Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dr. Morgan

In the past I have written about Dr. Morgan.

Sometime around the turn of the twentieth century a Dr. Morgan came to Ocracoke and stayed for some time at the old Pamlico Inn.

Dr. Morgan was clearly well educated and quite refined, but he seems to have been suffering from alcoholism. He came to the island to recover, not to set up a practice, but naturally, when islanders discovered his profession, they sought him out during times of illness.

Dr. Morgan's best remembered treatment was curing young Billy Scarborough of lockjaw. Folks around these parts considered it a miracle. It was the first known cure for lockjaw that anyone here had ever heard of.

Islanders could not help but notice Dr. Morgan's preference for gourmet foods (he enjoyed terrapin stewed in wine) and impeccable dress.  Scuttlebutt on the island suggested that he was part of the wealthy and respected J.P. Morgan clan, and had been "exiled" to Ocracoke as a black sheep of the family. He died only a few years after moving to Ocracoke, and is buried in an unmarked grave on Live Oak Road. Only one member of his birth family attended the funeral. Reports indicate that this relative created quite a stir because of his fine suit and expensive shoes.

I have done a little Internet research on the J.P. Morgan family. Many sites say that J.P. (1837-1913) was the only son of Junius Spencer Morgan (1813-1890). It turns out there was one other son, Junius Spencer Morgan. Jr. who was born in 1846, but he died when he was just four years old.

JPM had only one son, "Jack" (1867-1943) who was a well known banker and philanthropist.

JPM, Jr. had two sons, one of whom died in 1960, and the other in 1972. Of course, these two Morgans are not candidates for Dr. Morgan of Ocracoke. They died too late. Neither one is buried on the island.

I still am intrigued by our local oral history. It seems clear that Dr. Morgan was not a member of J. P. Morgan's immediate family. But we still might discover that he was part of the extended Morgan clan. I will post again if more information becomes available.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is the seldom told story of the 1837 murder of Willis Williams by Jacob Gaskill. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news112114.htm.

17 comments:

  1. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Very intriguing. A couple of questions come to mind which you undoubtedly would be unable to answer.

    1) Did Dr. Morgan arrive on OI with his physician's license intact?
    2) Was he able to stay abstinent from alcohol while seeking a geographical cure?

    I once had a T-shirt which claimed Ocracoke as a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem. Of coarse OI is so much more than that, being a blessed oasis of culture, arts and history.
    I am also blessed to know several folks on OI whom offer experience, strength and hope to the suffering individual.
    Thank you Philip for all that you do and thanks to others for doing what they do.

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    1. You are correct...I do not know the answers to your questions. I wish I knew more about Dr. Morgan, so I will continue to seek information where and when I can. I believe Ocracoke will continue to be a respite for travelers, and a nurturing community for residents.

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  2. Anonymous9:52 AM

    The Old Pamlico Inn perhaps has the register book where guests sign in when staying. Oh my that would be a shot in the dark....If a death certificate was issued that must have some valuable information, another dead end perhaps -- or a list of practicing Doctors from a medical society archives.......The only relative to attend the funeral ?? how did they find out about the funera??l who made the arrangements ?? there must have been a news article printed somewhere for this story to have such legs-- how would authorites contact next of kin??? Hope this helps

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    1. Dr. Morgan died about 1903. Of course, no one alive today remembers him. Only a very few people even know the story. And Ocracoke was so isolated more than 100 years ago that probably no death certificate was issued. I don't know of any extant local records about him. All of my Internet searches have come to dead ends. But I will keep alert to any new and promising leads.

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  3. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Maybe the Dr was a Dr as in a Minister. OI was a popular retreat for church groups in the early years ....he did not arrive to set up a practice... no wonder maybe he wasn't a medical doctor!!!!!!

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    1. According to Blanche (she's 95 years old), Dr. Morgan was a medical doctor, but he did not come here to set up a practice. He did, however, treat folks in emergencies.

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  4. Anonymous12:50 PM

    The internet has info how to cure lockjaw naturally--- change your diet--- many people back during the turn of the century were "health food " crazy the story of nutrition and the efforts people went to back then.... vs today where fast food, junk food , poor diet is the undoing of civilization in just a few easy steps.

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  5. Anonymous11:54 PM

    LHM Have you heard of Ellen Fulcher Cloud and all her books with info about OI??. Could this Morgan bloke been recorded in a census? If he moved to OI did he own a house? What kind of paper trail would someone during that time period leave behind?? These are rhetorical questions for the most part...

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    1. I have all of Ellen Marie's publications, including the census records. No Morgan is listed in 1900 or 1910 (or in any other census for that matter). Dr. Morgan did not own a house. He stayed at the Pamlico Inn.

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  6. Anonymous5:20 AM

    Thinking about this post yesterday, I recalled visiting the main branch of the library here in our city several years ago, sitting down at a microfilm reader, and scanning the daily happenings of the times as reported in various local newspapers, some dating as far back as the 1700s.

    I guess that's a "luxury resource," the comparative breadth of historical source content available to researchers, reflecting differences between more urban, developed (i.e., "modern") areas as compared to rural or certainly remote outposts like Ocracoke.

    When it comes to researching historical activities of daily life and news from the island, what sorts of go-to resources do you find available to inquisitive folks like yourself?

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    1. In Dr. Morgan's time there was no local newspaper on Ocracoke. However, I do have a subscription to newspapers.com. Haven't located any reference to him there...yet. Yesterday I asked Blanche (she's 95 years old, and probably the last islander to have heard much or anything about Dr. Morgan) if she knew Dr. Morgan's first name. She said she'd have to think about that. Maybe she will remember it, and maybe not. Dr. Morgan may ever remain a mystery.

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  7. I just discovered a bit more information about Dr. Morgan. Will publish the latest in a few days. Stay tuned.

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    1. Kevin1:28 PM

      I bet he was a dentist!

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    2. No, not a dentist. Look for an update next week.

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  8. Anonymous9:06 AM

    I just went on Ancestry. The 1900 Census was taken in June. Perhaps Dr. Morgan was counted elsewhere and does not appear in this record because he arrived after the census was taken? I checked by name, and then by occupation.

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    1. Dr. Morgan came to Ocracoke in 1902, and died in October of 1903. I will post more that I've learned in a few days.

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    2. Anonymous11:27 AM

      That would certainly explain why he could not be found... :) Thanks for letting me know. In another Ancestry side note, I've been doing work on my husband's tree. When comparing information with a distant family member on-line, I noticed she was related by marriage to one Benjamin Gaskin O'Neal. Very small world, indeed.

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