This ancestor caught my eye because of the passport application. Annie Morgan,lived life her own way, traveled to Europe when many of my ancestors never traveled out-of-state.
The Traveling Cousin
Anna Isabel Annie Morgan (1856-1948), second cousin two times removed.
This is the Morgan line of my traveling great-grandfather Jesse Morgan. Anna/Annie Morgan ‘s grandfather was George Morgan, brother of my 2x great-grandfather, Jesse Morgan. If you haven’t read Jesse’s story and his letters, I encourage you to put Jesse’s name in the search bar. He is the most interesting character by far of all my relatives. His letters to my great-great-grandmother were written while he was trading horses around the Midwest. Yep, that would be the one who left my 2x great grandmother behind when he went on the California gold rush without telling her, and got himself shot and killed on the streets in California.
But the inclination to wander perhaps spread throughout the Morgan family. I found a DNA match with a Morgan, and in trying to figure out if it was Jesse’s family, I checked out Jesse’s nieces and nephews. That led me to the interesting Anna or Annie as she was called.
Born in Indiana, she died in Los Angeles. And she may have never married. However her life was well documented, including a passport application in February 1922 when she was 65 years old.
I know from census records, a Morgan history, and the passport application that her father was Abel Leeds Morgan, son of George Morgan. Anna Isabel Morgan was born in Lexington Indiana and living there with her family in 1860 and 1870. Her brothers and sisters were Rosalie (Manasse) ( 1844- After 1915), Melvin (b. 1847), Fairfield (1849-1916), Adeline (Woods) (1851-bef. 1915), and Ada (Smith) (1856- bef. 1915)
The family’s father died in March 1880 and later that year when the census taker arrived, Annie Morgan, now 23 and once again listed as single, was living with her mother and grand-mother in Lexington.
Of course the 1890 census is not available. I also have not located her on the 1910 and 1920 census records. So at first I thought that the next time she surfaces, she is living in Chicago and preparing to take a tour of Europe in 1922.
I want to say thanks to a fellow user of Genealogy, Just Ask! on Facebook for explaining to me that looking at passport records can be confusing, because Ancestry shows the front page of the application on the right hand side of the page, and a picture of the previous person listed shows up on the left. I spent some time trying to understand how Annie could be a male before I got the hint that I needed to go to the next page’s image for the back of Annie’s application and her picture.
Confused yet? I surely was until someone straightened me out.
This definitely is the right Annie, because it has her father’s name, exact date of birth that corresponds with a death record, and the fact that she now lived in Chicago. (At this point I still didn’t know why she lived in Chicago anyhow.
So what did I learn besides the fact that by 1922 she had moved to Chicago? At 65 years old, she is still single, stands 5’8″ tall and has blue eyes and gray hair and fair complexion.
Two other important things stand out that are more puzzles than information.
- In her reasons for travel Annie Morgan listed going to France to visit family. Additionally she would be traveling to Switzerland, British Isles, Italy and Gibraltar–a wonderful Grand Tour.
Since the Morgans come from Wales, I am still curious as to what family was in France in 1922. And sadly, she seemed to have no close friends or relatives in Chicago. Her witness was her optometrist and she put down his address for her passport to be sent to. (Perhaps she was traveling to see family in the U.S. before leaving on her European tour and would not be in Chicago to receive the passport.) And incidentally, how could she afford a trip to Europe? Did she travel alone? It seems unlikely.
2. Why does she have the name of an optometrist in the witness section and an optometrist’ address for return of the passport? Did she have no friends?
Then in 1948, a death notice appears in California. According to the California record, Anna Isabel Morgan, daughter of Abel Leeds Morgan, died in Los Angles. Another puzzle. Why did she move to L.A.?
After I thought I was finished with this report on Annie Morgan, I decided to scan a couple of her siblings to see if I could pick up any more information. I hit gold.
Her brother Fairfield, an optometrist (AHA! that explains the witness and address for her passport), had moved to Chicago in 1868 according to the Cook County voter records. Because of his occupation, he was easy to find in city directories, and his listings helped me locate his sister Annie . Following this additional source–city directories–It turns out Annie Morgan did have an occupation after all. She was an elocutionist at the Chicago Conservatory as early as 1888. (An elocutionist teaches proper speech to public speakers and actors) And she did have family living in Chicago.
Note: Looking through newspaper articles with Anna Morgan in them, I found a bridal notice in a 1928 Chicago Newspaper saying the bride attended the Anna Morgan Studio of Dramatic Art. This surely is Annie Morgan, elocutionist. But then look what I found. The address matches that in the 1905 Chicago city directory–The Fine Arts Building, Chicago.
I found Fairfield Morgan’s will, filed in 1916. (He died on August 11, 1916). He had no wife, and outlived most of his siblings. His surviving older sister Rosalie Morgan Manasse, lived in Chicago in 1916, and he leaves her just $50. He did, however have two nieces, daughters of his deceased sisters Adeline and Ada. Both of them lived in Los Angeles when he wrote the will, and he left each of them a hefty $6,000. He also designated to “My sister Annie I. Morgan, now residing in Rockford Illinois all the rest and residue of my estate both real and personal.” Additionally, Annie was entrusted with the task of being executrix of the will.
Another Aha! So the aging Annie, European adventures behind her, moved to Los Angeles to be near her nieces, perhaps the only close relatives she had. Or perhaps, like my great-great grandfather, Jesse, her great-uncle, she just wanted one more adventure and set off for California..
As with Jesse Morgan, I have not answered all the questions about Annie Morgan, but I have found enough evidence to suggest she was a very interesting lady. I probably will return again and again to the Abel Leeds Morgan family because I am still intrigued with those questions. Perhaps more DNA matches will help put a broader picture in focus.