Sunday, November 21, 2010

William Sanford Morgan

William Sanford Morgan (1841-1920), also known as "Sanford Morgan" was born in Winterport Maine (then part of Frankfort) to Henry Gray Morgan and Harriet Holmes, both of Winterport.

In 1860, just before the outbreak of the Civil War, Winterport became its own town, annexed away from Frankfort.  William was 18 years old, and it's likely that he and his family were at the ceremony.

MARCH 12, 1860


On 14 January, 1862, he enlisted in the Civil War and listed his occupation at the time as a mariner.

William served as Coxswain on the USS KEARSARGE, which deported from Portsmouth Naval Yard on 5 February 1862 for the coast of Spain to join in the blockade of Confederate raiders. Captain John A. Winslow took command of the KEARSARGE on April 8, 1863, while she remained in European waters searching for raiders.

The Battle of Cherbourg
Arriving in Cherbourg, France on 14 June 1864, she found the Confederate Ship ALABAMA in port. On June 19, ALABAMA stood out of Cherbourg Harbor for her last action. Careful of French neutrality, KEARSARGE'S new commanding officer, Captain Winslow, took the ship well clear of territorial waters, and then turned to meet the Confederate cruiser. ALABAMA fired first but the battle quickly turned against her and within an hour the ALABAMA had been reduced to a sinking wreck and her Captain Raphael Semmes struck his colors and surrendered. KEARSARGE rescued the majority of the ALABAMA's survivors; but Captain Semmes and 41 others were picked up by a British yacht. Captain Winslow was promoted to Commodore and the New York Chamber of Commerce honored him, the KEARSARGE, and her crew, mainly men from New Hampshire, for their victory.

According to the book "The Alabama & the Kearsarge - The Sailor's Civil War ", by William Marvel, copyright 1996 UNC Press, William, among many other sailors, was over contracted, as in, his contract had expired some time before the Battle of Cherbourg occurred. 

Coincidentally, the ALABAMA also had a shipmate named William Morgan, who was a foretop captain from Liverpool.


USS KEARSARGE (some crew on aft deck)

The battle in Boulogne France between the USS KEARSARGE and the ALABAMA was apparently very dramatic, causing many spectators to watch from the sidelines.  Edouard Manet was inspired by the battle and painted his classic masterpieces "Kearsarge at Boulogne":

When he came back from the war, William moved to Portland Maine and worked as a mechanic, a stevedore (ship unloader), a pile driver, and later a night watchman.  In October of 1865, he married Emily N. Morrill, and they lived on Peaks Island briefly just after their marriage (but he would return to live on Peaks with his 2nd wife at the last 10 years of his life). 

(ca. 1890)

William & Emily had three daughters:

1. Hattie Emma Morgan, (1866-1927) my Grammy Clarke's mother, was born on Peaks Island in October of 1866.  She married James Downey and later married John Henry Temm.  Much more about Hattie can be read by clicking on her name here.

2. Adelaide A. Morgan (1869-1954) was married in July 1891 to George W. Simpson (1864-1912), just a few months prior to her mother's second marriage to Joseph G. Hall (who was a witness to Adelaide & George's wedding).  They had only one child, Emily Simpson-Pease (1897-1990).  About 10 years after George passed away, Adelaide married Presbury Luce Dennison (1865-1943).  Adelaide lived in Portland all her life.  She and her daughter Emily were well respected members of the Daughters of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Civil War Union Army membership group.

(ca. 1930)

On their wedding day, 29 Apr 1922


(with unknown boy)

(Daughter to Adelaide Morgan & George Simpson)

(Husband of Emily Simpson)

3. Abigail Louise Morgan (1873-1954) never married, but lived with her sister Adelaide, then later with her niece Emily Pease, in Portland.  She was affectionately known as "Aunt Lou".  She was a member of the "Daughters of Union Veterans".  During WWII she worked as a caterer for the local induction board.  She died in her home on 144 Washburn Avenue, about three months after her sister Adelaide had died.

(ca 1950)

Emily filed divorce against William on 19 May 1886, due to "gross and confirmed habits of intoxication".  The divorce became final on 12 Jan 1887, after the then customary six month waiting period.  Emily went to Chicago about five years later to marry her longtime Portland neighbor, Joseph G. Hall.  She died in 1900 of hemiplegia.  William moved to Brooklyn New York at some point in the 1890's.  In 1900, he remarried to Nellie Ashton Libby-Drake in Eastport Maine.  William & Nellie moved around a lot their first 10 years of marriage.  They lived on Front Street in South Portland, 9 Brattle Street, and in 1910 Nellie purchased 12 Merriam Street, where William spent his final years, and died there in 1920.  Nellie stayed on at Peaks until she died in March of 1928.  She had trouble receiving continued pension payments after his death.

Also, the book "The Alabama & the Kearsarge - The Sailor's Civil War", included a photograph from 1915 of all the Kearsarge survivors of Cherbourg. I wonder why William wasn't in the photograph, he didn't die until 1920. I wonder if he was too ill, or drunk, to bother, or if they tried to contact him.  In 1915, the survivors of the Kearsarge had a reunion, and twelve of them showed up.  I wonder why William wasn't there.  Was he invited?  Was he too drunk or ill to attend?

SOURCE:  The Alabama and the Kearsarge:  The Sailor's Civil War  by William Marvel, published 1996 by UNC Press

William had stayed briefly at Togus Hospital in 1917, below is his record, on which appears he had suffered a number of ailments.


William’s older brother Albert fought in the Civil War in Louisiana in 1863, as part of the 26th Maine Regiment.  After the War he moved to Chicago and worked as a typesetter.

William’s younger brother Horace also fought for the last year of the War, as he had just turned 17. 

A look at the enlistment cards and hospital records for the Morgan brothers reveals an interesting tidbit. All the brothers were 5’6” or under in height. Young Horace was only 5’3”.

Real Estate Records in Cumberland County, Maine:

-13 Feb 1873 - For $106.00, William bought and mortgaged his home on 8 Madison Street, in the East Bayside district of Portland, from Thomas McGinnis.  He had succeeded to the prior mortgages of others on this property at the same time.  A note on the deed declares that William satisfied the mortgage by December of 1877. 

-27 Dec 1877 - For $600.00, William sold off the Madison Street property to Nicholas Anderson of Scarborough.  Nice profit!

-27 Dec 1877 - For $600.00, William then bought some property on West Beech Ridge Road in Scarborough from Nicholas Anderson and his brother.  Looks like a land swap.  The land was described as "from the Jewett Farm to the Plains".  He moved in with his wife and three adolescent daughters.  I believe this is how his daughter Hattie (age 11 when she arrived in Scarborough) ended up meeting John Henry Temm. 

-13 Feb 1878 - For $312.00, William mortgaged the Scarborough property to George Beale of Chicago.  They must have hit some hard times in that winter. 

-10 Aug 1878 - George Beale discharged the mortgage.

-12 Sep 1878 - For $200.00, William did a 2nd mortgage on the Scarborough property, from his brother-in-law, Roger Rundlett, of Cambridge.  By the 1880 Census, William was renting property on Greenleaf Street, back in the old neighborhood of East Bayside Portland.

-6 July 1880 - Roger Rundlett discharged the 2nd mortgage.

-16 July 1880 - For $300.00,William did a 3rd mortgage on the Scarborough property to Ira Farrington of Portland

-7 May 1883 - For "$1.00 and other consideration", William sold the Scarborough property to his creditor Ira Farrington.  By this time the Morgans were renting property on 26 Lowell Street in the Libbytown district of Portland.

-22 Mar 1910 - For "$1.00 and other consideration", William's 2nd wife Nellie bought the house on Peaks Island known as "Lot 5 Oceanside Terrace", and a little research shows it to be 12 Merriam Street, the house that William died in in 1920.  They lived next door to a large Danish immigrant family, the Wendts.  The Morgan property here was sold by Percy McCann to Lillian Johnstone in 1945, and Lillian Johnstone sold same to current owner, who runs a realty company from the residence.

Gravesite of William Sanford Morgan
Forest City Cemetery
South Portland, Maine

Below is a pedigree chart for William.

He has entirely English roots, but the direct Morgan line comes from Wales originally, so it's safe to surmise that he's 25% Welsh, 75% English.  While he has no Mayflower ancestors, he has some old colonial roots in Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts.

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