In Good Countenance #8 – Jannett Louise (Reese) Morgan

Morgan Jannett Louise Reese

Great-Great-Grandmother Jannett Louise (Reese) Morgan, a native of Wales, made her home in Carnegie, Pa. for decades after immigrating through Philadelphia in 1870. But she made at least one trip back home to Wales, and lived in Dover, Ohio for a time — the place her youngest daughter, and descendants, still call home a century later.

Jannett Louise Morgan | Weible Family History

Picking up our series on Vintage Visages earlier this week, we came face to face with Great-Great Grandfather Thomas Morgan for the first time. We followed his life and times as we know them (so far) in America, from emigration from Wales in 1870, to marriage in 1872 in Philadelphia, through work in the mills of western Pennsylvania as a heater.

After establishing a foothold in America, the family really settled down in Carnegie, Pa., northwest of Pittsburgh. It was there that Thomas made a name for himself in local political life, and in his final years ran the Hotel Morgan.

Sadly, those golden years were cut short. Thomas died in 1897 at age 49 of unknown causes — at least to this one of his descendants 115 years later. His Post-Gazette obituary follows the same tight stylistic constraints the paper stayed with for generations of Thomas’ descendants, revealing no details about his parentage or place of birth in Wales, not even the names of surviving relatives.

Fortunately, we know a bit more about his wife, my great-great grandmother, Jannett Louise Morgan. And we pick up the family’s story after Thomas’s death, where interestingly enough, their journey westward continues to the hometown of several branches of my family for several generations back — Dover, Ohio.

A Two-Year Stay in Dover, Ohio – With Relatives Remaining

Following her husband’s death, Jannett Morgan keeps a lively household in Carnegie.

Residing with her in 1900 and most of the decade leading up  to 1910 are oldest sons William and Thomas, who were already working, as well as younger sons David and Glenn. Daughter Sarah would be married by 1910. Rounding out the household are younger daughters Janet and (my great-grandmother) Beatrice.

But sometime before the next census in 1920 — and more importantly, before Janet’s death in 1914 — part of the family moves to Dover, Ohio. We know this because of the descendants who remain — son Glenn, who married Salina Belle Rudge, died in Dover in 1956, and is buried in Dover Burial Park; daughter, Janet May, who married Howard Richardson, and moved from Dover to Warren, Ohio in the 1930s, dying there in 1978; and my great-grandmother Beatrice, who married Dover native Robert Ohio Weible three months after her mother’s death in February 1914, and made her home in Dover for 60 years until her death in 1974.

Great-great-grandmother Jannett Morgan’s Post-Gazette obituary is again vague about anything other than the basic details. But her death was front page news in Dover, Ohio, with the obituary recounting her two-year residence in the city, where she was reportedly “well known here,” but had returned to Carnegie in June 1913. An article the previous day noted that daughter Janet Richardson had been called to Carnegie due to her mother’s illness.

None of the articles memorializing Jannett’s final days outline her origins in Wales. What we’re left with, then, are breadcrumbs. Some definitive — like the  Pennsylvania death certificate that identifies her father as Daniel Rees, and her mother “unknown.” Or anecdotal clues from family, including Aunt Pinny Ley’s remembering her grandmother, Beatrice (Morgan) Weible telling her that Thomas and Jannett hailed from Cardiff, Wales.

Summer Voyages to Wales

One nice bit of family lore I will present in this blog for the first time is a note from Elizabeth (Betty) Curtis Neely — Jannett’s granddaughter — to my mother Janet Louise (Ley) Foutz in the 1970s. It is Betty Neely’s daughter, Sally, who graciously shared the portraits of Thomas and Jannett Morgan.

In the note, Betty shares some remarkable details of family members, among these:

* Thomas and Jannett had a daughter, Edith, who died in infancy at just more than a month old. Edith is memorialized with a little stone lamb on her grave in the family plot in Chartiers Cemetery, Carnegie.

* My great-grandmother — “Aunt Beece,” as Betty calls her — was so tiny that for months the family carried her around on a pillow.

* William Morgan — “Uncle Bill” — went to the Yukon during the Great Gold Rush. And was there at the time his mother died, traveling back for her funeral.

* William, Thomas and David were all bachelors.

* the family name of Jannett, at least back in Wales, was Rhys

Perhaps most remarkable in Betty’s note is her remembrance of the trips Jannett and her older daughters would take back to Wales in the late 19th century, something my mom discovered as she tracked entrances and exits from Ellis Island. Betty Neely writes:

I do know that for some years their Mother took the two girls, Mother and Aunt Jen, back to Wales for a summer vacation — usually a month. Mother said it took seven days by boat and she was seasick every minute of the way.

Can you imagine packing bags and trunks for 3 women for that length of time — leg o’ mutton sleeves, bustles, etc. — and hats.

What this note indicates, with the Wales trips and also the remembrance of visiting cousins, is that the Reese/Morgans maintained links with family, both in Wales and probably stateside, too. That these connections have faded with time is perhaps inevitable — but reason enough for the genealogical quest to continue.

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