Samuel Morgan, 1669-1734
I thought that Samuel Morgan, my 5th great-grandfather would be fairly easy to track down, since he was born, lived and died in the same place--Groton, New London County, Connecticut. (Groton was part of the town of New London until 1705).
This map, from 1766, shows Groton’s location on the bank of Long Island Sound where the Thames River empties into the Sound. The town name is hard to see here, but it lies just north of the long pink island. The title of the map is “To the Right Honorable, the Earl of Shelbourne, His Majesty’s principal Secretary of State for the Southern Department. This plan of the colony of Connecticut in North-America.” Map is from the Library of Congress, Geography and Maps Division.
To further boost my optimism, Groton was one of those Puritan communities where the busy-body government/church/courts triumvirate kept records and kept everyone in line.The Averys and the Morgans were important families on the coast of Connecticut, and have a multitude of descendants tracing their lives.
It was those descendants that proved to be the most helpful in unraveling Samuel’s life. A more thorough search would include traveling to Connecticut and searching through libraries and courthouse records. Some questions will just have to remain unanswered for the time being.
Why Not Get Married, Old Man?
Alas, the more I looked at Samuel’s life, the more questions remained unanswered.For instance, why did he not marry until the ripe old age of 39?
Samuel Morgan (one of many, many Samuels in the Morgan family), was second-oldest of Capt. John Morgan’s fifteen children with two wives. Samuel’s mother, Rachael Dymond gave birth to a total of eight children before she died in 1689. His father remarried to widow Elizabeth Jones Williams. Samuel saw seven half-siblings born before his own marriage in 1708. He was sixteen years older than his 23-year-old bride, Hanna Avery. Mystery: Why did Samuel wait so long to marry? Why did he choose a much younger bride? Was he living at home all that time, working with his father? Doing what?
After his birth, the next fact documented in Samuel’s young life is his baptism on December 28, 1681 along with his older brother John and his baby brother James who had been born in 1680. Why, in this religion that called for infant baptism, were Samuel and John not baptized until they were twelve and fourteen years old?
As I read various histories of the the area in which Samuel grew up, and histories of particular family names, I pick up clues as to what his life might have been like. The book, “New London County, Connecticut with Biographical Sketches” (1882) gives extensive descriptions of court cases. Those tell us what people were expected to do and what offenses were serious enough to haul the offender into court.
Citizens were expected to attend church at the Meeting House on Sundays and to refrain from commercial activities on that day. Single men were expected to live with a family or with their wife. (So we know that Samuel was not off living on his own between his teens and his marriage at 39.) Courtship was serious business and a man could not solicit the affections of a woman unless he had declared his intentions to her family and friends.
I had to laugh at the spectacle of a young man being hauled into court for “sitting under an apple tree with [a young woman] on the Lord’s Day in [her father’s] orchard.” So the song should go, “Don’t sit under the apple tree.” Period.
Towns had responsibilities, too. For instance in 1674, the court chastised New London for not providing “an English school.” I wonder if they got the school going in time to help Samuel and his many siblings?
The Averys and the Morgans
On March 24, 1685, Samuel married Hannah Avery. Marriages between the two families were common. His cousins (children of his uncle James Morgan) included three Morgan men who married three daughters of James Avery. The Morgans, as we know, came over from Wales. Hannah’s Avery family came from England.
Thanks to the flare up of interest in history and genealogy at the time of the transition from 19th to 20th century, I have many books to consult regarding the histories of these two families, and have been able to trace both of them, as well as Hannah’s mother’s family back to the pioneers in America–my 8th and 9th great-grandparents.
Descendants of the Averys and Morgans, justly proud of their accomplishments, erected a monument in the Avery-Morgan cemetery commemorating the pioneers. James Avery and his father arrived about 1642 and the James Morgan, one of three Morgan brothers to immigrate to various places in America came to Connecticut about 1655. Both men named James gravitated to the settlement then known as Pequot that later became New London. (The county was not organized until 1666). The seaport presented a familiar landscape to these settlers from the coast of England and Wales and promised future wealth with its safe harbor for shipping, abundant oystering, and rich farmland inland.
The Family of Samuel and Hannah
Although he got a late start as a father, Samuel and his young wife produced six children, all of whom lived to adulthood.
- 9 Mar 1710, Samuel (M. Abigail Heath, died in Preston.)
- 17 Apr 1712, Elijah (M. Eunice Williams on 13 Nov 1735)
- 13, Feb. 1713/14, Hannah
- 6 Jul, 1715, Abijah (sometimes spelled Obijah) Listed in French and Indian War rolls in 1758 and 1762, although he is listed as a deserter in 1758.)
- 9 Mar (or May) 1717, Lucy
- 1723, Timothy (M. Deborah Leeds and died 13 Oct 1795. My Fourth Great Grandfather.)
As I mentioned in my previous post on Timothy, some sources list two other children, but no one gives any details about them, and I have concluded that Experience and Theophilus, probably were entered as Samuel’s children by mistake. There are other Morgans of those names. Samuel’s probable will gives the best clue to their non-existence.
Samuel died in 1734. Although some sources say May 31, 1734, one source says the probate inventory was dated May 31, 1734. Since that inventory has apparently disappeared, and I have found no other record, I’ll settle for just 1734 as the death date.
The carefully researched “The Groton Avery Clan” (1912) contains details of legal papers that show that Samuel might have written a will that included all of his children. The other interpretation would be that an inventory divided his accumulated lands equally among his children. This information comes from indirect information, given in bits and pieces of legal findings quoted in the book.
Apr 18 1734, Samuel Morgan deeded land to his brother Elijah.
Jan. 25, 1739-40, Abijah, Hannah and Lucy deeded to their brothers Samuel and Elijah land inherited from their father.
Jan 21, 1744, Timothy Morgan of Groton deeded to brothers Samuel and Elijah land that had belonged to his father Samuel.
I could speculate all day on why four siblings decided to consolidate their father’s land in the hands of two brothers. Particularly several years after one of those brothers had given land to the other one. I am left with those mysteries and several others. How much land did Samuel own? Was it farmland? Or did he have some other main occupation?
Until some of those history books I’ve been reading unveil something new, I’ll just have to wonder about Samuel Morgan.
How I am 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, who is the son of
- Jesse Morgan, who is the son of
- Timothy Morgan, who is the son of
- Samuel Morgan.
Notes on Research
Connecticut Town Birth Records, pre-1870 (Barbour Collection), (Samuel Morgan, parents John and Rachael.) From Amazon.com
Connecticut, Church Record Abstracts, 1630-1920, (John, Samuel and James Morgan. Father John. Bap Dec. 28, 1681.) From Ancestry.com
Connecticut, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index,
CT 1635-1807 Misc. Records , accessed at Ancestry.com. 1790-1890. Ledyard Township, Samuel Morgan.Year 1727.
Connecticut, Marriage Index, 1620-1926, Groton, New London, Connecticut. (Samuell Morgan and Hannah Avery, 30 Dec 1708). Ancestry.com Film Number001306249 .
Find a Grave, (Samuel Morgan, Groton, New London, Connecticut). https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/62142298 accessed 4 April 2019.
The following books are available on line at archives.org
A History of James Morgan and his Descendants , by Nathaniel H. Morgan, (1869), Hartford: Case, Lockwood and Brainard. p. 25, 34.
The Groton Avery Clan by Elroy McKendree Avery, Catherine Hitchcock Tilden, 1912, Published by subscription. p. 128
New London County, Connecticut with Biographical Sketches of Many of its Pioneer and Prominent Men, compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd, Philadelphia: J. W. Laws & Co. 1882.