Josiah Morris

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Josiah Morris (born May 26, 1818 in Maryland, died March 9, 1891) was a Montgomery banker and one of the principal founders of the City of Birmingham. It was either Morris or James Powell who suggested the name "Birmingham" in honor of England's industrial metropolis.

Born on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Morris found work in a Columbus, Georgia mercantile when he was 15. He married the former Elizabeth Harvey of Georgia and worked his way up the ladder of cotton trading. He enjoyed great financial success in New Orleans, and moved to Montgomery in 1856 to found a banking business. His friend John T. Milner, the chief engineer for the South and North Railroad convinced him to provide capital for development of an industrial city in Jones Valley where his railroad would intersect with the Alabama & Chattanooga Railroad. Morris established a banking office in the town of Elyton, and on December 8, 1870 he purchased the 4,150 acres on which the new city would be laid out for approximately $100,000.

Later, on January 26, 1871, the organizers of the Elyton Land Company met at his office. Of the 2,130 shares of the new company, Morris held 437, a little over 20%, with the next largest shareholders taking 17% each.

The Morris Hotel and Morris Avenue are named for Josiah Morris.


  • Coleman, John Shields. (1948) Josiah Morris (1818-1891) Montgomery banker whose faith built Birmingham. New York: Newcomen Society of England, American Branch.