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John Benton Morgan (1802-1876) and
Mary Ann Nicholson (1806-1880)

1. JOHN BENTON MORGAN, was born in 1802[1] in Pickens County, South Carolina, and died 16 June 1876[2] in Langston, Jackson County, Alabama. He married MARY ANN NICHOLSON, born 1806 in Pickens County, South Carolina, died 9 September 1880[3], Langston, Jackson County, Alabama.

According to family lore, John B. Morgan and Mary Anne Nicholson came from Pickens County, South Carolina in a covered wagon in the eighteen thirties and settled in Wills Valley, DeKalb County, Alabama. They were accompanied by a family named Moody, and the two families settled close together[4].

DeKalb County was created by the Alabama legislature as one of three counties carved from the Cherokee cession of 1835, on January 9, 1835, just 11 days after the signing of the Treaty of New Echota. Many of the early white settlers were from South Carolina, and named the county in honor of Major General Baron DeKalb, who was killed in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War.

The parents of John Benton and Mary Ann have not been proven. Mary Ann Nicholson reported in the 1880 census that her father was born in Ireland, her mother in Virginia, and that she was born in South Carolina. There seems to be a close relationship between the Morgans and the descendants of William Evan Nicholson of Pendleton County, South Carolina, but his daughter Mary Ann married Barak Norton. One of the sons of William Evan Nicholson, William Richardson Nicholson, married Margaret Jane Adair, possibly related to the Alexander Adair who was in the John B. Morgan home in 1850. William Richardson Nicholson, a Methodist minister and father of five Methodist ministers, came to Wills Valley, DeKalb County, as early as 1834. One of his sons, Warren Nicholson, performed the marriages of three of John B. Morgan and Mary Ann Nicholson's descendants in Jackson County, even though he was in retirement at the time. A Benjamin Nicholson died before 1820 in Pendleton District, South Carolina, and children named in real estate records after the death of his presumed wife Hannah included a Mary Ann, but she was married to William Queen. One of Hannah's daughters, Lucinda, married Martin Moody, another daughter, Hannah, married Bennett Moody, further establishing a connection between these Nicholsons and the Morgan family.

Two John Morgan households were found in the 1840 DeKalb Census, on the same page of the census, indicating they lived in the same area. 1) John Morgan, three males 30-40, one male 50-60. 2) John Morgan, three males 20-30, one male 50-60; two females 20-30, one female 40-50, enumerated next to the B. Norton and W.R. Nicholson households. This first household had males the right age to be John B. Morgan (age 38), but there are no women. There are no young children in either household. Mary Ann Morgan and the children were not accounted for and have not been found in a search of the 1840 South Carolina and Alabama census.[5]

In the 1850 census, there are two John Morgan households again, on two consecutive pages. These John Morgan households could be the same two Morgan households found in the 1840 census: 1) John Morgan 49, Mary 43, Mary 18, Sarah C. 16, Nancy R. 14, John M. 12, James W. 11, Alexander Adair 11. This household closely matches the family of John B. Morgan. 2) John Morgan 64, Anna 59, John 32, Sarah 31, Jeremiah 27, Anna 23, Margaret 21, Margaret 20, Pinkney 17, William 7. Next to them is a household composed of Cynthia Morgan 26, Mary M. 6, Rebecca N. 5, and John M. 5.[6]

They were still residing in DeKalb County in 1860, enumerated in Division 2, Lebanon Post Office, the household consisting of John B. Morgan 59, Mary A. 54 and Nancy Obryant 22. John Morgan was a farmer. James Adkins Morgan was no longer in the home; he would have been 21 at the time. [7]

The Morgan family moved to Langston, Jackson County, about 1868, according to an early family history which has been repeated in several later publications. Langston is situated at the foot of Sand Mountain, which runs parallel to the Tennessee River, just over the mountain from DeKalb County. They appeared on the 1870 census: John B. Morgan 70, Mary A. 64, both born in SC, enumerated in the Parks Store P.O. Their son James A. Morgan was also in Jackson County, Dodsonville P.O., on the north of the Tennessee River, across the river from Langston.[8]

Note: The Dodsonville P.O. (north side of Tennessee River) and Coffee Settlement (south, across the river from Dodsonville) can be seen on an 1837 map of DeKalb and Jackson, Alabama, available from the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Search the map database here. Langston was established after the Civil War, near Coffeetown, and Coffeetown died after that.

They resided in Langston until their deaths, attending the Langston Methodist Church. They are buried in the Langston Cemetery, near the graves of their son James Adkins Morgan and his wife Ann Caver Morgan. There was an obituary for John B. Morgan in the Alabama Herald 22 June 1876, "Death of John B. Morgan: We regret to learn of the sudden death of our much respected old friend, John B. Morgan which occurred one day last week. Mr. M. retired at night in his usual health, after working all day, and next morning was found dead in his bed. He formerly resided in DeKalb and Cherokee Counties, but for several years prior to his death in Coffeytown Valley, in this County. He was in all relations of life, as husband, father, and friend, an extra ordinarily good man, and was beloved by all who knew him. He was about seventy-six years old; he had a fine constitution and almost uninterrupted good health. He was a consistent Christian, and was a member of the Methodist Church for near a half century. His aged widow and bereaved children and kindred have our sincere sympathy in their loss."

There was an obituary for Mary Morgan in the Scottsboro Citizen of 10 Sept 1880, "Mrs. Mary Morgan, favorably known by numerous friends and relatives in DeKalb and Jackson counties, died at 4 o'clock p.m. today in glorious triumph. She had been living with her son, Benj. F. Morgan, for several years. It may be truthfully said of mother Morgan that she has fought the good fight."

Children of John Benton Morgan and and Mary Ann Nicholson are:

  1. Benjamin Franklin Morgan, b. in South Carolina, 7 November 1828; d. in Langston, Jackson County, Alabama, 17 June, 1895; m. Lucinda Jenkins, White Plains, Calhoun County, Alabama, 4 April 1847, daughter of Reuben and Milly Jenkins of Greenville County, South Carolina
  2. Mary Jane Morgan, b. in South Carolina, 1832; d. in Cherokee County, Alabama, 1860; m. Edward T. Warren, DeKalb County, Alabama, 9 Oct 1851
  3. Sarah Caroline Morgan, b. in South Carolina, 1834; m. Samuel M. Ryan, DeKalb County, Alabama, 17 Jul 1851
  4. Nancy Rebecca Morgan, b. in South Carolina, 20 Jan 1836; d. in Reilly Springs, Hopkins County, Texas, 18 Nov 1918; m. William Duskin Sheffield, 26 Apr 1858, son of Nicholas Sheffield and Mary Martin
  5. John Malon Morgan, b. in Wills Valley, DeKalb County, Alabama, 10 Mar 1838; d. in Langston, Jackson County, Alabama, 20 Mar 1902; m. Margaret Snodgrass, Centre, Cherokee County, Alabama, 9 Sep 1858, b. 6 Jan 1840, d. 13 Apr 1903, daughter of James David Snodgrass and Abigail Dunlap;
  6. James Adkins Morgan

  1. Barbara Payne, "Benjamin Franklin Morgan and Jeff Davis Morgan Family Bible," e-mail message from (unknown address) to Cindy Smith, April 9, 2000. Barbara is great grandaughter of Benjamin. The bible appears to be Benjamin's, as it has his parents and children, but not siblings. It was passed to his son Jeff Davis Morgan, then to Kitty Lou Morgan, then to Bessie Spinks Satterfield, Barbara's aunt.
  2. James A. and Ann E. Morgan Family Record, four loose bible pages that were found in the Horace Benton and Mary Ophelia (Morgan) Holdridge family bible; in August 2000 the bible and loose pages were in the possession of Gene Holdridge, great grandson of James A. Morgan.
  3. James A. and Ann E. Morgan Family Record
  4. Letter from William Arthur Potter (Raymondville, Texas) to La Doris Morgan, January 8, 1949; photocopy in possession of Cindy Holdridge Smith (Starkville, MS). William Arthur Potter married Hattie Morgan, daughter of Thomas Warren Morgan and Lou Ella Holdridge. He wrote a Potter Family Genealogy for his family, and in 1948 sent some typed notes about the Holdridge and Morgan families to LaDoris Morgan, his niece. He writes in the letter that he obtained his information from family bibles, family records, tombstones, and talking with family members. La Doris Morgan Whitney photocopied these notes and letters and sent them to James Rector Holdridge in August 1986. They are a part of the research records I received after his death.
  5. John Morgan household, 1840 U.S. Census, DeKalb County, Alabama,, Inc., Provo, Utah, page 182, line 393, image 59
  6. John Morgan household, 1850 U.S. Census, DeKalb County, Alabama, unknown repository address, civil division 25, page 342b, line 30, dwelling 224, family 224, image online
  7. John B. Morgan household, 1860 U.S. Census, DeKalb County, Alabama,, Inc., Provo, Utah, Division 2, Lebanon, page 121, dwelling 211, family 216, image 125