From Merthyr Tydfil, Wales,
to Scranton, Pennsylvania
Isaac B. Morgans was the third husband of Elizabeth Davis Thomas, widow of John J. Thomas. He was the son of Isaac and Sarah Morgans, and was born in 1828 in the industrial city of Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, south Wales. At this point in time I have identified only one of Isaac's siblings, a younger sister Ann, (b.ca.1835), who appears with the family in the 1841 census. We get our first glimpse of family of Isaac and Sarah Morgan in the aforementioned 1841 census, as follows:
1841 Census, Heolwermod Hamlet, Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, Wales.
Name Age Occupation Born in County? Isaac Morgan 45M Labourer No Sarah Morgan 45M Yes Isaac Morgan 13U Labourer Yes Anne Morgan 6U Yes
The family included Isaac and Sarah, along with their children Isaac and Ann, and the return indicates that both Isaac and his son were working as Labourers. Given the ages of Isaac and Sarah, it is likely they had other children who were grown and already living on their own, or who had died prior to the census. In the late 1840s, Isaac married Lettice or Letitia who was also from Merthyr Tydfil, and their first child Thomas was born ca. 1850. We get another glimpse of the Morgan family in the 1851 census of Merthyr Tydfil:
1851 Census, Lower Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorganshire, Wales
Name Relation Age Occupation Where Born Isaac Morgan head 58 Coal Miner Cilycwm, Carmarthen Sarah Morgan wife 56 Swansea, Glamorgan William Davies lodger 42 Coal Labourer Swansea, Glamorgan Isaac Morgan lodger 22 Engine Tender, Coal Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan Lettice Morgan lodger 23 Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan Thomas Morgan lodger 1 Merthyr Tydfil, Glamorgan
Whereas the 1841 census only indicated if an individual was born in the county in which they were living, the 1851 census names the individual's place of birth. In 1851 the Morgan household included Isaac and his wife Sarah, son Isaac and his wife Lettice and their baby son Thomas, along with a border named William Davies. What's curious here is that Isaac Jr. is listed as a lodger rather than the son of Isaac Sr., likely a mistake on the part of the census enumerator. The returns show that both Isaac and his father (as well as William Davies), worked on the region's booming coal industry, a skill that Isaac Jr. would carry with him when he and his family emigrated to America.
Isaac and Lettice Morgans had the following children, all born in Wales; the aforementioned Thomas B. Morgans, was born ca.1850, emigrated with the family to Scranton, Pennsylvania, but had moved to Ohio by the time of his father's death; Joseph B. Morgans (b.ca.1852), married a woman named Miriam in Scranton, where they had at least one daughter, Sarah Ann; Matilda (b.1854), married Evan Williams and also remained in Scranton; Jacob B. Morgans (1857-1875) died when he was 18 years old and was buried at the Washburn Street cemetery in Scranton; Moses B. Morgans (b.1860), married Sarah A. Griffiths in 1889 and had two children, Edward and Rebecca; Sarah Ann Morgans (b.1862), married John Wagstaff and had three children, Verna, Lettie and Arthur; Rachel Morgans (b.1865), married David M. Jones and had a daughter Freda.
With the 1861 census we are introduced to most of the rest of the family of Isaac Morgan. The returns for that year show that Isaac and Lettice were still living in Merthyr Tydvil, at No. 61 Bargoed House, and that their family had grown to include children Joseph, Matilda, Jacob and Moses, as follows:
1861 Census, Merthyr Tydvil, Glamorganshire, Wales
Name Relation Age Occupation Where Born Isack Morgan Head 31 ??? coal contractor(?)/girls employing Glamorganshire, Merthyr Lettuce Morgan Wife 32 Glamorganshire, Merthyr Thomas Morgan Son 11 Haulier Glamorganshire, Merthyr Joseph Morgan Son 9 Labourer on incline Glamorganshire, Merthyr Matilda Morgan Daughter 7 Glamorganshire, Merthyr Jacob Morgan Son 4 Glamorganshire, Merthyr Moses Morgan Son 2 Glamorganshire, Merthyr
Isaac's occupation is difficult to decipher and therefore evaluate. The word "coal" is definitely readable at the beginning of the description, as is girls/employing as the end. I have not, however, been able to decipher the remainder of the description.
According to his obituary, Isaac emigrated from Wales to Scranton in 1869. If so, we know he preceded his wife and children, who arrived in America (New York) from Liverpool on board the S. S. Minnesota on 11 May 1870, the family appearing as follows on the Minnesota's passenger list:
- Leticher Morgan, 48
- Thos. Morgan, 20
- Jos. Morgan, 17
- Matilda Morgan, 15
- Jacob Morgan, 11
- Moses Morgan, 10
- Sarah Morgan, 7
- Rachael Morgan, 6
Passenger lists indicate that there was an Isaac Morgan who arrived in New York from Liverpool in March of 1869, however I have been unable to determine if this individual was our Isaac Morgans. Isaac's obituary goes on to state that upon his arrival, Isaac was immediately employed by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad company as a machinist.
In 1870 Isaac Morgans and family make their first appearance in census returns for Scranton, as follows:
1870 Census, 5th Ward, City of Scranton, Lackawanna Co., Pa.
Name Age Occupation Vaule Real Estate Value Personal Property Place of Birth Morgan, Isaac 40 Miner 150.00 Wales Morgan, Lettice 41 keeping house Wales Morgan, Matilda 15 at home Wales Morgan, Moses 11 picking slate Wales Morgan, Sarah 7 Wales Morgan, Rachel 6 Wales
In 1870 the Morgan household included four of their seven known children, Matilda, Moses, Sarah and Rachel, while sons Thomas, Joseph and Jacob are absent. The returns show that Isaac was working as a (coal) miner, and had managed to purchase a small piece of real estate valued at a modest $150.00 within a short time of the family's arrival in Scranton. Son Moses is listed as a "slate picker" in the mines. The return also indicates that Isaac could read and write.
Isaac Morgans, like most Welsh families in Hyde Park, was no stranger to tradegy in the mines of Scranton, as the entry below tells us that his son Jacob was killed in a mining accident on June 5th, 1875.
1875 Eastern District of the Wyoming Coal Fields, Luzerne Co., Rpt of Fatal Accidents. From the Reports of the Inspectors of Mines of the Anthracite Coal Regions of Pennsylvania for the Year 1875.
6/5 JACOB MORGAN, 18, single, 0 children, Central shaft colliery, Scranton
Although I have been unable to find the details of this accident, it would appear that Jacob Morgan died in the colliery rather than in the mine. He was buried in the Washburn Street cemetery in Hyde Park.
We get a glimpse of the Morgan family again ten years later in the census of 1880. Isaac, Matilda and the four children who were present in 1870 are again present in the Morgans household, as follows:
1880 Census, 5th Ward Scranton, Lackawanna Co., Pa.
Name Age Relationship Occupation Born Father Born Mother Born Morgans, Isaac 48 Machinist Wales Wales Wales Morgans, Leticia 49 wife keeping house Wales Wales Wales Morgans, Moses 20 son miner Wales Wales Wales Morgans, Sarah Ann 18 daughter seamstress Wales Wales Wales Morgans. Rachel 14 daughter at school Wales Wales Wales Williams, Matilda 24 keeping house Wales Wales Wales Williams, Rachel Ann 2 daughter at home PA Wales Wales
Here the census taker seems to have erred in his description of the family. The Matilda Williams listed is likely Isaac's daughter Matilda, while Rachel Ann Williams is his granddaughter. The returns indicate that the Morgans family were living on Eynon Street in Hyde Park, and that Isaac was working as a machinist. Son Moses is listed as a miner, while daughter Sarah Ann is listed as a seamstress.
Isaac's wife Lettice died in 1885 and was buried at the Washburn cemetery in the Hyde Park section of Scranton. In 1896 Isaac remarried Elizabeth Davis Thomas-Jones, the widow of John J. Thomas and John E. Jones. Isaac and Elizabeth's marriage certificate is found at the Lackawanna County courthouse in Scranton, and provides several useful pieces of information. The certificate indicates that Elizabeth remarried under the name Elizabeth Thomas, rather than Jones. This seems curious, given that she was married to John Jones for ten years. Elizabeth also names David and Hannah Davies as her parents, while Isaac states that his parents were Isaac and Sarah Morgan.
City directories show that Isaac moved in with Elizabeth at her home on 508 North Hyde Park Avenue, where the couple lived in 1895 and 1896. The marriage of Isaac B. Morgans and Elizabeth Thomas, however, lasted less than two years, as Elizabeth contracted hepatitis and died July 21, 1896 at her home on North Hyde Park Avenue. She was buried with her first husband John J. Thomas, in the Washburn Street cemetery. After Elizabeth's death, Isaac moved in with his daughter at 1212 Eynon Street, where he died on 29 August 1899 at the age of 71 years. He was buried next to his first wife Lettice in the Washburn Street cemetery.
Much of what we know about Isaac B. Morgans comes from two obituaries that appeared shortly after his death in local newspapers, both of which provide a testament to Isaac's standing in his community:
The Scranton Times, Monday Afternoon, August 28, 1899
Death of Isaac Morgans
Isaac B. Morgan died Saturday night at the home of his daughter, Mrs. Evan T. Williams, 1212 Eynon street, after a long illness. The deceased was well known in the city and was foreman of the machinists employed by the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western about the different mines throughout the valley.
Mr. Morgan was born in Merthyr Tydvil, South Wales, and was seventy years of age. He came to America in1869 and located in this city, immediately entering the employ of the Lackawanna company as a machinist.
Mr. Morgan went to Atlantic City two weeks ago last Wednesday, and was compelled to return home last week, owing to his ailment, and took to his bed, failing rapidly from that time until death relieved him of his suffering. He was a devout member of the First Welsh Baptist church of West Scranton, and was formerly a deacon of the church. He was also a member of Dewi Sant lodge, order of True Ivorites, and Silurian lodge, no. 763, Order of Odd Fellows.
His children are: Thomas B. Morgan, of Youngstown, O; Joseph B. Morgan, Mrs. Evan T. Williams and Mrs. John Wagstaff, of Eynon street; Moses B. Morgan and Mrs. D.M. Jones, of South Main avenue.
The funeral will be held tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock from the late residence of the deceased and 2:30 o'clock from the First Welsh Baptist church. Interment will be made in the Washburn Street cemetery.
The Scranton Republican, Monday, August 28, 1899
The Late Isaac Morgan
The death of Mr. Isaac Morgan which occurred at 10 o'clock last Saturday evening, after a long illness, at the house of his daughter Mrs. Evan P. Williams, 1212 Eynon street, brief mention of which was made in yesterday's issue, occasioned considerable surprise and regret on the West side. Deceased was unable to pursue his daily duties. He was able to be about, and a few weeks ago departed with friends for the seashore, where he hoped to improve his health, but the sojourn failed to give the desired help and on Wednesday last he returned. Since then he gradually weakened. Owing to his advanced age he could not withstand the extreme illness, and died.
Mr. Morgan for 30 years was a machinist, employed about the mines of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western company, in charge of one of the gangs. He was a native of Merthyr, South Wales, and resided on this side for nearly 35 years. His age was 70 years and he is survived by the following well-known children: Thomas, of Cleveland, O; Joseph, Mrs. Evan P. Williams, Moses B., Mrs. John Wagstaff, Mrs. D.M. Jones, of this city.
Deceased was a faithful member of the First Welsh Baptist church.
The funeral services will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock with brief services at the residences of his daughter-in-law. At 2:30 o'clock the remains will be taken to the First Welsh Baptist church where services will be conducted by Rev. H.H. Harris of Taylor and others Dewi Sant Lodge of Ivorites, No. 50, and Silurian lodge, I.O.O.F., of which deceased was a member, will attend the funeral. Interment in Washburn street cemetery.
Like many of his fellow Welshmen, Isaac B. Morgans left his native Wales to seek out a better life for his family in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Although he lived in Scranton for barely thirty years, he was able to make his mark in the community of Hyde Park, where his advice and opinions were highly valued. His marriage late in life to Elizabeth Davis Thomas, seems curious, as both couple's children were already grown and on their own. Perhaps Isaac and Elizabeth had known each other for a long time. If so, we can imagine that in their declining years they perhaps took great comfort in each others company.
Jeffrey L. Thomas
Genealogy of the Morgans family (Adobe .pdf file)
Learn more about Isaac's wife Elizabeth Davis Thomas
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