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Morgan Family Pioneer Heritage
Alvin Elmer Morgan Life History

Life Histories for Alvin Elmer Morgan and his wife Sarah Anna Barnhart Morgan


Alvin Elmer Morgan was born november 28, 1899, the tenth child in a family of 13, of William Thomas Morgan and Sarah Lovina Ross, at Neeley, Idaho, Oneida County [later called Power County].

Sarah Anna was born 22 December 1900 to William Daniel Barnhart and Sarah Ann Mower. She was the last of nine children.

Alvin, in his own words, says "Then in the spring of 1918 I met Sarah Anna Barnhart and I knew it was she that I wanted for a life partner. We spent a very pleasant summer together. We were married on the 24 Dec 1918. [This marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple, 25 September 1929]. We came to Idaho Falls on our honeymoon."

Life History for Alvin Elmer Morgan written by Alvin E. Morgan with notes added by his daughter Vada Drucy Morgan Burden.

William Thomas and Sarah Lovina Ross Morgan moved to Neeley, Idaho [then called Neeleyville] in the late fall of 1881, as pioneers from Leamington, Utah. Many things have been written about their early years as new settlers of this area and Alvin being the 10th child was born 18 years after their arrival.

The first I could remember was when Ada was married. I also remembered a Mr. Christensen, a partriarch, who came to the house and gave the whole family a Patriarchal blessing [March 8 1905]. My father, William Thomas was the first counselor to Bishop Bennion and we chldrin were required to attend church quite regularly. I served as president of the Deacons, Teachers and Priests Quorum groups at different times. Later I served as president of the Elders Quorum.

We weren't always perfect children, tho. We would play hooky from church and turn the two stud horses together and the fur would fly. In those days dad prized his horses and he had about the best string of horses in the country. [He rented his horses out to other farmers as they moved into the area]

Dad homesteaded 160 acres of dryfarm land close to Neeley, Idaho. My sister Julia filed on 160 acres and so did Dee and [my sister] Ada Radford all on little creek about 8 miles from Dad's Neeley ranch. [My brother] Dick filed on 40 acres close to dads and he made a plow from two buggy wheels that could be ridden while plowing. Dad also had an irrigated farm. [The original homestead they settled on when they first came to Neeleyville]

[Alvin was raised on the farm and their social life centered around church activities and home entertainment going from place to place on horseback or by buggy]

In the early part of my life I attended the usual eighth grade of school and as my father had a large irrigated farm at Neeley and a dry farm some eight miles away I was kept busy. In 1917 my brother Marvin, being the oldest at home and unmarried, enlisted in the army, leaving myself as next oldest to carry on the farm work and so there was no more High School for me. [Alvin E. Morgan belonged to the "Boys Working Reserve." This meant he was exempted from serving in the army to do farm work for his family. His certificate was dated May 1, 1918 and signed by William Edwin Hall]

I was always close to my brother Will's boys as they were near my age. [Will was George William, the oldest. The boys were Leon, Roy and Pete Morgan]

[Alvin said that his father had helped build the church house and was in the bishopric for about 20 years as first counselor to about three bishops]

Dad bought a horse powered threshing machine and it fell my lot to run the machine. At that time they would thresh from sunup to into the next day.

Friends and neighbors of the Morgans were the Hunts, Stangers, Walkers, Hansons, Thorntons, Neeleys, Morris's, Paynes, Christensens, Sorensens, Rudens, Zarings, Jones, Dillies, Woods and the Fannings.

I remembered the Kohlhepp family staying all night with us [Mrs. Kohlhepp and her children]. Mother always baked a large batch of bread and had baked this night. When we got up in the morning Mrs. Kolhepp was gone and so was most of the bread. [One daughter was Minerva Tiechert, the now famous L.D.S. painter]. It was not too long before she was back to visit again. One time in church Mrs. Kohlhepp spoke in tongues that no one could understand, but she translated what she had said. At that time there wasn't any dryfarming around and she said that all this country would be waving fields of grain [Around Neeley], which it later was.

We had a lot of dances which were held in Neeley or American Falls, about five miles away, which we went to on horseback or buggy. Of course us kids had our chicken roasts, but most of the time they were too tough to eat. [Do not ask where they found the chickens]. We would catch crawdads, take the pinchers and tails off, roll them in mud, put them in the fire and bake them. Then we would break the mud off and eat them. We did a lot of swimming in the river and Indian Hot Springs.

A salesman told dad [William Thomas] that he had a machine that would separate the cream from the milk. Mother always kept the milk set in pans and would skim the cream off in the morning. Dad told him if the separator could do that he would buy one and dad bought the separator. [Note: They made and sold butter and cheese before they had the separator and also after the purchase] Water always had to be packed to the house in buckets.

Dad put up a lot of loose hay for winter and he kept about 20 horses and 20 cows. I and my sister julia had to do the milking. We [Each?] milked about five or six cows. Marvin [J.P.], a brother, would rather feed the horses and other work than milk the cows. There were three children older than Marvin that died whose names were Clara [died with diptheria], Melvin and Asahel.

Bishop Joe Morris was put in Bishop and dad was his first counselor. Then Golden [Jack] and Kenneth were born. Kenneth was raised on a bottle and he packed the bottle till he was about 10 years old it seemed, and then Orlean was born. Dad was busy with all the church work and with all the dryfarming and irrigation. [Alvin often felt neglected as he was the 10th child and his father was so busy with farming and work in the church he had little time left] Mother and all of us were kept quite busy. She was a large woman, but very gentle and understanding and always had time for questions any of the children might have. [Alvin said there were always neighborhood boys aplenty for dinner and some would stay all night]

Then Henry Peterson rented the old Neeley farm. He had two nieces living with him, Nellie and Lucy Worthington. Lucy had the St. Vitus Dance and she could never keep her hands still. I started dating Nellie and we spent a nice summer dating in the evening and going to entertainment of the ward and went to a few dances in American Falls. We became engaged and then she went to Idaho Falls to stay with my sister Ada for a few months. I got to chasing around with other girls and she started dating others too. [According to Lorene Morgan Burt, one girl he dated was a sister to Velma Allen Morgan, Uncle "Dick" Clifton's wife, by the name of Sylvia Allen].

Then in the spring of 1918 I met Sarah Anna Barnhart and I knew it was she that I wanted for a life partner. We spent a very pleasant summer together. We were married on the 24 Dec 1918. [This marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple, 25 Sept 1929]. We came to Idaho Falls on our honeymoon.

We bought the Charlesworth place during the summer of 1919. I paid her [Jane Charlesworth] $500.00 as down payment, for her farm, then in 1919 we had the first dryfarm crop failure in years. [Note: Alvin rented the farm from Jane in 1918].

[Notes: This same year in 1919 Alvin's mother, Sarah Lovina Ross, died of poison in some Epson Salts she took, and more about this in her story]

Dad helped us out and gave us a cow and some horses. We would of gotten along alright if we had of gotten a crop that fall. [Due to the crop failure they turned their farm over to his brother Dick Morgan]

We left Neeley to move with team and wagon to Idaho Falls, Idaho which was a mistake for there wasn't any work and the biscuits got just about out of reach that winter. I worked around at whatever I could find and mother [His wife Anna] sold garden stuff in town. We did not live too good that year. N. C. Grant [A construction contractor] was working in Filer, Idaho, [Building roads-Alvin got a job with him] so we built a canvas top on a hay rack and moved to Filer, Idaho with our small son, Elmo, born Feb 7, 1920.

[Hard times persued with Al working to help build a new road with his team of horses and Anna cooking for the road crews while living in a covered hayrack. Anna was only paid $2.00 per day and Al about $7.00 a day following a scraper with his team of horses]. [Alvin still had four good horses left]. Between buying hay for the horses and food for the men from this we didn't have much left to live on. We lived all that summer in the covered hayrack.

The biscuits got real high again in the winter, so the next year I rented a small farm and grew peas, corn and grain. We moved to Roseworth and I worked and cut fence posts to get by that winter. I think we would have had a better living if we had of gotten a tin bill and picked manure with the chickens. In those days there was not any dole or PWA, no gifts and you either earned what you got or went without. [Then Vada was born on the 23 March 1925 in Twin Falls, Idaho]. [Anna's sister Drucy Spalding sent them money when Vada was born so they could survive. They were very poor at this time]. [They lived in the Twin Falls area until the spring of 1926].

We didn't have much to spare or to live on. I worked one summer in the butcher shop and the next summer we rented another farm.

Julia and Rass Radford moved down there [Twin Falls] from Idaho Falls and they were about as poor as church mice. None of the people there were Mormons and we missed that very much so we drove to Twin Falls to church and there was only one ward in Twin Falls at the time.


On the left is Alvin Morgan's brother Kenneth Morgan (1905-1969). Second from left is Alvin Morgan (1899-1970), standing in the stirrups of two saddles. We believe the man second from right is Robert Morgan (1883-1939), (Son of Edward and Sarah West Morgan and grandson of Thomas Morgan) who was a nephew to Alvin and Kenneth. Robert Morgan married Delores Ross, daughter of Melvin and Mary Ellen Haddon Ross. These Morgan men were part of a crew engaged in construction of an irrigation ditch in the Shelton, Idaho area.

The next spring we moved back to American Falls [About 1926]. We ran a few milk cows on June grass on the dry farms and then we rented a herd of milk cows from Gib Hunt that summer and the next year we moved over to Rockland on Ernie Homer's place. We made a little better over there. We stayed there for seven years [In the Rockland area].

I was on the school board about all the time we lived there.

[Notes: This school house was a one room school with about 12 students and Elmo and I, Vada, both attended there. Dad and others found a Miss Laura Judge from Pingree, Idaho to teach the students and was a wonderful teacher. She taught there for two years and then went with us when we went to Lake Channel and taught us in the school there. So Elmo and I both had her as a teacher for three years. She formed a rhythm band, taught some of us to play the piano, ect.]

We started having dances in the old school house and danced all the old time dances.

[Noes: I Vada, remember going to the dances with mom and dad and sometimes dad would carry me along as they were dancing. Many in the neighborhood would come to the dances and had good times together. Miss Judge would often play for the dances and also others would play accordions or other musical instruments. Some of the children would fall asleep on coats waiting for the time to go home. We sometimes would watch while they danced square dancing].

[Notes: Also remember when we would visit neighbors for get-togethers in the winter and sometimes traveling there by sleigh. Dad would put hay into the sleigh and hot irons for our feet and blankets to cover us to keep us warm and dad would drive the team of horses to the neighbors and I remember the good times they used to have. The older ones would play cards and visit. We would have homemade ice cream and lots of wonderful cakes. Also remember when dad would drive us in the sleigh all the way into American Falls and the horses would have to walk thru deep snow to get us there. We usually went to American Falls to sell cream and for necessities].

[Notes: I also remember that dad raised lots of sheep and I would ride on the sleigh with him in the winter as he scattered hay to the sheep and cattle. He always did his own butchering of the animals for our food. They would sell their cream to a creamery in Rockland or American Falls].

[Joyce was born 26 July 1929 in American Falls. Dad was fishing and I was sent along a bank to get him to take mother to the hospital the night she was born. The next day we were taken to see our new baby sister. I was left with a neighbor, Nina Draper].

Then we moved to Lake Channel where Marvin [Al's brother J. P.] lived but that didn't pan out. We spent one summer down there with the lizards and snakes.

[Notes: Alvin built a two room log house for us to live in there. It was very nice and I remember it had sliding glass windows and plaster in between the logs. They were both proud of this house. Also remember him putting up hay and it was my job to stomp down the hay so the wagon would hold more. Elmo and dad would throw up water snakes to scare me to death. They did!]

In 1933 we moved to Osgood and the biscuits were high then. That winter Anna drove school bus and I tried to work for the P. W. A. at the airport but they laid me off because we had the school bus job for $28.00 a month, just about enough to buy hay. Brother Israel Call [A neighbor] told me if my cows would not quarrel with his cows I could turn them in his field. I sure did appreciate what he did for us. They were our closest friends from then on.

[Notes: Anna drove the school bus, in the winter with a sleigh with the canvas on top, and in the rest of the year with wheels on the same horse drawn bus. She had to get up early, go back home during school, and pick us up after school. There were probably fifteen students riding the bus. We had a small stove in the wagon that kept us warm on the way to and from school in the winter. Dad would harness the horses and get the bus ready for mother to drive and then care for the horses again at night].

[Notes: Dad farmed in Osgood from 1933 until about 1940. They raised wheat, sugar beets, alfalfa, potatoes, ect. all on irrigated ground for the Utah Idaho Sugar Company. Dad always had horses to do his farm work with, raised cows, pigs, ect. Each summer was a lot of work for all the family starting in the haying season until all the crops were harvested in the fall. Dad worked hard and mother helped also raising a good garden and helping dad when she could].

One Sunday morning I couldn't go to church so I told Israel Call [A neighbor] to take the car and go. When he got to the church house he hollered "Whoa," but the car didn't stop. When he did get it stopped he had a gate hanging on each side of the car.

Pete Allred, another dear friend, wanted me to work on a committee in the Elders Quorum and I did. That was a good start in church work and it was not long until I was the president of the Elder's Quorum. I labored in that capacity for abut 3 years then I became Bishop of the Osgood ward, for five years. 1944 to 1949.

We bought an 80 acre farm on the highway and Elmo and I built a house there. We had only a granary that Elmo and wife Iris lived in until the house was completed.

[Notes: It was about 1939 when they bought this farm. Uncle "Dee" Radford and Aunt Ada bought the adjoining farm, which was farmed by their oldest son Rulon Radford].

[Notes: This house they built was made from cinder blocks and had a basement. Mother did her part and made new curtains and pillows for the new house. They farmed this farm until after he was released from being a Bishop, at which time they sold this farm and moved to Salmon, Idaho, about 1949].

In 1949 we moved to Salmon but we did not like living there and we traded our farm in Salmon for a farm in Thornton and we lived there for about five years and then moved to Shelley, Idaho, one mile North and one mile West of Shelley.

Sheral, our youngest son and family lives here [Shelley] and his two sons and two daughters were born while they lived here. [Dad and Sheral farmed together]. We have enjoyed the children very much [Susan, Rex, Connie and Tom]. What makes me happy is to have our children working in the church. After all that is the greatest honor one can achieve.

[Notes: This was written separately by Alvin Elmer Morgan and was found in his Genealogy].

~Born 28 Nov 1899 Neeley, Power Co. Idaho

~Blessed: 8 Jan 1900 Neeley, Power Co. Idaho by William Thomas Morgan

~Baptised: 28 Nov 1907 Neeley, Power Co. Idaho by Joseph Morris [Bishop]

~Confirmed: 1 Dec 1907 Neeley, Power Co. Idaho by William Thomas Morgan

~Deacon: 16 Jan 1911 Neeley, Power Co. Idaho by William Thomas Morgan

~Elder: 23 Dec 1929 Joseph E. May

~President of Elders Quorum: 1941 Dr. H. Ray Hatch, Idaho Falls, Ida. Bonneville

~Married Sarah Anna Barnhart 24 Dec 1918 Pocatello, Bannock, Ida. by Felix Van Reuth

~Patriarchal blessing by Christensen 8 Mar 1905

~Ordained a Bishop 1944-49

Positions held: Genealogy worker, teacher, home teacher, Bishop for five years of the Osgood Ward near Idaho Falls, Idaho. Many years of Gen. research and temple work.

In July 1939 my wife and I and 32 people went on a temple excursion to the Canadian Temple at Cardston, Alberta, visiting the temple on the second day. We went from there to the Grand Coulee Dam in Washington State. We met Brother Oscar Kirkham there and he was dressed in a Boy Scout uniform. He spoke at our meeting in the Cardston Temple. We took pictures of everyone on the trip.

[The rest of this story has been gathered and written by Vada Morgan]

After his release as Bishop they moved to Salmon, Idaho but did not like living there and they moved to Thornton, Idaho where they farmed for 5 years. From Thornton they moved to a farm in Shelley, Idaho where they resided until the time of his death.

Even though his health had been failing he was still actively taking part in the operation of the farm. He had his hip socket replaced on one hip due to a cartilage wearing away and had to use crutches constantly to get around. Even with his disability, he would help with the chores, keep the tractor tires in good condition, and other tractor work or other repairs he could do. Alvin was in pain almost constantly because the other hip needed repaired also but he did not want another surgery. He did tractor work two days preceeding his death.

He has also been actively engaged in Genealogy and Temple work for the past few years. Alvin researched and gathered many family names during the 30's and thru to the 50's and continued doing temple work as long as he could. It would be very difficult to trace all the hours and time Alvin spent in correspondence and researching family names, places and gathering all he could from living relatives filling out pages and pages of families. He would visit all his family for information and help to further the work.

Alvin and Anna took many classes from a family history teacher in Idaho Falls before beginning this work. I was able to attend some of them with them.

One of his great loves has been to fish and hunt and he has spent many joyful days hunting deer with friends and family and fishing whenever he could go. He thoroughly enjoyed reliving his experiences as a hunter and fisherman with other sports lovers.


Our father had a wealth of love for children and he delighted in teasing them, loving them, and many of his nephews, nieces and friends children will remember him for the many pranks he enjoyed playing on them.

One time we had guests and do not remember who they were but Dad was an early riser and everyone was expected to get up when he did. When they slept in longer than he thought necessary he tipped over their bed to get them up.

He has enjoyed having his grandchildren close by and they have been a great source of joy to him. He had 15 grandchildren, 14 great grandchildren; one great grandson preceeded him in death.

In every man there are certain qualities that will forever be cherished by his family and long remembered by his friends. Of Al Morgan, his broad smile and his helping hand to everyone was a quality that I [Helen Grant Purcell] will always remember and will stand as an example to me. He never attained great worldly wealth as measured by today's standards but the wealth that he has laid up for himself and family in Heaven might well make him a millionaire there. [Written by Helen Purcell for his funeral]

Click on the link above to be taken to a life history for Sarah Anna Barnhart Morgan