Lee County Biography

Col. Thomas Morgan


Col. Thomas Morgan is a prominent contractor and builder, who conducts a large business in his line which is by no means confined to this county or State, of which he has been a resident for more than 20 years, his dwelling place being one of the attractive homes of Dixon, pleasantly located on Peoria Street. The Colone was one of the leading officers of an Indiana regiment during the war, and no man faced the difficulties and dangers of those trying times with more fortitude, resolution and fearlessness than he, and the honors conferred upon him were richly deserved by one who risked his all in the cause of an adopted country.

Col. Morgan was born in Monmouthshire, Wales, May 26, 1821. His father was Griffith Morgan, and he was born in the same country, his birthplace being in Gelamorganshire, which was, so far as known, the native shire of the father, Thomas Morgan, who spent his entire life in Wales. Griffith Morgan learned the trade of a molder in his youth, and was engaged at it in Monmouthshire until 1831. In that year, accompanied by his son Thomas, he embarked at Liverpool on the ship "Lagodo," and landed at N.Y. after a voyage of six weeks. He located at Harrisburg PA and there a few months later was joined by his wife and the four children that he had left in the old country while he prepared a home for them in this. Her erected the first rolling mill ever built at Harrisburg, and was a resident of that city two years. Going from there to Louisville, he engaged in molding there one year, and at the end of that time bought a farm in Clark County IN, and located his family thereon, while he followed his trade in TN and VA. In 1838 he sold that farm and bought another in Kosciusko COunty, the same State. He devoted himself assiduously to tilling the soil thereafter and made for himself a substantial place among the farmers of that region, and there closed his eyes in death, at the end of a long life of 75 years. The maiden name of his wife was Jane Longmore. She was born in Yorkshire England and died on the old Indiana homestead. These are the names o fher nine children: Jane, Thomas, Griffith, John, William,Henry, George, James and Albert.

A lad of ten years when he came to America with his father 60 years ago, our subject was old enough then to have firmly impressed upon his mind the scenes of his birthplace and though so many years have elapsed, he still retains a pleasant recollection of his early home and of some of the incidents of his life there. He was young when he began to work with his father, and remained with him until he was 18 years old, whenhe began to learn the trade of a carpenter at Warsaw. At the age of 25 he commenced business on his own account as a contractor, and threw aside his work to offer his services in defense of the Union, spurred on thereto by as loyal a love and devotion for this land of his adoption as ever inspired any of its native-born citizens to do battle for its honor. His name was enrolled as a member of Co K, 74th IN Inf. and he was mustered in as Captain. He soon proved by hisefficiency in carrying out orders, by his dauntless courage and rediness of resource in emergencies, and tact with his men that he was entitled to the rank to which he had been raised, and was successively promoted to the office of Major, Lt-Col. and COlonel and from August 1864 commanded the regiment in the latter capacity. Among the important battles in which he was an active participant were those at Mumsfordsville, Stone River, those fought in the principal engagements of the Georgia campaign, and the hotly contested battles of Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge; he also accompanied SHerman on his famous march to the sea, engaging in all the chief battles on the way. He continued with his gallant leader through the Carolinas, and thence by the way of Richmond to Washington, and took part in the Grand Review of the Union forces after the war was brought to a final close, and was discharged with his regiment in June 1865.

On his return from the South, at the close of his martial career, our subject resumed his former business as contractor and builder, confining his operations, mostly to dwellings for a time, and then branching out in other directions as a contractor of public buildings. He carried on an extensive business in the building of churches, residences and other buildings in different cities of Indiana until 1869. In that year he took a contract to build two churches in Aurora, IL and in 1871 contracted to build the Episcopal Church at Dixon. He was much pleased with the pleasant site of the latter city and the many superior advantages that it possesses, as a place of residence, and decided to make his home here, and since then it has been the centre of his operations, and he has been of material assistance in promoting its growth, several of its finest buildings, which add to the architectural beauty of the city, being the work of his hands. He has often been called elsewhere in the pursuit of his business, and his time is well employed in filling numerous contracts. In 1872 he erected St. Paul's Church at Peoria, a handsome and finely finished structure, and in 1874 he went to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to erect a church, several substantial business buildings and a dwelling.

Col. Morgan has been twice married. IN 1847 he was wedded to Mrs. Lydia 9Lee) Williams, a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Richard and Susan (Abennethy) Lee. She departed this life in 1870, leaving two daughters, Susan and Lydia. Susan is the wife of George Gregg, and Lydia is the wife of Daniel Williams. The second marriage of our subject, which took place in 1874, was to Miss Jennie Brown, a native of Dixon, and a daughter of John & Eliza (Cotton) Brow. One child has been born of this union, Mary E. The Colonel was reared in the Episcopal Church and has always remained true to the faith. His honorable record as a man, as a citizen, and in the business world, stamps him as one upon whom perfect reliance can be placed, who is to be trusted in all things, and whose citizenship is of value to any community.

Portraits and Biographical Lee County IL 1892 Pg 601

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