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SolomonFundy

Mortons: A new year of Marryin', Birthin', and Writin'

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SolomonFundy

I decided to start a separate thread for discussion of Martha's book and general Morton/S'Morton happenings to avoid digressions in the Craptain Smith/Alan incest charges thread. Sorry, this got a bit long! 

Martha's book (apparently composed in 2013) is an odd mixture of charm and slightly forced nostalgia, laced with a litany of disarming, casual references to child endangerment. Each of her brothers gets his own chapter, and each chapter follows a pretty concise pattern of their feats of manliness (as defined by how tolerant they are to pain and their work ethic), their ability to cook, their history of injuries, whom they imagined themselves to be as they played when they were children (this was a question Martha composed and asked to each as part of an informal interview process as she wrote the book), and a loose smattering of pranks and Feats of Daring. True to the title, this booklet is about the guys. Adeline is mentioned a handful of times in various anecdotes, and Katie too, though to a lesser extent. Dorothy was mentioned a single blessed time by name, right at the beginning, and never referenced again. 

I'm going to offer my thoughts through a very forgiving lens. I've lived in the rural south my entire life, and many of the things she describes that would be considered outlandishly dangerous for a child to do by some standards, are not out of the norm for extremely rural families. That said, I found myself questioning the parenting choices of the elder Mortons constantly.

General takeaways:

* Daddy and Mama went on a LOT of dates. This was a common recurring theme. When they were gone, the children were left alone, seemingly from the time Martha was old enough to remember. Martha states in one part of the book that her brother Michael's opinion was the deciding factor in anything they did, since he was in charge when their parents were away. Note: Katie is older than Michael.

* The kids have had an incredibly informal education. This was long suspected, but Martha describes things like her mom randomly announcing when school would happen at a moment's notice (apparently it wasn't a structured or even daily thing), the middle children were left to educate their littlest siblings until they were 6-7, at which point Mama would take over and add on, and my personal favorite: nonchalant references to several of her teenaged brothers being "geniuses", but lacking the ability to compose even simple thoughts in writing. The boys would graduate from small domestic chores to working at the construction site with their father around the age of 10, which Martha affirms was the "best kind of education", and apparently supplanted whatever homeschooling they received up to that point. Michael jr. is made much of for being "brain smart" because he read more than necessary, and seemed to actually enjoy it. Every kid learns at their own level, and I'm not knocking a less-structured approach to basic education, but it's kind of maddening that these children had a grandparent who was an honest to god DOCTOR, and another who was an educational administrator, and yet it's entirely possible that some of them may be incapable of passing an GED. (Martha mentions in the afterward that she wrote the booklet in several notebooks, and Adeline typed everything for her and did all of the spelling corrections. The book is rife with spelling and grammatical errors.)

* There's a persistent thread of near-homelessness. The family lived in homemade tents for quite a long time after moving to their land. Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, and was the catalyst for the family moving from the improvised tents (tarps and wooden poles, according to Martha) into the unfinished house structure. 

* Related to the above, the house was unfinished for the better part of a decade. Not just "pardon our construction dust", but legitimately open to the elements in areas. They used an electric blanket as a front door one winter, and the kids would move from the third story to the second when the temperatures increased during the summer, because it was "open to the breeze". It's hard to parse details from the anecdotes since she seemed to feel that writing about the "third story years" should be a book unto itself, but it sounds like the kids lived free-range in the rafters. On one occasion, she and her sisters went with their mother to town, and returned to find their dolls hanging from nooses from the roofing beams, with arrows shot into their bodies. As she recounted this, Martha "couldn't stop laughing".

* Apparently, the Mortons were known to be needy by various members of the community. Between the references to things "provided by the Lord" are acts of charity including a neighbor allowing the family to use their phone line for personal calls, free vehicles being donated to the growing family, and a group of local Mennonite women hosting a quilting bee for the sole purpose of gifting several warm quilts to the family. Martha fondly recalls their mother making "little nests" for them on the floor with their quilts during one cold winter.

* Numerous casual references to the transience of their family pets. The children were encouraged to trap wild animals and keep them as pets, which would usually run/fly/hop away at first opportunity. Their dogs were so numerous, Martha couldn't name more than a handful. Only one lived with the family long enough to warrant a description of its long life and death. Two different brothers treated the spiders in their rooms as pets. An opossum was killed after attacking their hens, and the kids discovered a baby in its pouch. They kept it as their "darling pet" for a while, until it bit one of them, and they then "evicted" it. This is... not a book to read for people who are sensitive to animal welfare, hunting, shooting, etc. Some of it makes sense in context (killing animals for food that the family obviously desperately needed, shooting predatory animals that threatened the homestead animals), but some is blatantly just shitty animal stewardship. The kids would "drop down" onto the family dairy cow, and try to "kick it and ride it" like a horse. When they finally did get a horse, it was apparently quickly neglected since it arrived and was often ridden when Martha was young, yet it was nearly wild from a lack of interaction when Samuel wanted to ride it just a few years later. Wounded animals were occasionally chased up onto the porch "to the delight" of the younger children, who would admire the animal until it was killed. The brothers apparently hunted deer from their bedroom windows. Snakes were fitted with makeshift nooses, then dangled around to thrill the younger children before being killed and skinned.

* Driving. Oh, by the holy name of Rufus, the driving. Martha delights in recounting how several of her brothers are horrific drivers. John has totaled three vehicles ( but it was all "honest mistakes"), and I think he's just barely old enough to drive, which makes it worse. But driving age is no barrier here, because Edwin is among the "best drivers" so far in the family, because he hasn't "dented one of the cars" yet. At the time Martha composed his portion of the text, he was 12 (she specifically states his age). Andrew drives at incredible speeds, and Wesley enjoys cobbling parts of vehicles together and driving them. For added fun, Daddy and Mama join in! The family was gifted a passenger van at some point in the 1990's, and Jeanine was offended by the damaged upholstery on the bench seats. So, she had the seats ripped out, and had all of the children sitting in "tidy little school chairs". The chairs were not secured in any way. Martha recounts how the children and chairs were thrown around in the van every time someone accelerated or braked. The family's ongoing legal woes over children in non-secured car seats, or lack of any restraints becomes even less excusable. 

* Mor-Town, which has been referenced before, was a sprawling complex of ramshackle forest structures the original hoard of children created in the woods near their home. A gravity-powered sink and series of houses accompanied what sounds like an epic treehouse. (I'll be honest: I would have LOVED to experience something like this as a kid.) Some of it still stands, and the grands play in it. This was the site of the sibling "marriages": Dorothy to Michael, Adeline to Cleveland, and Martha to Wesley. Notably, Katie is not mentioned at all in this part of the book, and was apparently never "married" to a sibling. This fascinates me, since it would have made sense for she and Michael to pair off, and for the other girls to be matched with the other brothers in turn. Either she wasn't present for the games (helping Mama and Daddy cope with a baby every 18 months, and a struggling farm?), or she didn't participate due to personal preference or the choice of her siblings. Any of those would be kind of odd given the family's seclusion and relative inter-dependence. If any of the above are true, Alan's later control over her makes even more sense. 

* Interestingly, almost all of the sons can cook to some degree, and several can cook extremely well, or have a specialty. This was great, and seemed surprisingly egalitarian. Martha was sure to frame it as a character-building talent that their mother knew would "please their future wives".

* Marriages are only barely alluded to, and grandchildren even less. The collection of stories is primarily meant to describe their shared siblinghood before marriages/babies/in-laws, though it is worth mentioning that Martha specifically dedicates the book to her nieces and nephews.

This is insanely long, and I hit most of the high points. The only other thing I'll add is a reiteration that Martha originally wrote this in 2013, which may color some of the things she chose to write about. She definitely had to work on it as a married woman; Adeline's help must have come after she and Tayte moved back to Georgia, and Tayte is specifically thanked for his support. However, the main reason I bring the timing up is the fact that she made a point to single out Paul as "the youngest... so far", and that strongly implies that she believed that it was possible that her mother may still bear other children. That surprised me. Jeanine turned 53 in 2013. It's entirely possible that Martha (who was unmarried and still lived with her parents that year) knew that her mother was still fertile 5 years ago. Katie is the only Morton daughter who has exhibited super fecundity, and it seems likely that she's had her last. But it's worth considering that the other Morton girls may possibly be able to bear children into their 50's. Jeanine had at least one miscarriage after Paul. Perhaps she conceived again after that, one or more times, prompting Martha to think of her roster of siblings as open-ended.

The book is essentially a short collection of very topical mini-biographies of the Morton sons. If anyone has any specific questions, I'll be glad to answer. However, please note that this post is about the same length as the booklet itself, so if I didn't mention something, it probably wasn't addressed directly by the author. :)

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StacyW

@SolomonFundy thanks for the thorough review! They had much more freedom to hurt themselves than children should so I'm glad they didn't have any disasters, although some mini-disasters or close calls might have made them more sensible.

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Wine time!
JMO
Posted (edited)

I'm glad that Martha wrote this. Addie ran the blog and clearly had an interest in writing and was therefore a poor example of the abilities, or lack there of, of her siblings.  None of this should have been a surprise and yet a family that glorifies birthing children for the Lord but then shows such blatant unsafe practices in child rearing boggles my mind. It is a good wake up to how the family actually is vs the picture that Addie paints. And the way that they infantilized their daughters while elevating and glorifying their sons is disgusting.  I have no doubt that the Mortopia in Paraguay is mirrored to be just like the way they were raised. 

Edited by JMO

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anjulibai

It's sad that she didn't feel her sisters were important enough to write about. 

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JermajestyDuggar

It sounds like they lived like the Nog kids. Of course there are some major differences in the families. But I imagine if the Nog kids read this book they would see a lot of similarities to their lives. 

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picklepizzas

@SolomonFundy, just...:worship: 

thank you for reviewing this so that we don't have to...altho tbh this has whetted my appetite more than satisfied it...

i had no idea they were nearly homeless in the early days! i've only read what's on their blogs and knew nothing of their pre blog life. 

the lack of educational opportunities makes me even more sad for addie, who seems to be very literary/intellectually-inclined. 

 

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NachosFlandersStyle

Fascinating that their early days were so chaotic. Their blog always gave the impression of a sort of well-off family with a comfortable and organized compound, which I think is part of why I was first interested in them. They seem to have a really nice house (houses?) today and they put up a really idyllic front. 

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fundiefan

At 18, John is a perfect example of a Morton upbringing. 

He is an overgrown child in almost every way. He plays like a child. Talks like a child. Lives like a child. Sure, he works construction with the family, but have you ever seen his IG stories? He fucks around like a pre-teen on the job site just as he does at home. 

His maturity is not on par with his age. 

I think he's a glimpse into how the Morton children were raised. Combine his immaturity with Addie's ghastly sweeter than sweet attempts at writing, Katie's inability to decide whether to marry the pedophile or not and just doing what daddy said,  along with what is now known from Martha's book....the Mortons birthed & raised a bunch of overgrown children & married them off to make the babies, lather, rinse, repeat.

They've always played dress up. Look at all the 'balls' they had. Look at the Smorton weddings. Look at their own pictures. 

I think the ones in Paraguay are the only ones with a real shot at life. I also think that were they to come back to Morton-ville now, they'd be fish out of water. They're off the compound and removed from the day to day weirdness and immaturity. They have to deal with real people all on their own. They have to be real adults with real priorities and responsibilities. There is no one there to dictate what they do or how they do it, they have to decide. 

And, when you think about the fact that every married Morton sans Dorothy & the ones in Paraguay are still *right there every day*, I don't doubt for a minute that the mindless, immature, offspring within the compound is the realization of Momma & Papa Smurf's  Morton's greatest dreams. 

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Lurky

@SolomonFundy Thank you, x 1000!

Like @JermajestyDuggar, I can't help but see parallels to the Nauglers - and it's really surprising to me.  I know of the Mortons through here, and Adeline's blogs, which are all about "how beautiful to see the billowing curtains in my mother's rooms" and so on, and her photos of the house make it look pretty idyllic.  And then the whole thing with the cosplay balls in the barn - they always seemed to me to be one of the most affluent of the families we follow. 

But it's so bizarre that the young men have to get their houses ready before they can take a wife, for example.   @SolomonFundy & others who've read it - how much do you think the Mortons' blogging making them seem like living in a rural idyll is related to trying to pretend they always lived like this?

Do you think she knows they were neglected?  I read about their lack of education, and the boys going out to work from 10 years old, and it's heartbreaking.   But it sounds like she thinks it's great?   Makes me wonder what kind of a book the Nog daughters would write?

I am also SUPER interested in what Katie, especially, thinks of her upbringing.   I always think the experiences of the kids in these mega-families must vary so much - the older Duggars and Bateseseses will remember their starving years, for example, while the younger ones only know their life in the big houses.   And it's different being a young one, taught by their siblings, versus the older ones having to be responsible for them.

Do they mention the Smiths??

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Briefly
3 hours ago, Lurky said:

@SolomonFundy

Do you think she knows they were neglected?  I read about their lack of education, and the boys going out to work from 10 years old, and it's heartbreaking.   But it sounds like she thinks it's great?   Makes me wonder what kind of a book the Nog daughters would write?

She probably has no idea that she was neglected.  I'm always amazed at how bad some of these people are as parents.  Admittedly, they may not know "any better", as my mom used to say.  But still.

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SolomonFundy
8 hours ago, Lurky said:

@SolomonFundy Thank you, x 1000!

Like @JermajestyDuggar, I can't help but see parallels to the Nauglers - and it's really surprising to me.  I know of the Mortons through here, and Adeline's blogs, which are all about "how beautiful to see the billowing curtains in my mother's rooms" and so on, and her photos of the house make it look pretty idyllic.  And then the whole thing with the cosplay balls in the barn - they always seemed to me to be one of the most affluent of the families we follow. 

But it's so bizarre that the young men have to get their houses ready before they can take a wife, for example.   @SolomonFundy & others who've read it - how much do you think the Mortons' blogging making them seem like living in a rural idyll is related to trying to pretend they always lived like this?

Do you think she knows they were neglected?  I read about their lack of education, and the boys going out to work from 10 years old, and it's heartbreaking.   But it sounds like she thinks it's great?   Makes me wonder what kind of a book the Nog daughters would write?

I am also SUPER interested in what Katie, especially, thinks of her upbringing.   I always think the experiences of the kids in these mega-families must vary so much - the older Duggars and Bateseseses will remember their starving years, for example, while the younger ones only know their life in the big houses.   And it's different being a young one, taught by their siblings, versus the older ones having to be responsible for them.

Do they mention the Smiths??

You're welcome x2000! :)

Maybe I'm just too used to living in a construction zone myself, but their house has always looked like a patchwork quilt to me, and though it is spacious, it's clearly been assembled in starts and fits from found materials. The balls and costume parties were held in barns and farm buildings, and the costumes they wore were homemade, and recycled year after year. It looked like a form of rustic gentility, but I guess I didn't see it as truly opulent. There was always a lot of "lipstick and rouge" on things depicted on the blog (mostly thanks to Addie's Austen fetish, I think), but the underlying evidence of hard work never escaped my notice. I remember that many people here were critical of Martha Morton's hands on her wedding day, because they were scarred, calloused, and had uneven nails. She has a working woman's hands. She's the youngest girl. If she had to work that hard, the rest of them did as well.

In answer to one of your questions: I don't think that they intentionally tried to hide their early struggles behind a veneer of charm for the blog. I think it was meant to be a snapshot of that part of their lives, and it just so happened that the hardest part (financially) had passed at that point. (Remember too, that the first Morton blog wasn't even their work. Alan set it up for them as a surprise when he was still courting Katie, and the first few posts were mainly made by himself or one of his sisters.) If they'd been inclined to blog 5 years earlier, a different scene would have played out. Martha makes a point of mentioning that Edwin and Paul grew up listening to "a lot of love songs" because they were raised in the midst of a constant carousel of parties and weddings. That suggests to me that the parties weren't as common or magnificent prior to the courtship years, and that she sees a distinct difference between her own upbringing and that of the younger siblings.

It should be noted that Martha/Adeline (I'm honestly not sure how much of the prose is truly Martha's, especially since she acknowledged that Adeline was her amanuensis) doesn't linger on this part of their lives with any sense of deprivation or negativity.  So I guess in answer to your other question, they don't see anything in their childhood to be wanting or lacking. It's sweet, and I appreciate that Martha views things in such a Pollyanna way, but the parallels to the Nauglers are definitely present. In the Cleveland chapter alone, she mentions:

* Using pots and buckets as toilets for years because there was no running water where the kids slept. The kids hauled their waste down to the yard every day, and the older boys would dig a fresh hole to bury it in.

* An outdoor shower made from discarded pallets, a hose, and a bucket. There was only one, and it was in use for years before they had indoor showers.

* The long-term camping, which apparently was situated under a large oak tree that was covered in poison ivy. All of the kids except Michael were allergic. Water "constantly" collected in the overhead tarps, and the kids had to try and push it out from below with broom handles.

*  "Prairie fires". She said that they seemed to happen frequently, and that at least once, one of the boys accidentally set the fields around the house on fire while burning some trash. The eldest 3 brothers (aged 8,10, and 12 at the time) fought the fire themselves until the volunteer fire department came. Wesley placed himself between the flames and the electrical lines and junction box for the compound, and got significant burns trying to protect it. His hands and arms were blistered, though Martha considers this to be evidence of how "valiant" he was, since "it would have been quite serious" if they'd lost electricity.

Martha describes all of these things as "blissful" and "glorious". 

I'm still not clear on a timeline. Martha's grasp of time is alllllll over the place. They had a "city house" at one point that she calls the "5th Avenue house". I don't think she ever personally lived there, though they were still living there when Cleveland was around 4. She later claims that they moved to their current property when she was two, presumably from that house. But.... hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, and Martha wasn't born until 1994 or so. Addie would have only been 1 at the time the tents were supposedly abandoned. I think it's likely that she's got her hurricanes mixed up, or she's just repeating stories that were told to her as though she was there.

The education thing surprised me the most, perhaps because Adeline has always seemed like such an enthusiastic reader. She and Michael are apparently the two true readers in the family, though several of the brothers had tiny personal libraries of (mainly history) books that they collected. The boys started accompanying their father to work occasionally at around age 7, where they were expected to work, and were paid (by check) for whatever time they worked. The age for full-time work seems to have varied slightly, but she says that at least two started full-time at age 11. The schooling prior to that was group work consisting of Mama Morton holding up flash cards, while the kids competed to scream out the answers. They would get into pillow fights during "class", and eventually class would be dismissed. When the youngest kids were born, the girls seem to have been put in charge of teaching them for a while before their mother took over. Martha prided herself on teaching one of the boys the secession order of all of the southern states by the time he was 4. :pb_rollseyes:

I would love Katie's perspective too. She is notably absent from all of the adventures, with the exception of being described as a girl "just entering her teens" playing in the creek... while her sisters played together in a deeper pool of water separately. Katie is mentioned as being a sort of surrogate mother the only times she comes up. She applied ice packs when needed, and read to the kids when they had trouble sleeping due to the cold during the unfinished house/3rd story years. I'm trying not to read too much into her absence (because she still got 4x as many mentions as Dorothy), but it really is odd just how removed she seemed to be. 

The Smiths aren't mentioned at all by name, but their presence is implied in the comments about parties and weddings, etc.

Part of me wonders if she originally wrote this about ALL of the siblings, but had to edit the sisters out due to Alan's heinous actions. Perhaps she was unable to write about her sister without mentioning the marriage to Alan and children that followed it, and she didn't know how to handle it tactfully. So it just became a Brother Book instead of a Morton Siblings book. It's hard to say, though. 

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Lurky

@SolomonFundy Thanks again!   I guess I missed a lot of the poverty cues because I'm relentlessly urban, and in the UK, so land ownership, to me, is a symbol of wealth - especially because in the UK pretty much all owner-occupied farmland will have buildings on it dating back centuries, so a lot of that never even occurred to me.   (A friend-of-a-friend started a farm from scratch, but that was buying land (at huge cost) from someone selling it off, and it's very rare here, just because we're such a high density country.)

Anyway, thanks so much for the answers to my questions!   I can totally see how the kids would look back on it as idyllic, that they're pioneers just like Laura Ingalls Wilder's family was, and I get that that totally fits into an American mythos - especially when their parents are keeping them isolated and reminding them about how it's the Godly way.

It does make me wonder about the 3rd generation of Morton kids, though, and whether they'll be educated differently, or if the girls remember their lessons as tons of fun, they'll see no issue raising their own kids that way?   Cleve and Lise seem to be doing things differently, but wow, I wonder how the others are. 

I always worry about the third generation of Fundy families.   So often the story goes X and Y had a great education, got Fundy, went Quiverfull so the mother just couldn't cope with educating them, so their SOTDRT went haphazard and bare minimum.   And these kids are expected to homeschool their OWN children!   The same goes for the younger 2nd Gen kids - maybe their oldest siblings had a little better teaching, as their mother wasn't overwhelmed yet, but anyone who's kid 8 down seems to have only been taught by an older sibling.   At least the very youngest ones don't have to teach siblings so can focus only on their own schooling, but think of the littlest Duggars & Bateses:   their oldest sisters started their teaching, then got married, and that job was passed on to a sister around 6 years younger, who may or may not have been taught by her mother... and now SHE'S got married, so it's passed down again, this time to someone who was only taught by a sister.  In Duggar land, at least Jana is still around, but they've said Hannie is now responsible for the rest of the Lost Girls....  So, so sad.

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fundiefan
Posted (edited)

I fell down a Morton hole last night when I couldn't sleep and dug back into their old blog again.

I've always thought their house was cobbled together by whatever they could find whenever they could find it. But, admittedly, I really only had that thought about the interior and never gave thought to its actual construction. They built the barns around the time of the Smorton weddings - at one point the bigger one was referred to as 'the wedding barn'. They had big plans, clearly. The balls were all held in one of them as was the most recent one. A sort of side note, one of Adeline's IG stories was a live video of them all - well, all those with a penis -  playing a 'roaring' game of Monopoly and I think that was in one of the barns to - it had booths that appear to be from an old restaurant, an industrial kitchen corner (seen when Adeline went to get her brother water because she's the girl) and other pub style tables all around the big table where the menz were having their Monopoly war. Not related to the building, but to Morton life overall, the menz were playing - every male that lives on the compound, sans Papa Smurf Morton  - while their wives hung around the edges in the booths with the babies and Adeline recording. It was so weird. Lise would sit in Cleve's lap once in a while, while holding her daughter, but none of the girls were playing. It looked like an alternate universe version of a teenage slumber party, except the girls all had babies on their hips.

Cleve & Lise initally lived in an apartment in one of the barns. I don't know for sure but I think that's the same arrangement Sam & Alyssa have right now - Andrew has his house on the compound, but there's never been mention of Sam & Alyssa's place - and from the few pictures seen over the whole not quite two years of their marriage, they seem to be living in an unfinished attic - sloped & angled ceilings, support beams in the middle of a room. 

It's all just very, very weird to me. And cultish, if I'm being honest. 

Adeline just remade her bedroom "on the third floor". I'd love to know what those 3rd floor stories Martha refers to were all about. 

**Add: I also don't think Martha's book was edited to take the girls out because of Alan. I don't think it was ever meant to be about the girls, or Martha's life. The name alone gives that indication - My Eight Brothers. But, also, in Morton-ville, the boys are the be all and end all of everything; the girls are there to serve them, submit to them and make the babies. Pretty typical Patriarchy life.

 

Edited by fundiefan

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Wine time!
ophelia

Thank you @SolomonFundy!!

The Morton family always somewhat fascinated me and I read through their blogs at least 2 times.

Seems like they lived in severe poverty for quite some time. I wonder what changed and allowed them to finish their house? Do you think Mama Mortons parents helped out financially? The never occurred fundie or cultish to me and had real jobs. 

Working at the age of 11? That sounds like child labor to me! Especially working on a construction site. It's not only the lack of education that makes me furios, but even more the fact that those boys had to start working physically at such a young age.

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browngrl

I just saw an Instagram post by Mariah Campagna. She posted pictures of a plane ride she took with John Morton. I get the impression that she was with Alyssa to help around around the time of the birth of her youngest and I get the impression that John flew her home.

So I wonder: do the Morton's own a plane? Which of course leads to the question: If Martha's description of their early poverty is true and if her description of their haphazard education is true, where is all the money coming from? Is their construction business booming? Did they win the lottery? Did their farming business suddenly grow? 

I think the big reason I find the Morton's interesting is because there are so many unanswered questions. I'm not on any of their private instagrams so I need Adeline to start blogging again and do some explaining. 

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Bethella
35 minutes ago, browngrl said:

I just saw an Instagram post by Mariah Campagna. She posted pictures of a plane ride she took with John Morton. I get the impression that she was with Alyssa to help around around the time of the birth of her youngest and I get the impression that John flew her home.

So I wonder: do the Morton's own a plane? Which of course leads to the question: If Martha's description of their early poverty is true and if her description of their haphazard education is true, where is all the money coming from? Is their construction business booming? Did they win the lottery? Did their farming business suddenly grow? 

According the FAA none of the Morton men have pilot's licenses. Could he have gone with her because of a courtship?

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Lurky
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ophelia said:

Seems like they lived in severe poverty for quite some time. I wonder what changed and allowed them to finish their house? Do you think Mama Mortons parents helped out financially? The never occurred fundie or cultish to me and had real jobs. 

 

48 minutes ago, browngrl said:

So I wonder: do the Morton's own a plane? Which of course leads to the question: If Martha's description of their early poverty is true and if her description of their haphazard education is true, where is all the money coming from? Is their construction business booming? Did they win the lottery? Did their farming business suddenly grow? 

I was thinking about this too - my question is more, with the parallels with the Nauglers being so strong, how the Mortons got to where they are now, versus the Nogs.   It really does sound like, had we been following the Mortons in the camping/no walls days, they would actually have compared badly to the Nogs, who at least had 3 walls!

I guess the biggest difference has to be that Pa Morton had the skills, and more importantly, the desire to do a lot of the work getting things tranformed.  They had much better land to start with, and I am seriously side-eye-ing getting 10 year old boys to do manual labor in a construction business (that's worse that the Nogs, and the Andersons, and the Bateses living off teenaged Lawson's earnings, even!), but their conditions now look like paradise compared to the Nogs.

(ETA:  of course it can't help that the Nauglers are so violently combative, and get into legal issues at the drop of a hat.  But I wonder, if CPS had been alerted to the situation when they were living in tents, and on the 3rd floor of a building site, if the Mortons would have gone into foster care too.   I know the Nauglers seem to have started "homesteading" (unsteading?) because they'd burnt so many bridges - do we know what prompted the Mortons to live in tents and such?   Did they choose it (ploughing all resources into the land purchase) or did they have no other option?)

And hang on, aren't the oldest 3rd Gen Mortons over 10?   I REALLY hope that those kids are being educated, even if it's only SOTDRT, and not being put to work in the construction/farm businesses.  

(I know that there are FJers who say they had to work for a living doing manual labour and full-time jobs as a young child and young teen, but I don't think that was OK for THEM, either. I think children should be primarily in education until at least 16, and if they have part time jobs, for it to be secondary to learning.   And I 100% reject the idea it's OK for parents to exploit their kids as cheap labour)

Edited by Lurky

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Bethella
8 minutes ago, Lurky said:

And hang on, aren't the oldest 3rd Gen Mortons over 10?  

The oldest Morton grandchild will turn 11 later this month.

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fundiefan

Reading the questions about how they got from there to here - left the poverty behind or whatever...I am, of course, speculating but I wonder if the way they hook up with other families had anything to do with it. They have proven they take on the beliefs and ways of life of those families they're latched onto - Smiths, Campanas, Sanders, Roberts, Davis, etc. For a while they got hooked on VF and were mingling in those circles - one of the posts I read last night was about Papa Smurf Morton running for local office after taking a VF law course of some sort.

They put themselves in circles of people who could - and can -  help them with their agenda (hell, it seems they needed help forming their agenda) - fundie networking. I could totally see that type of 'bonding' helping them out with finances, at least in a round about way - finding customers; people to 'buy' what they wanted to sell - business from friends of friends and family connections. It's not that big of a stretch to go from that type of involvement to marrying your kids off to a family with a plan that you got sucked into (Smiths).

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NachosFlandersStyle

So was their former privation the result of plain old poverty, or was this some experiment in off-the-grid living?

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Tired
albireo

@browngrl some of the instas (notably Addie's) are willing to accept people.

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SolomonFundy
8 hours ago, Lurky said:

I can totally see how the kids would look back on it as idyllic, that they're pioneers just like Laura Ingalls Wilder's family was, and I get that that totally fits into an American mythos - especially when their parents are keeping them isolated and reminding them about how it's the Godly way.

It does make me wonder about the 3rd generation of Morton kids, though, and whether they'll be educated differently, or if the girls remember their lessons as tons of fun, they'll see no issue raising their own kids that way?   Cleve and Lise seem to be doing things differently, but wow, I wonder how the others are. 

I love the way you framed your comment about the way they may view their "pioneering" days. You hit the nail on the head, I think. Martha made a point to mention that she composed the interview question about who/what they imagined themselves to be as they played in the woods. I think that all of the kids engineered some form of escapism in their play, but the overtones of a family who were ALL "playing pioneer" comes through to some extent. 

Any answer regarding the quality of education offered to gen3 Mortonspawn would be 100% speculation on my part. None of the accounts I follow feature any homeschooling activities advertised as such. However, the intervention of CPS in the Alan/Katie family unit probably means that her children are "on the radar" regarding their general welfare, or at least were in the aftermath of Alan's arrest. This may include access to schooling at whatever Georgia's state standards are for homeschoolers. 

4 hours ago, fundiefan said:

Cleve & Lise initally lived in an apartment in one of the barns. I don't know for sure but I think that's the same arrangement Sam & Alyssa have right now - Andrew has his house on the compound, but there's never been mention of Sam & Alyssa's place - and from the few pictures seen over the whole not quite two years of their marriage, they seem to be living in an unfinished attic - sloped & angled ceilings, support beams in the middle of a room. 

*snip*

**Add: I also don't think Martha's book was edited to take the girls out because of Alan. I don't think it was ever meant to be about the girls, or Martha's life. The name alone gives that indication - My Eight Brothers. But, also, in Morton-ville, the boys are the be all and end all of everything; the girls are there to serve them, submit to them and make the babies. Pretty typical Patriarchy life.

 

Good catch on the Sam and Alyssa living situation. I'm not sure if it's the same apartment, though. Sam had to install a kitchen in it right before Norah was born. Maybe the original kitchen was damaged? Or maybe Cleveland and Lise just hoofed it to the main house for meals?

The book was originally composed in 2013. If my theory is correct, she could have originally titled it "12 Little Mortons" or "The 12 of Us" or somesuch, then changed the title to reflect the updated material if it was edited down to just the boys. That said, I really doubt that the book was ever meant to be anything besides an ode to her brothers. The whole family seems pretty fixated on them, and always has.

3 hours ago, ophelia said:

Seems like they lived in severe poverty for quite some time. I wonder what changed and allowed them to finish their house? Do you think Mama Mortons parents helped out financially? The never occurred fundie or cultish to me and had real jobs. 

Working at the age of 11? That sounds like child labor to me! Especially working on a construction site. It's not only the lack of education that makes me furios, but even more the fact that those boys had to start working physically at such a young age.

It's difficult to say with any degree of certainty, but from the outside of things, it looks like the family were never in a stagnant frame of mind regarding their situation. They were always working together towards the common goal of having the big house on the land, and since construction paid well enough to cover the taxes and bills, they just limped along until the kids were big enough to be of genuine help. Papa Morton is obviously a very capable carpenter/builder. That made all the difference as well. 

Current Georgia law prohibits minors aged 14-18 from working during school hours, even if they are homeschooled. Children under the age of 14 don't seem to be legally employable. However, there are often state-specific loopholes for children to work within their own families at family-owned businesses, at any age. I don't know enough about Georgia law to say with confidence that it was illegal at the time, but it seems like a gray area at best.

1 hour ago, browngrl said:

I just saw an Instagram post by Mariah Campagna. She posted pictures of a plane ride she took with John Morton. I get the impression that she was with Alyssa to help around around the time of the birth of her youngest and I get the impression that John flew her home.

So I wonder: do the Morton's own a plane? Which of course leads to the question: If Martha's description of their early poverty is true and if her description of their haphazard education is true, where is all the money coming from? Is their construction business booming? Did they win the lottery? Did their farming business suddenly grow? 

I think the big reason I find the Morton's interesting is because there are so many unanswered questions. I'm not on any of their private instagrams so I need Adeline to start blogging again and do some explaining. 

The Mortons seem to be pretty comfortable at this point. Construction can pay very well, plus I do think that they've had some help from their extended family over the years. Michael and Jeanine both have lost parents since the blog began, and Jeanine's family may have had some money. It wouldn't shock me if one of them got a pilot's license someday to expedite travel between Georgia and Paraguay, but as Bethella posted, none of them are currently licensed.

1 hour ago, Bethella said:

According the FAA none of the Morton men have pilot's licenses. Could he have gone with her because of a courtship?

I've been wondering the same thing. Mariah has been hanging around quite a bit. However, I've had my antenna tuned in to a possible match between John and Sarah Knudson, so I just can't see how she'd fit into things. 

1 hour ago, Lurky said:

I was thinking about this too - my question is more, with the parallels with the Nauglers being so strong, how the Mortons got to where they are now, versus the Nogs.   It really does sound like, had we been following the Mortons in the camping/no walls days, they would actually have compared badly to the Nogs, who at least had 3 walls!

I guess the biggest difference has to be that Pa Morton had the skills, and more importantly, the desire to do a lot of the work getting things tranformed.  They had much better land to start with, and I am seriously side-eye-ing getting 10 year old boys to do manual labor in a construction business (that's worse that the Nogs, and the Andersons, and the Bateses living off teenaged Lawson's earnings, even!), but their conditions now look like paradise compared to the Nogs.

(ETA:  of course it can't help that the Nauglers are so violently combative, and get into legal issues at the drop of a hat.  But I wonder, if CPS had been alerted to the situation when they were living in tents, and on the 3rd floor of a building site, if the Mortons would have gone into foster care too.   I know the Nauglers seem to have started "homesteading" (unsteading?) because they'd burnt so many bridges - do we know what prompted the Mortons to live in tents and such?   Did they choose it (ploughing all resources into the land purchase) or did they have no other option?)

And hang on, aren't the oldest 3rd Gen Mortons over 10?   I REALLY hope that those kids are being educated, even if it's only SOTDRT, and not being put to work in the construction/farm businesses.  

(I know that there are FJers who say they had to work for a living doing manual labour and full-time jobs as a young child and young teen, but I don't think that was OK for THEM, either. I think children should be primarily in education until at least 16, and if they have part time jobs, for it to be secondary to learning.   And I 100% reject the idea it's OK for parents to exploit their kids as cheap labour)

Comparing the Nauglers to anyone is hard, because they combine the worst qualities of several of the families. You can say that their compound was disgusting and unfit for human habitation like the early Morton situation, but the Mortons actually seemed to want to live differently, and pulled themselves out of it on their own, so it's not quite a parallel. The Naugs are extremely combative and enjoy stirring up "controversy" much like the Pissing Preacher, but at least the Andersons live indoors with running water, etc.. The Naugs are an entire magnitude of terrible beyond most of the families we've discussed on FJ. At least, I hope they don't have much close competition. :my_confused:

The tent dwelling seems to have been a deliberate choice. The family lived in the "5th Avenue House", then moved onto their current land. I assume this was to conserve time and resources as they worked on the property. They clearly had no access to reliable transportation for the whole family, so maybe they moved on-site because commuting back and forth just wasn't possible. I don't know how they managed to turn things around, but bear in mind that they did almost all of the work themselves, and it took years. I assume that the infusion of maturing child labor and construction money helped, plus I do think that their families may have chipped in. A lot seems to have leveled out around the time they hooked up with the Smiths. That's when many of the outbuildings were constructed, and the house was mostly finished. 

Regarding the childhood manual labor, I'm kind of split on it. I worked as a kid, and I don't think that all work is bad for kids. However, no child should be forced to work so that their parents can chase a lifestyle. Including a rustic lifestyle.

The comparison to the Bates' is unfortunately very accurate regarding the wage-sharing. Martha specifically states that Michael jr. saved all of his earnings in his desk, but would turn it over to Papa Morton when the family needed help. So the elder Mortons have absolutely taken the wages of their teen and adult children to support themselves and their family. However (and this is an important distinction), Papa Morton never stopped working in order to live off of his kids, to my knowledge.

27 minutes ago, NachosFlandersStyle said:

So was their former privation the result of plain old poverty, or was this some experiment in off-the-grid living?

Probably a combination of both. Martha doesn't specifically say anything about the reasons behind any of the stuff going on, but the decision to move from their previous house to the property appears to have been deliberate. After the hurricane came through and destroyed their tents, they lived in a local motel for a period of time before moving into the house structure. If that option existed from the beginning, then I assume that they chose to live in the homemade tents in order to save money to put towards the house. It's very possible that the Inn in question allowed them to move in as an act of charity, though, and that they didn't have to pay. If locals were aware that the family was in need, they may have gotten a lot of that sort of thing. We would have no way of knowing since the little bits mentioned are usually called "the Lord provided" rather than charity.

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Lurky

@SolomonFundy I really appreciate your replies to all our Qs - thank you so much for taking the time, and sharing what you've learned 

I should specify, I don't think work is bad for kids, BUT it should be age-appropriate, and absolutely secondary to their education, and to opportunities to play and pursue interests.   Solomon Anderson and his brothers, for example, make me super-sad, as they're working for cash, AND doing all the work around the house, while Steve has been explicit that he shouldn't have to do anything around the house, as that's what his kids are for. 

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caitrona
3 hours ago, NachosFlandersStyle said:

So was their former privation the result of plain old poverty, or was this some experiment in off-the-grid living?

I've gotten the impression that many of Papa Morton's beliefs skate the line of tin-foil-hattery -- on the old blog there were many mentions of "government schools" and the evils contained therein, and I think with the farmer's market and the quasi-plan to turn their homestead into a tourist attraction (Calathora Farms), both of those fizzled when there were too many permits/too much what I'm sure he saw as government interference.  I think the impetus for the Paraguay move was to continue moving towards his off-grid libertarian utopia fantasies.  I would guess that the situation with Alan put a hold on everyone moving down there.

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Wine time!
JMO

I get the impression that Papa Morton would not only care less if underage employment was illegal but that he wouldn't even stop if cited and would believe that it was an unjust, morally wrong and blatantly wrong law. I'msure he not only believes that he should be able to do what he wants with his kids but that he is raising them the only right way. Especially since its biblically centered and all. 

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