Robert Emmett Morse, member of the Texas House of Representatives, son of Henry D. Morse and Willie Eleanor (Henson) Morse, was born in Houston, Texas, on April 8, 1896. He graduated from Central High School in Houston and later obtained a law degree. Morse served in the United States Army as a first lieutenant in the infantry for two years during World War I. By 1920 he was married to Eugenia Maddox. They had three children—Robert Jr., Eugenia, and James Dudley. Following the war, he returned to Houston and began a career in the real estate industry as a developer. He served as secretary of the Houston Real Estate Board from 1919 to 1923 before serving as the secretary of the Texas Association of Real Estate Boards from 1923 to 1926.
Robert Emmett Morse, a Democrat, began his eighteen-year tenure as Harris County’s representative for District No. 19-4 in the House of the Texas legislature in 1927. Morse started his career in the Fortieth Texas Legislature and served consecutively through the Forty-eighth legislature. During his long tenure, he was a member of numerous committees. He chaired the Enrolled Bills Committee in the Fortieth legislature, the Commerce and Manufactures Committee in the Forty-first legislature, and the State Affairs Committee in the Forty-second legislature. He also served as Speaker of the House in 1939 and 1940 during the Forty-sixth Texas Legislature. While he was still a legislator, Morse was admitted to the state bar in 1939. By 1940 he had divorced and was listed in the 1940 census as an attorney in Houston, where he lodged. At some point, he remarried. By the early 1940s he was permanently living in Austin. In January 1945 Morse ended his career in the legislature and began practicing law. He served as general counsel for the Wholesale Liquor Dealers Association. During his life Morse held memberships in numerous organizations including the YMCA, American Legion, Houston Club, Arabia Temple of Houston, Austin Country Club, and Travis County Bar Association. He had also belonged to the Second Baptist Church in Houston.
On January 28, 1956, Morse suffered a heart attack in his home and was hospitalized. Following the heart attack, he had poor health for a year and seven months before passing away at Seton Hospital in Austin on August 19, 1957. He was survived by his wife and by his three children from his first marriage. He was buried in Austin Memorial Park.
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Austin Statesman, January 30, 1956; August 20, 1957. Legislative Reference Library of Texas: Robert Emmett Morse (http://www.lrl.state.tx.us/legeLeaders/members/memberDisplay.cfm?memberID=1561&searchparams=chamber=~city=~countyID=0~RcountyID=~district=~first=~gender=~last=morse~leaderNote=~leg=~party=~roleDesc=~Committee=), accessed November 15, 2016.
Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
Fortieth Legislature (1927)
Forty-first Legislature (1929-1930)
Forty-second Legislature (1931-1932)
Forty-third Legislature (1933-1934)
Forty-fourth Legislature (1935-1936)
Forty-fifth Legislature (1937)
Forty-sixth Legislature (1939)
Forty-seventh Legislature (1941)
Forty-eighth Legislature (1943)
Texas in the 1920s
World War II
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Morse, Robert Emmett,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 30, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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