Born: April 5, 1839, Orange County, Virginia.
Died: July 20, 1908, Atlanta, Georgia.
Buried: Fairview Cemetery, Eufaula, Alabama.
Morton was the son of Malcolm Hart Wharton and Susan Roberts Colvin, and husband of Mary Belle Irwin.
Converted at age 18, he joined the Baptist church in Alexandria, Virginia. In October 1858, he entered Richmond College, where he stayed through the session of 1860–61.
During the American civil war, he was an evangelist in the army, under A. E. Dickinson, and later, agent in Georgia collecting funds for the Virginia Army Colportage Board. At this period of his life he was also, for a time, agent for the Domestic and Indian Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
After the war, he became a pastor in Eufala, Alabama, where he would later serve a second time until the end of his life. He also served pastorates in Louisville, Kentucky; Augusta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; and Norfolk, Virginia. For a while he served with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and edited the Christian Index.
Starting in 1816, he served several years as the United States Consul in Sonneberg, Germany, near Coburg. Somewhere along the way, he found time to earn a Doctor of Divinity degree from Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, and a Doctor of Laws from the University of Alabama.
I am thinking tonight in sadness
Of a Christmas of long ago,
When the air was filled with gladness,
And the earth was wrapped in snow;
When the stars like diamonds glistened
And the night was crisp and cold,
As I eagerly watched and listened
For the Santa Claus of old.
The forest was robbed of its treasures,
The house was a mass of green,
And I reveled in Christmas pleasures,
At the dawn of Aurora’s sheen;
Some talked of the Savior’s mission,
But I of my pretty toys;
Some knelt in devout petition—
I romped and played with the boys.
We went to the pond for skating,
To the stable to take a ride,
And we found new joys awaiting,
To whatever spot we hide;
But the climax of my story
Was that evening’s fireworks show!
Went out in a blaze of glory—
That Christmas of long ago!
But in sadness I think of that Christmas,
For many then happy and gay
Have gone to the realm of silence
And sleep in their beds of clay;
The hands that filled kindly my stockings,
I shall grasp in this world no more,
But when at Heaven’s portals I’m knocking
They’ll open the beautiful door.
They will lead me in tenderness clinging,
And place me before the throne,
Where the choirs angelic are singing
And the heavenly gifts are strown,
And there in the realm of glory,
With my loved ones at my side,
I’ll repeat the old Bethlehem story
And join in the Christmas tide.
Morton Bryan Wharton (1839–1908)