A Morgan Family Reunion
by Michael A. Morgan
Each year we have collected as part of the last wishes of our beloved grandmother Philoma Berrey Morgan, who in her desire that our family not forget one another after her death, ask that we meet once a year to rekindle our family ties. I started looking into the Morgan family in 1992, after looking over the notes taken by my brother and sister. Iíve found we have a tradition and family for which we should all be proud. Someone once said "If you could meet your ancestors all standing in a line, would you be proud of them, but then again ask yourself, would they be proud of you?" I am proud of my family, each and every one of you, as I know our ancestors would be too.
Our family started to roam in the 1600ís. Edward Morgan, was born around 1610 with family connections to the house of "The Morganís of Tredegar". Edward had two known brothers, William and Robert, and sisters Catherine, Elizabeth, Blanche, Mary, and Jane all being the children of Thomas Morgan and the Lady Catherine Herbert, the daughter of Nicholas Herbert of Cogan Pill.
The Morganís of the time were "Gentlemen" farmers living in Glamorganshire, South Wales, running a farming estate called "Llanrhymney" (now part of Cardiff). Their direct line to Tredegar was through their family connections in Monmouthshire. King Charles I was on the throne and the Morganís were loyal subjects. In 1645, King Charles I paid an extended visit with the Morganís in their home called Tredegar, an unusual event which was reserved for only the most trusted loyal subjects. Unfortunately most of the Welsh and English people, did not share the same loyalties for the monarchy. Edward, our ancestor became a Colonel-General of the Loyalist Army of South Wales under the Earl of Carbery. The Loyalist were defeated and in 1649 the English Parliament beheaded King Charles I. Sir Edward Morgan went into self exile in Germany serving as a mercenary in the latter stages of what history records as "The 30 Years War". Edward, there, met his wife, the Lady Anna Petronnella, daughter of the mayor of the city of Lippstadt, Germany.
After the English revolution, the Morganís through the "Calendar for the Committee for Compounding" were heavily taxed by the temporary English regime, and forced, with other Loyalist, to pay for the cost of the revolution. For Edwardís part, his actions in the Loyalist Army were considered to be unpardonable. In 1651, the English did restore the monarchy as King Charles II was crowned King. He brought Edward out of a self exile in 1664 and appointed him as the Deputy-Governor and later the Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica. Edward died from a heart attack while making a raid on the Dutch colony of St. Eustatius Island in 1665. After Edwardís death, his nephew Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688) (Morgan the Pirate), the son of Robert Morgan, took in marriage Edwards daughter (his own 1st cousin), Mary Elizabeth Morgan. Although no children resulted from the marriage, Sir Henry took care of the family of the late Sir Edward Morgan. Some men called Edward and Henry "Pirates of the Caribbean," but in their time they were considered Privateers. It is worthy to note that both Sir Edward Morgan and Sir Henry Morgan held royal commissions from the King of England. Both men flew the "Jolly Roger" during their raids on Dutch and Spanish Colonies, but hoisted the British flag upon returning the stolen treasure back to the British crown. For his defeat of Panama in 1671, the last Spanish stronghold in the Caribbean, after the English had signed a peace treaty with Spain, Sir Henry Morgan was put on trial, but acquitted with the help of his kinsman Sir William Morgan of Tredegar. England was soon back at war with Spain, and Sir Henry Morgan was knighted by King Charles II. The youngest child of Sir Edward Morgan was John Dorian Morgan, who accompanied Sir Henry in his sacking of the Isthmus of Panama. After his fatherís death in 1665, he went back to the farming estate in South Wales, and immigrated to America in the 1680ís where he settled in Essex County, Virginia. There he resided with his wife Hanna in the St. Maryís Parish.
John Dorian Morgan was born about 1648, he never learned to read or write, but his devotions toward his family insured that his son John Morgan (1680-1733) learned the skills of reading and writing. In early Essex County legal documents, the older John Dorian Morgan always signed his name with a "X," with little variation in the mark. His mark is recorded on several documents as a witness to land transactions. The younger John Morgan signed his name on property transactions, as well as on his own will. It is worth mentioning that there where only two Morganís in Essex County during this period. The older John Dorian Morgan, and the younger John Morgan. In adjoining Middlesex County there was an Edward Morgan, close to the age of the younger John, possibly another son of John Dorian Morgan named for his grandfather.
The younger John married Ann Barbee where they lived for a short while in Middlesex County. After the birth of their first child, John in 1705, they moved to Essex County where they lived out the balance of Johnís life in the St. Ann Parish. John had accumulated quite a farming estate of 354 acres on Occypacia Creek. After his death Ann, his widow remarried Dr. Thomas Caruthers. In those days women had little rights, and in 1739, Dr. Carthers sold all the property rights of Ann to a Mr. James Garrett. Ann lived out the balance of her life in Onslow County, North Carolina. The sons had to start over like their forefathers before them. Brother Joseph became one of the first Judges (there were 4) of Onslow County, and brother William became the county Constable. Brother Nathan opened a trading post in the wilderness trading mostly with the Indians. Another son, and our ancestor Mark Morgan (1712-1792), obtained 400 acres of land on a land patent in Bladen County, North Carolina on October 9, 1747, a section later spun off forming todayís Orange County. The property joined the South side of the South branch of Newhope called Morgan Creek, which runs into the Cape Fear river. Mark lived there with his wife Sarah Hinton for the balance of his life. Their son, John Morgan (1742-1800) sold his part of his fatherís estate in 1785 and moved to Moore County, North Carolina. Little is known of this ancestor of ours, but a sibling of Johnís was Nancy Ann Morgan, whose married name was Nancy Morgan Hart. She is remembered today for her acts of defiance against the Tories by The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), by established chapters in her name. "Hart" County, Georgia was named in her honor. This woman stood six foot tall, and had flaming red hair. She was renowned for her marksmanship with a musket. The neighboring Indians called her "Wahatchee," meaning "The War Woman" out of the healthy respect and fear they had for her. The Nancy Hart Highway was named by the Georgia Daughters of the American Revolution, and a marker erected by the John Benson Chapter of the DAR in Hartwell, Georgia in March of 1928. The General Samuel Hopkins Chapter, DAR of Henderson County, Kentucky, in 1930 honored Nancy Morgan Hart with a monument. Johnís brother Solomon Morgan became a successful farmer. On one portion of his former estate now stands the University of North Carolina, where on campus his tombstone can be found.
John Morgan died in the year 1800. Four of his sons James, George, William, and Joseph started moving West, settling in Wilcox County as squatters while waiting for the land to become opened for settlement by the US Government. Once opened, the Morganís staked claims in today's Wilcox County. Brother Joseph settled in the Pine Hill area, while James settled in Sunny South community. Brother George left Wilcox County in 1833, to join a gentlemen he fought with in the War of 1812 who had founded the Robertson Colony on the Brazos River near todayís Waco, Texas. George and his wife Nancy died at the hands of Indians on January 1, 1839. The location at which members of the Morgan and Marlin families were massacred is marked today by a historical marker. The family members were buried together in a wagon bed side by side. Today, the pioneer home of George Washington Morganís son George Jr., can be found intact on the campus grounds of Baylor University at the Strecker Museum in Waco, Texas. George Morgan was a slave owner, and one of his former slaves sold to James Morgan (not his brother), was an indentured servant, a young mulatto girl of Caribbean decent named Emily Morgan Wells. She was only twenty years old, but the courage of this young heroine six weeks after the Alamo directly contributed to the defeat of General Santanaís army on April 21, 1836 in a mere eighteen minutes! Emilyís actions became the inspiration for the song and legend of "The Yellow Rose of Texas," and laid the foundation for the birth of a new nation called Texas. Brothers James, and Joseph stayed in Wilcox County where James was known to have died in 1822, and Joseph in 1857. It is unknown what became of William Morgan.
Both James and William were our gggg-grandfathers, being the fathers of Martin Morgan (b 1790) and John D. Morgan (b 1802) respectively. Joseph Morgan died in 1857, and is buried beside his wife Druslilla at the Enon Cemetery in Pine Hill. The land which surrounds Enon Cemetery is the property settled by Martin Morgan. The daughter of Martin was Susan Morgan (1826-1866), who married William Morgan (1822-1849). William was the son of John D. Morgan. This would have made Susan and William 2nd cousins. William, in good health, took the oath of office as Constable of Wilcox County, to complete the term of Thomas Childers who resigned in office on October 12, 1848. He was sworn into office by his wifeís Uncle Mark Morgan, who was the presiding Judge for the county. Soon, William was dead, possibly having died in the line of duty. Susan, the widow, on June 30, 1853 married James Wesley Harvell, and is buried by him at the Kelly Cemetery. Folks say Susan is between William and James, but I have been unable to verify this. A child of William and Susan Morgan was Samuel (Sam) Morgan (1846-1928), who fought with pride in the Alabama 38th Infantry, Company B, who married Annie Rice (1849-1926). He was a little man standing only 5í-1 ĺ" tall, having a dark complexion and gray eyes. Sam never enjoyed his teenage years as he was caught up in the harsh realities of the war between the states at the tender age of fifteen, forced to jump from the shoes of a child to those of a man. Sam served initially for the physical presence of O. P. Kelly. During the war, if you were drafted you had to serve for two years. As an alternative you could pay someone to fill in for your physical presence. Times were harsh and Sam, being the nephew of O. P. Kellyís wife Mary Morgan, served for his Uncle Kelly, sending the pay home to his mother. Later O. P. Kelly and Sam fought together when Sam too was drafted. Sam, because of his young age, worked as a field nurse, or what we call today a paramedic, taking care of the wounded during the initial stages of the war. He was captured outside Nashville, Tennessee on December 16, 1864, and spent the balance of the war at Camp Chase, Ohio. Samuel walked home from Ohio, and provided food for himself by a single shot black powder rifle he was issued after swearing an oath of allegiance to the US government on June 4, 1865, which was a condition of his release. His long walk home took three months. During the later stages of Samís life he collected an Alabama disability pension as a honorably discharged CSA veteran. The cause of the disability was listed as a gunshot wound during the war, and rheumatism. Samís twin brother, Henry Archie Morgan, moved to Arkansas after marrying Harriet T. Thompson. Sam named a son for his brother whom we remember as our great Uncle Archie. Samuel and Annieís son, Samuel "Oscar" Morgan married our beloved grandmother, Philoma Berrey Morgan.
From the Berrey side, she was the daughter of Russell Berrey (1866-1896) and Annie Kelly (1868-1959) who were married on December 29, 1885. She never knew her father as he died when our grandmother was only six years old. Russell was heartily cutting a tree when it fell upon him. The Doctorís had to remove his leg, but to no avail and he passed away the next morning. Annie (Grandmother Berrey) raised her children Etta, Alma, Philoma, Nora, Frank, and Russell Berrey as best she could with the full devotion of a motherís love and affection, and never remarried. This was in the same tradition as our grandmother who, after the death of her eldest child Inez from childbirth complications, took in hand her granddaughters Doris and Dorothy and raised them as her own. Her grandfather, William H. Berrey (1820-1865), was a causality of the Civil War. He survived the battles only to succumb to illness, and died on his way home at the end of the war, ironically less than 30 miles from home. Copies of letters from William Berrey to his wife Mary, during the war, indicated a long bout with some form of illness. Local townsmen traveling home with William, that fought with him in the Alabama 32nd Infantry, Company E buried him along side the road somewhere between Selma and Pine Hill. Her great grandfather was Elijah Berry (1778-1850) who came to Alabama with his wife Sarah Rich after a short stay in Wilkes County, Georgia. Interesting to note, this was the same vicinity where the Morgan brothers were just before their arrival in Wilcox County. Aaron Berry and Lucy Sampson where the parents of Elijah. They resided in Culpepper County, Virginia. His father was John Berry (1700-1779) who married Jerima Smith. During the call for all able bodied men under the age of 50 to join into the Army of Virginia, John Berry was too old to take up arms, but his son Aaron Berry without hesitation answered the call and fought in the Virginia militia of the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington.
From the Kelly side of our grandmotherís family, they made their arrival in Wilcox County in the early 1830ís. The Kellyís are believed to have migrated from Kilkenny, Ireland to a settlement called District 96, now called Union County, South Carolina, just before the American Revolution, where many other Kelly family members had settled in a Quaker community. Our ancestor, John W. Kelly (1792-1848) came by way of Georgia, to Fort McGrews, Alabama with his brother Jesse Kelly, after the War of 1812. John with his wife Della Keziah Williams, fondly referred to by family and friends as "Kissy," eventually settled about three miles Southeast of todayís Pine Hill near Choctaw Corner Road. Keziah was granted 160 acres of land after the death of John, by the US government, as a widow of a veteran of the War of 1812. The Kelly grandfather of our grandmother, Oliver P. Kelly, a very prominent man in the Wilcox County history, at one time owned most of todayís Pine Hill area. He married Mary Morgan on February 2, 1859, a daughter of our ggg-grandfather John D. Morgan. Oliver P. Kelly was directly responsible for the railroad coming to Pine Hill. When the railroad was set to bypass Pine Hill, Oliver donated substantial parts of his own property to the railroad as a right of way, thereby luring the railroad into Pine Hill. Almost all the older Pine Hill Churches trace their deeds back to land donated for that cause by O. P. Kelly. Oliver was a devoted family man and Christian. His devotions to both family and church rekindles my memories of our grandmother faithfully reading her large print Bible each evening. Her grandmother Kelly was Mary Morgan, who was the sister of William Morgan, the father of our great grandfather Samuel A. Morgan. Although they never knew it, our grandparents were 2nd cousins. Oliver P. Kelly and Mary Morgan Kelly are buried at the Kelly Cemetery in Pine Hill close to the grave site of Samuel A. Morgan and his wife Annie Rice.
The reading and material which follows contains over 2,000 Morgan "Kinfolk & Cousins" and traces our Welsh ancestry to the year 605 AD. It is something I put together so each of you can see our present family generation ties, our family heritage, and roots. I hope you enjoy the reading.
Michael A. Morgan
This article is dedicated with love to my two daughters Catherine & Amanda, and grandchildren Patrick, Brianna, and Connery.
May not be duplicated in whole or part without express permission of the author, Michael A. Morgan.
Placed online May 15.1999 | Updated: July 27, 1999
© 1999 B.J. Smothers. All rights reserved.