James J. Morgan (22 March 1817 – 1860s)

The wife of my ancestor William F. Taylor was named Margaret Morgan.  He declared in his Civil War pension application that he was married to Margaret Morgan in Walker County, Georgia on 10 February 1859.   We also know from Taylor family Bible records that Margaret was born on 30 November 1839.   It was the first marriage for both and was performed by William Bailey, J.P.  That is sufficient information to identify her parents.

Margaret Morgan, age 10, was enumerated as the oldest of five children in the 1850 Walker County household of James J. Morgan (age 30) and his wife Mary (age 28) living on or around West Chickamauga Creek in central Walker County just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee.1

Lived in or around Pond Spring

In 1840 he was enumerated, along with his father and two brothers, living in District 861 which was the designated military district for the Pond Spring community.2 3  In 1850 all the Morgans were still living in Pond Spring, though the census was not specific.  The 1850 census enumerated them in “W. Chick”, meaning along West Chickamauga Creek.  (Some genealogists have interpreted this to mean that they lived in a village or community named “West Chickamauga” but no such location existed. Rather, the census listed more than 10% of the county’s population as living on West Chickamauga Creek, which meandered northeast for about 30 miles through the northern part of the county before entering Catoosa County and Tennessee.)   But the 1840 and 1860 censuses make it clear that their neighborhood was Pond Spring.  William F. Taylor’s parents were enumerated in 1850 living in McLemore’s Cove, just south of the area.

Middle name Jefferson?

His middle name may have been “Jefferson” or “Jeffrey”, although the former was a far more popular name at the time.  The 1840 census lists him as “Jeffrey Morgan” and the death certificate of the daughter Mary Panina Morgan Hays gives her father’s name as “Jeff Morgan.”  A 1932 history of Walker County, listing early settlers of Pond Spring, also calls him “Jeff Morgan”.4

One of his nephews who was also known as James J. Morgan bore the middle name “Jefferson”. And his oldest child, Margaret Morgan Taylor, named her first-born John Jefferson Taylor, perhaps combining the names of his two grandfathers.

Son of John Morgan

James J. Morgan was the son of John Morgan who was also enumerated in the 1850 census of Walker County (age 64).  A family Bible owned by descendants of a grandson of John Morgan lists his children, one of whom was James J. Morgan whose birth date is recorded as 22 March 1817.5

His wife Mary is unknown

The identity of his wife Mary is unknown.  There are internet postings that claim she was the daughter of John Brock.  Unless we have an amazing coincidence, that was a different person.  Other internet postings make the persuasive case that the James Morgan of Walker County who married Mary Brock, daughter of John Brock, in Chattanooga in December 1870 was a generation younger than “our” James Morgan.  That James Morgan was born about 1850 and Mary Brock about 1846 according to censuses.

Lost Walker County records

Unfortunately all county records were destroyed by an arsonist who burned the county courthouse in 1883.  So deed, court, and probate records are nonexistent before 1883.  We are limited learning what we can from a handful of federal and state records that were stored outside the county.

1860 Censuses

In the 1860 census James Morgan, now age 43, was enumerated with the remaining four children from the 1850 household plus five more born in the interim and a 23-year old apparent new wife named “Sarahann E.” 6   Again, the census recorded that everyone in the household was born in Georgia.  James J. Morgan was listed with $1,000 in real property and $1,200 in personal property.

The 1860 Agricultural Census, like the Federal census, listed him as “J. J. Morgan”.7  He owned 50 acres of improved land and 110 acres of unimproved land (worth $1,000), with 5 horses, two milk cows, two other cattle, two oxen, 15 sheep, and 50 hogs.  He was also credited with 100 bushels of wheat, 500 bushels of Indian corn, and 30 pounds of wool.

Disappears (dies?) after 1860

James J. Morgan is said in numerous internet postings to have died in a Yankee prison Camp in Ohio in 1860.   This is, of course, impossible.  The war hadn’t started in 1860 and there were no prison camps in Ohio until November 1861.  Even if the year was misreported, it isn’t likely that a landowner in his 40s with nine children to support would have joined the Confederate Army.  Indeed, there is no record of him in the Confederate Army archives of Georgia.  James Morgan does appear to have died in the 1860s, but surely not in an Ohio prison camp.  I do not know the source of this legend, but it seems to be no more than a legend.

Not only James J. Morgan but most of his family seems to have disappeared in the 1860s.  The records of voter registration and oaths of allegiance taken after the war in 1867 do not list him or his oldest son. (There was a James J. Morgan on the voter list in 1867 but that was his nephew.)  The 1870 census did not enumerate either him or a widow.  Nor did the 1870 Agricultural Census. ( His nephew was listed as J. J. Morgan.)

The only members of the family who could be located for certain in 1870 were Margaret Morgan Taylor, by then living in Alabama, Mary Panina Morgan, and James B. Morgan.  James J. Morgan, his wife, and seven children seem to have vanished.


  1. Margaret Morgan (30 November 1839– 8 August 1908)  She married William F. Taylor in Walker County on 10 February 1859 and promptly moved across the county line into Jackson County, Alabama.  Oddly, her husband served during the Civil War in the Union Army.  For much more about her husband and family see this page.
  2. Thomas J. Morgan (c1843 – ?)  He was age 7 in 1850 and age 16 in 1860.   On 12 June 1861 he and a cousin both enlisted in Company G of the 9th Regiment of (CSA) Georgia Volunteers.8  According to Confederate records he was discharged six months later on 8 November 1861 with an unspecified disability.9 He was not located in 1870 or thereafter and was not among those registering to vote in Walker County in 1867.
  3. Ann. E. Morgan (c1844 – ?) She was listed in 1850 as “Ann E.”, age 6, and in 1860 as “Annie L.”, age 14.
  4. Narcissa Morgan (c1847 – ?)  She was age 3 in 1850 and age 12 in 1860.  No one named Narcissa was located in the 1870 census of Walker County or surrounding counties.
  5. Mary Panina Morgan (10 November 1849 – 19 November 1920)  She was listed in 1850 as a two-year old (sic) named “Mary P.”  and in 1860 as a ten-year old named “Penina”.  She is evidently the same person as the Panina Morgan, age 20, listed in 1870 in the household of Henry Boss.  According to descendants, she married a widower named William Zachariah Hays on 16 November 1873.  She is listed as “Mary P.” Hays in censuses through 1920 in Pond Spring or Lisbon in the same part of Walker County that her parents had lived in.

    Her death certificate calls her “Pernina” Hays, and gives her father’s name as “Jeff Morgan”.  Her mother’s name is entered as D.K. (don’t know) by the informant, her eldest son Sam Hays.  The death certificate and her gravestone bear conflicting birth and death dates.  The death certificate gives her birth date as 19 November 1848 and her death date as 19 November 1920 but lists her age at death as 72 years and 10 days.   She and her husband are buried in the Chattanooga Valley Baptist Church Cemetery where her gravestone bears the dates 10 November 1849 – 20 November 1920. (20 November was her burial date, according to the death certificate, but she died at 3pm on 19 November.)

  6. Nancy M. Morgan (c1851 – ?)  She was age 9 in the 1860 census but not located thereafter.  She is believed by descendants to have been the wife of Henry Childress, whose daughter married a son of William Zachariah Hays by his first marriage.
  7. John W. Morgan (c1853 – ?)  He was age 7 in the 1860 census but not located thereafter.  Some descendants think he was the same John W. Morgan who married in 1878 to a widow named Cynthia Ann (Harkey) Sugg in Yell County, Arkansas and who died there in 1893.  I’m not sure how that connection was made, however.10
  8. James B. Morgan (27 December 1854 – 15 February 1917)  He was age 6 in the 1860 household.  He seems to have been the same James B. Morgan, age 14, enumerated in the household of his cousin Panina (Morgan)  Forester in 1870.   The 1880 census of Pond Springs listed him, age 25, with a wife named Jane and two small children.  In 1900 and 1920 they were living in Franklin County, Arkansas.  He and Jane are buried in the Nichols Chapel Cemetery in Franklin County, Arkansas.
  9. Martha E. Morgan (c1856 – ?)  She was age 4 in the 1860 census but not located thereafter.
  10. Georgia Ann Morgan (1859 – ?)  She was age 9 months in the 1860 census but not located thereafter.
  1. 1850 census, Walker County:  James J. Morgan (30), Mary (28), Margaret (10), Thomas J. (7), Ann E. (6), Narcissa (3), Mary P. (2).  All were born in Georgia. []
  2. James Edward Sartain, History of Walker County, Georgia (Dalton, Georgia 1932), Vol.1, page 48. []
  3. Note that for several years ancestry.com mis-indexed the 1840 census of Walker County as Walton County. The pages are clearly marked with the militia district and “Walker County” but attributed by ancestry.com as Walton County.  Despite several messages left about this error, they have not corrected it as of this writing in August 2015. []
  4. Sartain, page 46. []
  5. The provenance of this family Bible is not clear but internet postings say that is is owned by descendants of Christopher Columbus Cannon, the youngest child of John Morgan’s oldest child Lucinda (wife of Bird Cannon).  Exactly who made the entries is unknown. []
  6. 1860 Walker County census, Pond Springs Post Office:  J. J. Morgan (43), Sarahann E. (23), Thomas J. (16), Annie L. (14), Narcissa (12), Penina (10), Nancy M. (9), John W. (7), James B. (6), Martha E. (4), Georgia Ann (9/12). []
  7. It is clear from the surrounding names that he was the same person of the federal census. []
  8. Roster of the Confederate soldiers of Georgia, … (Georgia, State Division of Confederate Pensions and Records), Vol. 1, page 973. []
  9. Ibid., page 973. []
  10. There was a John Morgan born about 1853 who was living in a Yell County Morgan family in 1860 and 1870. []