Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan
b. 5 Feb 1852, Springfield, Sagamon, Illinois
p. Nicholas and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck
m. 24 Oct 1868, John Hamilton Morgan
d. 15 June, 1930, Oakland, Alameda, California
b. 20 June 1930, Salt Lake City Cemetery
When Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan was a little girl her father called her Mellie. And then everyone did. Her descendants call her Grandmother Morgan and Aunt Mellie. Her mother’s salutation on a letter of August 14, 1869 to Mellie expresses her own sentiments, My Dearly Beloved Daughter.
Mellie was four years old when she and her parents, Nicholas (36) and Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck (35), and brothers Nicholas Harmon (14), William (9), John Amderson (6), and Hyrum (2) arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. They completed their three month overland journey with the John Banks Company on October 2, 1856.
An incident on the journey that frightened Mellie, she always remembered, and often retold, was of a buffalo stampede. On the 28th of July they sighted the first buffalo, and the next day came upon thousands of them—north, south and west, nothing but a heaving mass of buffalo.
They first camped at Union Square in Salt Lake. Most emigrants gathered there upon entering the valley. It was at 2nd West and 2nd North, the present location of West High School. Nicholas “had a good outfit, consisting of five wagons, six yoke of oxen, a carriage, five horses, and five Durham cows. The wagons were loaded with household goods and merchandise.”
Two weeks later, about October 15, 1856, they moved right across the street. Nicholas purchased a large two-story adobe home on the northeast corner of the intersection of 1st North and 2nd West. The house was used as a residence as well as retail store where Nicholas carried on a merchandising business
During his residence in Springfield, Illinois, prior to coming to Utah, Nicholas Groesbeck carried on a mercantile business and sold coal, wholesale and retail, and became a young man of considerable means. Later, in the latter part of 1857, when Johnson’s Army approached the Salt Lake Valley, he moved his family and merchandise to Springville, Utah, where he ran a store until the summer of 1858.
He sold his Springville business to his son Harmon and moved back to Salt Lake City into a house on 2nd South and Main Street (where J.C. Penney’s stands today ) [this was written in1977]. In 1864, the Groesbecks moved into the home at 222 North West Temple (that home still stands). In the City Directory of 1869, it says that Nicholas Groesbeck resided at Crooked, between Current and 1st North in the 17th Ward. They lived in the 17th ward when Mellie was baptized on April 10, 1860.
On December 9, 1867, at age 16, Mellie enrolled in the Morgan Commercial College. But due to her mother’s needs at home, she only attended until January 4, 1868.
A granddaughter wrote that Mellie possessed many qualities which the young school principal and teacher admired, and therefore he started calling at the Groesbeck home. Father Groesbeck had some misgivings concerning this romance. He said “John Morgan is a bright, intelligent young man, but he is a new comer, and we don’t know enough about him, and besides our Mellie is not old enough to be keeping company with a man who is ten years older and especially her school teacher.” But Mother Groesbeck thought differently, and she considered herself a person of keen perception, too. She was impressed with her daughter’s suitor, so much so, that she used her influence to soften her husband’s attitude and encourage John’s courting.
Please read John Morgan’s journal entry about proposing to Mellie from his biography on The Ancestor Files . John and Mary Ann Linton Morgan's descendant, Amy, has many posts on John Morgan history on her blog. You'll enjoy reading them, and want to check there frequently.
(To be continued.)
References will follow the entire history.