For many years, as we worked on the morganclan.com website and production of the Thomas Morgan family history book (published
in 2005) I wanted to write a life history for my grandfather William Thomas Morgan. There are a number of reasons. First,
I knew him when I was very young (he died when I was 10 years old) because my dad (Kenneth Morgan) took me with him to Rexburg
to get loads of wood slabs which we delivered to William when he was living in a small trailer in his daughter Orlean's front
yard. Second, because my father had many characteristics in common with William, I have many characteristics in common with
both of them, and feel I know William better than anyone else still living. I am nearly 70 years old. I won't be around forever.
If I don't write this it won't get written. And third, because I have collected, scanned, archived, and published on the morganclan.com
website all the pictures of the William and Lovina Morgan family that I could find in six years of searching. I have literally
spent years working with visual images of William and his family and thnking about William and his life.
Much of William Morgan's early life history can be gleaned from the history of his father and mother, Thomas and Ann Morgan,
presented on this website. Here we will present the history of William and Lovina after they married.
There were two major factors that shaped the early life of William Morgan. The first was his own obedient nature. The second
was the compulsive pioneering of his father.
William Morgan was an obedient son. Neither rebellious nor angry, he is most accurately described as 'orthodox' in the sense
that he believed in following the rules and lived the way his parents wanted him to live. In his youth and throughout his
life he was dedicated to the LDS church. It was his nature to want to please people. He was shy around people and easily taken
advantage of by those who were willing to expliot his mild nature.
William's father, Thomas Morgan, continually pushed on to new frontiers from the time he arrived in Utah in 1855 until he
settled in Idaho in 1891. He was involved in the founding of at least seven communities in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Thomas
didn't move from one community to another. He moved to new, raw, frontier land and participated in the founding of a new community
where none had existed before. This meant the family lived in dugouts until log buildings could be built and then moved on
to repeat the process in a new place. Living quarters were primitive and crowded. Farm work (clearing land of trees and brush
and digging ditches to get water on the land) was brutal. And the process of building places to live must have seemed never
William Morgan was an English/American hybrid. His parents were farm laborers in England who had five children in England
(one of whom lived less than three months) and were about 34 years old before they left England in 1855. They brought the
four surviving children to America and William was the first child born in America. So William was raised on the frontier
in Utah by parents who were English by birth and with siblings who had been born in England.
The Thomas and Ann Morgan family was a deeply religious family, the parents having converted to Mormonism in England during
a period of religious fervor that saw large numbers of people convert to the Mormon church. This was more than just a conversion.
The church was bringing the converts to America so they could be sent to Utah to build a new Zion. So conversion also meant
saying goodby to England and their families there. For these converts, their faith in the church was the source of their sustaining
strength for the dangerous journey to America and the unknown frontier. Once in America the church remained important in their
lives but a new vista opened to them. These landless laborers from England could now obtain title to land through the homestead
act and own their own land.
On being a good person. This aspect of William Morgan's personality is a little difficult to describe. He was a good person,
but more than that, he was a person who wanted to be a good person. Not wanted to look good or make others think he was good.
He just wanted to be good. It came naturally to him. He wanted to do the right thing. He believed in his religion, even at
a young age when boys are often rebellious or distracted, and he followed the teachings of his religion all his life. He was
a remarkable man in this respect.
Perhaps His obedient and 'wanting to do the right thing' nature throws some light
on William Morgans marriage to Lovina Ross. William came from a deeply religious family and all our historical records indicate
that he was a deeply religious person. Lovina Ross came from a 'less religious' family headed by Melvin Ross who served time
in the Utah State Prison at one point in his life. Lovina had gotten pregnant at about age 14 by John Holden after her mother
died. And John Holden was killed in or near a local drinking establishment on or shortly after the day his and Lovina's illegitimate
baby was born. He was said to have been found dead on a pile of ashes behind the bar, perhaps poisoned, perhaps beaten. We
have no record of who killed Holden but in the rough and tumble days out west getting a young girl pregnant and then not marrying
her was sometimes justification for retribution by the girls family. So we must view the marriage of William Morgan and Lovina
Ross in light of their contradictory backgrounds.
Written accounts by William himself and verbal traditions passed down in the Morgan family say that William Morgan
was in the cow camps tending cattle in the hills when he had a dream in which Lovina's dead mother appeared to him and told
him that Lovina needed him. And so William married her. But, even obedient as he was, it must have been terribly difficult
for William to accept, trust and be comfortable with a woman who had violated some of his most deeply held beliefs. The Morgan
sons of William that I knew were deeply insecure, even puritanical, about their wives social behavior when it came to sex.
My father did not want my mother to dress so as to show anything above her elbows, above her ankles, or below her chin. Knowing
them I have often thought that it must have been sheer torture for William Morgan to marry Lovina Ross in her self created
To his credit William did marry Lovina and adopt her daughter Jane. And, while some among Lovina and William's children
may have shunned her at times, there is evidence that William treated her well and did his best for her. But there is also
evidence that William buried his violated moral feelings by working really hard and staying out in the fields and corrals
most of the time. Which suggests that William and Lovina's marriage was neither close nor loving, but rather was sustained
by the hard work and practical demands of life homesteading on the frontier. William may have been the first shy and obedient
Morgan man to be pressured into a marriage he would not have chosen for himself, but he was not the last. I have seen others.
After studying this 'just tolerable' style of marriage for years and reflecting on it for more years, I have arrived
at the personal opinion that the old timers in my family had perfected the 'withdraw, avoid and bury' technique of handling
personal feelings and marriage problems. They knew they had to stay married so they just dug in and gutted it out. Of course
they did not have access to our modern media with it's excellent instructions on how to handle marriage issues and they had
parents who didn't communicate nor teach their children to communicate. They were basically dysfunctional in their emotional
lives and it carried over into their practical lives and into their children's lives. The children and grandchildren of Kenneth
Morgan are rife with dysfunctional marriages and dysfunctional children even today. The same is true of the Finn Family from
which Mary Finn Morgan came. But then I have the advantage of hindsight, which is oh, so much better. And who is to say that
todays 'cut and run at the first sign of problems' marriages which leave so many children without one parent are any better?
And they weren't all of the old timers that dysfunctional. So what is the conclusion here? The conclusion is that they
were not nearly as happy and fulfilled as they could have been had they sought and found the depth and riches of a good marriage
and that they labored away until life was gone not realizing that, while work is important, life has a higher purpose than
The story did not end well for either Lovina or her daughter Jane. Jane went on to marry a man who fled the law after being
caught having sex with his own daughter, leaving Jane destitute. Lovina, after a life of brutal hard work, died of strychnine
poisoning, a horrible death.
After Lovina's death, William sold the farm at Neeley, Idaho and moved to the Shelton, Idaho area where most
of his family were living. He bought a farm in the Shelton area and put the rest of the money from his farm sale into a bank.
The bank went broke and he lost the money. But he was able to help his younger children get started and, in his waning years,
he moved into a trailer house in the front yard of his daughter Orlean's house. He was quiet and didn't say much in those
last years. But then that was the way he always was.
I have personally put more research, time, thought and meditation into the marriage and life of William Morgan and Lovina
Ross than into any other family on our rather large Morganclan website. I have struggled to understand them both. There is
an account by Al Morgan about how Lovina loved to have the young men working on the farm come in for meals. There are questions
about why she got the strychnine poison and it wasn't until after her death that William got sick from it. Questions that
make me uneasy. I have asked Heavenly Father to show me all the details of their lives. But He has not. So I have to conclude
that the mysteries of the human heart are deep and unfathomable. And that Heavenly Father sees nothing to be gained from revealing