Monday Madness – a few of them Morgans

This is an excerpt from a letter, referring to the children of George William Morgan (1844-1892) that I’ve stumbled upon. A generation where TWO of the boys ended up in an “Insane Asylum”. How interesting! What was going on with this family?

Happy Monday Madness!

Hannah Sophia Parks
by Audrey Bissett Swift 4/1998

My grandmother, Hannah Sophia Parks was born in 1848 at Grand Lake, New Brunswick. In 1872 she married George Morgan, a butcher, in Saint John. During her married life she lived on King Street, Guilford Street, and St. James Street: all in West Saint John.

She had six sons and two daughters. William, the oldest, was born in 1873 and Emma, the youngest was born in 1889. Emma died as an infant and so Hannah was left with 7 children who lived into adulthood. My mother [Harriet] was blamed for Emma’s death for she had taken Emma up into the hay loft and then she dropped Emma who landed on her head after falling to ground level. Emma died a few months later.

A turning point in Hannah’s life and the lives of her children was when her husband died of TB in the fall of 1892.

…Hannah was troubled with rheumatism during the period that I knew her. Her father also suffered from this affection. She spent most of her time sitting in a rocking chair and when she walked, she would use a cane and shuffle along.

When her husband died the oldest son, William (Willie) was 19 years old. He took over all the decision making responsibilities for the family. My mother [Harriet] was 8 or 9 years old at this time. She was taken out of school and placed in a sewing factory where she learned to become a seamstress. When we were young she made all our clothes right down to the underwear. When she was 14, Charles Bissett age 23, asked her to marry him. She refused and he went to her brother William and he gave permission. He informed Hattie that the family would no longer support her. Hattie relented and was married shortly after.

During this time, William ran the business of supplying meat to butchers in West Saint John and Saint John. ….

The next son was Albert (Allie) who worked for the Postal Service, was unmarried and always lived with Nana. He was very odd and in hind sight I cannot understand how he held a job. He never talked and his room was off limits. He had a parrot that would scream ‘get out’ when the door was opened. As children we would sneak into his room when he was not home. The walls were covered with stuffed animal heads. At one time Allie had a live monkey and we were scared to death of it. Finally the monkey learned to open the door and Allie had to keep the door locked. One day he forgot to lock the door and the monkey got out room and then out of the house. Allie never found his monkey. Allie lived in the house after Nana died. One night there was a fire in his room and he died. All the neighbors knew that he kept his money buried on the property, and when the family got to the house the yard was dug over. Days later there were a few new cars in the neighborhood.

Walter was the next son and he moved to the Pennsylvania. He married and had three children. He was a carpenter. Later he moved to Malden, MA and his two daughters lived in Melrose, MA and where known to their cousins. His son, Harold Morgan, lived in Hawaii.

Next came Mitchel. As a young man, he found work in Toledo, Ohio. He never married. He had some mental problem in Ohio and my mother was contacted. As he was Canadian, he couldn’t be hospitalized in the States. She arranged for him to come from Ohio to Massachusetts on the train and he stayed with us for a while. One day while in Malden center, he took off all his clothes and was brought home by the police. My mother then took him to Saint John were he was institutionalized at the Fairville Insane Asylum. Every once in a while Nana would bring Mitchel home and he would end up smashing the plate glass window in the store. After the second time, she never brought him home again. He spent his whole life in Fairville. When we would visit, Mitchel would always say that he didn’t belong there with mental patients and he wasn’t like them.

The next to the youngest son was Fred. He left home at an early age and went to Montreal. There he married a French woman with children. After Allie died in the fire, Fred came home and took over the house. He raised angora rabbits for fur and meat. After the death of his wife, her sister lived with him. Later when Fred died, she stayed on and lived alone in the upper floor of the house….

Ernest was the youngest son. He left home at an early age to go out to western Canada with the harvesters. He had a mental breakdown while with the harvesters and was returned to Saint John. His condition must have been worse than Mitchel’s, as he was never brought home. He spent his entire life in Fairville Insane Asylum. When we would visit him he would just sit there and never say anything. Ernest never married.

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