Monday, March 31, 2014

Leon Morgan (1897-2002) - son of Leonidas Morgan.

Leon Morgan lived 104 years and resided in the James King Home in Evanston, Illinois at the time of his passing on September 29, 2002.  

John Morgan’s brother, Leonadis (Lon) (Leon) Morgan was fifty years old when his son Leon was born on November 18, 1897 in New Jersey.  Leon was the second child born to Leonadis and Mary Rice Morgan following their November 27, 1895 marriage.  Daughter Sarah was born first on October 5, 1896.

In the 1940 Chicago, Illinois census Leon was head of his Chicago household which included his sister Sarah and widowed mother Mary (75). Leon (42) was in advertising and Sarah (43) was a steno/secr'y in manufacturing. I was moved by the fact that this family group (each member single) was together.

Two weeks ago Mary Robak of Chicago, Illinois came across my blog post here as she was searching for some background on Leon Morgan, born 1897. She gave me permission to post the note she later sent me.

"Mr. Morgan resided in Chicago for most of his life, having moved there in 1910. he lived in Evanston, IL towards the end of his life, in the King Home, a part of the Presbyterian Homes. I work there, and had known him during those years, becoming the person he was closest to in the last decade of his life. He had come close to marrying early in life, but never discussed that much. He died at age 104 in 2002.

"I have put together a bit of info about him to share with residents who are currently residing there on this Thurs 3/19. I had not really delved into his distant past until today. I know of his sister, tho he spoke of her little, he spoke just slightly more of his mother. He did not speak of his father, tho as he had passed about 60 yrs before our meeting, that did not surprise me. Only now I wish I had paid closer attention. At that point in time no one thought he had any relatives, as none had any contact with him.

"Leon Morgan was a leader in aviation in Chicago, until the stock market crash of 1929 destroyed his businesses. In 1930-31 he became involved in writing children's books, the Cowboy series of the Little Big books, the foundation of Whittman publishing that became Golden Books. Sometimes on ebay you find those too. He wrote for the Century of Progress in 1933. In 1936 he entered advertising, but we did not talk about that nearly as much as his air days and his writing days.

"He traveled the world widely, collected art and books, and had an interest in ballet and Mayan culture."

In his 90's he wrote an extremely interesting autobiography, When Flying was Young. It is mentioned in his obituary linked above. I scanned the book's front and back covers. There is such a fascinating parallel running between the lives of Leon Morgan and John Morgan Rex (1920-1942). They each loved airplanes and flying from their youth. 

This picture of Leon Morgan with two models is courtesy of Chicago History Museum Research Center.

Thank you Mary Robak for your kindness and generosity and for acquainting us with your friend Leon Morgan.


  1. Very cool! This is great, and to think he lived all the way until 2002. Thanks, Bessie and Mary!

  2. Thank you Amy and Mary--again. It is so interesting to see how information is added upon.

  3. How great to see a picture of Leon. If only we had known about him earlier we could have visited. Must not have been meant to be. We immediately linked his love of flying with our Uncle Morgan but as I read what you wrote I also linked him with Gib Smith (another of his cousins) of Gib Smith Publishing. How interesting.

  4. Fascinating Flora Lee. Thank you for that observation.