him had ever called for revision. His greatest monument was the subway at Muswellbrook, which he had envisaged many years before its final accomplishment, and it had fallen to the late Mr. Morton to design that important work. In addition, he had rendered valuable service by placing his technical knowledge and skill at the disposal of the townspeople during the period in which he served as an alderman. The late Mr. Morton had also made a notable contribution in the administration of the affairs of his Church, and had given a measure of assistance which had been most helpful to the Rectors whom he had served. The preacher recalled that the late Mr. Morton had been associated with the historic Church of St. John's, Parramatta, as hon. secretary prior to coming to the Upper Hunter.

The chief mourners at the graveside were Mr. F. Morton, Mr. D. Morton (sons), Mr. F. S. Morton, of Nowra (brother), Mr. M. F. Morton (Nowra), and Mr. P. H. Morton (Sydney), nephews. The pall-bearers were Messrs D., M. F. and P. H. Morton, M. M. Hyndes, F. W. Macdonald and E. Loos.

Original publication

Citation details

'Morton, Oswald Gordon (1863–1940)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/morton-oswald-gordon-16893/text28785, accessed 25 November 2017.

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