Tag Archives: Jesse Morgan

The Last Letter Grandma Mary Morgan Received

Perhaps my headline exaggerates just a bit. My great-great-grandmother probably did receive more letters in her lifetime. Heaven knows she handled hundreds of letters when she worked as a Postmaster at the Killbuck Post Office in the 1860s and 1870s. But to set the scene for this particularly life-changing last letter, let me take you back to Killbuck, Ohio, in October 1850 and remind you of Mary’s life up to then.

An old sewing basket

The sewing basket

Mary and Jesse’s Story Up To 1850

Mary Bassett traveled with her parents to Keene, Ohio from Keene New Hampshire, shortly after the founding of that little town near the Ohio Canal. When she arrived in 1826, at sixteen years old, she already had enough education that she shortly was teaching school–privately, at a neighboring farm.  She was only 19 when her mother died and Mary met and married the merchant Asahel Platt. Asahel came from a very religious family, perhaps even more religious than Mary’s father who descended from Pilgrims, and her mother, who came from the Puritan New England family of Stone.

Mary had brought a hand-made wooden chest with her from New Hampshire, and in it she kept precious hand-woven and embroidered cloths and clothing. She also kept important letters. (Fortunately for me, her daughter also kept the letters, and did HER daughter–my grandmother.)

Mary and Asahel had only one child, who died in infancy. They had moved to Killbuck in neighboring Holmes County, where Asahel opened a general store.  But their domestic life did not last long. Asahel died young, leaving Mary a widow at twenty-three years old.  Her father died the same year, and during the next few years, Mary returned to Coshocton County. Perhaps to save money, she moved into the home her parents left.

There she met Jesse Morgan, newly arrived from the state of New York. He was educated, lively, and must have seemed a good choice after the strait-laced family of her first husband.  They were married, and to lessen the burden on his new wife, Jesse farmed out his two oldest children–both boys.  One of the girls returned to New York, but one of the girls stayed in Killbuck, with Mary.  My great-great grandmother’s marriage had taken her back again to Killbuck.

I believe that Mary would have been happier to have Jesse be a teacher, but he was the restless sort who believed there was a fortune to be made somewhere. Jesse was determined to pursue that fortune.  Mary may not have been overjoyed by his frequent absences, but she surely adapted. He traveled through the mid-West buying and selling horses and sometimes land. He wrote to her frequently when he was “on the road,” and she stored his letters away, until this last letter.  They had a baby girl, Harriet (Hattie) Morgan who would be my great-grandmother, in addition to Malvinia, the daughter from Jesse’s first marriage.

The Last Letter Arrives

I can’t imagine the agony that ensued when Mary read this last letter. She apparently had never met the author, Solomon Frisbie, the husband of Jesse’s sister, Charlotte.

There Mary sits, in Killbuck, Ohio, with her 8-year-old daughter and Jesse’s 15-year-old daughter in the small town of Killbuck. She has not heard from her husband for many months, perhaps as much as a year. (The last letter to Mary from Jesse in the bundle she saved is dated September 1847.) Although she is accustomed to his being gone for long stretches of time and correspondence is slow, it has been long enough that she must be worrying.

Letter to Mary Morgan

Letter to Mary Morgan from Jesse Morgan’s brother-in-law. Oct.1850

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Madame: Haveing received a letter from Jesse Morgan when he was on the road to California, and never expecting to see him back again, and I takeing the New York Tribune a paper that is in Circulation in that Country I have watched with anxiety the Deaths that take place there, I find in the paper of Oct. 14 an account of his Death in a Skirmish between the Settlers and Officers respecting Land Titles.  He may have consiterable Property there and thinking you would want to look to it.  I therefore give you notice. I should [insert]if in your place [end insert] find out the circumstances by the Tribune.  If you should need assistance I would help you if you thought proper.  At any rate I should be glad to hear from you to know how he was Circumstanced there and why he went to California. please Write to us and oblig Your Brother and Sister.

Canaan Oct. 1850                                                      Solomon Frisbie

Now she learns that Jesse has been dead for a full two months before she knew his fate. The pain must have been terrible.

Did Mary know that Jesse had gone to California? What my mother knew of her story and the evidence of letters saved contains no hint that she knew. Surely if she had received any letters from Jesse during his trip to California, she would have kept them, since she kept so many other letters from the road. Mr. Frisbie’s letter would have been her first indication that this time the distance traveled by Jesse was far greater. But worse, he had been killed in a riot. The painful knowledge that this time he would not return from his wandering contained the blacker feeling of disgrace. Multiple shocks contained in one letter.

It would seem to me that she would have been shocked that the brother-in-law back in Pennsylvania knew that Jesse had set out for California (even written him a letter when he was “on the road”) but had not kept in touch with her. And it strikes me as very odd that Jesse’s sister and brother-in-law knew that he had married and lived in Holmes County, but did not know his wife’s name or what town he lived in. They probably were unaware that he had a child with Mary.

Delivering the Last Letter

Solomon Frisbie gets points for trying his best to find Jesse’s widow. He sent a letter to the Postmaster at Holmesville, obviously (and erroneously) assuming that Holmesville was the county seat of Holmes County. The population of Holmes County was sparse and I imagine it did not take long for this last letter to find its way to Mary Morgan.

 

Letter from Solomon Frisbie

Solomon Frisbie to .Postmasters of Holmes County, seeking the widow of Jesse Morgan. Oct. 1850

Dear Post Masters
Not haveing any one in the County to communicate with but recently haveing a Brother in Law there by the name of Jesse Morgan which went from there to California which I see by the New York Tribune Died in Sacramento City Aug. 14 and he leaveing a Wife there, in what Township I know not but wishing to convey the intelegance to her I take this way of doing it Hoping that you Sir, will take the trouble to send it from one to the other Placing your Names on from whence it went making a Circular till it gets to the Township where he belonged. In so doing you will Oblige his Brothers and Sisters remaining here. Jesse Morgan has formaly be a Merchant and Wool Carder (illegible word) Yours Respectfully, Canaan, Oct. 1850 Solomon Frisbie

Solomon Frisbie’s Letter

Besides the fact that he did not know exactly where his brother-in-law lived and did not know the name of Jesse’s wife, I am struck by  pessimism.  He clearly expected bad things to come to anyone who dared undertake the journey to California. And Solomon, who lived all his live in his corner of Pennsylvania, must have thought Jesse was a wild man. He definitely expected Jesse to die, and thus made it a point to get a newspaper that covered California news and diligently read the obituaries, ultimately ‘rewarded’ for his diligence. The other thing he has no idea about is what Jesse does for a living.  Jesse had not been a wool carder since he left Pennsylvania, many years before.

In Solomon’s letter to Mary (the anonymous widow), the brother-in-law assumes that Jesse surely must have accrued valuable property in California. (He may have considrable property there, and thinking you would want to look to it.)Perhaps, like so many others, he had fallen for the legends of riches just waiting for the taking. At any rate, he offers his assistance to the widow–perhaps hoping there would be enough to spread around, or perhaps as the husband of the sister closest in age to Jesse, just fulfilling his familial obligation.

How Will the Widow Survive?

In fact, Jesse had not been in Sacramento long enough to amass anything, and probably left Ohio with barely enough to survive the long trip.  Poor Mary at forty years old with an eight-year-old daughter was once again a widow, and this time left without financial support.

I know that she had a small inheritance from her first husband and was a prudent manager, as she invested in properties in Killbuck.But as she worked later in life as a seamstress, I have to believe that she was earning some money with her fine needlework. We found some samples of her work in the wooden chest with a hand written note by her daughter.

lace collar

Mary Bassett Morgan collar, stitched together with a cloth made by her mother.

Also, Mary did have the support of her Bassett sisters and Stone relatives in nearby Coshocton County. And unlike many widows who moved in with family or quickly remarried, she remained single and stayed in Killbuck with her daughter.  She must have loved Jessie even after what might look like betrayal from our vantage point.

Jessie Morgan: a Scoundrel or a Hero

The best evidence of that is the fact that no ill will against her husband remained in the family. My grandmother spoke of him almost admiringly as an adventurer who was ‘done wrong.’ Despite newspaper articles that accused the rioters of being unlawful troublemakers, within the family Jesse was seen as a hero to disenfranchised people seeking their rights against greedy landowners. My great-grandmother named her middle son William Morgan Stout, which she would certainly not done if she felt animosity toward her absent father.

And Jesse’s own children  used the Morgan name with their children, so they also apparently felt no ill will against him.

*You can read the details of Jesse’s untimely end in the post written by my brother about the well documented Squatter’s Riot in Sacramento. Jesse’s name even appears on a plaque. The squatters riot was covered widely in newspapers of the time, and also is described in history books. However, at the time, the squatters were reviled and nobody bothered to record where Jesse might have been buried. (One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s anarchist.)

 

More Information About Jesse and Mary’s Lives

I will return at a later date to Jesse’s trip to California with the 49ers and some further mysteries of his life and death, but a this point so much of that story is speculation that I prefer to move on to talk about some other ancestors with less vague histories.

The information in this story comes mainly from the letters, although it also contains my speculation based on family history and the deduction based on records of Mary’s and Jesse’s life and family heirlooms.

If you have not been following the story of Mary and Jesse, here is a guide to the stories of their lives.

Mary and Godey’s Lady’s Book

Postmaster Mrs. Mary Morgan

Seeking Security with Mr. Platt

The Jesse letters

Promises and Instructions 1843

Teaching and Land Speculation 1845

Canal and Lake Travel 1846

Buying land in Illinois 1847

Letter from nearby Wooster 1847

Traveling by Steamboat 1847

A Discouraged Jesse 1847

More About Jesse

Pennsylvania to Chautauqua New York1829

Letter From Ohio Lures Jesse 1835

Jesse’s Friend, Doc Woods

A Family of Achievers and Characters

Louise Morgan, born in October, 1833, was the third of my great-great-grandfather Jesse Morgan and his first wife Mary Pelton Morgan’s family– four children who lived past childhood.  Louise, also called Louisa, lived a mobile life. She moved around not just because she was the child of a wandering father, but because she was the wife of a preacher who relocated frequently.

To start at the beginning, Louise was born while Jesse and his first wife still lived in Chautauqua County, New York, the same place that her three siblings, older brothers Charles and Carlos and younger sister, Malvina were born.  And with her parents and siblings, she moved to  Ohio at a young age.  At four years of age, Louise and the Morgan family moved to the small village of Killbuck, Ohio.

Louise’s mother died the following year and I have not found a clear record of where she lived before her father married my great-great-grandmother, Mary Bassett Platt Morgan.  Jesse and Mary Bassett Platt Morgan continued to live in Killbuck, but older brother Charles went to New York to live with his mother’s family and Carlos may have moved in with relatives as well.  We only know that in 1850, younger sister Malvina was living with Mary Morgan  in Killbuck.

I did find an intriguing possible connection in the 1850 census of Westfield, Chautauqua, New York.  There is a Loiza Morgan living with a Dr. Carlton Jones.

Louise Morgan

“Loiza” Morgan, 16 with Dr. Carlton Jones family. 1850 census Westfield NY

Since Louise or Louisa Morgan is not an uncommon name, why do I think this matches, despite the lack of details? Well, the census locates her in Westfield, her birthplace, near the place her parents had spent many years. When Louise’s mother died, Jesse was not prepared to take care of a toddler so she might have gone back to New York State. I’m just betting that Luisa, the wife of Dr. Carlton Jones, is a cousin of Jesse’s, or that they lived in close proximity to the Morgan family, but I have not proven that. Another possibility would have her serving as a maid in the house, not unusual for 16-year-old girls at the time.

In 1855, a Louise Morgan is living alone in an apartment in Brooklyn New York. The birthplace is listed as Westchester rather than Westfield, but that could very well be an error. This Louise has been living in Brooklyn for two years and works in dry goods. Again, I cannot be totally certain.

In 1860 I spot a Louise Morgan teaching school in Bloomington, Indiana and living with the family of the principal of the school.  This probably tracks with our Louise, since it places her in the state where she met her husband. She married Rev. Thomas Hopkins in Indiana in February 1861, and her first son is born in December of that year, also in Indiana.

Louise’s Family 1861 to 1909

While they lived in Indiana, besides the first son James (1861), Louise and Thomas have three more children–daughter Caroline/Carrie (1863)  and sons Edwin (1866) and Addison (1868). Between April 1868 and 1870, Thomas Hopkins moves his family to Piqua, Ohio.

In the next five years, Louisa gave birth to three more children, Thomas Jr. (1871), namesake Louise M.(1873), and Wilbur (1875).

In 1880, the Reverend moved his family to Xenia, Ohio, just 45 miles away from Piqua.

Before 1900, Rev. Thomas and Louisa moved to Denver. Four of their adult children still lived with them: Thomas, Carolyn, Addison and Louise. Carolyn and Louise were school teachers, Thomas was a doctor, and Addison an attorney. A promising group of offspring, indeed.

When Rev. Thomas died in 1901, Louisa continued to live in Denver.

Most of the children stayed together after their father died in 1901. They pursued a variety of lifestyles and occupations. As in most families, Louise had children who she could be proud of and others who must have been a continual source of worry. Mother Louise died in 1909 and was buried in Fairmount Cemetery in Denver.

Jesse Morgan’s Grandchildren–The Children of Louise Morgan Hopkins

The Doctor

One who surely inspired pride –oldest son James G. Hopkins became a physician. He practiced medicine in Iola, Kansas when he answered the 1900 census. James moved to Las Animas in eastern Colorado in 1910 and to nearby Eads, Colorado by 1920. He still lived in Eads in 1930, but the trail ends there. James never married, which no doubt concerned his mother.

The Carpenter

Edwin Kirkwood Hopkins, who married in 1896, followed a twisting path. He worked as a carpenter, a miner, and a minister in various places in Kansas and Colorado. He and his wife had five children, presenting Louise with her first grandchild in 1897.

Soon after his marriage, Edwin struck out for Clear Creek, Colorado seeking gold. Clear Creek would have been a typical rough mining town at that time. What a place to raise a young family! Edwin’s family was joined by his brother according to the 1900 census.Perhaps the most interesting, and certainly the least tethered member of the family, youngest brother, Wilbur Lewis Hopkins, worked and lived  with his brother in the gold mines.

The experience at the gold mining camp apparently wrought changes in Edwin’s life, as he made a startling career change. In 1910, we find him working as a minister in Sedgwick, Colorado. Mother Louisa surely would have been relieved to see her son leave the rough life of a gold miner for his father’s profession in the church. She could have died content that he was on the right path. But the path changed before long.

Edwin’s wife died before 1920,  and he went back to his earlier occupation of carpenter. A single father of five children, he now lived in Udall Kansas. In the 1930s and at least until 1940, Edwin lived with a daughter and her family in Garden, Kansas, working as a carpenter until he retired.

School Teacher Sisters

We might call Carrie Dixon Hopkins an  “old maid school teacher”, but sister Louise narrowly escaped the title when she married at almost 40. Both women lived with their parents in Denver at least through 1890. In 1891, Louise Morgan Hopkins attended the University of Denver. In 1892 (she would have been 19) the school’s catalogue lists her as a second year student. According to a year book from the school where she taught, Caroline attended Cooper Academy.

By 1897, the family has moved to another residence in Denver, (Fillmore Street) and Louise is now a teacher.  They remain at the Fillmore Street address until 1902, after their father dies, when they move to 2710 East 12th Avenue. During that time, their brother Wilbur lives with them at various times. (See below). After nine years at the 12th Avenue address, the sisters move in 1911 to 1048 Milwaukee.  During their years of teaching, Caroline teaches math at West High School and Louise at Ashland School.

Louise married in late 1911 or early 1912, and Caroline probably lived alone until her death in 1929.  Her record in the City Directories picks up in 1913, the probable year after her sister’s marriage, living on Washington Street.  Poor Caroline can’t seem to settle down. She is in a different place in 1918, and yet another in 1919 when she lives at 933 Corona in Denver, still teaching. She moved to a yet another address in 1920, and stayed there for at least five years. Her final address seems to be 526 Steele, where she lived in 1925, 27 and 28.  Caroline is buried in the Fairmount Cemetery in Denver. She died in 1929.

A grave in the Denver Fairmont Cemetery lists Louise Hopkins Davis, B. 1873, D. 1918. It appears that Louise Morgan, daughter of Louis Morgan Hopkins, married late in life–probably about 1911, a couple of years after her mother died. She would have been nearing forty when she married and not yet fifty when she died in 1918. The same stone bears an inscription for a John Thomas Davis 1913-1922.  This must be Louise’s child, who unfortunately died at the age of nine, four years after his mother.

Mother Louise did not live to see Louise married, and I have no doubt that having two unmarried daughters was a source of worry, although she would have been glad to have them living in the same city during her lifetime.

The Surgeon

Thomas Mayes Hopkins became a physician, like his older brother James.  He practiced surgery, specializing in the throat. He was the most settled of all of Louisa’s children.

After Thomas’ marriage in 1904 in Salt Lake City, he settled in Denver where he stayed the rest of his life. Thomas not only had a distinguished career and a settled life, but he had the perfect little family of one boy and one girl.  His family buried him in Denver Fairmont Cemetery when he died in 1940. Mother Louise lived long enough to greet the little girl named after her as well as he new grandson William.

The Seeker of Gold

In 1900, Addison A. Hopkins still lived with his parents at the age of 32. However, he had become an attorney, which seemed to promise a settled life. While his father was alive, he lived with his parents and worked as an attorney in Denver (from at least 1895 through 1901).  His life record becomes puzzling after that. He seemed to wander in search of riches much like his grandfather, Jesse Morgan.

In 1910, the year after his mother died, we find Addison in Tucson Arizona, employed in a railroad shop. The census report says he is married, but the census lists no wife with him in the boarding house where he lives. And even more confusing, by the time of the next census in 1920, he is in Oregon,a widower working as a quartz miner. Obviously the man  inherited the wanderlust of his grandfather Jesse Morgan, Addison made a trip to Canada in 1929 and in 1930 the census lists him as a prospector for precious metals, living in Oroville, Washington, quite near the Canadian border. By 1935, he has moved to Talent, Oregon, another gold mining town. Although he’s been listed as single or a widower in the past, the 1940 census says he is divorced. Several marriages? Perhaps. Addison at seventy-one years old lived in Gold HIll,  Oregon, yet another gold mining community and that is the last we hear of him.

The Unsettled Son

But if you think Addison had an unusual life, take a look at the youngest son, Wilbur Hopkins. I am quite tempted to label him a free-loader.

As mentioned above, in 1900 Wilbur was counted living with his brother Edwin and also with his father.  The brothers Edwin and Wilbur were gold mining.  From 1895 to 1910, Wilbur lived with his parents or with sisters Caroline and Louise in Denver variously described as a miner or a student. In 1910 Wilbur apprenticed with a florist, a reputable job for the young brother of the two school teachers. But whatever he had been studying off and on, including flowers, fell by the wayside.

By 1917, according to his World War I draft card, and in 1920, according to the census, he lived and worked on a farm in Arapahoe, Colorado. Moving again, but still listing farm work as his occupation, in 1930 Wilbur lived with his brother, the surgeon Thomas Hopkins in Denver. Wilbur continued to live with Thomas and in 1940 reports that he is working as a handyman. Wilbur never married and never lived in a home–or even an apartment, of his own.

Surely this youngest son’s life would have caused much concern for his mother, Louise Morgan Hopkins, had she lived long enough to see him turn away from his abortive training as a florist.

Family Members Living Together

I had to make a table of locations, based on Denver City Directories to figure out where these people were in relationship to other members of their family.

In 1895, Louise Jr. was a student and she was living with Carrie, now a teacher and Addison a lawyer with their parents at 1243 South 14th Street.

From 1897 through 1901, the adult children Louise, Caroline/Carrie, Addison and Wilbur lived with their parents at 1135 Filmore Street in Denver.

In 1899, Wilbur was not at the Fillmore Street address, presumably mining with htis brother Edwin.

In 1902 and 1903, after the father died, Louise, Carrie, their mother and Wilbur live at 2710 E. 12th Street.

From 1904 through 1910, Wilbur lives with Carrie and Louise at 2710 E. 12th, but their mother is not listed in the Denver directory.

Summarizing Jesse Morgan’s Grandchildren–My First Cousins 2 x Removed.

So there are the children of Louise Morgan Hopkins–the grand-children of my great-great-grandfather, Jesse Morgan.  I tend to assign the wild streak in Wilbur and Addison to genes inherited from Jesse.  What would he have made of these grandchildren? And I can’t help wondering if my great-grandmother Mary Morgan met any of her step-grandchildren.

We met Jesse Morgan’s other children. Charles Morgan, a veteran of the Union army, had one daughter, Miranda (Leach) who in turn had two children. He also had six step-children although they were adults by the time he married his second wife, their mother. He followed his father, Jesse’s, footsteps moving to Illinois and finally to California.

Carlos Morgan also rambled westward. He married the beautiful Jane Warfield of Iowa. With her brothers family, they move to Bozeman Montana, where Carlos works as a tinner. To my knowledge, they had no children.

Malvina Morgan, the sibling closest in age to my great-grandmother Hattie Morgan (Stout), lived a typical wife-and-mother life in New York and Ohio until her husband, Austin Grimes, died. Then the independent Malvina moved to Colorado Springs where she worked in a shop of some sort according to family tradition. Malvina and Austin had two daughters, Emma and Eva.

So, counting Louise‘s seven children, I am related to the families of ten grand-children of my great-great grandfather.  Hellooooooo? Anybody out there???

How I Am Related

  • Vera Marie Badertscher is the daughter of
  • Harriette Anderson Kaser, who is the daughter of
  • Vera Stout Anderson, who is the daughter of
  • Harriet Morgan Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Jesse Morgan, who is the father of 
  • Louise Morgan Hopkins

Notes on Research–To Come

Malvina Morgan: Two Lives

Of all four of Jesse Morgan’s children with his first wife, Malvina Morgan was closest in age to my great-grandmother, Harriet Morgan (Stout), her half-sister. She was probably also the closest emotionally to my great-great-grandmother, Mary Bassett Platt Morgan, her father’s second wife.

Malvina Morgan 1835-1917

I had high hopes of being able to flesh out the life story of Malvina, because my mother passed on family memories of Malvina. For instance, she said that Malvina owned a store in Colorado and that she came back to Ohio to visit her step-sister Hattie (Harriet Morgan Stout). It is possible that my mother even encountered Malvina on one of her visits to Harriet (Hattie) in Ohio, but mother would have been a very young girl.  It is more likely that mother’s beloved grandmother Hattie (Harriet Morgan Stout) talked to my mother about the Morgan siblings.

But the Colorado part of Malvina’s life that my mother knew about was the second chapter. The first chapter set in the East and the second chapter set in the West. In the last half of her life she lived an independent life, far from the life of her childhood and the first chapter of her life, when she was a wife and mother.

Malvina’s Childhood

Malvina was born in Chautauqua County, New York in 1835, and would have been a toddler when her parents, Jesse and Mary Pelton Morgan moved to Ohio.  When Malvina was about three years old, her mother died.  I have no evidence of where Malvina lived as a very young child, but in 1838, her father married Mary Bassett, the widow of Asahel Platt, and they set up housekeeping in Killbuck, Ohio.

Two years later, in 1842, Jesse and Mary Bassett Morgan had a baby girl, Harriet (Hattie). Malvina was seven years old, and probably living in Killbuck with her father (when he was not ‘on the road’) and her step-mother.

In July, the 1850 census counted Malvina, now fifteen years old, living with Mary Morgan and the eight-year-old Harriet in Killbuck. The census report says the Malvina was in school that year. Although it was not common for girls to get education into their teens, it is not surprising that the well-educated former teacher, Mary, would ensure her step daughter went to school. In October of that year, Mary received word that Malvina’s father, Jesse, had been killed in Sacramento California in the month of August.

Chapter One: Malvina’s Married Life

In 1854, when Malvina was only 18 years old, she married 20-year-old Austin Grimes from Mina, Chautauqua County, New York.  Since her mother’s family still lived in Chautauqua County, I can only speculate that she met him while visiting family, or perhaps moved back there to live at some point.  The 1855 New York census shows Austin and Malvina living in Mina, next door to an Andrew Grimes, who was Austin’s older brother.  Later that year, Malvina gave birth to their first daughter, Eva.

Austin was working as a farmer and they continued to live in Chautauqua County, where their second daughter, Eva was born in 1858. The 1860 census shows the family in Ripley, New York, a town on Lake Erie and not far from their previous home in Mina.  By 1863, Austin (and probably the rest of the family) was living in Cornplanter, Pennsylvania and Austin had a new career in the oil fields.  His Civil War draft registration lists him as  “refiner”. However it also lists him as “single.”  Since the 1870 census lists the family together again, I can only assume the “single” is an error. The 1870 census again has Austin working in the oil fields in Cornplanter, this time as an “engineer.”  Emma (15) and Eva (12) are attending school, and the family has taken in two roomers to help make ends meet. One of those roomers is a 15-year-old nephew of Austin.

Austin clearly was interested in cashing in on the oil boom in Verango County, Pennsylvania, which started about 1860–the first major oil boom in the United States.  It becomes clear how important the petroleum industry was to that area when you look at some of the place names like Oil Creek, Petroleum Center and Pithole City.  The towns were rough and raw and the demand for labor must have been great for this farmer to suddenly turn into an oil refiner or engineer.  And by 1880, at the age of 46,he was a Fireman at an oil well.

If being a fireman on an oil well sounds dangerous–it was.  The job entailed removing dangerous gases building up in oil wells and putting out the sometimes explosive fires.

We know that in 1881 Austin Grimes died in Long Island, New York. The family had moved to Queens, New York, some time prior to the 1880 census. Whether it was an accident on the job or some other cause, he was just 47 years old when he died and left Malvina a widow at the age of 46. I was hoping to be able to find an obituary, or some confirmation of how he died, but it does seem probable that an accident on the oil fields caused his death.

Chapter II: Malvina Goes West as an Independent Woman

Because of the missing 1890 census reports, I do not know how long Malvina stayed in the east before moving to Colorado Springs, Colorado, but it turns out that mother was right–she lived in Colorado.  The Colorado Springs City Directories for 1900, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1910, 1912, 1914 and 1916 all list her. That means that all of the wandering Jesse Morgan’s four children from his first marriage followed in his footsteps and went west.  Carlos ended up in Montana, Charles in California, and Louise in Denver. Whether Malvina owned (or worked in) a gift shop as mother said, cannot be proven from the census reports or the City Directories, as no occupation is listed in any of them.

I did not spot any relatives near her at the addresses listed in Colorado Springs, although there are many Grimes’ in the Colorado Springs cemetery. Malvina moved at least four times, each time living in rented rooms.  She went from 837 W. Huerfano, to the Gough Hotel, spent at least one year at the YWCA in 1910 and then lived at the St. Charles Rooming House on South Tejon Street.  It seems to have been a lonely life, but perhaps she was able to travel frequently, since we know that she visited Mary Morgan in Killbuck Ohio more than once.

She outlived all three of her siblings and died in April 1917 in Colorado Springs.  She is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in that city, as Mrs. M. L. Grimes.

I have the feeling that one of the unidentified pictures in my great-grandmother’s photo album may be Malvina Morgan Grimes, but for now, I have only this sketchy information and my imagination.

I will tell the story of the fourth child of Jesse Morgan, Louisa Morgan, through the wanderings of her children.

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 (Hattie) Morgan Stout, who is the daughter of
  • Jessie Morgan and Mary Bassett Morgan.
  • Jessie Morgan with his first wife Mary Pelton is the father of
  • Malvina Morgan Grimes

Research Notes

Federal Census Reports: 1850, Killbuck, Holmes, Ohio; 1860, Ripley, Chautauqua, New York; 1870, Cornplanter, Venango, Pennsylvania; 1880, Queens, New York, New York; 1900, Colorado Springs, El Paso, Colorado

New York State Census: 1855, Mina, Chautauqua, New York (on line at Ancestry.com

James Morgan and his Descendants, North America, Family Histories, 1500-2000, Ancestry.com (on line)

Colorado Springs City Directories, U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989, Ancestry.com (on line)1900, 1902, 1904, 1905, 1910, 1912, 1914, 1916, Malvina Grimes, widow.

Find a Grave, M. L. Morgan, Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Civil War Registration, Austin Grimes, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Consolidated Lists of Civil War Draft Registration Records (Provost Marshal General’s Bureau; Consolidated Enrollment Lists, 1863-1865); Record Group: 110, Records of the Provost Marsha

New York, New York, Death Index, 1862-1948, Austin Grimes, 1881, Long Island City, New York