Monday, July 25, 2011

Helen Melvina (Mellie) Groesbeck Morgan. July 24, 1897 Pioneer Parade.

I attended today’s 24th of July Pioneer Parade. According to the Deseret News it is called the Days of ’47 KSL 5 Parade now, the first parade was held in 1849. The article said one of the most successful parades was the one held in 1897.

As I went through this morning’s ritual that got our family seated on a green grassy parking strip along the parade route, I reflected on that 1897 pioneer jubilee celebration here in Salt Lake City.

Today’s parade was so enjoyable. Sitting under a cloud-covered sky is my favorite way to see the parade.

I’ve learned quite a bit about the 1897 Jubilee pioneer celebration in DUP this past year; we had two lessons on the topic. I was particularly interested because I knew, my Great Grandmother Mellie Morgan had been able to attend the parade. It had been three years since her husband, John Hamilton Morgan, unexpectedly died in 1894, and she had walked through some very difficult times.

“When the family resided briefly in the duplex after being evicted from the big house, Mellie had told the children about a dream she’d had, in which a great wave had engulfed her as she walked along the seashore, then receded, leaving her safely on shore. This renewed her faith that better days were coming.”

In the summer of 1897 her son, Nicholas, worked as a hired hand in the hay fields about ten miles south of their 363 York Street home. Nicholas worked in the hay from sun-up to sun-down, after which he fell into bed in his employer’s Draper barn hay-loft, where he slept in more hay. That July 24th he was excited to be able to return home for the parade and woke before dawn to begin a good two hour run and trot home. His mother was happy to see her boy and embraced him warmly in spite of his dusty dirty state.

Mellie was “fancied up in a white waist she had made for the occasion, and a long blue skirt, ignored the dirt and drew Nick to her in a crushing hug. “You’ve grown an inch.” The children crowded around as Nick drew a tied hankerchief [sic], clinking with silver dollars, from his pocket and plunked it into her hand. “Here, Mother. And there’ll be more.”
Mellie had borrowed a horse and carriage to take her family to the city.

Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan; The Man Who Moved City Hall, by Jean R. Paulson, Copyright 1979 by Marjorie Morgan Gray, pgs 56-59. Picture from Wikipedia. I took the parade pictures today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Counsel to children and grandchildren from Grandma Mellie Morgan.

Mellie Morgan Biography begins here.
Mellie Morgan Family Index Page is here.

Mellie taught her personal values of thrift and frugality to her granddaughters while they lived with her during the 1920’s, as they recalled during our May 23, 2011 visit.

Granddaughter Helen recalled that when she turned five or six years old a neighbor gave her three dimes as a birthday present. Helen was so pleased and dreamed of what she could buy with them. She didn’t want her Grandma Mellie Morgan to know about the gift, because her grandma would most certainly insist that Helen put the money in the bank.

Helen put her three dimes high on a ledge for safe keeping, or so she thought, out of her grandmother’s sight, but safe enough for Helen to retrieve them herself later. Helen was surprised and disappointed to discover her dimes gone. She couldn’t understand how her visually impaired grandma could know where they were hidden, and been able to locate them.

In cousin Karen M.’s new volume 1907-1911 Letters from Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan to his Mother, Helen Melvina Morgan, there is evidence of Grandmother Mellie’s frugal judgment and thrift, counsel on how to improve one’s life, and the heart-warming nature of her relationship with her son Nick.

Letter of April 18, 1908
And so the chickens must go. But really, Mother, do you think you can get anything for them. I know you are a financier—I won’t dispute that fact, but you know chickens aren’t worth very much. I only wish that I had more funds … I shall be able to help you some more a little later on.

… No, Mother dear, I haven’t been paying my tithing but I am going to. In accordance with your suggestion I shall commence and send the Bishop some next month.

May 9 1908
My dearest Mother,
Yes, Mother, I am better tonight. I received your letter of the 2 inst and was delighted with its contents for several reasons. I am happy to learn that we are to have a bath tub—but Gee, Mother, are you going to put it in the chicken coop or where? You are certainly ambitious—if Father [John Hamilton Morgan] had only had your financial ability he would have been a millionair [sic] by now. You state that the 2nd hand bath tub will do you until I become President—now, Mother, I assure you that you will have to have a new one in that time. But if you meant that it would do until I was working with a President or a President to be-- that is a different proposition….

Pictures from Wikipedia.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Crawford Mountains, Bear River, Randolph Valley, and Percy Harold Rex.

Cousin Nancy has been out and about with her camera this summer. She posted this picture and some other great pictures of the Bear River and Randolph Valley on her blog here.

Percy Harold Rex
30 Sep 1889 – 20 Mar 1977

Remember the story of Percy Harold Rex and his brothers running into wolves on their way home from a Christmas Dance in Randolph practically a century ago?

Nancy’s picture above of the bridge crossing the swollen Bear River marks the spot. Her other pictures from atop the Crawford Mountains, show the Bear River flooding the fields below.

The pictures are beautiful Nancy, thanks so much for sharing them with us.

Picture from Helen Rex Frazier collection.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Tower House and the Morgan bedroom furniture.

Continued from here.

Mellie and her younger children resided in this home at 1857 South 4th East for a time after 1900. They called it the “Tower House.” It is still standing today.

Chapter five from Nicholas’ biography, The Man Who Moved City Hall, is titled “The Crucible of Poverty.” It says,

“It wasn’t all crude living. Along with the salt pork, the rock-pocked beans, was the high dreaming, the religion-inspired assurance of eternal bliss to come. There was laughter at the dinner table, and a comradeship welded partly by the spirit of we’re-in-this-together stoicism. There were the scores of friends made at the old Farmers Ward, where Henry F. Burton was bishop.”

It was probably akin to moving to a new town when Mellie left downtown Salt Lake and moved to the Farmers Ward area at 1700 South and 3-4th East. Between 1897 and 1930 she lived there in the three homes I’ve shown in these last posts. Her beautiful furniture could be used in these roomy homes.

While visiting the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers Museum in Salt Lake City in 2008 I took pictures of John and Mellie’s bedroom set there. They no longer permit picture taking in the museum, I’m happy to have taken these when I did. Following the museum’s resent renovation they repositioned the John Morgan bedroom set. Now it’s easier to see the Victorian walnut bed, the marble top wash stand, and the beautiful dresser and mirror.

From Nicholas Groesbeck Morgan; The Man Who Moved City Hall, by Jean R. Paulson, copyright 1979 by Marjorie Morgan Gray, pg. 54.

Monday, July 4, 2011