Born on February 28, 1899, in Granbury, Texas, U.S. Representative Toby Morris was the son of Lon and Ida Henderson Morris. An attorney, Lon Morris moved his family to Comanche County, Oklahoma, in 1906 and to Walters in Cotton County in 1913. The future congressman attended the public schools and in 1917 left high school in his senior year to enlist in the U.S. Army during World War I. He saw action at various places in France, including the Meuse-Argonne campaign.
When he returned from the war, he became assistant postmaster at Walters and also began to study the law with his father. Following his admittance to the bar in 1920, he decided to enter politics. Elected court clerk in 1920, he served in this position from 1921 to 1925. Tragedy came to him in 1922, when his wife died. He had married Ola Baker in 1917, and they had two children. In 1924 he was elected as the Cotton County attorney and again served four years. That same year, he married Laura Norris Claycomb.
In 1929 he returned to his law practice in Walters. By 1937 he left the practice and moved to Lawton when he was appointed a district judge, a position he held until 1946. That year he launched a successful campaign for the Sixth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. A Democrat, he was elected to two more terms. In 1954 the Sixth District was combined with the Seventh District to form a "new" Sixth District. In that year's election former Seventh District incumbent Victor Wickersham defeated him. The next two years, Morris returned to the bench as a district judge. In 1956 he regained his congressional seat and successfully defended it again in 1958, both times against Wickersham, but in 1960 failed to gain renomination.
During Morris's terms in Congress he served on various committees, including House Administration, Public Lands, Interior and Insular Affairs, and Armed Services. While in the House, he called for increased funding for public works, including flood control, irrigation, and reclamation projects. He also fought for the economic betterment of the independent oil industry, gave unwavering support to the military bases in his district, and labored to bring federal funds for rural electrification.
In 1961 he was named a judge of the Oklahoma State Industrial Court. He held this position until 1963 when he became a district judge. He formally retired from the bench in 1971. On September 1, 1973, Morris died in Lawton, where he had lived since his retirement. He was interred in Sunset Memorial Gardens.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1996 (Alexandria, Va.: CQ Staff Directories, 1997). Cotton County Historical Society, comp., History of Cotton County: Family and Area Stories (Walters, Okla.: Herald Publishing, 1979). "Former Oklahoma Congressman Dies," Tulsa (Oklahoma) World, 2 September 1973. Toby Morris Papers, Congressional Archives, Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.
Carolyn G. Hanneman
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