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

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Got to Ohio River at Belair, 7:30. Our train ran onto a Ferry Boat and they took us train and all across. Reached Zanesville, Ohio at 10:39 a.m. Passed Union City, at 5p.m. Friday evening. Got to Logansport, Indiana 2 o’clock Saturday morning. Reached Chicago, Illinois at 9, crossed the Mississippi River 4 p.m. on a wire bridge reaching from bank to bank composed of 6 very heavy wire cables, the first and only rail road bridge crossing the river at the time. Our train cralled across so slow you could hardly feal it move. It sagged down almost touching the water, we arrived at State Center 11 p.m. remained there till 9 Sunday a.m. Father got 3 teams to hall the outfit to friends near New Providence where we staid over nite. Then went on to Quill Spears. Then moved to New Providence. Lived there 1 year. Then moved to Liscomb, where Father and Isham Copeland, our friend and neighbor back in North Carolina bought 2 lots side by each and built houses where Father and Mother spent the remainder of their lives.

Respectfully submitted,

J. (Jack) Morgan
Hardin Morgan’s Travels from Yadkin Co., N.C.

To Hardin Co., Iowa October the 17th 1869

A Copy of his Diary

1st day, stayed all night at Brookstown, Forsythe Co.

2nd day, stayed all night at Whicker near Kernersville

3rd day, got to Greensborough, Gifford Co.; took the cars at 10 o’clock at night; got to Richmond at 11 o’clock next morning; left at one the same day; went to West Point in 2 hours – 35 miles.

Took passage on the boat Kennebec 20 min. after 3 o’clock in the evening, sailed 215 miles; got to Baltimore 8 o’clock in the morning under Captain Fremont. Stayed at Baltimore 8 hours, left at 4 in the evening; got to Ohio River at Bellaire, half-past 7; passed Zanesville ½ past 10; got to Columbus at 1 o’clock in the evening; passed Union City at 5 o’clock Friday evening; got to Logansport, Cass Co., Indiana at 4 o’clock. Snowing very fast. Left Logansport ½ past 2 Saturday morning; got to Chicago at 4, left at 11; ;crossed the Mississippi River 20 min. after 4 at Clinton; got to State Center at 11.

Moved to New providence November 20, 1869.

Moved to Liscomb November 7, 1870.

J. Morgan (Andrew Jackson Morgan)

Memories of our life in North Carolina as told by:

Em, Drew and Jim


A.J. Morgan’s Story

My first recollections were in Stokes County where Grandfather Morgan lived with Father and Mother. His name was Perry and he was a great hunter. He let me shoot the wad out of his gun after he got through cleaning it. That is the first thing I remember in this checkered life of now turning into my 85th year.

My next was when Father had an auction sale and sold Pink and Heart, our two cows. Jim Tumblin, a cousin, and his brother bought Heart, put a rope around her horns and tried to lead her and, as she never had a rope on her horns before, she cut up scandalous and they broke one of her horns off and knocked out one of her eyes. I ran to the house crying and told Mother to go and take the cows back as those men were going to kill them.

The day before we were to leave, a brother and a cousin came to bid us good-bye. They were both tipsy, and they offered Mattie 10 cents in silver if she would kiss them. She refused and ran into the house, so I told them I would kiss them for the 10 cents but they would not pay me, so they left without a kiss.

I was four years old when I sat on Grandpa’s lap and shot the wad out of his gun; and five years old when we moved away and rented a place of Jim Cardwell near the Yadkin County line, where we lived for about a year, then Father bought our home-place one and a half miles from Booneville. There were 200 acres cleared and a 40 acres on the west side joining Tom Spencers. After 3 years Father sold the 40 to Spencer.

Matt and I had to go over there every two or three days, pull up a sack of pig weed and carry it home nearly a mile to feed our pigs. Then we cleared up some ten or fifteen acres on the south side of our home, next to Aunt Kitty Kruses and Mrs. Crumbles, and worked that for many years. When I was about nine years old, I took a little shot gun and went out a long a narrow path that crossed a little spring creek. The path was just wide enough to get through the alder bushes and briars for about ten rods, and I stopped before I started togo down through this place, as it was then nearly sundown. I was standing there in the path when a very big black animal came down the path to the creek and drank, and as good luck happened to be in my favor, the wind was blowing from the south. I was about 4 rods north of the creek after the animal got through drinking. He raised his head looked round, went back up the path for four or five rods, started off through the thicket, jumped on the rail fence, gave two or three whines, jumped down and meandered off through the briars and brush.

Three days after that he was treed about a mile south of where I saw him, and was shot by Jim Crumwell – a black bear. The wind blowing from the south is what saved me from becoming bear meat.

Another close call was with a panther, which had been seen by several people, in the timber west of our place.

Nancy, Mat, Sidney and I took rakes, went up in the timber to rake the leaves from under 5 or 6 big chestnut trees. The chestnuts always fell off at night, so in order to get them, we had to get there early in the morning before the hogs did.

After we had got them from three or four trees, we heard a woman calling and we answered back. She would answer again and we noticed she was closer every time she hallowed. We kept looking through the timber expecting to see the woman appear any minute when Nancy said, “Oh! I bet it’s that panther,” and all broke and ran for their lives. Of course I was left way behind. I was crying like any kid would and was scared with in an inch of my life. The rest of the kids were way ahead of me, when I slipped in a hole, fell down and imagined that panther was just ready to spring upon my back, but by a great effort I got to my feet and ran as I never ran before or since. Well, believe it or not, he was killed by a man by the name of Jake Horn, a mountaineer, who always carried his rifle hung on the horn of his saddle. He had been to mill with a grist of corn and had to wait till nearly sundown. There was a leaning tree that reached right over the road, and just before he reached the tree, he saw something move in the foliage. He stopped his horse and sure enough, there was a big animal crouched and ready to spring. He reached for his rifle and down came Mr. Animal right in the road-a panter, 7 feet from tip to tip. He was hung up at the P.O. at Booneville for several days. My next narrow escape was in a swimming hole, Mase, Sid and I had made just above the path where I had seen the bear. Mary Jane, Melissa, Saline and Em Dosier from Booneville, the Doctor’s daughters, were at our house, visiting our girls. They all got on some old dresses and went out to that little pond and went in swimming. I had on my regular long-tail shimmy, which was all any kids wore in the summer time so I thought I would go in too, and did to very near my death. First one and then the other of those Gals caught me and baptized me until I was just about gone, as they did not let me have time to get my breath before another would souse me under. Mase, Sid and Roe Crumwell just happened to come along, and Mase rescued me, or I guess I wouldn’t be here now to tell about it.

Well, Emma, you have covered the territory so completely around the old home place, I can add but little to it. Will say, however, you did not mention Aunt Kitty Kruse and her Negro maid, Puss. Ann and Jack used to try to slip over there every Christmas morning, early, and slip up to the house and hallow Christmas gift, but we seldom were successful, for Puss was always on the watch for us, and most generally beat us to it. However, we always got a small piece of cake. Ann and Jack picked up some walnuts one time, without asking for them. When we got home, Mother asked us if we asked Aunt Kitty for them, and we told her “No”, she made us pick them right up, tote them back to the house, tell Aunt Kitty what we had done and ask her to forgive us, which we did very reluctantly.

Brother Sid found a dandy, big cow bell in the wood one time, with a big, wide leather strap and buckle on it. It was quite sumptious to have a bell on your cow them days, so we children thought we were going to be right in the swim, but Mother told us we could not keep it, as somebody’s cow that that bell had been on would be looking for it (the owner) and if it was found on our cow, they would claim we had stolen it. We kids were terribly put out about it.

Just about that time, there was a great religious wave sweeping the country. We kids did not dare whistle or sing a dance tune on Sunday, or use the words beginning with “By” such as By Golly or By Jinks, or call anybody a liar, or step on a grave. We were under the Blue Laws of Connecticut.

Emma Morgan Humphry-Ralls

Emma’s Story

Our home in North Carolina was one mile east of the town of Booneville, and about 60 or 70 from Winston-Salem.

Our principal crop was tobacco, so our place was called a tobacco plantation. There were 240 acres.

Father had a manufacturing plant on the place for making plug tobacco, twirls and cigars.

It was disagreeable to work in the tobacco. As soon as the plants were of any size, all the extra shoots were kept primed off so the main leaves would grow larger. A sort of sticky substance formed on the tobacco in the green stage, which adhered to the clothing, when at work in the field and it was impossible to wash it off; consequently, the workers wore old clothes which we burned when the working season was over.

One morning, Mase, Sid and Jack went out to prime the tobacco. They saw a mother squirrel run up a tree with some food in her mouth. Sid said: “I’m going up there and get a little squirrel for a pet.” The boys tried to persuade him not to, but he went, and it was supposed that the squirrel jumped out on his bare arm, which caused him to fall, and he was killed instantly. He was buried in the Cemetary of Booneville.

Before making the plug tobacco, Father would drive to his patrons and take orders, who stated what they wanted it flavored with. It had to be soaked in something before it could be molded into plugs. Some ordered it soaked in brandy, others in licorice and water, then it was packed in a mold and placed under the tobacco screws. The pressing was done by horse power. After it remained in this mold for a certain length of time, it was taken out and cut into plugs with an immense knife, which was also run by horse power. Then the plugs, just as you see them now in stores, were ready for sale.

The cigars were all made by hand. It was a very particular trick to put the last wrapper on. That was always done by Mother and Sister Lissa. The tobacco had awful big green worms on it, and I was deathly afraid of them Lou and Jim used to tease me by saying they would put one on my back.

We raised cotton also, but only enough to make our own clothing. We also raised flax for that purpose – for everything we wore was raised on our plantation.

The cotton was gathered and seeded, and then carded into rolls which were spun on the spinning wheel into threads and then woven into cloth. Some of it was colored before weaving and the older girls got so they could weave a polka dot. When we came to Iowa, we had nothing but cotton or linen clothes, all of it raised on our own plantation.

The flax which made the linen, was raised, cut and hackled by an old negro who lived on the

plantation. Father supported him and his wife for the work they did. We called them Uncle Ran and Aunt Fan. Aunt Fan always did our washing. There was a little negro boy who lived with them that we called “Snip.” It was his job to bring the wood from the woodpile near the barnyard on a wheelbarrow, for the fireplace. The fireplace was immense. The logs were six feet long. You see that was the only means of heating the house as well as cooking, and they put on a big back log with the smaller logs before it. The back log would last for several days. At Christmas time Father had a rule that we would all have a holiday as long as the back log lasted. The boys would get a big green hickory or oak, and Drew says it would sometimes last for a week.

I often wonder how Mother managed to cook as well as she did in that fireplace. Of course there were several pothooks, and all the kettles were iron and had iron lids. The oven and skillets had long legs. There was a screen to place in front of the fire, but I do not know what it was made of. Of course there were the big andirons, the brass hook and tongs, for taking care of the fire.

Everybody had lots of fruit, especially peaches and apples. There was no fruit cannned in those days, it was all dried.

Father built a dry house. It was just like a long chimney lying on the ground. It was made of stone with openings about 3 feet apart, where a fire could be built inside this chimney. Then there was a covering of wood with shelves in it that held the trays with the fruit. It was about 10 feet long. It was the only dry house in the community, so everybody brought fruit there to dry. The whole side opened and the fruit was stirred or moved to higher racks. It had to be looked after all night, so this afforded the young people a lot of fun, as they would gather a crowd to come and look after the fruit “set-up” with it. I can remember one time Arch Farris brought a wagon full of peaches, and they piled them on the ground, and then their girls and ours got around them and cut them for drying. In the evening the boys came and got in their hand at keeping fires, etc.

This Arch Farris family used to live at New Providence, and some of the grandchildren still live there.

When people were in distress, or wanted their neighbors to come, they blew into a cow’s horn that had some water in it. It made a peculiar sound and could be heard for a long distance. Father blew that horn when Sid was killed and in a short time many neighbors came.

Father had the tree cut down right away that Sid fell out of, and it measured 50 feet from the gound to the squirrel’s nest.

I remember so well our big living room. That was the only room downstairs. All the sleeping rooms were upstairs except Father and Mother’s bed. It sat over in the northeast corner of the big living room. Under this bed was a trundle bed which was pulled out at night, and Lou and I slept on it. In the morning it was pushed back under Mother’s bed.

We were building a big new house, and it was not finished when we left there. Drew says the fireplace in the new house was very pretty. It was made of very pretty stone and was not so large as we were not to cook in there. It would be just for heat and ornament.

The yards were very large and kept very clean, having lots of flowers. We had an immense apple and peach orchard, and beyond that, which was south of the house, was a chestnut grove. We would go over and pick up the chestnuts after a cold, frosty morning. They were so full of stickers, it was hard to pick them up and get them out of the chestnut burrs, but they were good when we roasted them in the fireplace.

We had another kind of nut called the chinquepin. They were about the size of a hazelnut and very good.

East of the house was a big pine grove. The trees were so thick that it was quite dark in there. Some of the older boys and girls used to tell Lou and me that there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that after a rain, seemed to end in the grove, but in order to get it, we must hurry over there and get to the end before the rainbow was gone. Needless to say, we never made it in time, so the pot of gold may still be there.

J. H. Morgan’s Story

I suppose I was born in Yadkin Co., near Booneville, our last home in the south.

Both Mollie and Mase have told me about Grandpa Morgan’s living with us, and how good and helpful he was to Mother, with the children.

Drew’s statement, about where we lived when he was with us explains why I remember nothing of him. It appears I never saw him.

I suppose he is the Grandfather, who, I was told, received “silver” money at stated times from an estate in Wales or England.

I am glad I can think of him as a kind, good man who was so good and helpful to his daughter-in-law, our Beloved Mother.

I recall seeing a picture of Grandfather and Grandmother White. It seems to me that Mollie had it. Do either of you know of its where-abouts?

Emma says our home was sixty or seventy miles from Winston-Salem: I heard Jim Farley, Postmaster General, give an address at this city, over the radio, in which he quoted President Roosevelt as saying: “North Carolina, with reference to its schools, factories, agricultural and other industries, is the best balanced State in the Union.” Some years ago, it had, next to Iowa, the greatest number of consolidated schools in the U.S.: accordingly, we can and do feel proud of the State of our birth.

Emma, your description of the tobacco industry as conducted on our plantation, is certainly well done.

I remember seeing a field of growing tobacco and those big, green, poisonous looking worms. I was with Mase one time when he was replenishing the fires made on the dirt floor of the barn underneath the tobacco leaves hanging above. The fires were to dry and cure the leaves, as you know. Later, I remembr the barn with its contents burned. Mase was determined to enter the burning barn to get some sort of tool or valuable machinery, but he was prevented by Mother and some of the other children. I wonder if this barn was ever rebuilt or did its burning take place the year we left there.

I can also remember the tobacco press. The creaking noise it made when old Charlie walked around the circle, hitched to a lever to turn the screw down on to the press, frightened me as well as jurt my ears.

I also remember a small threshing machine bro’t to our farm to thresh a small crop of wheat. The power was a threadmill operated by two horses. That was a wonderful machine to me. I remember Father and two of the Girls, perhaps Nancy and Melissa’s winnowing the wheat by the deft use of a sheet, creating a breeze to blow the chaff away.

Now let me follow this up with old Charlie guided by Father or Mase (old Charlie was blind) with a grist of wheat on his back, taking it to old Wicker’s mill. I am not sure that Wicker was the name of the miller but I do remember we could hear the noise of the old water-wheel’s turning, and the children declared it said: “Wick-er, Wick-er, Wick-er.”

Drew, was the millpond, which you describe, made by that creek and our spring? By the way, I remember another Creek, somewhat north of the barn. Old Charlie was led to this creek to drink, Mattie put me on old Charlie, and I felt like one of the knights riding his fiery charger, off to battle, as she led him to the creek. I dismounted (Mattie’d lifted me from his back) before Charlie entered the creek, for Mattie was afraid I would be dumped into the Creek, when he whirled to return.

This creek also must have entered into the formation of the millpond. I, too, went in swimming in the said millpond - Mase, Sid, Drew and I. I remember Mase led me out until the water reached my armpits, while Sid and Drew disported themselves like a couple of ducks, or shall I say geese?

It seems to me that not far from this pond was a tannery. I can see the vats – some with a yellowish kind of water. They were sunk in the ground, and one of the boys, most likely Sid, ran and jumped across one of them -–a perilous and marvelous feat to me.

In connection with this tannery, I remember being with Father and Mase, watching them cut oak bark from the trees felled in the clearing of some land to the north of our house. This bark was sold to the tannery.

I don’t remember the growing of any cotton or any other farm crop, except tobacco, of which I have spoken, and corn. When the corn was about grown but still green, I remember some of the older children took a stick in each hand and went through the corn row by row, cutting the blades from the stalks. After these blades were cured by the sun, they were gathered into bundles for fodder. I also remember what seemed to me to be a huge pile of corn still in the husk, and a crowd of neighbors about it to husk or shuck it.

I don’t remember the chestnuts but I do recall the Chinquepins. Mattie took me to Hayden Spencer’s to visit Elvira and one of our Sisters working there. Before leaving, they told us to pick some chinquepins from a small tree growing in the yard.

I remember the old and the new apple orchard and especially do I recall the Buckingham apple. One of the children was under one of the Buckingham trees, when an apple fell, striking her on the head, and splitting in two. Now, is that true or is it only a legend?

The cherry trees were not far from the house. Mother was well up on a ladder, picking cherries. I climbed the ladder a few rungs, fell off and landed lengthwise, face down. Mother screamed and Father nearby, ran to me, picked me up and carried me to the house, Mother coming close behind. I am not sure whether this occurred before Sidney’s death, but I believe both Father and Mother thought I was dead, until they placed me on the bed, when I looked up at them with wondering eyes. I had not made a cheep. In fact I think the breath had been knocked out of me. That was the reason I didn’t yell.

Yes, Emma, I remember you and I used to play in the “drying house.” I knew it was a drying house, not especially made for us to play in, but my memory carried me no farther than that.

In speaking of the fruit, we should not forget the blackberries. I can recall a large bunch of those vines out in the pasture. I think Mattie, Lou and Emma were picking berries, when suddenly one of them let out a terrible yell. I think it was Lou that got hold of a black snake instead of blackberries.

Old Pink was not far from us at the time, she raised her head inquiringly, but took no further notice of us.

Drew, I remember making one of those visits to Aunt Kitty Kruse’s, and receiving some cake at the hands of Puss. Drew, Lou, Emma and I formed the group of visitors. On our way home, we discovered some Donathan boys stealing plums in aunt Kitty’s plum thicket. At first, Drew thought we should “orter” return and report to Aunt Kitty, but finally decided to go on home. On our way, we came to a small patch of strawberries near some rather tall trees. By cracky! I yet can taste those luscious berries. Yes, I got my share, for we religiously obeyed Mother’s teaching that we should share any such thing as that, and “share alike.”

The old sping-well do I recall it. Somewhat contrary to your statement, Emma, that Aunt Fan, the old colored woman, did all our washing at the spring. They would heat the water over an open fire, built at the spring, and, on one occasion, when they were preparing to wash there, a sort of spotted snake was found swimming around in the spring.

The old fireplace – it stands out clearly in my recollections, especially on two occasions. One, when an electric storm was in action, and I was standing in the door way, looking out towards the garden. A tremendous clap of thunder followed a zigzag streak of lightning. Father said, “Jimmie, come out of that doorway.” Of course, I obeyed and went to the fireplace to stand there. Father’s tone of voice was far more harsh, as he ordered me away from that position, but why? I never knew until many years after, I learned both positions I had occupied were considered dangerous in an electric storm

The other occasion in which the fireplace played a part, was far more to my liking. I came in from play and said, “Mother, I’m hungry. Won’t you make me a hoecake?” I can see her dear, smiling face now, as she looked at me with those loving, dark-brown eyes, then truned to stir up a small hoecake, which was soon cooked in the fireplace by covering it in coals and ashes. How did it taste? To me, a small hungry kid, it was as ambrosia to the gods. Emma, your description of the fireplace brought to mind Longfellow’s poem – “The Hanging of the Crane.”

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