It is very possible that Mellie met John Morgan before she enrolled in The Morgan Commercial College in January, 1868. John roomed in Serepta Heywood’s boarding house across the road from the Groesbeck home. According to the early Salt Lake Valley mock-up in the Church Museum, an orchard separated the two properties, and both households were members of the 17th Ward.
John Hamilton Morgan and a friend arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1866 and delivered a large herd of cattle they had contracted to drive from Kansas City to Salt Lake. They had to wait it out a week or longer in Salt Lake to receive payment for their work. John liked Salt Lake so much that he stayed.
Following his Civil War service (1861-1865), John attended and graduated from Eastman’s Commercial College in New York. Salt Lake didn’t have a commercial college. John recognized a need and an opportunity. With encouragement from Robert L. Campbell, Territorial Superintendent of Schools, John developed and established The Morgan Commercial College. In January 1867 John opened his school in a small downtown Salt Lake Building. On November 26, 1867 Robert L. Campbell baptized John Morgan into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
By January 1868 John moved his school to larger quarters he rented from Nicholas Groesbeck at 257 South Main Street. In exchange for rent, Nicholas sent some of his children to John Morgan’s school. Fifteen-year-old Mellie, was included--however, not for long--because Elizabeth needed her help at home.
Family history tells us that Elizabeth was pleased to have John Morgan call on her daughter, Mellie, and encouraged their courtship. Elizabeth’s home and graciousness beckoned to John, perhaps reminding him of his own mother and comfortable home. Mellie played the piano, and John wrote his mother earlier how he felt about the warmth and attractions he found in an Alabama home. Perhaps he found the same at the Groesbecks.
[December 21, 1863 letter from Maysville, Alabama battlefield] “There is a pleasant little village close to camp and I have formed some pleasant acquaintances there. There is one particular friend, a Mrs. Hall. It appears more like home than anywhere else that I have been in the South. I have passed several pleasant evenings there and the little Yankee soldier boy always receives a kind and polite invitation to call again. Well, besides that, Miss Jennie Hall and her piano are not the least of the attractions of this kind family.”
John and Mellie were sealed in the Endowment House on October 24, 1868, and that night the Groesbecks held a reception for them at their home.
According to the 17th Ward Relief Society records for the February 20, 1868 meeting, Mrs. J. Morgan was among the members listed.
Elizabeth's son John Amberson was married to Ann Dilworth Bringhurst on September 27, 1871. The following year Elizabeth and her 14-year-old daughter Josephine, traveled with her son Nicholas Harmon and his wife Rhoda, to New York City and Maysville, Kentucky. Their they visited Elizabeth's father, John Amberson Thompson and Elizabeth's oldest sister, Mary Thompson Dunlap. After their six-seven week trip, they returned to Salt Lake in August of 1872.
Note: the January 2012 DUP (Daughters of Utah Pioneers) lesson is The Pioneer School Room. Pages 208-212 discuss the "Morgan College," which I will post here soon.
Thank you to John Morgan descendant, cousin Gail H., for this additional picture of John Hamilton and Mellie Groesbeck Morgan at the time of their marriage.