Morse Family History and House History, Downtown Santa Clara, CA 

“We are braver and wiser because they existed, those strong women and strong men… We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name.” – Maya Angelou

The Morse family history begins in Maine before they moved to Santa Clara. There must have been multiple family celebrations held on Franklin and Main Streets throughout Downtown Santa Clara, CA and at the Plaza Park with this prominent and long term family history discovered.

The Charles Copeland Morse House was built in 1892 and was the home of Charles Copeland Morse, founder of the Ferry-Morse Seed Company. The Mansion is located near our old Santa Clara, CA downtown at 981 Fremont Street.. It’s a California Historical Landmark (#904), as well as listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Charles Morse had a sibling, brother who moved to Santa Clara, CA and helped with his Seed growing business and lived on Franklin Street, Santa Clara, CA.

Sibling and Brother of C. C.  Morse

One certainly may imagine the multiple family gatherings that took place in the early Santa Clara town history during 1890 and 1900 between siblings and children of the Morse family.  

Mrs. Martha L  Louise (Crabtree) Morse – the wife of Benjamin W Morse – the brother of C. C. Morse – Morse Seed Co, Santa Clara City was 98 years old and died March 1963. She lived in this downtown Franklin Street house that was sold to the federal Urban Renewal Agency and demolished shortly after her death.  

The House History of 1267 Franklin St, Santa Clara, CA,  that was destroyed through Urban Renewal soon after her death Mrs. Martha Morse’s death was listed in an article found in the Santa Clara Journal and includes history of their home back to the 1800s. 

Franklin Street, Downtown Santa Clara CA

1963 Benjamin and Martha Morse house on Franklin Street, Downtown Santa Clara CA

Reclaiming Our Downtown Santa Clara Facebook Group matched the old residence on Franklin Street to Benjamin Morse, the brother of Charles Morse, 

Benjamin and Martha Morse, even though Benjamin had a sudden death early in 1906, Martha lived at 1267 Franklin St until she passed away at 98.  Mr. Benjamin Morse was born in Maine and left his business to support his brother in the Seed growing business and settled in Santa Clara as the manager of the Morse seed farms on Murphy ranch.  .  

Martha Morse was the wife of the late Benjamin Morse and a member of the family that founded the Ferry-Morse Seed Co. and was said to be spry enough at age 98 to manage the stairs of her two story house immediately opposite of the old Post Office until her death. The Morse business firm was founded in 1900 and entered a merger shortly after World War II which gave the firm its present name of Ferry- Morse Seed Co. 

Mrs. Martha Morse Downtown Santa Clara CA

Martha Morse, Long Time Resident Dies At 98.

Mrs. Martha Morse was a longtime member of the Community Methodist Church of Santa Clara and received visits from church members with tape recordings of the sermons when she was not able to attend in person.   Her survivors included two granddaughters, Martha Sawyer and Barbara Walsh.  Mrs. Morse was active and a member of the King’s Daughters, The Willing Workers, and the Chautaqua Literary Club. 

House History 93 Years Old

It is from an “appraisement” in 1893 values findings revealed of the land, home, and stable at $2,500 purchased by Benjamin Morse when he moved to Santa Clara, CA.

Benjamin and Martha Morse Franklin Street Downtown Santa Clara CA

Benjamin and Martha Morse  93 Year Old House Franklin Street Downtown Santa Clara CA

Franklin Street Landmark To Go

Franklin Street Landmark To Go

Please comment below and share with us additional information of this family and house history to include this story.  

House History Transcribed Article

Benjamin and Martha Morse House
Franklin Street Santa Clara CA
Transcribed by Donna West 10/26/2022
93 Years of History dated Sept. 1963
Clipped from Santa Clara Journal, Santa Clara CA
Sept 1963 • Page 1 and 3

Page 1

When the venerable B. W.
Morse house on Franklin
Street is demolished in the
next three weeks, 93 years
of memories and history will
be wiped out.
The gray, two-story build-
Ing, opposite the new Post
Office, will be the second
structure to fall to make way
for a new downtown Santa
The Redevelopment Agen-
cy of Santa Clara has pur-
chased the poverty- known
coldly as 1267 Franklin St.-
for $39,000. Exactly 13 times
Its original dollar value
when erected in 1870.
The home has been occu-
pied continuously since then,
last by Mrs. Benjamin W.
Morse who died there March 13
(See FRANKLIN, Page 3)

Page 3
More About . . .
Franklin Street
Landmark To Go
(Continued From Page 1)

March 13 of the age of 98.
She had lived in the home
since her marriage (as Mar-
tha L.Crabtree of South Hope,
Maine) in 1899. Her husband
died seven years later, leaving
her the property. When the
downtown urban renewal proj-
ect was formed, Mrs. Morse
was given the right to remain
in the home as long as she
wished to do so.
A statistical history of th
property prepared by A. W.
Morse of Palo Alto, shows the
property on which the home
now stands has increased more
than 500 times in dollar value
since first records in 1854.
The story of 1267 Franklin
street begins unfolding then.
  Jan. 12, 1854 – Trustees of
the Church of Christ (Wooden
Engel, Thomas Thompson and
G. W. Moody) purchase half of
Squires ‘ land for $250, the south-
west quarter of the block.
Feb. 27, 1869 – E. W. King
buys the 1267 lot from the
church for $700. Land was sold
to help pay off dept for the
new church just constructed on
the adjacent property – occu-
pied today by Santa Clara
Home Furnishings store.
April 26, 1870 – John West
buys the lot and improvements
for $3,000. The dollar amount
indicates the house was by then
Jan. 14, 1876 – John West
mortgages the property for
$1,500 at 1.125% interest per
Feb. 5, 1867 – C. C. Hayward
buys house for $2,625.
May 5, 1893 – Hayward dies
without will, presumably in
debt. An “appraisement” values
land, home, and stable at $2,500.
April, 1894 – Benjamin W.
Morse bids – and wins – home
for $$2,850. He had just arrived
here from New Brunsick.
1907-1908 – County taxes are
$28.26, city taxes $32.35.
1919-1920 – County taxes are
$43.85, city taxes $30.30.
1931-1932 – County taxes are
$75.48, city taxes $48.25.
1950-1951 – County taxes are
$160.35, city taxes $74.94.
1962-1963 – County taxes are
$166.38, city taxes $142.88. Schools
$407.49, and special districts
$72.67 for a total of $789.42.
August, 1963 – Urban renewal-
al agency buys property from
Morse heirs Alan W. Morse, a
son; Everett Calderwood, a grandson;
Imogene Taylor, a
granddaughter; Paul Morse, a
grandson; Newell Morse, a
grandson; and Helen Koch, a

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Editor’s Note:  Thank you to the following articles and pictures and are used with permission from Donna West. Please contact me for permission to use. Comments are welcome..


House Image are courtesy of Rod Dunham, Community stories from Bob Emerson and the Reclaiming Our Downtown Facebook group members and In the News page. 

  • Santa Clara Journal Newspaper articles Microfilm 1960 – 1970, Santa Clara City Central Park Library
  • Mercury Newspaper articles Microfilm, Martin Luther King Library, San Jose, CA