by Bill Miller
Doing genealogy sure can help you meet some really fascinating people. For example, we met my wife’s 5th great-grandfather, David Morgan, who becomes 294 years old in May. He’s completely worn out but what a story he has to tell. He was born in Delaware in 1721 to a Welch immigrant, Morgan Morgan from Glamorgan, Wales, and his wife Catherine. When David was 5 his family received a Royal Grant of 1000 acres in Berkeley County, VA and moved to what is now Bunker Hill, WV, where they built a log cabin. “When Col. Morgan settled on his patent of 1000 acres, there was not another white settlement between his and the Pacific coast.” They were a devout Anglican family and within years built on their property the first Anglican and Christian Church in what would become West Virginia. His father and brother “pastored” that church and are buried there.
There David became a frontiersman, which one day would earn him the title of “West Virginia’s Daniel Boone.” In fact, he was Daniel Boone’s 1st cousin. He also became a surveyor. Because of those two qualifications the Gov. of Virginia appointed him to survey southwestern Virginia. Soon he was joined by young George Washington, who had served in the militia under David’s father, and together they surveyed the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, part of which would become the Mason-Dixon line. At the finish they planted the famous Fairfax Stone in 1746. Washington later asked David to survey Washington’s vast land holdings along the Ohio River.
A few years later (1750s) he was fighting for the English in the French and Indian war, along with his cousin, Daniel Boone, and brother Zackquill. They were on the losing end with Gen. Braddock at Fort Duquesne (later Pittsburgh). David was left with a saber scar to his left cheek. In 1771 David moved his family and his brother Zackquill, to the new frontier near what is now Fairmont, WV, where they helped build and settled into Prickett’s Fort. He was there when Daniel Boone, his first cousin, was in a crisis and came to stay with him for a few days. (Boone’s father, Squire, had married David’s Uncle Edward Morgan’s daughter, Sarah.)
With the start of the Revolutionary War the whole Morgan family turned against the Crown and England and joined the Continental Army. In 1777 David and three of his sons – Morgan, Evan and James – along with his father, Col. Morgan Morgan, and his brother Col. Zackquill (who was the founder of Morgantown, WV) pledged their lives to his old friend George Washington and the American cause. Three of them became War pensioners. David is my wife’s Daughters of the American Revolution Patriot.
In 1778 he was home from the war and back at Prickett’s Fort when the defining event of David’s life took place. His legendary reputation as “Indian Fighter” probably started in the French and Indian War and was enhanced by numerous conflicts with Indians after their move to Western Virginia. The family Bible says “he killed seven Indians,” all in self-defense. The legend was defined by an event in his 57th year. He was in Prickett’s Fort and extremely ill. In a feverish dream he saw two of his children running around scalped and bleeding. He jumped out of bed, grabbed his gun, rushed out through the open Fort gates and saw Stephen and Sarah chasing a cow. As he called them back to the fort he was attacked by two Indians. He shot and killed one. As David ran toward the fort the other Indian threw a tomahawk at the back of his head. Instinctively he threw up his hand to protect his head when the tomahawk struck and severed two of his fingers. After a fierce struggle “Morgan stabbed the Indian with the Indian’s own knife.” That event is commemorated with the monument (pictured) in Rivesville, WV to “David Morgan, Indian Fighter.” He and Sarah are buried nearby.
David was described as “six-foot-one, powerfully built, with black hair, which he still had at 93, and black eyes. He had a large scar on his left cheek and was missing two fingers. He was fearless yet known by his contemporaries as ‘one the kindest people and best neighbor you could ever have.’ His son said, ‘He was a bit overindulgent with his children.” He certainly left future generations an amazing legacy.
When you start digging up family roots you will find a few “skeletons” but you will also find some amazing ancestors with great stories to tell. To learn some new stories or to share old ones you are invited to attend the Lake Lure Genealogy Club meeting the second Tuesday of each month at 3:00 in Mountains Branch Library.