The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997 Page: 208
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Morgan's account speaks for itself and includes some biographical da-
ta at the end. The writer's nineteenth-century vernacularisms have been
preserved for flavor with only minor corrections. Like many other
memorialists, Morgan probably exaggerated when he placed himself
amid decision-making moments, yet his story offers unique details. A
brief sketch of his life before going to Texas follows to aid the reader.
The son of Abel and Rebecca Morgan, he was born on his grandfa-
ther's homestead December 23, 1793, in what is now Pender County,
North Carolina, along the Atlantic seaboard. Morgan's Quaker great-
grandfather had immigrated to Pennsylvania from Wales.2 In 1814, dur-
ing the last year of the War of 1812, nineteen-year-old Abel served
briefly with the New Hanover County militia on board a gunboat on the
Cape Fear River. From 1820o to 1822 he was a member of the House of
Commons in the North Carolina General Assembly, but financial prob-
lems caused him to move to Paducah, Kentucky, in 1827. He had en-
dorsed a note for another man resulting in the loss of his land and nine
slaves. In Paducah, Morgan worked with a doctor and also earned a liv-
ing as a harness and saddle maker. By 1835, he owned a farm and five
servants, served as justice of the peace, and had a wife, Zilpha, and two
sons, Abel and Edward E.3
Residents of Paducah in southwestern Kentucky on the Ohio River
quickly learned about events in Texas in 1835, and Morgan joined sev-
enteen others under the command of a neighbor, Capt. Amon B. King.4
King's company of Paducah volunteers joined that of Capt. Peyton S.
Wyatt from Huntsville, Alabama, for the journey to Texas. After crossing
the Sabine River, Morgan switched to Capt. Samuel O. Blair's company
of volunteers, and rode horseback to Bexar, arriving by mid-November
in time for the Grass Fight. For some reason-perhaps to escape marital
difficulties-Morgan had enlisted under the name of "Thomas Smith," a
subterfuge that caused problems later when he applied for his bounty
land. In an 1851 petition to the Texas legislature, he explained that he
had "served in the volunteers in a ficticious [sic] name like a parcel of
other simple fellows."
2 Morgan, "Account," last page. Birthdates vary but Morgan said December 23, 1793, in his
August 22, 1851, petition. Abel Morgan Memorials and Papers (Archives Division, Texas State
' Mary Smith Fay (comp.), War of 1812 Veterans in Texas (New Orleans: Polyanthos, 1979),
225; Petition of Abel Morgan to [U. S. Secretary of War?], Aug. 21, 1857, Military Bounty Land
Files, BL Rej 239859-55, War of 1812, Record Group 15 (National Archives; copy in Abel Mor-
gan Memorials and Papers); John L. Chaney Jr. (ed.), North Carolina Government, 1585-1979: A
Narrative and Statistical History (Raleigh: North Carolina Department of the Secretary of State,
1981), 275-279; Grace Miller White, "Abel Morgan, Soldier and Romeo," Frontier Times, XVIII
(Jan., 1941), 176 (this article has no documentation and some factual errors).
' Amon Butler King, born in Baltimore in 1807, settled at Paducah in 1827 where he served
as town marshal from 1833-1835. Walter P. Webb, H. Bailey Carroll, and Eldon Stephen Branda
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997, periodical, 1997; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/m1/258/: accessed November 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.