History By Michael S. Riggs
The second woman Morse brought with him through Utah and also down to San Bernardino was Eleanor (Earl) Morse. Of the two wives, Eleanor was perhaps favored by Justus. In 1847 or 48, Eleanor gave birth to the couple's only child, a girl named Charlotte Elizabeth in Missouri. In an inflammatory account for which there is no other collaborating evidence (except that she did leave him), Louisa Barnes Pratt's journal entry for February 1857 states, "E. [Eleanor] Morse's husband was a drunkard, and when in liquor, he would abuse his best friend. She had no hope of his reform, and she wished to leave him with his first family and go to the valley of the mountains. I sympathized with her, and fully approved of her plan." Edward Leo Lyman adds, "Eleanor approached Morse on the subject, he consented to give her a yoke of oxen to make the journey. Although she had many friends in the California community, she embarked for Salt Lake City with the very next company. It is doubtful that any divorce papers were ever signed or if there was any further financial settlement."
Eleanor probably never remarried. As late as 1870, at the age of fifty-three, she was still using the Morse name while living in Salt Lake City and working as a housekeeper. In August of 1869, Eleanor was baptized into the Reorganized Church and became a member the Salt Lake City Branch. Was it a surprise when Justus walked into the Salt Lake City Branch meeting hall as an RLDS missionary in February of the next year to find his ex-wife (from a plural marriage) sitting in a pew? Could this have been a factor in his mission only lasting a few months before he returned to San Bernardino?
While Morse was in Salt Lake City, he stayed with his and Eleanor's married daughter, Charlotte (Morse) Pack. In December of 1869, Morse had written to his sister, Salley (Bissell) Church, that Charlotte had married the summer before, "but not in plurality," and added that he had not "seen either of them in twelve years" (i.e. since 1857). He knew details about his daughter's marriage—for example, that she had not become a plural wife (which would have been important to an RLDS parent). Also, given that this information was obtained about the same time as Eleanor's RLDS conversion, Justus may have had prior knowledge about his ex-wife's situation, and that may have dictated his missionary destination.
By the spring of 1870, Morse's mission was completed and he was heading West again. Whatever his intentions were, no rekindled September romance resulted between Eleanor and the sixty-year-old Justus. Charlotte, whose children were being blessed in the RLDS Church beginning as early as November of 1869, was herself baptized a member in 1880. Every indication would be that Charlotte and her mother remained in the RLDS Church all their lives. While Morse was able to share his RLDS Mormonism experience with his former wife and daughter, he probably had a minimal impact on their decision either to join, or to endure in the movement.