This Mother’s Day, I would like to pay tribute to a woman whose passion for genealogy and family history have blessed her life and family, nearby communities and generations yet to come. I met Yvonne Morgan about five years ago when I was living temporarily in my home state of Pennsylvania. At the time, she was running a genealogy forum at the Monessen Public Library which I attended a few times. I walked away from those meetings with a sense of support and encouragement in my own family history endeavors, fueled by her fire and that of other like-minded members. More recently monthly forum meetings have relocated to the United Methodist Church in Perryopolis, Pennsylvania, but Morgan continues to actively engage local family historians with guest speakers and discussions about their ancestors.
Morgan, a great-grandmother in her own right, can trace her paternal lineage back six generations in Fayette county, Pennsylvania. The first progenitor in Fayette County was her 3rd great-grandfather James Blair who was born on 16 April 1793 in Franklin Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania. James married Rhoda Rittenhouse on 7 January 1819 as recorded in the family bible entry pictured below. After Rhoda’s death, James married Susan Sloanaker. All three of these early forbearers are buried in the Bowman Flatwoods Cemetery in Franklin Township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania.
The James Blair farm was divided and the property was distributed among his sons. According to Morgan, James’ four older sons had already claimed their portion of the original farm before their father’s death. The remaining farmland was distributed among the younger sons who were still in PA following his death in 1877, according to the 1879 Disbursement Platt Map pictured below. Most of the 200 acres distributed among family members has been sold off to outsiders, but many family artifacts have been preserved over time.
Morgan lives in a house that once belonged to her great-grandfather, and she has found numerous family heirlooms and treasures within its walls. Among these items are family photos. One current project includes sifting through two bins of “unknown” people from both sides of her family tree to scan the images and get possible identification of them. Morgan says, “I treasure the old photos… they make me feel a more personal connection to ancestors & descendants by putting a face to the names!” If any followers have ancestry from Fayette county, Pennsylvania, you should look at some of the “unknown” photos already posted online and try to identify the faces. According to Morgan, “Some of the photos are tintypes, possibly from the civil war era in our locality.” These unknowns may be viewed at http://www.minerd.com/shelkeyunknownfaces.htm
Morgan has compiled several publications pertaining to specific types of research for the Fayette country area. Last year, Morgan published another research book from memorabilia & photos that were left in the house by the generations before her. “I inherited a real treasure trove of material! Odd that I should wind up being the family historian, and I often wonder if it was all left here for me to find & pass on!” she says. This written legacy may provide vital information to current and future family historians searching for their fathers — and mothers — in Fayette county, Pennsylvania.
© 2017 Patricia J. Angus
Morgan’s books are listed on my “Books Suggested” page and below. They can be obtained at https://www.clossonpress.com/
Cossell-Morgan, Yvonne L. Blair. (2015). Flatwoods Baptist Church 1834-2009 Franklin Township, Fayette County PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
Lyons, Joan Rodgers Clem and Yvonne L. Blair Morgan. (2005). Tombstone Inscriptions of Mt. Washington Cemetery, PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
Morgan, Yvonne L Blair. (2003). Index of Census, Newspaper Obituary Files, and Microfilm – Fayette, Greene, Washington, & Westmoreland Counties. PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
Morgan, Yvonne L Blair. (2009). Alphabetical Listing – Flatwoods Cemetery Record. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
Morgan, Yvonne. (2016). Jackson Elementary School. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.
Thompson, H. Lloyd and Yvonne L. Morgan. (2009). Revolutionary War Vets – Westmoreland County, PA. Apollo, PA: Closson Press.