Morton was named for Governor Morton of Massachusetts, an antislavery politician who played a central role in bringing an end to slavery in North America. The first settlers in Morton Township came from England, Ohio and New York during the period between 1830 and 1835. Another wave of home settlers - mostly of Swiss and Southern German heritage - came to Morton from 1860-1875.
Morton has a rich tradition in pottery, trades, and agriculture. One of Morton's first businesses was the Rapp Brick & Tiles Works that established in the late 1870's. The company's products helped provide drainage for Morton's swampy land. The soil that was exposed while installing drainage tiles was found to be extremely fertile and helped the area to expand and grow through crop production. The Rapp Brothers Pottery Works, another early establishment, provided bowls and utensils for Morton citizens. The pottery heritage of Morton is so strong that today, the high school football team is called "The Potters."
A canning company was started in Morton during the 1920's. The company was later purchased by Nestle-Libby's and now is used to process 85% of the canned pumpkin consumed worldwide. Mortonites celebrate their status as the Pumpkin Capital of the World today through an elaborate Pumpkin Festival held in September and a Pumpkin Chuckin contest held in October each year.
Morton has a rich tradition in entrepreneurship. Many of the nationally recognized companies headquartered in Morton were started by local families including Otto Baum, Core Construction, and Morton Buildings. The community is also home to CAT Logistics, Caterpillar's worldwide logistics and distribution branch. CAT Logistics' presence in Morton has spurred the establishment of dozens of local logistics, manufacturing, and technology companies that cater to their needs and the needs of their parent company in nearby Peoria.