Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Samuel Thomas Morgan

All was not well between Sam and Minnie in the early years of their marriage. Minnie came from a family of money, her father and grandfather having been physicians.Sam, on the other hand, came from an agricultural background. He was the oldest of three sons whose father died on 13 September 1891 at the age of 39 from an infection in his leg. Sam was only 11 years old at the time. His mother exercised her dower right to continue to live on one third of the property on which she and her husband had lived. She tried to keep the farm running but it was very difficult. She met another man and married him in November 1893. As a result, she forfeited her dower right to her first husband's land and moved to a nearby town to live with her new husband. The three sons lived with them.

Sam and Minnie Morgan, having come from different backgrounds, never did see eye to eye. After the birth of Mary Allen, it was not unusual for Minnie to want to travel to her parents' home or, as mentioned earlier, to Black Mountain for the summer months. I have a letter that she wrote to Sam from her parents' home in May 1908 intimating that she might not come back. She had Mary Allen with her and a family story says that Sam was so distraught by the letter that he immediately traveled to Minnie's parents' home and demanded that she and Mary Allen pack and return immediately.

Nevertheless, Minnie became pregnant and gave birth to a son, Samuel Thomas Morgan, on 18 December 1909 in Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina. This was the man who was to come become my father.

Sam worked as head cashier of the Farmers Commercial Bank in Mebane and earned a good living. He was well respected as a businessman and, since his wife had gotten him involved in "society" in town, he also gained a reputation as a good husband and father.

The birth of his son, whom they called Tom, was a matter of great pride to Sam. He now had a child to carry on the family name and a son with whom he could bond. As with Mary Allen, Sam spared no expense in buying toys for the child. He was often seen walking with his young son to the railroad depot before supper each evening to watch the evening train stop. Tom was fascinated with trains and anything mechanical, and he instinctively took to mathematics. His grade school, high school, and college records document that he was an excellent student who applied himself, particularly in mathematics. (In later years, Tom would become a mathematical prodigy, an expert in accounting, and an industrial engineer.)

Minnie continued her social and church activities, and participated in the local book club, garden club, and other ladies' organizations. These help provide distractions that helped make her feel important. Unfortunately, they detracted from her duties at home and especially caring for her children. Linie remained the constant caring female influence in their lives. After the birth of Tom, Minnie was resolved to have no further children. I can only imagine how devoid of affection in a meaningful marital relationship Sam must have endured.

The two children attended the local public school system and, by all accounts and surviving records, they both did very well with their studies. Newspaper accounts of the time mentioned their participation in both academic activities and and social events of the town.

The next installments of the blog will discuss their college careers, the onset of the Great Depression, and some devastating turns of events that Minnie precipitated.

(c) Copyright 2017 - George G. Morgan
All rights reserved.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Mary Allen Morgan

Mary Allen Morgan was born on 14 June 1905 in Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina. She was the first child of Samuel Goodloe Morgan and Laura Augusta "Minnie" Wilson Murphy Morgan.

Mary Allen, as she was always called, was a beautiful child, with blond curls and blue-grey eyes that captured attention.

Minnie was was ill-prepared for motherhood, and had little idea of what to do with a child. Having been raised by a black woman herself, she demanded that she have a female servant to "do for" Mary Allen. In effect, Minnie turned over all responsibilities to that woman known by the name of "Linie", short for Caroline.

Mary Allen and Jack, 14 June 1907.
Mary Allen's father, Sam, worshiped her in every way. He brought her sweets in the pockets of his jacket.  He gave her presents such as as a doll, doll clothes, a doll carriage, building blocks, and books to be read to her. In the Summer of 1907, he presented her with with a dog named "Jack" for her first birthday. You can see her with Jack in the front yard of the family home.
Mary Allen atop the family horse.

Sam fancied that she might like riding and helped her ride the family's horse in the yard beside their two-story home on Center Street in downtown Mebane. Minnie was apparently appalled that anyone might see her daughter astride a horse and demanded that she be taken down. Immediately!

Sam was the oldest of three brothers. He was a graduate of Trinity College in 1900, having studied mathematics and accounting. Trinity later became Duke University. His next youngest brother, William Rainey "Will" Morgan had a love of the land and became a farmer in Caswell County, North Carolina, where all three brothers were born. The youngest brother was John Allen "Jack" Morgan, and he too graduated from Trinity College in 1906 after having studied mathematics and finance.

Sam had come to Mebane in 1902 to take a position as cashier at the Farmers Commercial Bank. He purchased the family home on Center Street, just three blocks from the bank, and that is where he and Minnie settled. He could walk to work if he liked, but Minnie insisted he always be driven to and from work in a carriage. She wanted him to be seen as a successful young businessman.

In the meantime, Minnie set about becoming involved with society in Mebane. She began by immediately transferring her membership to the First Presbyterian Church and regularly attending services with Sam. She joined other women of the church in their activities, and she insisted that Sam become involved teaching Sunday School and joining the mens' group. Minnie made contacts with the more well-to-do female members and began inviting the ladies to the house for tea and refreshments. Her insistence in Sam's participation helped insure that he became acquainted with and visible to the influential men of the town who were Presbyterian by affiliation. As a result, both Sam and Minnie became well known in the town as members of "society."  In the meantime, Linie took care of Mary Allen and mothered her.

Mary Allen Morgan, 1908
Mary Allen was a healthy child she smiled and laughed. She adored her father. In 1908, he bought a ram's skin rug with long fur and finished with a burgundy-colored woolen base to which it was mounted. He teased her that she was going to stand on that rug when she was married. A photograph taken in 1908 (left) shows Mary Allen with her favorite doll posed on the ram's skin rug. She kept that rug until she died.

Minnie was not satisfied with life in small-town Mebane. She visited Durham, Raleigh, and Burlington to shop. She also traveled to Mecklenburg County to visit her parents and her siblings and their families who remained there. Sam, Minnie, and Mary Allen went to stay with Minnie's parents for Christmas in 1908.

One of Minnie's brother's, Emory Lee Wilson, and his wife, Dora Ester McKey Wilson,had opened a hotel in Black Mountain, Buncombe County, North Carolina, east of Asheville. Black Mountain was a tiny town in a spectacular scenic area. With the arrival of the railroad in 1879, the town began to become a tourist destination during the summer months. By the time of the 1900 US federal census, the population was 209. Emory's hotel developed a regular clientele, and the hotel was open from the end of May until September.

In early 1909, Minnie decided it would be fashionable - and cooler - to spend the summer in Black Mountain. Sam made arrangements for them to travel together there in May and off they went together with Mary Allen and Linie to look after Mary Allen's needs. Sam stayed in Black Mountain for a few days to see them settled in, and he then returned by train to Mebane.

But Minnie and Mary Allen would not stay the entire summer. Instead, Minnie discovered (or revealed) that she was pregnant with a second child. Sam insisted that Minnie come home before the pregnancy got too far along and it became visible. At the end of June or the beginning of July, Sam came back to Black Mountain to accompany Minnie, Mary Allen, and Linie back to Mebane. I can only imagine that Minnie was fit to be tied.

(c) Copyright George G. Morgan.
All rights reserved for text and photographs.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Forgive the Tardiness ...

Please forgive my tardiness in posting new installments. First my computer had to go to the "spa" for a complete wipe. That was followed by a full week of restoring files, purchasing and reinstalling the software packages that I need for my business, and catching up with a backlog of business work. Next, I couldn't get signed into the blog because of a Google Blogger issue. That is finally corrected. And then, finally, I had my seventh surgery on Thursday, 17 November 2016, for bladder cancer. I'm up and limping today, but posted a new installment. More to follow!

Thanks for following this diatribe.


My Paternal Grandparents

My family was definitely not the idyllic nuclear group portrayed on the television series of the 1950s and early 1960s. There were lots of reasons for that, and some that I am certain that I have not discovered. However, this is the beginning of the story of the most important - and favorite - woman in my life.

Let's begin at the beginning, and that begins with my paternal grandparents.

My father's mother was born Laura Augusta Wilson on 24 January 1873 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. She was the ninth and youngest child of her parents, Dr. Joseph McKnitt Wilson and Lydia Lenora Patterson. The family story is that her mother invited a friend to stay with her during the last weeks of her confinement. It is said that the friend exclaimed when the baby was born that, "Oh, she looks so much like me! You'll have to name her "Minnie." Whether there was or was not any resemblance is unknown, but the child was called Minnie thereafter.

Minnie was a child of privilege. Her father, and indeed his father (Dr. Isaac Wilson), were well-respected physicians in the northwest part of Mecklenburg County. Minnie's mother, whose nickname was "Nora", was also from a well-off family. Nora had attended the Salem Female Academy in Salem, North Carolina. I have two receipts issued to her father, William Patterson. One is dated 29 July 1850 for the sum of $50 "in advance on account of Board and Tuition for Miss Lydia L. Patterson" and another from May 1852 in the amount of $151.59 that itemized her expenses for the entire 1851-1852 school year.

Joseph McKnitt Wilson and Lydia Lenora Patterson were married on 8 April 1856 in Mecklenburg County, and their first child was born in March of 1857. In the 1860 US Federal Census, Joseph M. Wilson is listed with seven slaves.

As the youngest child, it was said that Minnie had whatever she wanted and was spoiled by her father. The well-to-do doctor and his wife endured the Civil War and were in good condition in 1870, and by 1880 Joseph was farming. Minnie recounted to me that by the age of 17, she had two carriages: one for everyday and one for special occasions. From infancy, she had had African-American women to "look after her."
Minnie & Jeter (right) with her sister and fiance.

On 2 February 1898, Minnie married Jeter Ernest Murphy, from Iredell County, North Carolina. The wedding occurred at her parents' home in Sheva in the northwest corner of Mecklenburg County.

Jeter was employed as a salesman at The Green Front Store in Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina. He was a member if the Junior Order United American Mechanics, a nativist organization. The couple moved to Statesville to settle. Unfortunately, Minnie's life took a tragic turn soon after. Jeter was stricken with typhoid fever in June. After a slight improvement, the Semi-Weekly Landmark, published in Statesville, reported in its Friday, 8 July 1898 edition, page 2: "Miss Della Wilson of Mecklenburg is here with her sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Jeter Murphy. My Murphy has fever and is very low." He succumbed the next day, 9 July 1898.

Jeter died intestate, and the Junior Order United American Mechanics paid to Minnie a sum of $250, the amount of the funeral benefit due her as the widow of a member. Minnie returned to her parents' home to live. Jeter's estate was entered into probate and an administrator, Mr. Eugene Morrison, was qualified as administrator on 23 January 1899. The sole heirs were identified as "Wm. Murphy and sister, Miss Murphy."

My paternal grandfather was Samuel Goodloe Morgan, born on 6 April 1879 in Caswell County, North Carolina, He was the oldest of three sons born to Rainey Baines Morgan (27 November 1851 - 13 September 1891) and Caroline Alice Whitefield (23 August 1853 - 26 June 1917). His father was a farmer who died at the age of 39 of an infection in his leg.

Sam Morgan and Minnie Wilson Murphy met through a somewhat convoluted set of circumstances that I'll describe another time. However, they were married on 24 December 1902 in a wedding at her parents home.

Samuel Goodloe Morgan and Minnie Wilson Murphy Morgan.

The next installment will discuss the early years of their marriage and the births of their two children, Mary Allen Morgan and Samuel Thomas Morgan. The story becomes more intriguing.

(c) 2016 George G. Morgan

All content is covered by copyright laws.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

New Kid in the Neighborhood

My parents, circa 1956
The house we lived in on Dalton Street was a nice place. My parents rented the frame house from Jake and Louise Moore. The house had a living room, dining room, kitchen, two bedrooms, a bath, front and back porches, and a detached frame garage. 

My father was an active member of the Lions Club, with perfect attendance at their meetings for 35 years. (I have the plaque that the chapter awarded to him.) He served as secretary and treasurer for many years, and he had a whole desk and file cabinet to store the copious amount of paper that entailed. 

The Lions Club's big fundraiser was organizing and operating the county fair each year. It was a huge event held in September each year. That was perfect timing for weather, farmers had money from the tobacco and other crops they had harvested and sold, and few people were taking family vacations because school was back in session.

It wan't unusual for our family to make a side trip while on a vacation to stop by a fair or carnival in progress somewhere. There my father would meet with the owners, talk to midway acts and concessionaires, and book (or not book) specific shows. I know that he enjoyed visiting the "girlie shows" at each stop, much to the consternation of my mother.

Dad also was responsible for ordering the fireworks and arranging for people to handle the nightly fireworks displays. One year, however, there was a problem with where to store the fireworks when the shipment arrived. Dad didn't hesitate to have the semi truck to deliver the fireworks to our house and unload them for storage in the one-car, frame garage. When my mother came home from work that night there was another type of fireworks! She was not going to have that stockpile of explosives stored in the garage. It was one of the worst arguments I ever heard between my parents! Telephone calls were made and members of the Lions Club descended on our little garage with pickup trucks to relocate the fireworks to some warehouse space that my father had quickly located. That story became legendary in my hometown.

I settled into the new neighborhood. There were other young people around. The Gaskills lived next door with two sons, one a year older than I was and one two years younger. We became pals. There were several early teenaged girls in the neighborhood, one of whom was named Joyce Robertson. She was a beautiful blonde and I adored her. She was very kind to me, and she and Suzie and I visited her house around the corner often. It was there that I heard a 45 rpm record that I used my allowance to buy for myself. It was Frankie Avalon singing "Venus" and I played the record all the time. 

Suzie and I visiting in front of Joyce's house.
Suzie and I were inseparable. Wherever I went, she trotted along. Wherever she went, I followed. In fact, when my mother was close to having dinner ready or otherwise wanted me home, she would go out onto the back porch and whistle a distinctive vacillating two notes. Suzie would start home and I, of course, followed her.  

By the way, I still keep in touch with Joyce through Facebook - under her married name!

I began first grade in the local elementary school. My first teacher was Mrs. Thelma Gatling, one of the kindest and most loving teachers I ever know. She did not appreciate the fact that I loved to talk, and she sent me to the corner in the classroom as punishment. I apparently spent a lot of time there because, as she told it, she sent another student to that corner for some infraction. She said that I cried because she had given "my corner" to someone else. She apparently didn't recognize that I was a budding trainer and lecturer!

I was selected to be the postman in first grade to deliver Valentine's cards in our classroom. I was heartbroken because I was sick and couldn't be there. It turned out that I had come down with chicken pox, measles, and a case of impetigo, all at the same time. My mother didn't know where one rash, blister, or sore stopped and another began. I remember well that she made multiple quarts of boiled custard and refrigerated it, and that was my primary sustenance for many days. I was "quarantined" in my brother's bedroom for the duration. That was fine. My brother, Carey, was 11 years and 51 weeks older than I and had gone off to college at Wake Forest the same fall that I began first grade.

I knew everyone in the neighborhood by name for several blocks around. I wasn't shy, and I learned a lot about people and their lives at a young age.  I knew everyone's names, which persons worked and where, or if they were retired. I addressed the adults as Mr. Price, or Mrs. Smith, or Miss Morton, or my the more familiar form of Mr. Bob or Miss Helen. I knew which people "drank" or didn't attend church. I sometimes arrived at their homes unannounced for a visit, and I had spontaneous conversations with them all. 

(c) 2016 George G. Morgan
All content is covered by copyright laws.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

My Parents Married Twice!

I think we all expect that our parents were married, and married once. However, that was not the case with mine. 

My father's name was Samuel Thomas Morgan, and he was born on 18 December 1909 in Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina. His parents were Samuel Goodloe Morgan, born 6 April 1879, and Laura Augusta "Minnie" Wilson Murphy (widow of Jeter Earnest Murphy), born 24 January 1873. My father's parents were married on 24 December 1902 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, My father had one older sister, Mary Allen Morgan, who was born on 14 June 1905.

My mother's name was Sara Edith Weatherly, and she was born on 10 July 1910 in Rome, Floyd County, Georgia. Her parents were Walton Carey Weatherly, born 24 September 1882, in Cleveland, Bradley County, Tennessee, and Elizabeth Holder, born 19 July 1885, in  Lindale, Floyd County, Georgia. My mother was the second of four sisters: 

  • Nita Elizabeth "Beth" Weatherly, born 27 March 1910 in Rome, Georgia
  • Sara Edith "Edith" Weatherly, born 10 July 1911 in Rome, Georgia
  • Carolyn Penelope "Nep" or "Neppie" Weatherly, born 12 January 1914 in Rome, Georgia
  • Harriette Ann "Harriette" Martin Weatherly, born29 September 1917 in Mebane, North Carolina
My Grandfather Weatherly had moved from Rome, Georgia, to Mebane, North Carolina, in April 1914 to accept a position as treasurer of White Furniture Company and purchased a home there. His wife and three daughters followed soon after.

My parents met in Mebane in the local public school. At first, my father dated my mother's older sister, Beth, but later focused on Edith. They were in love and ultimately wanted to marry. Unfortunately, my mother was underage. They eloped to Danville, Virginia, on 15 January 1931 where my mother lied about her age. My father also lied about his place of birth for some reason. Here is an image from FamilySearch.

They returned to Mebane and acted as if nothing had happened, and they continued to live apart.

At some point, Edith's father found out about the illegal marriage and was livid. He demanded that they be married again in Mebane, legally this time. My mother asked if she could be married at the First Baptist Church there, and her father told her, "No!" She was to be married at home instead. The marriage took place on 24 January 1933. Here is an image from FamilySearch.

As a result of the clandestine elopement and marriage, my Grandfather Weatherly held a very low opinion of my father for the remainder of his life. By this time, the Great Depression was in full swing. My father had earlier attended Davidson College and Duke University but withdrew from Duke when his parent's finances - which had been considerable - collapsed. I'll share more about that situation in other posts.

There are no wedding photographs of either of my parents' weddings.