The Morgan’s By Dr Warren Kump
The name Morgan is of Celtic/Welsh origin, although many members of the family, including ancestors of the American branch, had moved from Wales to the Bristol area of England by the late Sixteenth Century.
The Morgan Lineage of Julia (Comstock) Bobbitt
wife's name unknown
(1636- ? )
Samuel Morgan, Jr.
( ? - ? )
John Morgan, Jr.
(1747- ? )
Mary Amarilla Morgan
Julia Lucy Comstock
Francis M. Bobbitt
The first of the Morgan family to reach America was Bennett Morgan, who arrived at the Plymouth colony aboard the sailing vessel Fortune 2 on November 9, 1621, one year after the landing of the Mayflower. The Fortune was the first ship after the Mayflower to reach Plymouth. Whereas the Mayflower had brought 102 passengers to begin the colony, the Fortune brought only 35 more. Among the newcomers were Pilgrims Robert Cushman, John Adams and Jonathan Brewster, eldest son of Elder William Brewster, whose wife and two daughters had arrived with him previously on the Mayflower. 3 Bennett Morgan was accompanied by his son Robert Morgan, age 20, and Robert Hicks and his family. 2
Not all those at the colony were Pilgrims, indeed only 37 of the hundred or so who came over on the Mayflower were members of the founding religious body.4 The others were considered "strangers" and had been brought along because they possessed needed skills. Miles Standish was a professional soldier. John Alden was engaged as a cooper. Other workers were hired, and some Pilgrim families even brought servants.3 It is not clear whether Bennett Morgan and Robert Morgan were Pilgrims or "strangers".
FIGURE 209: This is a cutaway of a typical merchantman of the early 1600's. Both the Mayflower and the Fortune were constructed along similar lines.
The Pilgrims were pleased to have the new arrivals brought by the Fortune, but disappointed at their lack of foresight and preparation. The newcomers arrived without supplies or as much as a pot or pan among them. Some had discarded coats and other clothing before boarding at Plymouth in England and later had to be supplied from the ship's stores. Governor Bradford wrote, "Most of them were lusty young men, and many of them wild enough, who little considered whither or about what they went."
The Fortune stayed only a few weeks at the Plymouth colony, loading beaver furs and sawed lumber for sale in England. She never reached England, however, because on her return voyage she was captured at sea by a French cruiser and her cargo, valued at 500 pounds, seized. 3
Bennett Morgan was assigned some land at the colony in 1623, but there the record of him ceases. 5 Generalizations can be made, however, about early life at Plymouth. The typical house was one room built around a huge stone fireplace which served for both heating and cooking A bed, table, chair, pots, pans and pewter dishes constituted the furnishings.
The outsides of the simple houses were clapboarded with boards sawed in a saw-pit. The pilgrims never built log houses. At first the roofs were thatched, but so many caught fire that later houses were covered with split cedar shingles. The casement windows were constructed of small diamond-shaped panes of glass set in lead and brought intact from England. Many tried to farm the thin rocky New England soil, but the colonial economy soon came to depend not on farming, but on exports of fish, furs and lumber. Fishing became the great industry, and much of it was centered at a site about fifteen miles up the coast from Boston where three towns, Marblehead, Salem and Beverly, nestled about a cluster of small harbors. By 1634 one Marblehead merchant alone had eight fishing boats continually at work. In 1647 the one town of Marblehead sold 4000 pounds worth of fish. Salem became a center for cod and mackerel fishing. Soon thousands of men were employed in the industry, supplying fish to Europe and the Caribbean islands. 3
Robert Morgan (1601-1694)
Export of such quantities of fish required a staggering number of wooden barrels in which the fish could be preserved in salt and loaded aboard ships. Robert Morgan, who had arrived with his father aboard the Fortune in 1621, learned the trade of the cooper and plied his craft making barrels at Salem until he reached old age.
FIGURE 210: Robert Morgan was a cooper, making barrels at his shop in Salem. They were produced from the most available material: oak
He married Margaret Norman, and together they had one daughter and six sons, the foundation of a family which resided in the Salem/Marblehead/Beverly vicinity for at least five generations spanning more than a century. Robert was a member of a committee of founders of the First Church in Beverly. He died at Salem in 1694 at age 93. Margaret died at age 98.
FIGURE 211: The Salem/Marblehead/Beverly complex, 15 miles north of Boston. The Morgan’s lived in this vicinity for five generations.
Samuel Morgan (1636- ? )
Samuel Morgan was a son of Robert and Margaret (Norman) Morgan, born in 1636 at Salem. He was baptized at age 14 in 1650. On October 15, 1658, when he was 22 years old he married Elizabeth Dixey at Marblehead. She was four years his junior, bom in 1640, and the daughter of Captain William and Ann Dixey. Samuel and Elizabeth produced seven children, one of whom was Samuel Morgan, Jr.
Samuel Morgan, Jr. ( ? - ?
In his early adult life this younger Samuel Morgan witnessed the collective madness known as the Salem witchcraft trials. The trouble began in early 1692 when some adolescent girls, whether out of genuine hysteria or simply a desire to attract attention, began to show the classic symptoms of being bewitched. They writhed in torment, convulsed, and cried out that they were being pulled by invisible hands or burned or cut by unseen knives. They choked or were struck deaf or dumb.
It was believed by credulous parents and townspeople that the dramatic suffering of these teenagers was the work of the devil, probably through local witches who had made secret compacts with him. The ministers of the community assumed leadership roles in ferreting out these covert malefactors, listening intently to accusations by any man, woman or child with an unfounded suspicion or a score to settle. It was a marvelous opportunity to work off old grudges or to dispose of unpopular citizens. “Cotton” Mather, the most powerful minister in Massachusetts, stirred popular excitement to a frenzy with his fanatical belief in witchcraft.
FIGURE 212: Salem from the lookout on Witches Hill, where those executed for witchcraft were buried.
Courts were set up, and those accused were presumed to be guilty. There were juries, but they merely confirmed the verdicts of superstitious judges. Fifty-five men and women confessed to being witches. Nineteen were hanged. One man who refused to testify was pressed to death under stones which were gradually piled higher and higher until his chest collapsed. Finally Governor Phips ordered an end to the trials. The girls whose actions had begun the mass hysteria were discredited. Juries repented, accusers acknowledged their error, but nothing could bring back the dead. 3
At the end of that tumultuous year of accusations, trials and executions at Salem life returned to near normal. Samuel Morgan, Jr., married Sarah Herrick of Gloucester on December 22, 1692, at Beverly, Massachusetts. He never again witnessed anything so bizarre as the witchcraft scare, but he did serve as a sergeant in the French and Indian Wars. These were really a series of at least four wars pitting the French and their Indian allies in Canada against the British and their colonists. They continued intermittently for seventy years, but the two conflicts in the time of Samuel Morgan, Jr., were King William's War, 1690 to 1697, and Queen Anne's War, 1701 to 1713. 3
In civilian life Samuel worked as a weight checker at the seaport at Marblehead. This was long before the heyday of the Salem/Marblehead/Beverly trading complex, but already there was a lively export trade in fish, fur and lumber and imports of manufactured goods from England.
He and Sarah had a family of seven children, four boys and three girls. The first born was John, born September 30, 1693. Samuel, Jr., died while yet a comparatively young man in 1700 or 1702.
FIGURE 213: The harbor at Salem, Massachusetts. Fishing and overseas trade were thefoundations of the economy.
John Morgan (1693-1752)
John Morgan, son of Samuel, Jr., and Sarah (Herrick) Morgan, married Sarah Whittredge when he was about 25 years old. She was the daughter of Lieutenant Thomas and Charity (Livermore) Whittredge. From 1719 to 1731 Sarah gave birth to seven children, including a set of twins. There were three girls and four boys.
The most unique phase of the life of John Morgan was his service as a lieutenant at the siege of Louisbourg, the great French citadel commanding the entrance to the St. Lawrence River and French Canada. The conflict, known as King George's War, was the trans-Atlantic counterpart of a European struggle, the War of the Austrian Succession. Whereas the British had long coveted Canada for its rich fur trade, the New England colonists saw the French Canadians as a more immediate threat, a menacing rival of New England commerce and fisheries.
The colonists' assault on the supposedly impregnable Louisbourg was conducted with neither military nor financial support from England. Lieutenant John Morgan was among 4000 citizen-soldiers who embarked in the spring of 1745 with a fleet of merchant vessels laden with powder, shot and every cannon that could be scrounged up in New England. The colonial amateurs were aware that their armament was no match for the heavy guns of the French, so they optimistically brought along a supply of 42-pound cannonballs, almost twice too large for the caliber of their own heaviest ordnance, and which would be useful only if they could capture some of the huge French cannon. The strategy, as one observer remarked, was "like selling the skin of a bear before catching him."
The Americans landed at a bay just west of Louisbourg at the end of April. They laboriously floated their cannon and supplies ashore, then even more laboriously and without any draft animals, dragged them through a swamp toward high ground overlooking the fortress. Next they turned their attention to the enemy Grand Battery, a heavily armed outpost which the French had placed to provide a crossfire before Louisbourg in case of an attack from the sea by naval craft. The Grand Battery, vulnerable to land based attack, was captured by the colonists' forces and with it twenty of the huge cannon capable of firing the 42-pound balls which the hopeful amateurs had brought along!
FIGURE 214: The siege of Louisbourg, June, 1745.
Next the Americans occupied Lighthouse Point from which they could bombard the Island Battery, a second powerful French outpost. With its fall the fate of Louisbourg was sealed, and in late June, 1745, the French garrison surrendered.
The exultation of the proud colonists was soon dashed by the terms of the-peace conference which ended the war in Europe. The English, more interested in India than Nova Scotia, blithely traded Louisbourg back to the French for possession of Madras. The Americans were outraged that their blood and toil had been spent in vain. The incident was subsequently compounded by other provocations which eventually led to the Declaration of Independence a generation later. 6
John Morgan was 51 years old when he returned from Louisbourg. The youngest of his children was 14, the eldest, 26. John, Jr., was 24. Seven years after the Louisbourg siege John Morgan died. His wife Sarah died ten years later in 1762.
John Morgan, Jr. (1721-1792)
John Morgan, Jr., was born April 25, 1721, at Beverly, Massachusetts. He married Margaret Larcum December 25, 1745, a few months after his father's return from Louisbourg. Margaret had been born July 4, 1726, also at Beverly. They had one child, Cornelius, in 1747. Margaret died about sixteen months later on May 5, 1748. John married again, this time to Rebecca Coming on March 10, 1750. By Rebecca he had nine more children, three girls and six boys.
He was a "Minuteman" during the brief period of that citizen/soldier organization's existence. When the alarm went out on the eighteenth of April in '75 there were many more horsemen than Paul Revere spreading the word to every Middlesex, village and farm. Beverly was one of the villages, and it sent 122 Minutemen, including John Morgan, Jr., to battle the British as they retreated to Boston from Lexington and Concord. The Minutemen introduced a new tactic in warfare that day, firing from behind stone fences and trees rather than massing in the open and firing in volleys or charging with bayonets as the Europeans were accustomed to doing.
The British losses were 73 killed, 174 wounded and 26 missing, a total of 273 casualties out of about 1,800 troops. The Americans lost 49 killed, 41 wounded and 5 missing, a total of 95. It has been estimated that about 3700 Americans were engaged in the day's fighting at one time or another, though probably not more than half that number at any one time. 7
John Morgan, Jr., was 54 years old then. He had marched more than 25 miles to reach the site of the battle. He may have concluded that he had done his part, for there is no record of his further military service. His son Ebenezer, however, served in the revolutionary army and perished at age 19. John Morgan, Jr., died of cancer on September 7, 1792. 1
Cornelius Morgan (1747- ?
Cornelius Morgan, born January 23, 1747, at Beverly, Massachusetts, was the only child of John Morgan, Jr., by his first wife Margaret Larcum. He married Mehitable "Hilty" Preston at Beverly on May 2, 1769. The record of his marriage at Beverly is the last sign of him there after, five generations of his ancestors had lived in the Beverly/Salem/Marblehead vicinity for more than a century.
When next heard from he was living at Chester, New Hampshire, where he signed a document on April 12, 1776, a document which would have subjected him to a charge of treason had the colonies failed to gain their independence from England. Dated three months before the Declaration of Independence, it read as follows:
"We, the subscribers, do thereby solomly engage and promise that we will, to the utmost o our power, at the risque of our lives and fortunes, with arms, oppose the Hostile proceedings of the British Fleets and armies, against the United American Colonies. "
Fortunately for Cornelius Morgan the colonies did gain their independence, and he had no cause to regret his signature on that rash document. He can next be traced to the village of Littleton where his fourth child, William, was born in 1785, the first white child born in that place on what was then the western frontier. The territory to the west of Littleton had once been disputed by New Hampshire and New York, but in 1777 the settlers declared it to belong to neither. Instead it was to be the Independent Republic of New Connecticut. A few months later they changed the name to Vermont, still an independent republic. When Vermont's border with New Hampshire was settled at the Connecticut River, Littleton, Vermont, became Littleton, New Hampshire. The Republic of Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791. 8
The next year, on May 9, 1792, the youngest of Cornelius and Mehitable (Preston) Morgan's six children was born at Waterford, Vermont. They gave him his mother's family name: Preston C. Morgan.
Preston C. Morgan (1791-1877)
Preston Morgan married Sabrina Trescott at Waterford, Vermont, on October 19, 1817. She had been born December 14, 1791, the daughter of William and Clarissa "Polly" (Adams) Trescott. This marriage linked the Morgan line with the historic New England Adams family, although there was, of course, no direct lineage from the presidents or other prominent family members.
By 1838 Preston and Sabrina were living at Highgate, Vermont, approximately five miles from the US border with Canada and an equal distance from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. About 1850 they moved a hundred miles west to the vicinity of Colton, New York. There is a description of Preston and Sabrina Morgan, composed in the 1940's by a granddaughter. It reads in part:
FIGURE 215: Preston Morgan (Left) and Sabrina Trescott Morgan (Right).
"They lived by themselves on a small place near the village of Colton. I remember visiting them there. There was a bright little corner in their house where I used to play. The floors were spotless from much scrubbing. After Grandmother's death Grandfather lived with his son Sidney at Three Falls. He was tall and slender. At the last he had a shaking palsy. A picture of him shows him wearing a beard only under his chin. He wore a fur piece around his neck to protect him from the cold. He died May 1, 1878.
I do not remember my grandmother, Sabrina Trescott Morgan, very well. She seemed to have a mild even disposition. Her pictures show her to be a sweet faced woman with a big lace cap which covered her head completely and came down over her shoulder. Her eyes were always badly inflamed, so she wore a green shade to protect them from the light. She was very wrinkled, looked very old, although she was only 78 when she died October 20, 1869.
They are both buried at White Church Cemetery near Pierrepont, NY " 9
Family of Preston and Subrina (Trescott) Morgan
William P. Morgan
Solon C. Morgan
Lucy Ann Mitchel
Matilda H. Morgan
Betsey R Morgan
Silas D. Lamb
Sidney R Morgan
Mary A. Ahnstead
Mary A- Morgan
Mary Amarilla Morgan (1832-1867)
The youngest child of Preston and Sabrina Morgan was a daughter, Mary Amarilla Morgan, born September 4, 1832, near Colton and Pierrepont, New York, (the two villages were only four miles apart). On May 12, 1854, she married David Comstock at Pierrepont. She was twenty-one years old, he was twenty-two.
That same year, 1854, she left her family and New York State and moved west- ward to Wisconsin with her husband, his parents and several of his siblings. They settled on a farm near Ripon, and there Mary gave birth to her first child, a boy they named Stephen Preston Comstock. That little boy died at age two on September 10, 1857. On December 6, 1858, she bore a second child, Arthur Eugene Comstock. 10,11
As a descendant of the Morgan family, Mary continued a tradition established at Plymouth Colony, the Salem Trials and Lexington and Concord, a tradition of being on hand to witness historic events. The very year the family arrived at Ripon, Wisconsin, a group of townspeople met and formed a new political party, a party based on the sole issue of nonextension of slavery. One of Ripon's citizens, Mr. Alvan E. Bovay, suggested the name Republican. Opposition to slavery was so intense in the North that the new party became a power almost at once. Within a year the Republicans had elected eleven US senators and gained a plurality in the House of Representatives. In 1860 they elected the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln. 8
Meanwhile the urge to move ever westward continued, the American pioneers always in search of greater opportunity, of cheaper, richer farm land and of a greater share of the developing country. In 1858 11 Mary moved with her husband, her little son and her in-laws to Union Township, Floyd County, Iowa. It was a move of nearly three hundred miles, and it meant a permanent separation from the grave of her first-born child.
The new home was an eighty-acre farm on the Shell Rock River three miles southeast of the town of Marble Rock, Iowa. The house and most of the acreage lay on the west side of the river, whereas the town stood on the east bank. It was more than a decade after the family arrived before a substantial bridge was built across the river, and in the meantime they conducted what little business they had at the tiny hamlet of Aureola on the west bank about a half mile upstream from Marble Rock.
FIGURE 216: View of the Shell Rock River facing south toward the Comstock farm
There was scant business to be conducted, and few items were available for purchase, because hardly any money circulated in the community. The bulk of the population was made up of subsistence farmers who produced nearly everything they consumed. The only access to cash was at the grain markets at McGregor and Dubuque on the Mississippi. To reach these markets farmers had to ferry their grain and animals across the Shell Rock River, then negotiate more than a hundred miles of bad roads with team and loaded wagon before reaching the terminals where their products could be sold for cash and loaded aboard steamboats headed down river. Small wonder that the family enjoyed few creature comforts and found joy in the simplest of pleasures. 12
On December 26, 1860, Mary gave birth to a daughter they named Ella Amarilla Comstock. Another, Zera Rozella, was born April 14, 1863, but died February 25, 1866 while not yet three years old. A third daughter, Julia Lucy Comstock, was born June 16, 1865.
Mary's last baby, a little boy they named Leonard, was born June 27, 1867, but soon died. Then in a sequence all too common in Nineteenth Century rural America Mary developed a complication of childbirth, and on July 8, 1867, just eleven days after baby Leonard's birth, she also died. 10, 13 She was thirty-four years old. She left a young husband and three small children, Arthur, Ella and Julia.
Of all the Bobbitt ancestors the Morgan’s were the earliest to arrive in America, landing with the first ship after the Mayflower. Five generations lived at the Beverly/Salem/Marblehead vicinity just north of Boston, engaging in occupations related to fishing and overseas commerce. The family had an amazing propensity for witnessing historic events, being present for the Pilgrims' Plymouth Colony, the Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Siege of Louisbourg, the Battles of Lexington and Concord and the founding of the Republican Party.
Other branches of the family included an infamous English pirate, a powerful American financier, a dashing Confederate cavalryman and a Nobel Prize winner in genetics, but this branch was made up largely of spectators.
1. Most of the detailed information about the Morgan, Trescott and Adams families was supplied to Hazel Bobbitt Kump in 1967 by Minnie Blake Cunningham of 1032 1st St. S. W., Mason City, Iowa 50401. Mrs. Cunningham was a daughter of Ella Amarilla Comstock Blake. Regarding the source of the Morgan name, Mrs. Cunningham cites Cutter's Morgan Genealogy of Southern New York
2. Pope, Charles Henry, The Pioneers of Massachusetts, published by the author at Boston in 1900.
3. Wood, James Playsted, Colonial Massachusetts. Thomas Nelson, Inc.. New York. 1969
4. Rowse, A. L., "New England in the Earliest Days". American Heritage, Vol. X, August, 1959
5. Mrs. Minnie Cunningham cites The Yates Book, the Beverly, Massachusetts, vital records, The Morgan Genealogy in Essex Antiquarian, Vol X, p 180, The First Families of America and Pioneers of Massachusetts.
6. Downey, Fairfax, "Yankee Gunners at Louisbourg". American Heritage, Vol. VI. February, 1955. p. 50
7. Ward, Christopher, The War of the Revolution. The Macmillan Company, New York. 1952
8. The World Book Encyclopedia. Field Enterprises Educational Corporation, Chicago. 1969
9. Dictated by Alice Wood Higley and taken down by her daughter, Bertha Higley. Alice Higley was a daughter of Samuel and Clarissa Morgan Wood and a grand daughter of Preston and Sabrina Morgan. Quotation furnished to Hazel Bobbitt Kump by Minnie Blake Cunningham
10. Comstock, John Adams, A History and Genealogy of the Comstock Family in America. Commonwealth Press, Los Angeles. 1949
11. Obituary of William Comstock (1842-1930)
12. Carney, Arlene, and Reams, Nancy, Our Heritage. Marble Rock, Iowa. Graphic Publishing Company, Lake Mills, Iowa. 1976
13. In an undated letter to Hazel Bobbitt Kump, Minnie Blake Cunningham stated that her mother, Ella Comstock Blake, told her that her mother, Mary Amarilla Morgan Comstock, "died from after-effects of Leonard's birth." This is certainly compatible with the time sequence.