For the baseball player, see Bill Morley (baseball).
Bill Morley
File:William R. Morley.png
Biographical details
Born(1876-03-17)March 17, 1876
Cimarron, New Mexico
DiedMay 27, 1932(1932-05-27) (aged 56)
Pasadena, California
Playing career
Position(s)Halfback, quarterback
Head coaching record
Accomplishments and honors
All-American, 1899
All-American, 1900
All-American, 1901
College Football Hall of Fame
Inducted in 1971 (profile)

William Raymond Morley Jr. (March 17, 1876 – May 27, 1932) was an American football player, coach, and rancher. Born in New Mexico, he played college football for the University of Michigan and Columbia University and was selected as an All-American in 1900 and 1901. Morley served as the head coach of the Columbia Lions football team from 1902 to 1905. He later returned to New Mexico where he was a successful cattle and sheep rancher. He was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1971.

Early yearsEdit

Morley was born in 1876 at Cimarron in Colfax County, New Mexico. His parents were William Raymond Morley, Sr. (1846–1883), and Ada (McPherson) Morley (1852–1917). His father was the chief engineer for the Santa Fe Railroad and later edited The Cimarron News and managed the Maxwell land grant in Cimarron.[1] Morley's father was killed in 1883 from an accidental shooting in Mexico. Morley was six years old at the time of his father's death. His father left extensive land holdings in the Datil Mountains near Datil, New Mexico. After his father's death, his mother remarried, and moved with her three young children (one boy and two girls) and her new husband, Floyd Jarrett, to the Datil Mountains. Jarrett abandoned the family in approximately 1889, and Morley's mother raised her children in a log house roofed with adobe sod. Morley's sister, Agnes Morley Cleaveland (1874–1958), later wrote a best-selling book titled "No Life for a Lady" about their life in the Datil Mountains.[2][3][4][5][6]

Football playerEdit

Morley was sent east to be educated and reportedly attended school in 18 states.[1] He received a civil engineering degree from the Pennsylvania Military Academy in Chester, Pennsylvania.[1] He first played football at the military academy.[7]

File:William Morley (1895).jpg

Morley later attended the University of Michigan where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1896.[1] While attending Michigan, he was the backup quarterback on the 1895 Michigan Wolverines football team that laid claim to the Western football championship.[8] He was five feet, six inches tall and weighed 147 pounds as a football player at Michigan.[9] Morley's sister, Agnes, was also a student at Michigan during the 1895–96 academic year.[9] After graduating from Michigan, Morely worked for the Santa Fe Railroad.[1] Some reports indicate that he also worked for a time as the sheriff of Socorro County, New Mexico.[10]

Morley subsequently enrolled at Columbia University School of Mines.[7] He played at the halfback and quarterback positions for the 1899, 1900 and 1901 Columbia Lions football teams. He was selected as a first-team All-American in 1900 by Walter Camp and Leslie's Weekly.[11][12][13] Caspar Whitney, owner and editor-in-chief of the monthly Outing magazine, chose Morley as the captain and first-team halfback for his 1901 College Football All-America Team.[13] In his review of the 1901 football season, Charles Edward Patterson wrote: "Morley, stocky, muscular, not to be denied his two yards help or no help (and three times two means six, or a first down, you know!) able to repeat indefinitely, the best interferer in present day football, a forty yard punter and a drop-kicker who can actually score."[14] In 1905, The New York Times recalled Morley's playing style at Columbia: "Morley was one of the most aggressive men who ever represented Columbia on the gridiron. As a plunging back he made an enviable reputation, and the same was true when he played quarter back."[15]

Morley was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971.[16][17] Morley's Hall of Fame biography emphasizes his accomplishments as a player for Columbia: "The Columbia backfield of 1899 could strike from every position, often with electrifying results. It was that backfield which became the first Lion squad to beat Yale, and the 5–0 victory over the Elis was carried off through the efforts of this Hall of Famer, Bill Morley. Morley's exciting gains and devastating blocks took the heart out of the Eli defense."[17]

Coaching careerEdit

File:W.R. Morley (1900).png

In February 1902, Morley was hired as the head football coach at Columbia.[18] During the 1903 season, Morley's team began the season with seven consecutive shutouts and finished with a 9–1 record, outscoring opponents 148 to 43.[19] He served as Columbia's head football coach from 1902 to 1905.[15][20] Morley compiled an overall record of 26–11–3 as the head coach at Columbia.[21]

Cattle and sheep rancherEdit

Morley later returned to New Mexico where he operated an extensive cattle and sheep ranch at Datil, New Mexico, known as the "Drag A ranch."[1][16][22] Morley reportedly owned 200 sections of 640 acres each and "controlled several times that number because of control of watering places, and additional sections under Forest Service permits."[23] Morley was one of the leading figures in western New Mexico. He was reported to be a "story teller of no mean ability," a skilled hunter, and "a hated foe of cattle rustlers."[24] An account published in the Albuquerque Journal described him as follows:

"He was a man of picturesque appearance with a reddish beard that he wore in styles to suit his whim. Three years ago [1929], in an effort to procure aid for New Mexico livestock men who had lost heavily in the postwar period, he let his hair grow to his shoulders and his beard to his waist, and marched in the inaugural parade at Washington, where he attracted wide attention and publicity."[24]
Morley was one of the founders of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association.[16] He also owned several properties and business in Magdalena, New Mexico, and was the president and one of the principal shareholders of the First National Bank of Magadalena.[24]

Family and deathEdit

Morley was married to Bessie Crason, with whom he had a son William Raymond Morley III (born 1902). Morley was remarried to Nancy Brown (1878–1932) in 1908.[25] They had three daughters, named Margaratta Hope, Milicent Faith and Love (sometimes referred to as Faith, Hope and Love), born on December 25, 1908. Love died in infancy, and Hope died in approximately 1910. At the time of the 1910 United States Census, Morley was living in Datil, New Mexico, with his wife, Nancy (age 27), and their two surviving daughters (age 1). His occupation was listed as a cattle rancher.[26] In a September 1918 draft registration card, Morley indicated that he was living in Datil and employed in the cattle and sheep ranching business.[22] At the time of the 1920 United States Census, Morley was living at Santa Rita, New Mexico, with his wife Nancy (age 40) and their daughter Milicent Faith Morley (age 11). His occupation was listed as a farmer on a general farm.[27] At the time of the 1930 United States Census, Morley was living in Datil with his wife Nancy B. Morley (age 53) and a daughter, M. Faith Morley (age 21). His occupation was listed as stock raising on a stock ranch.[25] Morley's nephew, Norman Cleaveland, won a gold medal in rugby at the 1924 Summer Olympics.

In approximately 1930, Morley moved to Pasadena, California. He was forced to move to a lower altitude due to heart disease. Morley died from heart disease in May 1932. He suffered a "severe attack" while at his home in Pasadena. He lived for a week after the attack, though he did not regain consciousness.[24]

Head coaching recordEdit

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Columbia Lions (Independent) (1902–1905)
1902 Columbia 6–4–1
1903 Columbia 9–1
1904 Columbia 7–3
1905 Columbia 4–3–2
Columbia: 26–11–3
Total: 26–11–3
Indicates BCS bowl, Bowl Alliance or Bowl Coalition game.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Ralph Emerson Twitchell (1917). The Leading Facts of New Mexican History, Volume 4. Torch Press. p. 363.
  2. Ralph Thompson (August 5, 1941). "Book of the Times (review of "No Life for a Lady")". The New York Times.
  3. Rose Feld (August 17, 1941). "Bright-Hued Pattern of Western Days: 'No Life for a Lady' Is a Lively Memoir Of the Cattle County". the New York Times.
  4. "A Girl in the Golden West". The Milwaukee Journal. September 22, 1941.,3046509&dq=morley+datil&hl=en.
  5. Marc Simmons (June 17, 2011). "Last survivor of the 'old days'". The New Mexican.[dead link]
  6. Darliss A. Miller (2010). Open Range, The Life of Agnes Morley Cleaveland. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0-8061-4117-6.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Columbia and Her Team: Half Back Morley Will Probably Be the Team's Next Captain -- Wright's Strong Position". The New York Times. October 8, 1900.
  8. "1895 Football Team". University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  9. 9.0 9.1 The Palladium, Volume 38. The Inland Press. 1896.
  10. "In the Public Eye". The Lime Springs Sun (Iowa). October 22, 1903.("William Raymond Morley, ex-sheriff of Socorro County, New Mexico, former halfback of the Columbia College eleven, is again coaching the boys on Morningside Heights for the coming campaign on the gridiron, says the New York World.")
  11. "Walter Camp's 1900 All America Selections". Capital Times. 1930-11-23.
  12. "All-America Addendum -- Part 2". College Football Historical Society Newsletter. November 2008.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Caspar Whitney (1902). "The Sportsman's View-Point". The Outing Magazine.
  14. "Review of the Football Season". Outing. January 1902. p. 501.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Morley Head Coach At Columbia Again". The New York Times. March 30, 1905.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 George Baldwin (April 1, 1971). "Meet the Morleys -- A fascinating family: N.M. son makes football hall of fame; dad brought Santa Fe rails to state". The Albuquerque Tribune.(available at
  17. 17.0 17.1 Bill Morley at the College Football Hall of Fame
  18. "SANFORD OUT OF COLUMBIA; W.R. Morley Appointed Football Coach at Local University". The New York Times. February 7, 1902.
  19. "Columbia 1903". College Football Data Warehouse.
  20. "Morley to Coach Columbia Team". The New York Times. February 11, 1905.
  21. "William F. Morley Records by Year". College Football Data Warehouse.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Draft registration card for William Raymond Morley dated September 12, 1918. Morley's date of birth is March 17, 1876. He is listed as a resident of Datil in Socorro County, New Mexico. His occupation is listed as cattle and sheep ranching. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Registration Location: Socorro County, New Mexico; Roll: 1711808; Draft Board: 0.
  23. "U.S.Forest Service History: Wild Times and Wild Horses". The Forest History Society. Retrieved October 25, 2011.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 "W. Ray Morley, Long Resident of State, Dies in California: Was Football Star, Cattleman, Banker and One of New Mexico's Most Picturesque Characters". Albuquerque Journal: p. 1. May 30, 1932.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Census entry for William R. Morley, age 54, born in New Mexico, married at age 32. 1930 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Datil, Catron, New Mexico; Roll: 1392; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 9; Image: 1040.0.
  26. Census entry for William R. Morley, age 33, born in New Mexico. 1910 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Datil, Socorro, New Mexico; Roll: T624_918; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 0255; Image: 1076; FHL Number: 1374931.
  27. Census entry for William Ray Morley, age 43, born in New Mexico. 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Census Place: Santa Rita, Socorro, New Mexico; Roll: T625_1078; Page: 8B; Enumeration District: 163; Image: 489.

External linksEdit

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