E.L. "Liv" Morse who died October 8, 1930, and Excelsior Springs are an inseparable part of history. Likewise, no history of Missouri politics would be complete without frequent reference to Colonel Morse, according to a Kansas City Star article at the time of his death.
Evastus Livingston Morse was born March 28, 1864 at Binghamton, New York. His family moved to Osborn in DeKalb County, Missouri four years later. In 1872, when he was 8 years old, he quit school and went to work in a bank and later in a drug store. When he was 17 years old, he began his career in Excelsior Springs. He bought a drug store in his own name and operated it a year, then sold out and entered the Kansas City School of Law. He was admitted to the bar when he was 19 years old and returned to Excelsior Springs to practice law and was elected city attorney.
In 1888, he built and operated the Excelsior Springs Water Co., which he later sold to Dr. W.A. Bell in 1902.
In 1888, he promoted and was president of the company that built the first Elms Hotel. Later he organized the Excelsior Springs Land & Investment Co., which owned the townsite.
He organized the Excelsior Trust Company.
In 1892, he went to the state legislation and obtained the legislation that made it possible for Excelsior Springs to construct a sewer system. In 1900, he was made a bitter and successful fight for the paving of the city.
In 1893, he built the Kansas City, Excelsior Springs and Northern Railroad, which he and his associates later sold to the Wabash and was operated by that system as a "dummy line."
In the late 1890's, he purchased the Music Hall and converted it into a bathhouse and organized the Music Hall Bathhouse Company. With the Music Hall, he acquired a large tract of land. In 1899, he drilled and developed the Salt Sulphur Water Spring and in 1906 he struck White Sulpher in his drilling operations. In 1908, the Music Hall burned and he then developed Thompson Avenue from the Thompson Avenue bridge south, erecting many of the present buildings as far south as the old Post Office.
He gave land to the government to build the old Post Office, so that it would be built on Thompson Avenue, rather than on Broadway.
The land known as the Hitch Lot was given to the city by Liv Morse with the stipulation that horses never be barred from the lot.
In 1908, he entertained the Vice President of the United States, Charles Warren Fairbanks. Special china was made for this visit.
He was involved in a Republican political scandal in 1920, which revolved around a $32,000 "slush fund" for the campaign of Frank O. Lowden's nomination for the presidency in 1920. According to The Star article, there were many stirring episodes in Morse's political career and as in the Lowden case, he came in for much bitter criticism. Among those episodes was the sale of his mansion on Beacon Hill in Excelsior Springs to the government for use as a veteran's hospital. He sold it for $90,000 and was to receive $26,000 more for additional land that he was to buy and resell to the government. This occured in 1921 with the sale of the mansion and 14 acres of property. An investigation in 1923 concluded that the property was worth what the government paid for it.
In 1924, he built a new home off Corum Road that overlooked Crescent Lake. It was on 20 acres and was a huge u-shaped brick structure. It was destroyed by fire in 1940.
In December 1926, he obtained the appointment of A.S. Swofford as postmaster at Excelsior Springs. Howard Morse, a son, was named as assistant postmaster.
Colonel Morse was the son of Benjamin Whitney and Emeline (Bissell) Morse. He was married twice. His first wife was Kate D. Lemon, whom he married May 9, 1884. There were three children, Benjamin W. Morse, who died; Wallace M. Morse; and Howard Morse. Kate died in 1893. In 1895, he married Harriett C. (Hattie) Chamberlain, Denver, and three children were born. They are William Morse; Frances Kathryn (Kate), who married Charles Wasson; and Marguerite Morse. He died at his home on October 8, 1930, 1:35 a.m. He was 66 years old. Senator James A. Reed gave the funeral oration.