Morgan’s descendants are now dispersed from the Eastern seaboard all the way to Hawaii; we shall now follow the lives of his four children.
Eldest child John Moses followed in his father’s footsteps (probably literally) and became a coalminer and, like a lot of family members, he felt the need to add a middle name after emigrating to the U.S. – the 1910 census tells us it began with the letter L. This was probably a nod to the Stradling side of the family – Lewis perhaps after his grandfather. Lucas miner John married 19 year old Elzora A. Robins (b. Indiana June 1867) in Iowa on June 1st 1886, when he would have been 26 years old. The date of the wedding is significant because the following month, John’s father Morgan dies from his injuries. John and Elzora A. had two Iowa born daughters – Lillie Elzora (December 20th 1888) and Eva M. (August 1891). In 1896 John turns up as one of 35 people who signed a court petition which asked for Westville Illinois to be legally recognised as a village. In the census of 1900 the family were living in Georgetown, Vermillion Co. ILL. Ten years later and they had moved to Marion, Williamson Co. Illinois, where John (L) sadly died at only 55 years of age on 30/6/1916. At the time of his death he was a mine manager, having worked his way up from being a collier and “Driver“, as he was described in the Iowa state census of 1885. He was buried in the Maplewood Cemetery on July 2nd 1916. Just over four years later John’s widow Elzora died on October 10th 1920 in Crescent Iroquois ILL., she was only 53 years old.
Eldest daughter Lillie E. went on to marry Johnston City ILL. born En(n)is Nichols True in 1905/6, whilst still a teenager – Enis was 13 years her senior (b.4/2/1874) and in the confectionary business. We know they had a daughter, Florence L., shortly afterwards in Illinois. In the census of 1910 the family were living in Williamson County Illinois. Lillie E. True “disappears” before the next census; En(n)is describes himself in 1930 as single and in 1940 as a “widower“- a divorce seems highly likely. En(n)is N. True died aged 71 on May 16th 1945 in Herrin, Williamson Co. ILL.
Lillie Elzora’s younger sister Eva M. married a local farmer, John B. Veach, and they set up home in Iroquois Illinois. Chicago born Eva M. sadly became a 33 year old widow when John Veach died in 1925; they had no children. Five years later, Eva M. married her late husband’s 1st Cousin! – Harry Veach Romine (1891-1965). They had a son Jack Romine (1931-2017).
Morgan and Elizabeth’s only daughter, Jane Moses, married Welshman Robert Bryn(n) in Fountains Co. Indiana on February 23rd 1882. Robert had only arrived in the U.S. in 1879 and gave his place of birth as “Cumbah” – I assume that should be Cwmbach (near Aberdare, Glamorgan). Jane was only 17 when she got wed, and her husband Robert (born Dec.5th 1850) was actually closer in age to his new father-in-law than his bride! Not long after the wedding, and just like Jane’s father, they moved west to Lucas Iowa; probably due to the opening of the Whitebreast Fuel Co. Big Hill Mine in Cleveland Township, and almost certainly because Cleveland was a more desirable place to live than Coal Creek. They went on to have a large family consisting of nine children (seven survived), and amazingly they were all boys! They were born in four different states as the Bryn(n) family “followed the coal“.
Indiana – John Morgan b. 22/5/1883 in Coal Creek – d.5/1/1956
Iowa – William A. b.Nov.8th 1885 (Knoxville, Marion) – d.24/3/1958 (buried in Auburn) and Thomas b. May 1889
Alabama (Blocton) – Robert R. b.9/2/1890- d.Feb.1961, Evan R. b.24/2/1894-d.11/10/1950 (buried Springhill Cemetery Danville), unknown b. and d. between 1894-97, Edwin b.Jan. 21st 1897- d. May 31st 1908 (Auburn Sangamon ILL), and David M. b.6/1/1901 (Lopez) – d.11/6/1948 (Kankekee ILL. and buried in Pleasant MND Cemetery)
Illinois (Thayer) – George b.2/10/1905 – d.15/3/1981(Auburn Spangamon and buried in Merrillville IND.)
The Bryn(n) family’s final move from Alabama to Thayer Illinois, was so the men folk could work for Uncle Tom Moses (read on) at the Bunsenville Coal Co. in Georgetown. This makes the fact that Jane was airbrushed out of the book about her younger brother (“The transformation of a boy to a man in the coal mine“) extremely odd indeed.
In the census of 1910 the Bryn(n) family were living in Auburn Township Sangamon Co. ILL., and their seventh son Edwin had sadly died as a child. Also in this census the age gap between Jane and Robert had shrunk to 11 years (it was 13 years in the 1880 census). By the 1920 census all the boys, except George (too young ?), were (not surprisingly) coalminers and the family had a Scottish woman and her daughter as servants. The reason for this, was that sadly Jane had died in Westville ILL on 12/7/1918 aged 53; she was buried in Auburn Cemetery ILL. How ironic that her husband Robert comfortably outlived her considering his dangerous occupation and the large age gap between them. Robert Bryn(n) lived for another decade, dying on the 16th of August 1928 in Gary IND. He too was buried at Thayer/Auburn Sangamon ILL.
Back to the servants, and Euphemie Teriss (3/7/1874-15/3/1946) the widowed mother of Ann Teriss, later bizarrely married one of the Bryn(n) boys! William A. wed Euphemie (circa 1929), despite the fact that she was 11 years older than him. Other spouses included John Morgan marrying Anna 1892-1963, hospital attendant David M. marrying Helen, Evan R. marrying Annie Jones on Dec.11th 1920 and Laura J. (b.1909) was the name of George’s wife. Laura and George had a son Robert W. b.1929.
As mentioned before Evan VIII, Morgan’s middle son and the first American born Moses, “disappeared” after the 1870 census. His younger brother’s (Thomas M.) obituary later revealed that Evan had in fact died in a coal mining accident in Lucas Iowa, sometime before the next census of 1880. It’s hard to believe he would have been helping his father in the mine before the age of 11, so that must mean a date of around 1879 when he was killed. Curiously in the book written about his younger brother (see next chapter) Evan, who was little more than a child, was for some reason referred to as “Uncle Evan” when he was horrifically crushed to death by a moving trip of loaded coal tram’s in an accident underground. Although back then this was probably by no means an uncommon occurrence, one can hardly imagine the guilt his father Morgan must have felt.
Morgan’s youngest child, Thomas Morgan Moses, also started working underground at a similar age to his late sibling, but his life would turn out a lot different to his brother’s. In fact you could have probably written a book about it – well somebody did :- “The transformation of a boy to a man in the coal mine” by Eugene Henry Jobson. Jobson was by then related to Thomas M. through marriage; his daughter married “Tom‘s” (as he is referred to in the book) son – more about that later. The manuscript was deposited in the archives of The University of Pittsburgh by Tom’s Granddaughter Robena (Nena) Moses Spencer (of Santa Barbara California), whose own branch has also made a significant contribution to U.S. society in several spheres over the years. Despite displaying a great deal of artistic license, the book is a fascinating read as it charts the remarkable rags to riches story of the “boy” born in Audenreid PA on 18/8/1869.
Spurred on by the deaths at work of his father and older brother, Tom would go on and fulfil his father’s dream and in doing so becomes arguably the most successful “Moses” to date. He first went down an Indiana coal mine at the age of 11, and later saw his father knocked unconscious by a “slab of slate” in Lucas Iowa when he was just “13“. Witnessing this accident at first hand is what fuelled the “boy“s interest in mine safety; which he would later be in a position to influence, as he rose to the pinnacle of the industry. With his father incapacitated from his injuries, Tom now had to bring home money himself to help support the family, rather than simply being his dad’s “helper“. Faced with this situation he became a “trapper boy” which involved sitting all day in the dark entry of a mine, opening and shutting a door to trap and divert a current of air. After the eventual death of his father from his injuries, and before he started on his amazing rise to the top, Tom had embarked on a coal mining “tour” which took in mule driving at St. David Illinois, and finally the Pawnee Mine at Grape Creek. This mine was just two miles from Westville Illinois, where he was then living. By 1896 Tom was earning $3 a day as a “regular” coalminer. The following year, aged just 28, Tom was elected president of his local union and was also appointed as a delegate to the Illinois United Mine Workers of America convention. He eventually hung up his coal pick in 1905, aged 36, and turned to management, when he was appointed as Secretary of the Illinois State Mining Board by no less a person than the State Governor himself. Jobson’s book tells us that this was a fulfilment of a dream which Tom had on his first day at work, when he “suddenly discovered his father half-buried under several large pieces of slate“; “unable to budge it” the young boy was helped by a “tall, powerful-looking man” who had “rose beside him“. The man in the “realistic and vivid” dream, then commanded Tom in “a stern voice” that he “must help coal miners“.
Tom’s meteoric rise continued two years later when he became a state mines inspector for the “twelfth district“, which included his hometown of Westville. His achievements were all the more remarkable as, due to spending a total of just 15 months in schooling, he was still illiterate into his late twenties. He was eventually taught to read and write by his wife, the public school educated “petite Scotch girl with golden curly hair, light blue eyes, and ruddy cheeks” – Robena Hamilton Pringle or “Beanie” (b.29/9/1874 in Scotland). Tom and school-teacher Robena got married on February 13th 1896. “All his life, Tom had been a champion of the unfortunate miners. He was conscious of their poverty and miseries“, and now he was in a position to do something about it; remembering a promise he made to his late father and not so late Uncle Evan – “To do something to end the tragedies that had needlessly taken the lives of so many coal miners.” In 1924 Tom was sent to the Chicago Republican convention as the delegate to elect their presidential candidate. “Big Boss” Tom eventually went on to become president of the giant H.C. Frick Coal Co. in 1927, and in the census of 1930 was described as a 60 year old mine owner living in Vermillion Illinois. When he retired aged “Three score and ten“, he warranted a mention in the September 1939 issue of TIME Magazine. On the front cover was his look-alike Winston Churchill, and inside he was described as “Hard-boiled” and “round faced” – the Moses answer to Alan Sugar perhaps! It continued – “At eleven Welsh-blooded Tom Moses began his career in an Indiana mine, soon had a union card. By the time he was 40, he had changed to the management side of the tracks, and in 1933 as president of U.S. Steel’s subsidiary, H.C. Frick Coke Co., carried the ball for steel in its first New Deal struggle with labour“. Later on September 12th 1946, Mrs. Moses opened, what was at the time, the country’s largest coal mine – the eponymous Robena Mine in Pennsylvania. Not to be outdone by his missus, Tom got a paddle steamer on Lake Erie named after him; as you do! As a final tribute to our Tom, I include an extract from the book “History under our feet” – The story of Vermilion Co. Illinois – “One of the leading personalities to arise from the Westville coal fields was Tom Moses, who became one of the nation’s most highly respected coalmining executives. His accomplishments are all the more remarkable since he started his career as one of the most “disadvantaged” of Americans“. Tom retired on the 1st of January 1946, but was persuaded to come out of retirement by the State Governor, to take the post of Head of Mines & Minerals Dept. on October 1st 1947. But perhaps Tom’s proudest moment came when he and his wife were invited to a reception at the White House by President Calvin Coolidge and “Mrs. Coolidge” on December 8th 1927. No doubt Tom’s late father Morgan Moses would have been extremely proud of his son’s achievements, which certainly vindicated his decision to leave the “Black Mountain” all those years before – 61 years after he left Godre Wen Houses (little white houses skirting a South Wales valley), his son had got invited to THE White House; quite a remarkable journey.
Away from work, Tom and Robena had “four” children – Harry Morgan (perhaps named for the above Mr.H.C. Frick) b.11/11/1896 in Westville ILL., Mabel(le) Jean b.14/6/1901 in Danville ILL, Elizabeth, a stillborn daughter (confirmation needed) “b.”19/9/1903 and George Thomas b.10/9/1905. Thomas Morgan Moses died in Danville Illinois on February 20th 1948 aged 78 years 6 months and 2 days from “Acute dilatation of heart“. He died in hospital several weeks after an operation, and shortly after his 52nd wedding anniversary. He was buried in a family plot at the Springhill Cemetery, Danville Vermilion Co. ILL together with his wife Robena (d.25/5/1960), his stillborn daughter Elizabeth and his step-mam Sarah Ann.
According to the details on eldest boy Harry M.’s military service form (he was called up at the age of 49!), he appeared to take after his mother’s side of the family – a tall Scot rather than a stocky Welshman. He graduated from Wabash College and became a coal engineer in Benton ILL; later aged 33, he was a mine superintendent in Georgetown ILL. Later still he went on to become president of both the Bituminous Coal Operators Association and the coal mining subsidiaries of the United States Steel Co., and was credited with helping to bring peaceful labour relations to the soft coal industry in the years following World war II. He was married twice; the first marriage to Ruth Cantrell, on January 19th 1918, ended in tragedy when she died from complications after giving birth to their third child Richard Cantrell Moses on 26/2/1928. Richard C. had two older siblings – Thomas William (b. Benton 30/1/1919 – d.1986), and Marianne Morgan (b. 6/12/1921). Indianapolis-based Thomas William married Anne Elizabeth Murtha in 1942, their five children are Anne Tilman 1943, Elizabeth Morgan 1947, John Murtha 1950, Thomas William 1955 and Mary Cantrell 1957. Marianne married Hugh R.H.”Dick” Smith, and they too had five children – Leslie, Nancy Morgan, Lindsey, Tilman Cantrell and Scott. Marianne Morgan Smith (nee Moses) tragically ended up dying in a house fire in Chevy Chase, Maryland on New Years Day 1997.
Back to Harry M. and it did not take him long to get over the loss of 1st wife Ruth, as he remarried just 17 months later on August 6th 1929. Mrs. Moses number two was Garnet V. Strawser “a tall dark beautiful teacher” ten years his junior and of Germanic stock. Fourteen years after Richard Cantrell’s tragic birth, Harry M. became a father once more when Garnet V. gave birth to a son – Morgan Evan on 6/8/1942, which was coincidentally also their wedding anniversary. Tragedy was to strike again however, as Garnet V. died aged just 55 from brain cancer; but not before she had apparently spent all the family’s money! Harry Morgan Moses passed away on April 1st 1956 and is buried in the Springhill Cemetery with his two wives – Ruth (13/11/1894 Benton ILL -16/3/ 1928) and Garnet (29/8/1905-10/1/1961). Harry Morgan only outlived his father by eight years and his premature passing was front page news in several U.S. newspapers -“Moses, Coal Firms’ Negotiator, Dies“, “Cancer takes Harry Moses” and “Harry Moses dies at 59” were three examples. Not bad for someone who’s grandfather used to scrape a living on Graigwen Hill, “Ponty-Prid” (sic), South Wales.
Harry M.’s son Richard Cantrell Moses went on to become a successful businessman, and later still an advertising executive in L.A. He married Wightman Cup winning tennis player Marion McCargo, who after hanging up her racquet became a very successful actress. Her small screen credits include – The Virginian, Perry Mason, Hawaii Five-O, Voyage to the bottom of the sea, The man from U.N.C.L.E and Falcon Crest. On the big screen she starred alongside Rock Hudson and John Wayne in “The Undefeated“. She and Richard C. eventually divorced in 1963 after having four sons together – Richard Cantrell II (actor and musician), Harry Morgan (director/minister), Graham McCargo (musician) and William Remington (actor/film star). Marion McCargo/Moses went on to marry Californian Congressman Alphonzo E. Bell Jnr., who adopted the four boys; she sadly died from cancer on 7/4/2004. Richard Cantrell Snr. died in New York on the 30th of July 1988. Incidentally their son William Remington actually appeared alongside his mother in the popular TV soap Falcon Crest, and here’s one for all you “Pop Pickers” out there; his 1st wife was Tracey Nelson, the daughter of the late teen idol/pop star Ricky (later Rick) Nelson, with whom he had a daughter Remington Elizabeth. Los Angeles born William Remington, or Billy, is probably best known for starring in the Perry Mason Mysteries and is the highest profile family member we have so far discovered. He married his 2nd wife Sarah in 2002, and they have a daughter Grace. So then, this branch of the family tree has taken us from Hendre Rhys to Falcon Crest – what a strangely surreal thought that is!
Richard Cantrell’s half-brother and Harry M.’s youngest son, Morgan Evan Moses, went one better than his father and got married three times; probably a family record – Mary Susan McGrath, Diane Moore and Barbara Halterman were the spouses. Two daughters resulted from these marriages Megan (who sadly died as a child) and J. Garnet Moses-Melton (who currently lives in Virginia Beach VA). Morgan Evan died in 2001 from MS.
Finally what about Harry Morgan’s sister and brother – Mabel(le) Jean Moses married “Gas manufacturer” Harold Theodore Leverenz (7/8/1899 -12/11/1960) on Oct. 28th 1925 in Danville ILL. Harold T. was born and died in Danville, Vermilion ILL. They had a daughter Nancy J. (b. circa 1927), and in the census of 1930 the family were living with Mabel Jean’s parents Tom and Robena Moses. Mabel(le) Jean Leverenz (nee Moses) died in June 1974 in Danville Vermillion ILL. and is buried in the town’s Springhill Cemetery. Their daughter Nancy J. married Gene Fass who actually operated the Coca-Cola bottling business!
On October 13th 1928 “Buyer/Steelmaker” George Thomas Moses married Sarah Mae Jobson (b. 1905) in Marion Indiana. Sarah Mae was the daughter of the inventor and writer Eugene Henry Jobson. They had three Pittsburgh PA born children – George T. Jnr. (died November 30th 2007), Robert(a) b.1932 and Robena/Nena (surname now Spencer) b. January 10th 1933 who incidentally had an alarm named after her! The Nena alarm was a safety device invented by her grandfather, and detected methane gas in coal mines. Robena Moses Spencer died on November 22nd 2017 aged 84. Her father George Thomas Moses died on May 21st 1965 aged just 59.
E.H. Jobson (1875-1943) wrote the biography of his in-law Thomas Morgan Moses sometime between 1927-1941. Interestingly Jobson’s book (p.80) makes the rather bold claim that “The Moses family was of the nobility” ! It tells the story of Tom’s grandfather eloping with the daughter of a Welsh nobleman. Unfortunately our research has uncovered no evidence of this.
Thanks to Herb Depke for his help with these chapters.