Morton Craig Hunter (1825 – 1896)
General Morton Craig Hunter was born on February 5, 1825 in Versailles, Indiana. On September 26, 1848 at the age of 23, Hunter married Martha Adaline Labertew (1831-1888). Together the couple had eight children: Mary Elizabeth, Morton Craig, George G., John A., Frank T., Samuel Mahan, and Minnie D.
Shortly before 1852, Hunter built a home at the corner of 11th and Walnut in Bloomington, Indiana. The mansion was torn down in 1974. Hunter graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in law in 1848, the same year he married Martha. He was a member of the Indiana State Legislature in 1858.
Hunter enlisted in the Union Army on August 27, 1862, about one year into the Civil War. He commanded the First Brigade, Third Division, Fourteenth Army Corps. He was a brevetted brigadier general of the Volunteers as well. Hunter was honorably discharged on June 24, 1865. During the famous Battle of Chickamauga, Hunter led the 82nd Indiana and held Snodgrass hill, which was the key to winning the battle for the Union. Hunter also led his unit in Sherman’s March.
Hunter was elected to the Fortieth U.S. Congress in March 1867 as a Republican, and served until his term ended in March of 1869. Hunter was again elected in March 1873 to the Forty-third U.S. Congress and served through the Forty-fourth and Forty-fifth Congresses until finishing his final term in March 1879.
Aside from his involvement in politics, Hunter was also a very involved Bloomington citizen. He was a member of the Paul E. Slocum Post G.A.R., the Military Order of the Loyal Legion, the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, president of the Indiana Chickamauga Monument commission, a member of the Monroe Lodge of the F. and A. M., a member of the Phi Gamma Delta college fraternity, and became a member of the Oolite club shortly before his death. Hunter was also instrumental in keeping Indiana University in Bloomington. Hunter made a very large donation to the school with the stipulation that it always remained in Bloomington, effectively making a law that the University may never be moved. Years later, when there was serious discussion of moving the school to Indianapolis, this law was discovered, and the school remained.
After he retired from congress, Hunter opened the Hunter Valley Limestone quarry, in Bloomington, Indiana. Hunter was a prominent member of Bloomington society, and was an honorary member of the Old Settlers Society. In 1879, Hunter was being considered as a candidate for Governor of Indiana, but had to withdraw from public life after a serious stroke. In 1896, he had another stroke during services at the Walnut Street Presbyterian church, and passed away a week later at this home on October 25. His obituary in the Bloomington Telephone wrote, “Few men have stood higher in Indiana and are more deserving of a place among the great and true men of the state.”
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