Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The A. P. Morgan Grain Company

Sometimes, when you least expect it, you get an unexpected gift from a total stranger. This week I received an email from a lady in Atlanta, Georgia, who had found my website through a Google search. She wasn't looking for a genealogical connection. She was looking for a reason why her grandfather had taken the following picture of the A. P. Morgan Grain Company.

Google led her to one of my old Family Reunion newsletters that contained a glancing reference to the A. P. Morgan Grain Company. My great-great granduncle Allen P. Morgan was the president of the company at the time of his death in March 1925.

When I began my genealogical pursuits, my grandmother Hodge passed along quite a bit of information on the Morgan family, which I have been thankful for many times considering she was not herself related to the Morgans. Mary Caroline Morgan Mobley was my grandfather's grandmother. Mary Caroline and her sister Sarah and brother John had moved to Texas from their native Georgia, but several brothers and a sister had stayed in Georgia with their parents. Brothers Allen, Edward and William Wesley married and settled in Atlanta. Allen became a prominent businessman, not only owning the grain company that bore his name, but also serving as a board member of the Atlanta Trust and Banking Co.

Allen's life was full of drama. He and his family appeared regularly in the pages of the Atlanta Constitution.

In March 1886 Allen's home in the West End of Atlanta burned to the ground. The family had retired for the night and it was only the quick action of a neighbor who was awakened by the light of the flames that allowed them to escape unharmed. Unfortunately the fire had gained so much ground that the building burned to the ground. They lost most of their possessions and were underinsured. The fire was so bright that many people thought the entire southern end of town was on fire. The newspaper follows the progress of his new home's construction.

In December 1890, Allen swore out warrants against a Mr. Hathcock who was charged with cheating and swindling. This case was ruled in Allen's favor and Mr. Hathcock was required to pay $1,000 in return for goods received or face twelve months in jail.

Allen's daughter Myrtis celebrated her 15th birthday in October 1893 and the affair was quite a social do. "Around the long balcony, Japanese lanterns beamed forth their mellow light on the moonlit grove in front, making an exquisite scene, while within, flowers of exquisite beauty exhaled their refreshing fragrance and sweet music, gay and pensive, floated in inspiring waves around....Mr. and Mrs. A. P. Morgan poured out the sparkling cup of good cheer...."

In November of 1899, Allen was sued by a former business partner who alleged that Allen took advantage of his mental incompetence to obtain deeds for several properties. Allen retaliated that the man had been short in his accounts and had begged him to accept the deeds in restitution and say nothing public about his mismanagement of funds. (I've not yet found the result of the lawsuit.)

April 1907 brought a suit filed against the City of Atlanta and the A. P. Morgan Grain Company by a gentlemen who had been walking past the grain company and apparently fell due to the sidewalks being at a steep angle and slippery from having not been properly cleared after a day's work. The man broke an arm in the fall and was stunned. The case was nonsuited by a lower court but the judgment was reversed by the Court of Appeals who found that a hazardous situation had been created.

In October 1910 the A. P. Morgan Grain Company lost a complaint filed with the Interstate Commerce Commission against the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company charging unjust and discriminatory rates.

Many other mentions of Allen Morgan appear in the newspaper as he served on committees, attended meetings and conducted his business. I am still searching the newspapers and finding references to him and his family.

One of the things I had been told by my grandmother was that one of Mary Caroline Morgan Mobley's brothers had died in a street accident in Atlanta. For a long time I thought I had confirmed that fact when I found a reference to her brother Edward Morgan dying of a sudden heart attack while going home from his work as a motorman with the Atlanta Consolidated Street Railway Company. Not exactly an accident, but his death did occur on the Nelson Street Bridge.

As it turns out, she lost two brothers to sudden death on Atlanta streets.

Allen P. Rice Morgan

The final dramatic incident in Allen's life that was covered by the newspapers was his death as a result of being struck by a taxicab as he stepped from the curb into the path of the vehicle. The accident occurred in front of his grain business. Over several days he was reported as improving and expected to survive, but he suddenly died from his injuries on March 16, 1925.

Allen's obituary mentions that he served as mayor of Oakland City before it merged into Atlanta and and was one of the first members of the Atlanta Board of Education. He was obviously a man of prominence in his community. Allen Morgan is buried in West View Cemetery in Atlanta, Georgia. A volunteer with Find a Grave provided me with a photo of his tombstone.

A chance email from a stranger with a picture of a business I knew only from references in news articles brought new life to my Morgan research. You just never know where the next genealogy find is lurking.


No comments: