Category Archives: Historic Events

The Changing of the Moon: A Slice of My Life

I tried a few weeks ago to explain to some young women (not children– but young enough not to remember the landing of men on the moon) what an incredibly mind-blowing event that was.

Like all the BIG THINGS that we look back on as life-altering, the landing on the moon was the latest in incremental steps that we had been watching all along. So at the time, we don’t fully realize how it would affect us.

But this was different. One month we were looking at the full moon and saying to our kids–there’s the man on the moon. We were thinking of the moon as a mystical and romantic symbol of lunacy and love. The next month we were looking at the moon and trying to grasp the reality that a human being had left footsteps across the surface. No matter how matter-of- fact and scientific and logical a person you were–a part of you still felt the gauzy charm of a full moon. An atavistic urge to howl–or swoon until 1969.

After July 20, 1969 you would never feel entirely the same when looking at the moon. That was the day three American men reached the moon, and two were privileged to walk on it. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took steps on the moon, while Mike Conrad made sure they’d have a ride home by manning the spacecraft.

That July, we were in San Diego on a summer jaunt to the beach, and our scheduled return was on July 20. We watched astronauts on the motel television set. On the way home, we had the car radio tuned to listen to reports, and when we got home, hurriedly unpacked the car and settled in front of the TV to watch the actual landing which happened at about 8:00 p.m. Arizona Time. (This picture of our boys watching TV is actually from a couple years earlier, but not much had changed in the mid-century modern house in Scottsdale, Arizona.)

Boys watch TV October 1966

We listened to Walter Cronkite breathlessly report each movement of the astronauts, the ship and the command center. We recorded the coverage of the moon landing for hours, including the historic phone call from President Nixon to the astronauts, but the tape ran out just before Neil Armstrong stepped out of the capsule to put take the first small step on the moon. We photographed the boys watching the TV, and the TV show itself. Those photos or Super Eight films are stored away in a box with hundreds of other old photos.

Here’s President Nixon’s conversation, now readily available on the Internet, as are all the other moments we had captured..or not.

 

How this event changed deep feelings inside us is hard to explain. The other thing that is hard to understand from the perspective of the 21st century is how we adored the astronauts. We did not have to have anything to do with the space program to feel a deep sense of pride. Those guys (and later we learned–gals, too) were part of our tribe. And they were the best of us. They were heroes. We knew their names, followed their lives the way people hang on the details of the romance of Harry and Meghan or the new Royal babies that pose on the steps of a palace.

Since we come from Ohio, we were particularly proud. Now Ohio was the home of not only eight Presidents, but also the First Man to Orbit the Earth–John Glenn. AND NOW, ladies and gentlemen–Ohio was also the home of the First Man to Step on the Moon–Neil Armstrong. The reflected glory was almost too much to bear.

Our kids played with miniature astronauts and Mattel’s Major Matt Mason and his miniature space stations and miniature moon rovers and wore t-shirts with astronaut pictures and drang Tang for breakfast and coveted astronaut ice cream. Stores sold astronaut pens that would write in any position, in case we became weightless while writing. The astronauts wore seatbelts, so we religiously buckled ours.

But all these effects of man’s landing on the moon pales beside the visceral change inside of us each time we look at the moon. The moon had changed. And so had we.

 

Search For My Ticket On The Mayflower

In the past when I have talked about the Pilgrims of Plymouth, I focused on William Bassett. You can read here about my Pilgrim ancestor who missed the first Thanksgiving. While most of those early Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower, another group left their homes and extended families behind and boarded The Speedwell, sailing at the same time as the Mayflower and destined to land in America at the same time.

But might I be related to Pilgrim leader William Brewster? That would be lovely. He was the Pilgrim father who left an inventory of several hundred books when he died. Not exactly my reading taste, but, still, a lover of books.

The Speedwell/Fortune Passengers

To continue William Bassett’s story, on August 15, 1620, the Speedwell, packed with expectant, excited, and probably fearful passengers set sail from Holland. That ship met the Mayflower at Southampton. After a stop at Plymouth, England, however, it became obvious that the Speedwell would not make it across the ocean. If the captain of the Speedwell had possessed a public address system, he would have announced to his passengers, “Due to mechanical difficulties, we are returning to base.” The Mayflower sailed on to fame and glory. The famous settlers landed in the wrong place–but Virginia, Cape Cod…it is all the same continent, isn’t it?

The Mayflower
The Mayflower in Plymouth Harbour. Painting by William Halsall, public domain.

My 9x great-grandfather, William Bassett had boarded the Speedwell and stoically (or not so stoically, as we was a young man) waited until the financiers of the company substituted the ship The Fortune. Another notable passenger on the Fortune–Jonathan Brewster, son of the Pilgrim’s spiritual father in Plymouth, William Brewster. No doubt the Brewster family felt deep frustration that their eldest son got stranded in England for a year. The Fortune landed in Plymouth Colony in 1621. The survivors of the first terrible winter expressed great joy to see this healthy younger people arrive after so many of the Mayflower passengers had died.

Despite the fact that the passengers on the Fortune had been delayed through none of their own doing–they had meant to arrive in 1620, they are second citizens in the ranks of “American royalty.” The Mayflower Society, an organization open only to descendants of those who arrived on the Mayflower, does not recognize those whose misfortune it was to sail on the Speedwell and arrive on The Fortune.

So William Bassett, an ancestor my mother’s family has always been very proud to claim, does not get us a ticket to the Mayflower descendants. (Since estimates say that 35 million Mayflower descendants live today, you cannot really say it is an exclusive group, can you?)

Connections to William Brewster

William Brewster
William Brewster portrayed by an actor at Plymouth Plantation. Wikimedia Commons.

I hope this introduction shows you how excited I was to discover the name BREWSTER woven in with the Morgan family I have been exploring. Researching Samuel Morgan, my 5th great-grandfather, yielded at least three connections to Jonathan Brewster, and therefore Mayflower passenger and book-lover, William Brewster.

The connections came to my family tree came through Capt. Jonathan Morgan, brother of my 5th great-grandfather, Samuel Morgan.

The Puritans of Connecticut

The Morgans, as we have seen, were Connecticut dwellers for many generations. But weren’t the Pilgrims from Massachusetts? Ahhh, not all. And not forever. The leaders of the Pilgrims realized that they needed to spread out and start new towns to accommodate their expected growth. They had explored the coast of Connecticut as early as 1631 when Governor Winslow personally visited and encouraged the establishment of a trading post at Windsor Connecticut (named for the Indian name Quonehtacut River).

William Brewster’s son, Jonathan Brewster, arriving on the Fortune in 1621, became a leader and one of the first settlers of Connecticut when he established a trading house at Brewster’s Neck, Pequot (later Groton). Other early settlers of the area were James Avery and James Morgan, both founders of families in my descent.

The Connections

Ruth Morgan Brewster

I first noticed that the niece of my 5th Great grandfather, Samuel Morgan (1669) married a Brewster.

  • Ruth Morgan was the daughter of Capt. John Morgan (1667). Capt. John Morgan was the brother of Samuel Morgan (1669).
  • Ruth married Jonathan Brewster (1694), great-grandson of Jonathan Brewster, the eldest son of Pilgrim leader William Brewster.

Unfortunately, first cousin six times removed does not get me a ticket on the Mayflower.

Ruth Shapley Morgan

Not only did Capt. John Morgan (1667) have a Brewster son-in-law, he also was married to a descendant of William Brewster. I would not have discovered this except for the many and detailed books that trace the descendants of every single passenger from the Mayflower–some that go on for a dozen generations.

  • Ruth Shapley married Capt. John Morgan (1667).
  • Her mother was Mary Picket Shapley, married to Benjamin Shapley.
  • Mary Pickett’s mother was Ruth Brewster Pickett, married first to Jon Pickett, who “dyed at sea on a voyage to Bermuda.”
  • Ruth Brewster was the daughter of Jonathan Brewster (1593), and
  • Ruth Brewster (Pickett) was Grand daughter to William Brewster, which means Ruth Shapley (Morgan) was 2 x great-grand daughter to Jonathan Brewster.

Ruth Shapley does not get me a ticket on the Mayflower, either, although she is a 3rd great-grand-daughter to William Brewster. Despite the fact that she is a s wife of my 6th great-uncle, our relationship is marital, not blood.

Hannah Brewster Morgan

Then I moved on to another Morgan tied to a Brewster.

Hannah Brewster (1641) married Capt. James Morgan (1643) the brother of my 6th great-grandfather, Capt. John Morgan (1645).

But Who is Hannah _______??

Most of the standard sources, like The Descendants of James Morgan of Groton, and the Brewster Genealogy 1566-1907, as well as all the various Mayflower descendant books, list only Hannah _________ as Capt. James Morgan’s second wife. James and his first wife, Mary Vine, had six children. When Mary died and he remarried, both James and Hannah_____ would have been fifty years old. James and Hannah had no children. They died within days of each other when they were in their mid 60s. The details proving that the Hannah_____referred to in most books is actually Hannah Brewster Starr (Morgan) comes in a painstakingly researched piece published in The Genealogist, 14 (2000): 118-28. We have David L. Greene to thank for digging out the truth.

  • Hannah Brewster Starr (1641) married Capt. James Morgan (1643) after her first husband, Samuel Starr, and James’ first wife, Mary Vine, died.
  • Hannah Brewster Starr Morgan was the daughter of Jonathan Brewster (1593) and
  • Hannah was the Grand daughter to William Brewster.
  • Notice that she was a sister to Ruth Brewster Pickett mentioned in the line of Ruth Shapley.

Obviously, if Ruth Shapley Morgan did not get me a ticket on the Mayflower, Hannah Brewster Starr Morgan also did not get me a ticket.

Peregrine White

I would be remiss not to at least mention my previously discovered tie to a Mayflower ancestor. Peregrine White, first child born to the Pilgrims after they reached America, married a daughter of William Bassett. But there we have it again–a marital relationship rather than a direct descent. No ticket.

Conclusion

I am not going to prove eligibility for the Mayflower Society by tracing a connection to the William Brewster family.

But in the process of searching, I greatly expanded my understanding of the Morgan line and their various branches. I also learned a great deal about the early history of Connecticut, as well as about the history of one of the most important Pilgrim settlers, William Brewster.

Some Sources for Pilgrim Research:

The Brewster Genealogy 1566-1907, Vol. I, and Vol II Pts 1 & 2, Emma C. Brewster Jones, New York: Grafton Press, 1854. Available at http://archives.org.

Mayflower Descendents and Their Marriages for Two Generations After the Landing, Including a Short History of the Church of the Pilgrim Founders of New England, Washington D.C.: Bureau of Military and Civic Achievement. John D. Landis, 1922. Available on line through the Hathi Trust.

History and Genealogy of the Mayflower planters and first Comers to ye old Colonies, Vol II, Leon Clark Hills, Washington D.C.: Hills Publishing Co. 1936-1941. Ancestry.com (membership). Also available free on line if your local library card admits you to the website Open Library. Also available for purchase in print or e-copies.

New London County Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneer and Prominent Men, Compiled by Hamilton Hurd, Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co. 1882. Available on line at archive.org

Mayflower Births and Deaths from the files of George Ernest Bowman, ed. by Susan E. Roser. 2 Volumes, Baltimore MD: Genealogical Publishing Co. Available at Ancestry.com (membership) and by search only (not entire text) at Hathi Trust.

A catalogue of the Names of First Puritan Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut, Royal R. Hineman, Hartford: Tiffany & Co.1846 Available on line at Hathi Trust.https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.l0072881345;view=1up;seq=11

Timothy Morgan

Timothy Morgan (1723-1795)

When I think about the Welsh Morgan family on my maternal line, I generally am thinking of the flashiest subject for stories, Jesse Morgan, the Forty-Niner. However, the Morgan family had been in American for several generations before black sheep Jesse. After my previous posts on Jesse Morgan, the elder, I decided to dig further back in that Morgan family to Timothy Morgan.

The Life of Timothy Morgan

Timothy Morgan, my 4th great-grandfather, and his wife Deborah Leeds spent their lives in Groton, New London County, Connecticut.

The grandfather of the younger Jesse, Timothy Morgan seems to have been a typical hard-working New England family man. Timothy and Deborah had a whopping eleven children, which guarantees that Deborah was also a hard-working New England woman.

Unfortunately, I have found few clues about Timothy’s life. I will be able to get a better feeling for how he lived when I read a detailed history of the town of Groton, the county of New London and/or the state of Connecticut. The larger events of the 18th century will shed life on the daily lives of my ancestors. But I am saving that history for earlier members of the family, since the Morgans spent many generations in Groton and the area.

Meanwhile, the good news: We have Timothy’s probate papers. Even better, they contain not only his will but an inventory and receipts signed by his children for the portions they received.

Timothy Morgan’s Parents and Family

But to begin at the beginning, Timothy was born to Samuel Morgan and Hannah Avery in 1723 in the seaport town of Groton Connecticut. When Timothy was born in 1723, he had three brothers, Samuel (1710), Elijah, born (1712), and Abijah/Obijah. Two girls balanced the family–Hannah, (1714) and Lucy (1717). Some records indicate two more children, Experience and Theophilus, however a search for them comes up blank.

Further, a book called “The Groton Avery Clan” (1912) lists land transactions between the siblings, and heophilus and Experience are not mentioned. “January 12 1744, Timothy Morgan of Groton deeded to Bros. Samuel and Elijah land that had belonged to his father Sam’l.” Other transactions name Abijah, Hannah and Lucy, for a total of six children of Samuel.

Because the Morgans, like many families in that age liked to repeat names from generation to generation, it is possible these two do not exist, and Timothy was Samuel and Hannah’s youngest child.

Timothy and Deborah’s Family

Timothy and Deborah Leeds married about 1747 or 1748. I have found no record, but assume the marriage took place in Groton. Timothy mentions nine of his descendants in the will. In the list below, you will find the two deaths that happened before he wrote the will. However, the couple turned out to be very fortunate in that they seem to have had no infant deaths.

  • 22 July 1749, Experience (M. Peleg Brown)
  • 1 Mar 1751, Deborah (M. Nathaniel Brown) [Note: I have not determined if Peleg is a brother to Nathaniel, whose parents have the interesting names Temperance and Comfort Brown!]
  • 8 Feb 1753, Timothy [Jr.] [Per James Morgan History. Moved West, probably died unmarried.]
  • 8 Sep 1754, Elizabeth (M. ____ Williams)
  • 2 Aug 1756, Daniel, [Died before father wrote will in January 1794, so Daniel died before he was 38 years old.]
  • 27 Jan 1758, Twins, Jesse [my 3x great-grandfather] and
  • David, [“removed west N.Y., no child probably” according to the James Morgan Family History. However, I have evidence that David had children, and we now know he was in touch with the family–at least to receive his inheritance.]
  • 12 Oct. 1759, Theophilus, (M. Mary Hinckly)
  •  12 May, 1763, Samuel,( m. Mary Holmes)
  • 27 May 1765, Aaron, d. Apr. 1786, at the age of twenty.
  • 26 July 1767, Hannah, (m. Daniel Parker.) [The James Morgan Family History hints at a tragic story of Hannah’s young death at a young age. However, we know that she lived long enough to sign the receipt for a distribution from her father’s will on 16 Dec 1796.]

As we later see from his will and inventory at death, Timothy seemed to be a small farmer, rather than having a profession that related to the sea. Since there are many coopers in the family, it would not surprise me to see that might have been his profession, but I see no solid evidence.

However he earned his living, his life centered around the first church of Groton that had been built in 1703. The Averys, a family name entwined with the Morgans, established the First Church, Congregational.

The Revolutionary War

The War of Revolution affected everything touching the lives of the Morgans. Economically, the seaport saw tough times both before and during the war because of disruptions of shipping. To some extent sailors compensated for the lag in trade by turning into privateers.

The city suffered personal losses, partially caused by the privateering. Groton included Fort Griswold, and in 1781, Benedict Arnold led British forces in what some called a massacre, killing or injuring a large percentage of the males in town. The battle would go down in history as the Battle of Groton Heights.

Personally, the family worried about Timothy’s twin sons, Jesse and David were nineteen, a prime age for service in the military. (See Jesse’s story). The older daughter’s husbands no doubt served in the militia, if not the official army. Supplies were short and Deborah would have to do a lot of making do.

The Morgan family lived through frightening times.

Time to Make a Last Will and Testament

By September, 1794, Timothy felt the weight of age and drew up a will. His brother Obijah had died in 1778 and his young son Aaron departed in 1786. Some time in 1793, twenty-year-old Aaron died. On January 6, 1794, Timothy Morgan signed his last will and testament and appointed two sons as executors.

And then in the worst blow of all, his wife, Deborah passed away nearly eight months after Timothy had written his will. Deborah’s tombstone bears the death date of August 22, 1794, and says she was 65 years old. If the complete record is in the probate file, Timothy did not update his will or enter codicils in the record. It was left to his son Theophilus to resolve the conflicts created in distribution of Timothy’s property.

Deborah Leeds Morgan
Tombstone of Deborah Leeds Morgan from Find A Grave. Posted by C. Cunkle.

The Will

After dispensing with the boiler plate language found in most 18th century wills about his present condition, committing his soul to God and paying all just debts, he proceeds to say,

Then I do give and bequeath unto my loving wife Deborah Morgan the improvement of one half of all my Real Estate During her Natural Life and Eight Cows, one yoak (sic) of oxen and one horse, twenty sheep and three hoggs (sic) and all my household Furniture to be at her Disposal forever.

The Children’s Shares

Timothy then proceeds to name his children and in each case indicate they are to be paid by his two sons Theophilus and Samuel. In a separate paper, Timothy designates these two sons as his executors. We learn from a separate entry that in November, after his father died, Samuel turned down the responsibility of being an executor. Although Samuel signed some papers as witness, Theophilus is left as sole administrator.

The papers in the probate packet include receipts from some, but not all of the children, and an interesting departure from son Jesse (my 4th great-grandfather). I have listed the named children and their bequests below. The second number indicates the amount contained in the receipt. Each child received an increase on distribution, presumably because their mother had died and Theophilus decided to divide her belongs rather than keep that amount for himself.

Timothy (Jr.),  £26; Received £40, Signed receipt “D. 1796”

Jesse, £32 *See next section.

David, £32; Received £40, Signed “23 D. 1795”

Experience, 15 shillings, Received ?? [No receipt in file for Experience and her husband Peleg Brown.

Deborah, 15 shillings, Received £13,8 s., She and her husband Nathaniel Brown signed “26 D. 1796”

Elizabeth, £2, Received £13, 8s.,  She and husband Samuel Williams signed “Sept. 26 1796.” [Unlike the others who lived in Groton, the Williams’ lived in Colchester.]

Hannah Parker, 10 shillings, Received £9. “Sept. 16, 1795.”

In addition to these seven children, Timothy gives to Theophilus and Samuel “all my Estate both real and Personal heretofore Not mentioned to be Equally Divided between them, to them their heirs and assigns forever.”

I find it interesting that there is no specific description of real property and buildings, which leaves us wondering how TImothy made a living.  The inventory shows that he owned 71 acres with buildings and appurtenances, which could be a small farm.  It also mentions two acres of Salt ____. The number of animals he owned do not point to a very productive farm–eight cows, a yoke of oxen, twenty or perhaps thirty sheep, one hors and 4 hogs.

His personal property indicates he was well dressed–8 linen shirts, one great coat and also two “close-bodied thick cloth coats” and a fur hat, as well as thick jackets.

I have puzzled over an entry for funds due that relate to each of his sons-in-law.  The four each owed him an identical £13, 11 s., 1p. (13 Pounds, 11 shillings and one pence).

The Jesse Morgan Acquittance

On the twenty-fifth of April, 1795, my 4x great-grandfather, gave back his bequest to his brother Theophilus. Apparently he borrowed £200 from Theophilus, to be secured by his share of their father’s estate. Note this is after the will was made, but before his father died, so there must have been some question about what the final amount of bequest would be.

The first paragraph says that Jesse is bound unto Theophilus Morgan …in the sum of two hundred pounds. However, the second paragraph says that Theophilus has paid Jesse forty pounds to be his full payment for relinquishing his rights. If I am translating the legal language correctly, it says that Jesse, immediately upon his father’s death, will give Theophilus all that he (Jesse) inherits, and that will end the obligation.  Otherwise he will owe Theophilus £200.

Jesse Morgan Sr. signature
Jesse Morgan Sr. signature 1795

If you read about Jesse’s attempt to get a government pension for service in the Revolution, you may remember that his lawyer pleaded that the poor old man needed the help of the government. Apparently, Jesse was already having financial difficulties.

Timothy’s Life Ends

Timothy lived another year after he signed his will with a rather feeble scrawl, dying on 13 October, 1795.

Timothy Morgan signature on will
Timothy Morgan signature on will 1794

How much wealth had Timothy Morgan accumulated to share with his nine surviving children? While there are many complex factors that make equivalents between Colonial money and today’s dollars shaky at best, most measures would say that the £40 pounds mentioned here is worth several thousand dollars.  Timothy’s total worth (according to inventory) added up to £364–not shabby at all.

How Am I Related?

  • Vera Marie (Kaser) Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette (Anderson) Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera (Stout) Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • Harriette (Morgan) Stout, who is the daughter of 
  • Jesse Morgan (1805), who is the son of
  • Jesse Morgan ( 1758), who is the son of
  • Timothy Morgan (1723).

    Notes on Research

    The bulk of the research for this article came from the probate packet for Timothy Morgan, Groton Connecticut.

    Connecticut, Wills and Probate Records, 1609-1999, Connecticut State Library (Hartford, Connecticut); Probate Place: Hartford, Connecticut, (1795), Case #2266, Timothy Morgan. Accessed through Ancestry.com

    United States Federal Census, 1790, New London, Connecticut,Timothy Morgan, Census Place: New London, Connecticut; Series: M637; Roll: 1; Page: 76; Image: 53; Family History Library Film: 0568141. Accessed through Ancestry.com

    Connecticut, Deaths and Burials Index, 1650-1934,FHL Film Number3336, Timothy Morgan, 13 Oct. 1795. Accessed through Ancestry.com

    James Morgan and his Descendants, accessed through Ancestry.com and archives.org.

    Find a Grave, Deborah Leeds Morgan https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/59052372/deborah-morgan,