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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
Leon and Mamie Morgan Life Sketch

Life history of Leon and Mamie Morgan compiled by their children

Leon B. Morgan was born at Neeley, Idaho (Power County) on April 16, 1902, the son of George William and Emily Baugh Morgan. He was the eldest of five boys and one girl. He had a happy, busy childhood in Neeley as he helped his father in the ranching business. He was especially proud of his pioneer heritage. His father, George William, was the first white child born in Power County, at Neeley, on December 24, 1881, after his parents and three other families moved there from Utah to start the settlement known as Neeley.

Mamie D. Richardson Morgan was born December 28, 1901 at (Star Valley) Fairview, Wyoming, the daughter of Levi and Erminnie Child Richardson. Her parents were also among the pioneers who settled Star Valley. She had four brothers and four sisters. She was raised in a home where there was a great deal of love and faith, a family that was always united in helping each other and everyone in the community. Her family moved to American Falls in 1919.

While a teenager Dad began his own farming operations; also he and his father leased a large tract of Indian land to raise wheat. Dad could drive 8 head of horses hooked to a wagon load of wheat as expertly and easily as men now drive a tractor. Hauling the grain to market was a long, hard trip with team and wagon. Sudden cloudbursts would sometimes make the roads slippery or wash them out completely. Winter blizzards often filled the roads so it was easier to travel over the fields.

It was on September 28, 1921 that Leon B. Morgan took his beautiful bride, Mamie Richardson to be married in the Logan Temple.

They soon began farming operations; while living on the reservation Dad helped organize a branch Sunday school at the Sunbeam School house. Dad was the Sunday School Superintendant's 1st Counselor. (Uncle Dick Morgan was S.S. Supt.) Meetings were attended by families from all over the valley, then all would meet afterwards at a different house each week for dinner. All the neighbors were a very close knit group and met together often socially, or to help each other during tragedy or disaster, to celebrate happy occasions or to exchange labor during busy seasons. One night while going home, a light snowstorm turned to a howling blizzard; it was impossible to see the road so they tried the reins to the sleigh and let the horses find their way home.

The folks bought a cattle ranch and farm at Sunbeam Creek, near American Falls. There we three older children went to the local country school. Dad was Chairman of the School Board and he insisted on the finest education possible for all the students in the valley. In fact, when each one later left this little school and went into "Town School" they would be at least a year ahead of most of the town students. Under his supervision, a fine library was established at the school, enjoyed by all the community, especially the students. He would hire only the very best teachers, one who loved and understood children. The first requirement the teacher had to have was to be able and willing to give music lessons to any child who desired to learn music. The country school house was a vital part of the Sunbeam community - church services there on Sunday, during the week, teachers who were dedicated to teaching the three 'R's; patriotism and music influenced the students. These teachers were the kind also who would join in a snowball fight or ball game during recess or go sleigh-riding with all the students at noon.

Sometimes the snowdrifts would be so deep that the only way to get to school was by horseback or sleigh. Since we lived at the end of the valley, Dad fixed a covered sleigh, with a wood heater inside. As we proceeded to school, he would stop all along the way to pick up every student. Oh what fun it was to climb inside that warm, cozy sleigh on a frosty morning. If the sun was shining, the kids usually hooky-bobbed behind on sleds or skiis. Mother took her turn driving if Dad was busy with something else.

I remember one time when Bill had a leading part in a school play; it was winter but not enough snow for a sleigh - terribly muddy so travel by car was impossible. Mother hiked all the way to town that day in the mud to see his play. We, their children, will always remember the love, sacrifice, devotion and example of our very special parents.

Whenever any machinery broke down, Dad called the boys to come and fix it, with his supervision. By the time Bill was two years old he was taking the wheels off the toy trucks and wagons and greasing them. Self-reliance and independence were stressed. Mother and I were "Best Friends" all through the years. She allowed me to make cakes and other cooking from the time I could stand on a chair and hold a spoon. We always did dishes together and visited about the day's events, or she would tell a story. Dish-washing, ironing, etc. have never been dreaded tasks for me, because of her early influence as we did things together. We would get up at daylight to pick peas or other garden produce, then go to my playhouse to get it ready, sometimes even taking time for a play-dinner, then to "her house" to finish the canning or whatever project was being done. We children were always treated with dignity and love. We were taught to mind, and to respect our parents.

When we lived out on the ranch too far to go to church, we held our own Primary and Sunday School. My earliest recollection of the scriptures are of Mother reading favorite stories from the Bible and Dad telling us of an early civilization that existed on this continent. I can remember one afternoon when my brothers and I went out on the hillside and were enacting the story of David and Goliath; another time Jonah and the whale as we were swimming in the creek. Also played "Pioneers" many times.

During the depression, we felt secure and comfortable, surrounded by cellars full of garden produce, lots of canned fruits, smoked hams and bacon in large barrels which the folks had "home-cured" and plenty of beefsteak. Mother and Dad never complained about "hard times" or insecurity. In fact, they bought our first piano about 1930 and there began a family tradition of music and fun. Mother gave me my first piano lessons and instilled in me a great love for music. Every night was "Family Night" at our place. Mother would play the piano, Dad the violin and each of us on different instruments. There was always a big bowl of polished crisp apples on the table, popcorn, and Mother's famous fudge. When winter winds would howl fiercely across the open fields, we were warm and snug around the fire playing our music, telling stories and having wonderful family fun.

The folks always raised big gardens which they loved to share with anyone who came to visit. I can remember winter nights when the snowdrifts were very deep and a neighbor needed help, Mother and Dad hitched up the horses and sled and were on their way. The sled would be loaded with warm quilts and heated bricks because twice the neighbor had to be taken in bitter weather to town to the hospital.

In those homesteading days, everyone worked but in our family it was fun. While clearing the 80 acres in front of the house, we pretended the tall sagebrush was a forest with mysterious trails to explore. The folks taught us how to tell sego lily bulbs from poison plants so we ate a lot of them while playing on the hillsides. We would cut brush all day, pile it into huge stacks ready to light after dark. Always there would be potatoes, apples, etc. cooking in the coals. No food can quite equal the flavor of a meal cooked this way. During the afternoon when the hot sun beat down, we would run down to the creek and all go swimming. Most fun of all was splashing water on the steep banks to make a slippery slide down into the water hole.

What fun it was hauling the last load of hay in from the field by moonlight, everyone singing or listening to the folks tell stories. Everything we did was a family project together. I can remember going with Dad to build a new fence line just before I started the 1st Grade. He taught me to count to 1,000 that day. That night I was so proud to count all the way to 1,000 again for Mother and the boys!!! Mother taught all of us how to write words and numbers, some arithmetic, spelling and reading before we ever started school.

Everything we did was a family project together. Somehow, we never thought of it as working hard; we were having too much fun just being together. One other big occasion each fall was going to the canyon to get out the winter's wood. The folks always prepared ahead. One winter was so cold and stormy that the folks went to town the day before Thanksgiving. That night after they arrived home, it began to snow and we didn't get to town for several months until Easter!! But, you know, Santa Claus found our place and left all kinds of treasures. It was a wonderful winter, in our memories. One cold winter, farmers all over the valley lost most of the cattle in the bitter weather. It was a heartbreaking experience for ranchers, but never once did we hear the folks complain.

We moved closer to town after Jack was born in 1934. Dad loved to hear him sing; Jack could sing most of the Christmas songs and many others when he was just over one year old. The folks always encouraged us in our music. In fact, they stressed that we try to accomplish something worthwhile every day and make the world a better place for having been a part of it. When I was about 10, I had a terrible nosebleed that lasted nearly 2 days and nights without stopping. The roads were closed from a bad blizzard and no way to get help. Dad was down with pneumonia, Jack was just a baby. Mother could see I was getting weaker so in late afternoon she saddled up a horse, rode to town in a bad blizzard to find a doctor and get medicine for me. Hours passed before she returned the next forenoon; the medicine she brought soon stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

During this time we belonged to the American Falls Ward; Mother taught Sunday School and M.I.A. She was also a counselor in Primary and dearly loved by everyone for her sweet, inspiring influence. The rest of us served as teachers, organist, etc. and had many wonderful experiences. It was hard for me to leave home in 1941 to go to college and I went home often for weekends. Lonnie was born January 11, 1943 so I found a job in American Falls and went home to live and enjoy a new baby brother.

The folks moved to Salmon in 1944 and bought a cattle Ranch at Baker. Here the family was active in the Baker LDS Ward; again Mother was organist. After a year there they moved back to Power County, but in 1947 bought another cattle ranch and moved back to Salmon. They accumulated a beautiful herd of white faced Herfords; also helped each one of their 5 children get a start in raising cattle. The boys tell many exciting stories of riding the range and camping out at "12-Mile". Our family was growing; the 3 older ones married but all living within a few miles of the folks so we often enjoyed our music and activities together. Soon grandchildren arrived and they eagerly looked forward to spending time with Grandma and Grandpa Morgan, especially wanting to stay all night. What a treat!! All were kept busy with their farms, business, church activities and families.

Dad began having serious heart attacks about 1950. Each time the doctors said he couldn't possibly live through another one. But every time his faith, courage, determination and prayers of his family would bring him through. In a few days or weeks he would be out on the tractor ready to go again.

In 1956 they moved to Nampa, Idaho, hoping the lower altitude and warmer climate would improve his health. He and Mother kept busy with their 40 acres at Nampa and cattle ranch at Garden Valley. Mother also worked nights at J.R. Simplot for several years. In 1963 Lonnie was called to serve a mission in Germany and went on to college and marriage when he returned. In spite of health problems, Mother and Dad kept on running the farm. When hay-hauling time came, children and grand-children would be there to pitch in and help. Mother always had an abundance of food waiting for hungry hay haulers

To date, there are five children, twenty-five grand-children and five great-grand-children. Six grand-children have been married so far; all five children and these six grandchildren have been married in the Temple, a goal which was set for all of us years ago by our wonderful, inspiring parents. Through their example we have learned the true meaning of love and devotion; to earn our way in the world, to help each other, to be loyal and devoted to one another and to live the Gospel in every way we can. Dad passed away August 16, 1971 at Nampa, Idaho. He had been hospitalized 6 months after a broken hip.

Compiled by La Dera Blake - August 1971