Tuesday, February 9, 2010

1895 letter from Eliza Ann Hamilton Morgan to her daughter-in-law, Helen Melvina (Mellie) Groesbeck Morgan.

To learn of the lives of Garrard and Eliza Ann Hamilton Morgan III, of Kentucky, Indiana, and Illinois, read this excellent four part history by Amy at The Ancestor Files blog.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Following is a copy of a typed (Letter from Eliza Hamilton Morgan, mother of John Hamilton Morgan, to Helen M. Morgan, wife of John Morgan) from the John Hamilton Morgan Collection at the Marriott Library, Special Collections, University of Utah. I found it in a folder marked “miscellaneous.”

I’m going to post the letter in three parts, which I have titled:

Part 1
Eliza received a letter from a stranger, Mathias F. Cowley.

Part 2
Eliza recapped birthday visits and gifts to “Pa,” named numerous family members, and described a family birthday celebration.

Part 3
Eliza described the Morgan garden and Rettie Green’s exquisite darning bag.

In 1895, Eliza would have been about eighty years old. And born in 1806, her husband, Garrard, would have been nearly ninety. There is a death date, prior to this letter, in Family Search for him. Amy couldn’t find a source. It appears to me that Garrard Morgan was living the Spring following his son, John’s, untimely death in 1894.

I inserted some paragraph breaks, to make it easier to read. Other than that, it reads as I found it.

Part 1
Eliza Ann received a letter from a stranger, Mathias, F. Cowley.

Champaigne, [Illinois], April 29, 1895

My dear Daughter [Helen Melvina Groesbeck Morgan]:

It is Monday morning and wash day but I must not let another day pass without writing to you—my dear one. I have thought of you each day as it passed and knew I ought to write you, but so many things to do and have done. I have been kept busy and have had so many enexpected [sic] letters to answer from the children and nieces and nephews and even a great niece that it seems a task for me to write; but nevertheless, I have written. This makes the thirteenth letter this month. Yes, this is your Pa’s birth month and all the children have written him such nice affectionate letters and he puts all the letter writing upon me. Says he cannot write—and I am sorry to say it is true—he cannot collect his thoughts. I am very fond of writing letters, but oh how I dread to write your Pa’s.

Received a letter this morning from a perfect strange
[r] from Preston, Idaho (Mathias F. Cowley) inquiring about the far back relatives of the Morgans. Said he had always held the highest esteem of the Morgan family ever since he heard of them. Said he had a book which gives the account of three brothers by the name of Morgan who came from Wales about 1836 and settled in Connecticut. Their given names were James, John, and Miles. The book says the one named John went to Virginia and located soon after their arrival in America. This man goes on and asks a gret [sic] many questions.

He says he went to school to John and Lon Morgan in Salt Lake City when he was about 15 years old. He said John died 14th last August in his town after an illness of 5 weeks; he said he was by his side when he passed away. Said he was a noble man and one so full of kindness that to know him was to love him and he was very desirous to know something more of his kin[’]s people. And as a token of deep esteem he wished to record in a book all he could learn of his relatives.
[Print page 2.] He said he had letters from your Aunt Eliza and she referred him to your Pa who knows so little.

(To be continued.)

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting and wonderful and affectionate letter. It raises a number of questions.

    1) I just checked your prior posts to remind myself if Mellie had met John's family, and it looks like she did in 1883.

    2) It sounds very much like "Pa" is Garrard Morgan. Fascinating but not surprising that his recorded death date is evidently not true.

    3) Eliza makes a couple of comments about her husband's intellectual abilities, such as "he cannot collect his thoughts." He had been a schoolteacher earlier in his life and they had raised very intelligent children. Perhaps he was suffering from some form of dementia?

    4) We don't seem to have a good collection of genealogy of the generations preceding John Morgan. Who's going to trace and document all the family lines?

    5) Interesting way MF Cowley goes about trying to gather the family history. "As a token of deep esteem he wished to record in a book all he could learn of his relatives." Strictly true, but of course there was also the temple work to be done. Surely he knew that the Morgan family was not interested in the church and some members (at least John's brother Will) were antagonistic. Mary Linton Morgan spent decades working on the family genealogy. Perhaps she started this work due to the influence of MF Cowley, since she had been living in some proximity to his family before John Morgan's death.

    6) MFCowley brings up the three brothers legend. Does anyone know what book he is referring to? Is it something in the family collection or in the Family History Library? If the book is locatable, is it reliable or documented?

    Thanks for the post, Bessie. I'll be looking forward to the other parts of the letter.