Thursday, December 29, 2011

March 1936 letter written by Bessie Morgan Rex

Thanks to cousin Gail for this picture of Bessie Morgan Rex and her sisters; Gail Morgan Clayton and Helen Melvina Morgan Burt Austin. Bessie probably didn’t get to Salt Lake City often. This picture could have been taken in the summer of 1930 when the family gathered for their mother, Helen Melvina “Mellie” Groesbeck Morgan’s funeral.

Bessie Morgan didn’t travel very far from her birthplace in Salt Lake City when she married P. H. Rex in 1912 and made her home with him in Randolph, Utah. Randolph is in the northeastern corner of Utah about 123 miles north of Salt Lake City, and became her new world. Her mother and most of her siblings resided in Salt Lake City--that was a long ways to travel a hundred years ago. In 1936 Bessie’s son Harold went to Brazil, South America to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

At Bessie’s insistence the family wrote to Harold weekly. Harold and his wife preserved the letters, and their daughter let me copy them. I’ve posted a few on my blog in the past. I’m going to put the others up here week by week, as I once told a cousin I would. I’ll tag them BMR for Bessie Morgan Rex, add the year and month they were written, add other applicable tags, and they'll appear in the alphabetical index in column to the right.

When I can make the time, I’ll transcribe them, otherwise only the original letter will appear. Click the hand that appears when you run your cursor over the letter—it will enlarge so you can read Bessie’s letter in her hand.

Bessie’s biography part 1. Links to Bessie’s biography and other family stories are on the Rex Family Index Page.
Randolph, Utah
March 2, ‘36
My dear son,

It is Monday morn at 7. I am just wondering where or what part of the country that flying train is taking you. I’m wondering if you are twisting in a chair car seat or if you got a Pullman. And how did you like Denver. The old world has vaster open spaces than you dreamed of, I’ll bet. I know New Orleans will be interesting so hope you have time to sight see. How do you like the South. You will have to write long letters to satisfy me. Hope this letter finds you before Red Sails in the Sunset carry you out. Suppose you have met Fred & did you hug each other.


(page 2) It is rather foggy and dreary here this morning. Yesterday was a beautiful day, however, and the snow melted so, it made walking difficult. Helen had a bad dose of asthma. The worst she has had this winter but I think she is better this morning. Saturday the boys went with Daddy & Maeser’s face looked like a piece of beef steak of your flannel shirt. He surely burnt himself
Morgan dug the lane out to let Fab in with a load of coal & now we have a pile 4 or 5 ft. high on the west side of the drive. You would think we lived in Alaska.

I do hope you got your watch. Your pictures came


(page 3) but we are broke until tomorrow. Will send one to Clara Wed.

Three young men came in Sat. eve. They were selling knit goods. They said they had met you in Evanston the week before. They were the talkingest kids I ever saw but we got quite a kick out of them. They want your address in S.A. Two are going to the B.Y. next winter. It ended up with Helen buying a beautiful knit outfit from them. It is surely pretty. I really did admire them.

Hope some relations were at the station to see you . I know Winnie was. Oh we were so dis-

(page 4) appointed. We wanted to come so badly.

Well I have written much more than I tho’t I would.

Hope you enjoyed the cake & hope your bill of fare wasn’t too much on the train. Be careful with your money so it will last out.

Must close now and send Winnie a few lines. We have neglected her this last week.

Oh do send us a line from Havana & any ports you may stop at. We want the stamps besides hearing from you.

Love & kisses from all of us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck 1868-1872

Continued from here
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.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck. 1866-1868.

Cathedral in Derby, England

In 1866 when Nicholas Groesbeck was called to serve a mission to England, all but one of Elizabeth’s children were still living at home with her. Their oldest son Nicholas Harman married Rebecca Sanderson in 1862, and was presumably living in Springville, Utah with two children, and running the mercantile business Harmon purchased from his father in 1863.

William was 19 years-old, John Amberson was 17 years-old, Helen Melvina (Mellie), was 14, Hyrum was 12, Josephine, 9, Samuel, 6, and Joseph Smith was 2-years-old. Elizabeth’s eighty-year-old mother-in-law, Marie Bovee Groesbeck, would have also been living with her. Elizabeth probably had further household help, as she did twelve years later according to the 1880 census.

1880 Census Salt Lake City
Elizabeth was noted for her generosity and it was her custom to meet the immigration wagon trains as they arrived at the old Immigration Square (present day City and County Building, 4th South and StateStreet), where she presented baskets of food and clothing to those without necessities. Sometimes she employed young women as domestic help and companions for her children. She was instrumental in the emigration of a number of Saints,one of them, Sarah Blood, who became her daughter-in-law. Sarah married Elizabeth’s youngest son, Joseph Smith, March 24, 1887.

What motivated Nicholas’ return home from his mission in the Spring in 1867 isn’t known. In the letter (posted here and here) he wrote to Elizabeth from Derby, England in February, 1867, Nicholas discussed a variety of topics that may have influenced his early return; his health, longings for Elizabeth, his dreams, concern for his sons’ behavior and education, and his properties and holdings.

He wrote in the letter, “You have a comfortable and a happy home, which I feel thankful for, and a plenty to make you happy, as far as this world’s goods are concerned but that does not always add to happiness.”

On November 2, 1867, their son William married Eleanor Philotta Pack. A couple of months later, in January, 1868, while enrolled at The Morgan Commercial College, their daughter Mellie met her future husband, John Hamilton Morgan. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

John Hamilton Morgan and Serepta M. Heywood

Native foliage atop the Salt Lake Conference Center, summer 2009.

This morning while working on Great Great Grandmother Elizabeth Thompson Groesbeck’s history (to be continued from here) I discovered that after Ellizabeth’s 1878 to 1880 service as president of the 17th Ward Primary, Sister Serepta M. Heywood was called to be the new 17th Ward Primary President.

Serepta M. Heywood was Bishop Joseph Heywood’s wife. He was bishop of the 17th Ward, and Serepta ran the boarding house, where Great Grandfather John Morgan lived soon after he arrived in the Salt Lake Valley.

On a whim I “googled” Serepta Heywood and discovered a wonderful site, Hallowed Ground Sacred Journey where Brigham Young University professors tell the story of the sites that are of importance to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Take a few minutes and enjoy a virtual tour of the Heywood Homesite, and John Morgan’s sacred experience. It is also recorded on the John Hamilton Morgan Family webpage here.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Henry Sanborn's death. 1914-15 Newspaper account.

Henry Sanborn's gravestone in the Ogden, Utah Cemetery.

A few years ago I met one of Henry Sanborn’s descendants at a DUP convention because I introduced myself to a woman whose last name was Sanborn. She led me to some of my husband’s never-before-met relatives.

Recently Henry Sanborn’s great grandson wrote me and sent me newspaper clippings that cleared up some misinformation I was perpetuating in my post here.

For anyone interested in reading through the following newspaper accounts, they clarify several things. The tale is every person’s fear and heartache; it only draws me nearer to Henry’s mother, Sarah Jane Rawlings Smith Sanborn.

The dates handwritten onto the newspaper articles are incorrect. Henry Sanborn’s Utah Death Certificate states he died January 12, 1915.

December 18, 1912 [sic 1914] – Two Husbands File Suits for Divorce

SL Tribune Jan 12 1913 [sic 1915] -- Wounds his wife; attempts suicide, Henry Sanborn, Estranged Husband is in Jail, Spouse in Hospital

The Ogden Examiner, Jan 13 1913 [sic 1915] -- Bullet Taken From Mrs. Sanborn

SL Tribune Jan 13, 1913 [sic 1915] -- Takes own life in presence of niece; Henry Sanborn Drinks Poison; Child Attempts to Stop Him.

SL Tribune Jan 14, 1915 -- Funeral Notices; Henry Sanborn funeral notice

Thank you so very much to this Henry Sanborn descendant for sharing these clippings with us.