Descendancy Narrative of John Morgan by Charles J. Vella, Ph. D

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Husband born: March 17, 1900

Birthplace: Webster City, Iowa

Husband’s education: Graduate Webster City, H. S. & Iowa State College B.S. Degree-Civil Engineering Course

Comm. In Navy World War II – Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Before and following war – Ass’t. Director construction. Bureau of Indian Affairs – Dep’t., of Interior U. S. Gov’t.

Retired from Navy 1954 with rating as Captain


Franklin Rogers Mason

Born: June 16, 1936

Birthplace: Washington, D. C.

Education: So far grammar school in Chicago and Bethesda, Maryland. Graduated St. Algans, Wash. D. C. 1954. Entered Princeton University fall 1954, Princeton, N. J.

“Home Life In The South” (At The Morgan Plantation)

Written by Mother (‘Lou” Morgan Rogers) probably in 1894, since she came to Iowa at the tender age of 8 years.

At the top of the first page Mother has written “Read at the home of Mrs. Jim Jackson (Union, Iowa) for the Wed. Club.

(Florene Rogers-Johnson)

Home life as I remember it in the South had much that was pleasant connected with it. People in the South are very hospitable, much more so than in the west.

The guest had the place of honor and the best of everything is provided for him.

I do not think parents are so free and familiar with their children there as here. Especially is this true of the father. Politeness is insisted upon and as a matter of course from the children to their elders.

I remember once of some of my brothers and sisters, myself and a neighbor boy being at one of the other neighbors and when we were going home (and it seemed all of a half mile away from the boy’s home) we heard his mother calling him and he dared answer only with the word ‘Madam’.

The expressions no – yes – no ma’am – yes ma’am sounded oddly enough to us when we came west. Such expressions are almost unknown in the south. We used the more contracted forms – ‘yes’m and no’m.’

Music is a main feature in the southern home. When we lived there some 28 years ago the banjo and violin were the main instruments. In our home—which consisted of father, mother and ten of the worst boys and girls you ever ‘set’ eyes on-–before retiring at night father always played the violin—we all sang—then father read a chapeter from the Bible.

Everyone sings in the South. You can hear the negroes at all hours of the night singing and the melody from a dozen or so of their dusky throats, while they hoe cotton, corn or tobacco is sweet indeed.

The corn shuckings, flax pullings, log rollings, quiltings, Christmas and New Years are great events in the Southern home. Each one of such days calling for a big dinner, where invariably would be found whole dressed pigs, chichen pie and pound cake.

Christmas day above all other days for the Southerners, and sneaking ‘round and yelling ‘Christmas Gift’ to those not expecting it causes merriment all the day.

We lived near an old white lady by the name of Kitty Crews. She had a negro by the name of Puss and if we children were not allowed to go over there sometime through the day and slip up to the house and hollow ‘Christmas gift’ to Puss—

This interesting account ends right there and I have been unable to find the rest of the story.

This was found in one of Mother’s books, where she no doubt had put it.

From Florene Rogers-Johnson

At the Rogers country home often there were so many visitors that we children would all sleep on blankets on the floor of that huge screened porch. It went almost all the way around their house. It was not a small house either. There was a kitchen, pantry, bath, dining room, parlor and a study on the first floor. The bath was not as modern as baths are now. I think it had to have the water carried to it. In the study was one of those first gramaphones with a huge horn. We tho’t it wonderful. All of Aunt’s 4 daughters played the piano and sang. We had some wonderful sings together. There were two stairways in this house. I know there were two rooms on one side but I can not recall how many on the other side. We children tho’t that was wonderful to have a home like that. Outside was an outdoor refrigerator. A large room by itself. Uncle Rowland had his own ice house. What a huge barn he had! It was the only one we had ever seen with a basement. What fun we had in haying time! Rowland had a team of wild western ponies. He had them hitched to the carriage and tied in the barn on one occasion. We 8 children – 4 Rogers, 4 of Jim Morgans – got in and we were having a gay time making them go forward, then backing as far as their hitching ropes would let them go. Uncle Rowland always said that “the Lord was surely watching over us that day.” I am quite sure that he felt that way many times when we were all under foot. Dear old Beauty, what a grand gentle horse she was. We rode her in all kinds of positions. Even swinging by her tail between her legs. There was a black and white pony that would stand up and make us roll to the ground? I believe that Cozzie was the only one who could ride her.

Uncle Rowland sold her to my uncle Fred (Mother’s younger brother who raised ponies, he often had over 200 at a time). This pony ran away with him and ran into a telephone post, then dropped dead.

We never tho’t of Aunt Lou as growing old. She always seemed so young. It would be impossible to record all the marvelous times we had at the Rogers home. So many happy memories crowd our minds when we think of all the Rogers. Those luscious chicken pies and cherry pies and those huge freezers of ice cream. Some one always had to stand on the top while freezing it. It seemed to me that company was no chore to Aunt Lou. I was a great trial to Aunt Lou I can now see. I tho’t that she did not know how to set the table properly. She would have one of her daughters set it for guests. I would wait until every one was out of the room then I would set it over. One of the family would see my efforts and reset. This would go on until the guests sat down. Sometimes I won-sometimes Aunt Lou’s way won. She was kind and most patient. Her way was correct but it was not the way Mother set her table, so I felt that I was doing her a big favor. No one ever said a thing to me.

Another time I must have been most noisy when on the street. She did not reprimand me, just asked if I did not think Florene was too noisy on the street? She was not. I was grateful to her for the round-a-bout advice.

It was at Uncle Drew’s that I first tasted squirrel. I think Ross or Dwight had shot it. I liked it but I never did like gravy on my sweet potatoes much to Uncle’s disgust, after one try I would not try that again. I have found that is true of all the southerners that I have met. They are so sure that their food and methods of cooking is the only way. Father always insisted on pancakes for breakfasts. In summer they were made of white flour with sourmilk, in winter buckwheat. No one else in the family liked pancakes. “If we did not want pancakes we could go without breakfast.” We all went without, including Mother. The smell of pancakes even to this day makes me ill. But oh how hungry we were before school was out at noon. I always had a raging headache.

Sarah Louisa (Aunt Lou) – not until now have I known that she was older than Aunt Em. She always seemed so young. It would be impossible to record all the marvelous times that we all had at Aunt Lou’s. We were always welcome as were all the other relatives and all their friends. She seemed to be the peacemaker of the Morgans. Father would not go there over a period of years. I never knew why. But that was one place Mother always went in spite of any Morgan feud.

By Imogene Morgan-Uran

IX.) Emma Lodusky Morgan-Humphrey-Ralls (known as “Em”)

Teacher for many years. Hat Designer and Milliner. Ran a millinery store for many years at Union, Iowa. Em was truly an artist in the hats she made to fit the ladies and little girls who came to buy her creations from all over Iowa.

Last home address: Union, Iowa

Born: Aug. 14, 1861 on plantation father owned near Boonville, Yadkin Co., N.C.

Died: Nov. 6, 1945 at Union, Iowa from a stroke fol’g a broken hip.

Buried: Morgan family lot, Liscomb, Iowa

Father’s name: Hardinson Morgan

Mother’s maiden name: Elizabeth White

Education: Attended school in N. C. In Liscomb under Prof. Jennings and Albion Seminary at Albion, Iowa.

Marriages: 1.) June 5, 1895

Oct. 4, 1933

First husband: Edgar Humphreys, born Dec. 4, 1860 at Union.

Died: of cancer March 1, 1927. Buried on Morgan lot in Liscomb Cemetery.

Second husband: Nathan Ralls. Born March 2, 1852. Died Sept. 3, 1938.

He died two years after his marriage from a heart attack. Buried in Marshalltown, Iowa.

No children were born to Em and Ed but they were busy entertaining their many nieces and nephews. They owned a large home and it was the scene of many happy Morgan gatherings. Em loved to sing as did all the Morgans.

When the family came north their baggage was wrapped in some of the linen cloth “tow cloth” that they had raised and woven. On the way some inspector marked with an indelible black pencil on some of the cloth wrappings. Em embroidered on this cloth in yarn in bright colors two beautiful pieces called “The Tree of Life.” The pattern was bo’t from the Good Housekeeping Magazine years ago. Em’s brother Jim had the framed wall hanging that she made first in his Seattle, Wash. Home.

Her niece Florene Rogers-Johnson has the second one. In some places the black imspectors mark shows.

An Historic Wall Hanging

The above is a picture of “The Tree of Life”, embroidered in yarn by sister Emma, on a piece of tow cloth (linen), made on our plantation in North Carolina. The following description of its manufacture, is by Brother Drew.

Dear Sister Lurene:

I probably helped pull the flax that made that linen cloth, as we had to pull it, then spread it out thin on the ground and let it lie there till there came a rain on it. In a few days we picked it up, tied it in bundles and stored it in a dry place. That was necessary in order to rot the inner stalk so it would break easily. Then it was put through a breaking machine worked by hand. The bundles were untied, and just a handful at a time was put under those big wooden knives, which were very heavy. There was another set stationary, and they were set about an inch apart, and the top of the first set had to fit down between the permanent ones. They were all made out of wood by Father. Old negro Ran used to do most all of our flax breaking, as that is what it was called. There was a handhold on top of these big wooden knives; he would grab hold of that, raise the big knives up, grab a handful of flax, throw it across the lower knives, then bring the upper ones down with a bang. That would break the inside stems about one-half inch long, but would not hurt the outside lint. He would do that three or four times, then give it a hard shake, and most of thehurds, as they were called, would drop out. Then it was put through a machine called a hackle, with long, steel, sharp teeth set in an iron base. He would grab a handful of the lint, throw it into these long teeth, put it out length-wise, and that would get out all the hurds that still remained in the lint. That which was hackled out was the coarse lint, that Mother always made our britches with. The fine lint was used for shirts and the girls’ dresses; and there you have the entire process up to the spinning of it into threads, which was done by Mother and the girls, as soon as they were large enough to stand up and know how to turn the wheel, (spinning wheel), which was done by hand also. The main thing was to learn to pull that lint out even and smooth, so as to make an even thread. They soon caught on, the same as they did in spinning cotton. Then it was put through a harness- each thread separate, then still had to be hooked through a slay, (a weaver’s reed), to keep the threads of the warp separate, so, when you pushed down on the treadle, one side of this harness would pull one-half of the warp up and the other half down. That would separate the threads of the warp and make an opening to throw the suttle through, which was called the woof or filler; then you would work the treadles with your feet again and pull the slay up hard against the thrums, which had been tied so as to hold the threads tight against each other. There you have the entire process of what our Mothers had to go through with besides keeping house, and after the cloth was woven, then to cut out the pants, shirts, dresses, and then sew them together; there you have a fair description of a suit of clothes from the seed to being ready to wear. How would you like to go through this entire process to get your clothes today? This all had to be done by hand, and each thread in a piece of cloth had to be handled separately, and many is the day that I have sat behind the harness and handed the threads through the loops in the middle of the harness to Mother, then she had to hook each thread separately through the slay – each thread having to follow the other, so as not to make a balk in the weaving. This entire output was made by hand. Father made the loom, the frame for the harness, the big roller in the back part of the loom that the warp was rolled on to before it was handed through the harness. No, Sister (Lurene), it could not be quite a hundred years yet, as I lack eight years of it, and I was probably five or six years old when I pulled the flax. We pulled it by hand because we had to save every particle of the lint, right down to the roots, as we would lose an inch or two if we cut it with a hand sickle. Those were the days when we all learned how to economize, and many is the day that I have plucked bramble briars and cut the thorns off, to make their hoops with as they had no money to buy steel hoops. I wonder if this will interest you very much.

Love, Drew Aug. 8, 1947

Written by Andrew Jackson Morgan

Florene Rogers-Johnson has her grandmother Elizabeth Morgan’s spinning wheel and her grandfather Hardin Morgan’s snuff box.

A Few More Memories by Florene Rogers-Johnson:

I remember of Mother or Aunt Em telling us that Grandfather Morgan woundn’t allow any of his children to start to school until each had learned his ABC’s. Consequently Aunt Em didn’t go to school until she was 7 or 8 years old. I can still see her laughing after telling this.

Aunt Em was always good company. She entered into the spirit of any occasion, had lots of fun and helped others to enjoy themselves.

Her hat shop in Union (Which she had for some thirty years, I believe) was a source of great delight to me from earliest childhood. I loved the beautiful picture hats with their lovely flowers and sumptuous ostrich plumes, velvet, satin and taffeta ribbons; the yard materials of velvet & satin, china silk & chiffon in jewel-like shades and delicate pastels.

She took great pains to make lovely & becoming hats for us four nieces, each season, and when we were small, velvet bonnets for winter time. Also, I remember the soft warmth of ‘kitty hoods’ Mother used to knit for us to wear in the winter.

Another memory of Aunt Em & Uncle Ed is of their beautiful flowers in a pattern of beds, layed out on their west lawn and the ‘Prairie Queen’ roses climbing over their southeast porch. Often at Aunt Em’s suggestion we were allowed to cut the sweet peas or roses to take home. Seeing the beautiful flowers was a great joy & is one of my most delightful memories. What fun as small girls to go with Uncle Ed to water these flower beds. At the pump on the back porch he filled the water can, and what sweet fragrance from the freshenend flowers and damp earth filled the gathering twilight.

The one thing I seem to remember about Grandmother Morgan is that when we went to visit the grandparents at Liscomb, Grandmother always welcomed us with a smile, putting her arms around us and saying, “Bless your old bones,” Grandfather seemed very austere. About my only recollection of him is that he sat in a room next to the street cobbling shoes. Also I remember him at Aunt Em’s convalescing following a stroke, I believe.

And about the “Tree of Life” Aunt Em embroidered. It is correct that the stencil for it came from Goodhousekeeping as did the yarn and directions for embroidering and the use of the different colors on the design. The shades and tones of the yarn are mostly rather muted. It is really quite lovely.

I know of no meaning of the design for the Morgan family particularly. I’m sure Aunt Em attributed none of it, for her family. She saw the design, liked it and thought it would be nice to do the embroidery on the tow cloth for a keepsake. I like it so much that she did one for me too.

She didn’t remember, who for sure, wove the tow cloth, but thought it must have been the older girls, if grandmother didn’t do it. She said this was a bed-tick and when they made the trek to Iowa it was put to use by being packed with many of their ‘belongings’. There were quite a number of black marks on it and some of them still show on the piece I have in spite of my efforts to remove them before the embroidery was done. I don’t care though, now, as perhaps those make the story a bit more interesting. They were put on by some of the officials on the way, for identifiction.

The tow cloth is very coarse and as I remember it Aunt Em said it was made from the coarser fibers while dress materials etc., were made from the finer one.

The embroidery your father has I think was no doubt made first. Uncle Drew was confused about the embroidery being made when he was 5 or 6.

Written by Florene Rogers-Johnson

Received 1950

Data concerning the Tree of Life pattern worked in Crewel Embroidery by Emma Morgan Humphreys on a wall hanging made of homespun linen (tow cloth), the flax of which was raised by Hardin Morgan on their North Carolina Homestead, and the cloth being woven by his wife Elizabeth White Morgan.

Miss Bolles, in the Tapestry Room of the Metropolitan Museum, New York, says the embroidery pattern, Tree of Life, is of the Jacobean period, or that of James I.

This kind of design developed in Europe, particularly in England, from the painted and printed cotton hangings that were brought in from the East, about the middle of the 17th Century.

About 1600, Charles VI of England married a Portuguese Princess-Mary of Madeira. The English had a great deal of trade with the Portuguese, whose culture was influenced by the East.

In the second half of the 17th Century (about 1650) – Crewel bed hangings etc, were used. The word Crewel comes from the kind of wool used for embroidery. The design was worked in wool on cotton or linen. The Tree of Life design is a modern adaptation of that kind of design. Designs similar to it are to be found in the book: “English Domestic Needlework,” which was published for the Metropolitan Museum.

A great deal of this work is found in the Victorian Albert Museum.

John L. Nevenson’s Catalog of English Domestic Embroidery in the 16th Century, published in London in 1938, also contains a number of similar examples.

Miss Bolles said that in spite of the popular belief that the designs have some meaning, they do not have at present. They probably did at one time – just as certain designs were associated with Royalty, but today actually nothing is known of the meaning of the design.

We wrote to Good Housekeeping Magazine from which Emma obtained the pattern – The Tree of Life, but they replied that it had been so long ago they had no information on file concerning it.

J. H. & Lurene Morgan August 1954

Aunt Em taught her niece Genevieve and Imogene Morgan how to dust talcum powder lightly over their faces. When they returned home their father was very indignant. No doubt the 2 young girls, 10 & 12, looked like they had stuck their heads into a flour barrel instead of just lightly using the powder. They were ordered never, never to use talcum powder again.
X. James (Hambelton) Hamilton Morgan

Occupation: Teacher, legal practice, and realtor

Home address: 431 – 16th Ave. No., Seattle 2, Washington

Birthplace: Boonville, North Carolina, b. March 31, 1864

Died: Feb. 4, 1961. Buried Liscomb, Iowa. Cremated

Father’s name: Hardin Morgan

Mother’s maiden name: Elizabeth White

Date of first marriage: Dec. 20, 1887

Wife’s maiden name: Lydia May Houghton

Name of Wife’s parents: George Washinton Houghton

Clarinda Ette Tender

Date if second marriage: June 4, 1920

Wife’s maiden name: Lillie Lurene Valentine

Name of Wife’s parents: Samuel Thomas Valentine

Martha Jane Grant Valentine


James Hamilton Morgan: Graduate, Albion Seminary, Albion, Iowa: PH. B. Drake University; graduate work, U. of California & U. of Washington; admission to Iowa State Bar.

Lillie Lurene Valentine Morgan: Graduate, Bellingham State Normal School.

Children born to James Hamilton Morgan and Lydia May Houghton-Morgan:

Genevieve E., Vivian I., Maxwell and Elouise.

Political affiliation: Democrat

Religious affiliation: Protestant, James – Christian Church. Lillie – Methodist.

Family background:

James Hamilton Morgan: Father ran a plantation with tobacco factory in North Carolina. In Iowa he was a mechanic. We moved to Iowa after the Civil War because we were Northern sympathizers. Father was forced into the Rebel Army.

Lillie Lurene Valentine Morgan: Father was born in Virginia, and Mother in Indiana, where Father worked for the railroad. Mother was a distant cousin of Ulysses S. Grant. Both parents very religious-members of the Methodist Church.

Business Connections: Part owner of a bank at one time. (J.H.M.)

Membership and Offices held in organizations:

James Hamilton Morgan: President, Iowa State Teachers’ Association; twice chairman of the County Democratic Convention in Iowa; Chairman, District Democratic Club, Seattle; Precinct Committeeman for 20 years; member of the Executive Board, King County Democratic Central Committee, 10 years; member of Doric Lodge No. 92, F. & A.M.; and member of the McGuffey Readers’ Society.

Lillie Lurene Valentine Morgan: Secretary, District Democratic Club; Secretary, for 5 years, Iowa State Club, Seattle; Secretary, McGuffey Readers’ Society; member, Order of Eastern Star; and member of Order of Amaranth, with office of Prelate.

Outstanding events: Director of orchestras, bands, and all kinds of vocal music in connection with school positions; also director of many church choirs. At the age of 90 he has organized a Male Quartet in the McGuffey Readers’ Society – average age of members, 80 years. He has composed 60 or more school songs, and have an unpublished text book on Public Speaking.

Jim had the most advantages of all the children of Hardin Morgan’s large family. Until he was 14 yrs. old he attended school throughout most of the school year. He worked on a farm for three years. One summer he lived at Carleton (now Popejoy) with his brother Drew and family. Drew found a job for Jim with a railroad fence-building crew. It was there that he began to realize the advantages of an education. His boss could read print but could not write. Jim was promoted to “Straw Boss” and took charge of all reports. His boss went on a drunken spree and all the crew asked Jim to take his place. It was a great temptation for a 16 year old boy. At this auspicious moment Drew sent word for Jim to return to Carleton for the week-end to visit with two sistes, Em and Lou. Drew would not let Jim return to Traer with the crew, he insisted Jim return to school. He attended the Albion Seminary and graduated from the 4 year course in two years. Drew had loaned him $75. and by sawing wood with his good friend Jim Becker for 9 stores plus money earned in various other ways he managed to pay expenses.

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