Sunday, November 29, 2009

B. H. Roberts speaks at Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan’s funeral, 1930, Part 1 of 2.

[Editor's note: Amy has a new list of Important John Morgan Posts on her blog here. It categorizes the most interesting posts about John Morgan and his family. It is very helpful. I’m pondering how I can come up with something as useful for my blog. ]

John Hamilton Morgan’s wife, great grandmother Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan died June 15, 1930. Her funeral was held in the Waterloo Ward.

In Helen Rex Frazier’s papers is a copy of a document that I believe is the talk B. H. Roberts gave on that occasion. It is not dated. It is simply titled B. H. Roberts, and is with some other documents that appear to be from the funeral also. It illustrates the friendship B. H. Roberts and John and Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan shared. It also appears to be the source document used for “Appendix I, A Tribute by B. H. Roberts,” The Life and Ministry of John Morgan, by Arthur Richardson, copyright 1965, Nicholas G. Morgan, Sr., pgs 579-580.

B. H. Roberts

My brothers and sister, I did not come here to speak. I had a desire in my heart that by my being here I might silently bear witness of the love that is in my heart for Sister Morgan and to stir up the recollections by my presence at her funeral of the fond memories that would be awakened of the many years ago; and renew the feeling of tenderness and deep regard that I have for all the members of the Morgan family. But, I expected to do that just by my presence. I expected to honor myself by being present on this occasion, and it is a matter of surprise to be called upon to say even a few words.

Of course, there are some present who will have some recollection, perhaps, of the friendship that I have always enjoyed in my relations to John Morgan. I went for a short time to his night school. I couldn’t afford to go to day school, but I did get an opportunity to go for a few nights, and expected to continue for quite a number of months. I formed my first contract with John Morgan at that time, and later I was directed by President John Taylor to report myself to him in the South, when he presided in the southern States Mission, which I did; and then began the friendship which lasted as long as he lived and that lasts now. I came here today in renewal of it. Both himself and Sister Morgan opened the door of their hospitable home to me, and requested me that whenever in the city to make their home my headquarters and to live with them; and that I did. I have never met anyone whose kindness surpassed the kindness and welcome and steadfastness and hospitality of this good woman, Sister, Morgan, whose remains lie before us; she was unselfish in her ministrations both of service and of lodging, and of food she gave in great abundance, and always made me welcome in her home, as also did her husband.

There was a relationship formed here that would be difficult to describe. I never had a brother that I was conscious of—both of mine dying in their infancy. So I can hardly tell just what it would mean to have a brother; but, so far as I can conceive of it, John Morgan was a brother to me, as well as President and Director of my early activities in the ministry. How much I owe to him! We became united, I think as few men become united. We were together in storm and strife and under circumstances and conditions when threatened by mobs that tried men’s souls, and I found him steadfast and true all the while. I gather that he must have had some idea about me, because he was the one who urged that I take his place in the Southern States Mission when he was released; and I carried on that work a number of years. When it was found necessary for me to go across the sea to England, I went, and he returned to the South. Afterwards, we became united in the same council, and we threshed out many, many things pertaining to the department of the Holy Priesthood which we were called to preside over.

I have met no man who surpassed John Morgan in the possession of those fine qualities of manhood and power that are universally admired. I loved him with all my heart; and when he passed away, I never got rid of the feeling that there was a vacuum at my side, where he had always stood from the first of our acquaintance.

That may sound very egotistical to some of you. But I merely wanted to assure these sons and daughters of my dear friend that because the circumstances of life have torn his family and myself somewhat apart, and other interests have crossed in, and other things have had to receive my attention, resulting in our separation somewhat, and making that close friendship and association that formerly existed between us well nigh impossible, yet there hasn’t departed out of my heart one bit of respect and honor and friendship and love for them and for their mother and father.

To me Sister Morgan was a noble woman, true and constant in her friendship. I hope to renew that friendship under those circumstances when we shall more frequently meet together than we have in the past few years in this world in which we live. She ministered to me as any kind, elder sister, I imagine, would minister to a beloved brother. And, frankly, I loved her, and cherish her memory. My association with her and the children in their younger days, presents to my mind a constant picture of regard and love and fondness for them—everyone.

I am here to make these remarks in the manner of a confession—a confession of neglect of that early friendship that was formed. And, as a confession is good for the soul, I hope these good friends of mine will accept it as a confession of neglect concerning those ties of friendship that were formed in the strength of my early manhood; and I want to assure them that those ties that bound us together then are still strong, so far as I am concerned.

(To be continued.)

Part 2.

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