The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky is comprised of the eight westernmost counties - Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken. It is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the east by the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee to the south. By Kentuckians it is generally referred to simply as "the Purchase".

Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby purchased the land lying west of the Tennessee River from the Chickasaw tribe and opened the area for settlement around 1820. Within the next few years, my grandfather's ancestors came there from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee - the Beadles, Clapps, Pryors and Wingos settled in Graves County with the Reeves and Halls in neighboring Ballard County.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Benjamin Morgan & Phoebe Settle

1779 Warrant to
Benjamin Morgan
I truly thought I had completed my posts for the Morgan family of Virginia's Northern Neck but I now realize I have much more to share for Benjamin Morgan and Phoebe Settle. Over the last twenty years while searching for the actual facts in regard to who the parents of my ancestor Charles Morgan were I have accumulated a tremendous amount of evidence regarding the lives of Benjamin & Phoebe who I found were not Charles' parents as many online sites propose.  There is a copious amount of misinformation online regarding Benjamin and his brother John Morgan. Based upon findings in the records of Wilkes County, North Carolina, it appears that John Morgan & Martha Settle, Phoebe's sister, have been incorrectly credited as the parents of the children of Benjamin & Phoebe.

There do not appear to be any records in Surry or Wilkes (formed from Surry in 1778) counties, North Carolina of John Morgan, brother of Benjamin. The John Morgan in Surry County records is listed, along with Isaac and Joseph Morgan, on the tax lists as a tithe of Benjamin Morgan in 1775. Previously in 1774 Benjamin Morgan is recorded with a total of four male tithes but the names of the children are not listed however they appear to be the same individuals as those in the 1775 tax list. In numerous other records for deeds and land warrants these individuals as well as sons-in-laws Henry and James Gambill are recorded as witnesses to transactions of Benjamin Morgan. The 1779 warrant pictured above for Benjamin Morgan lists the chain carriers for that survey as Armistead and Isaac Morgan. A Wilkes County deed of 14 Dec 1784 from Benjamin Morgan to William Johnson includes as part of the legal description of the land being conveyed "along a conditional line between Benjamin Morgan and his son Charles". [DB A-1 p504-505]

1784 Wilkes County NC Deed
Benjamin Morgan to William Johnson

Wilkes County's 1784 tax list records Benjamin, Charles, Joseph, John (noted as "in Cumberland"), and Armistead Morgan along with Henry Gambill who had married Charity Morgan in 1778. The following year Henry's brother James Gambill would marry Alice Morgan on 24 Jul 1785.

The myths surrounding this family portray Benjamin's brother John Morgan as having married Phoebe Settle Morgan's sister Martha. Martha Settle could not possibly have been the mother of these children since she could not have married before 1761 as documented in a suit among the heirs of Isaac Settle. As late as 1761 Martha Settle was yet unmarried. In a Fauquier County VA chancery case among the heirs of Isaac Settle, Martha was listed as Martha Settle while her sister Phoebe is listed as the wife of husband Benjamin Morgan. The 1760 chancery case is styled Gerard Wilkinson et al vs. Exe. of Isaac Suttle and available online in the Library of Virginia's Chancery Index. Additionally, John Morgan was married to Alice Cole and is named in the 1757 Culpeper County will of her father John Cole. The will states "I give to each of my sons in law, William Reynolds and John Morgan one cow and calf". John Cole's will also leaves a bequest to a William Morgan and is witnessed by that William Morgan and a Charles Morgan. His widow Susannah Cole died in 1761 and she mentions daughter Alice Morgan in her will. John Morgan also witnessed the will of Benjamin Taylor in February of 1775 in Culpeper County.

Chancery Case among heirs of Isaac Suttle
The prevailing Morgan myths have also credited John with being the Capt. John Morgan of Surry County, North Carolina who served during the Revolution, but that is not correct. Because of the fact that he was living in Surry County during the Revolution it seems to have been assumed that he was a member of the Fauquier County, Virginia Morgan family and brother of Benjamin. Benjamin Morgan and his sons lived in the area of Surry County, which became Wilkes and was located just below the New River. That area is now part of Allegheny County, North Carolina. Capt. John Morgan lived in a completely different area of Surry County, which became Stokes County in 1789 after the end of the Revolution.

John Morgan's wife is recorded in Stokes County deed records as Elizabeth (Betty) in two 1794 deeds where they sold portions of his original Surry County 400 acre land grant. John Morgan was recorded in the 1790 census of Stokes County in a household including himself, his wife, 5 males under 16 and 4 daughters. At the bottom of this post see scan of the Stokes County 1793 tax list for Capt. John Morgan's District which includes John in addition to Valentine Morgan who is believed to be his son. His wife Elizabeth died before 1800 for there is no wife listed on the 1800 census with John and three of his children. Capt.John Morgan died in Stokes County, North Carolina in 1819. He never migrated to Tennessee and was not killed by indians there. His estate was recorded in June Court of 1819 when an administrator was appointed. The Stokes County estate file has very little biographical information and the only child named was Elizabeth McAnnally with a notation that his other children were not living in the area. Nothing has been found in the records of Surry and Wilkes Counties that would support the belief that John Morgan and Martha Ann Settle married and were living there during the time Benjamin and these Morgan children were.

1795 Will of Jeremiah Morgan
Will Book 1, pg 2
The earliest records of the Cumberland Settlements of Middle Tennessee such as Ramsey's Annals of Tennessee written in 1858 and Early Times in Middle Tennessee written by John Carr in 1857 simply state - "They (the indians) killed old Mr. Morgan, the father of Esquire John Morgan, who owned the fort near that place...They killed Captain Charles Morgan and old Mr. Gibson, near where Gen. Hall now lived...They killed Armsted Morgan, a brother of Captain Charles Morgan, and a fine-humored, well-disposed young man, while he was guiding through from "South-west Point" Captain Handly and a company of men for the protection of the Cumberland settlements." It is only in much later publications written more than 100 years after these events that "old Mr. Morgan" begins to be identified as John Morgan.

Benjamin Morgan is documented as being present in Sumner County by 1787 for that year he was listed as a delinquent taxpayer along with Armistead Morgan who had also been killed that year. The only John Morgan listed in these Cumberland Settlement census records is John Morgan, the son-in-law of Maj. Hall. In December of 1804 a public sale was advertised for 320 acres on Bledsoe's Creek which belonged to Benjamin Morgan. The property was taken to satisfy a judgment obtained by Winchester and Cage. Evidence from the historical, primary records reveal that Benjamin Morgan was the "old Mr. Morgan" who was killed by indians in 1787.

After Benjamin's death, Phoebe Settle Morgan remained in the area of Logan and Simpson Counties of Kentucky. Her youngest daughter Mary Morgan was widowed when her first husband, her cousin Jeremiah, son of Simon Morgan of Fauquier County, Virginia, died in July of 1795. When Jeremiah died, he and Mary were also living in Logan County, Kentucky. His will of the 17th of June 1795 which included Phoebe as one of the witnesses left his plantation in Logan County to his widow Mary. Daughter Phoebe also lived in that area of Logan County where she married Leonard West in 1798. In August Court of 1803, Phoebe is recorded with a land entry for 100 acres on Red River. The last known record mentioning Phoebe Settle Morgan was on the 20th of October in 1809 when a deed from William Stewart to Leonard West includes "Phoebe Morgan's boundary line" in the legal description of the tract. [DB:B P:607]

Phoebe Morgan
Logan KY Land Entry - August 1803
Over the past century, the story of this Morgan family has been distorted to include a soldier of the American Revolution, Capt. John Morgan of Surry County NC. as an ancestor. This misinformation has been further spread in the book "Tennessee Records: Bible Records and Marriage Bonds" published in 2009. The information as pertains to the later Morgan generations after they settled in Tennessee appears to be accurate but the assertions pertaining to the earliest Morgan settlers and the death of "old Mr. Morgan" have no corresponding historical documentation. Although the book includes in its title "bible records" there seem to be none that pertain to this Morgan family. There are also no Morgan family Bibles found in records at the Tennessee State Library online. Sadly the inaccurate information that has been disseminated regarding this family may prevent any widespread acceptance of the true story of Benjamin Morgan and his wife Phoebe Settle, but I felt I should share what I've learned over the course of these many years which is that there is a preponderance of evidence that Charles, Isaac, Joseph, John, Alice, Charity, Armistead, Phoebe and Mary Morgan were their children.

More documents pertaining to Benjamin & Phoebe Morgan:

Wilkes County NC Map of Earliest Grants



No comments:

Post a Comment