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Miles Morgan

FROM: History of the Morgan Family, A Merchant in Dderw (Thurrow) of Llandaff, Family History Library, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day, 35 N West Temple Street, Salt Lake City, UT 84150 USA

With his brother, James and John, he sailed from Bristol on the ship "Mary" and arrived at Boston in April 1636. They lived in Roxbury, MA for a time. James subsequently moved to Plymouth Colony and later settled in New Haven, CT, where he became a member of the Colonial Assembly of Connecticut and fought in the Pequot War. John grew disgusted with the bigotry, superstition, and the persecutions (including the witch trial) then taking place in New England and moved to Virginia.

Miles joined the company of Sir William Pychon in the colonization of western Massachusetts and was one of the founders of the city of Springfield, originally named Agawam after the Indian tribes that lived in the area. One of the company of colonist, Miles, though he was only 21 years of age, quickly became the second-in-command. He was one of the leading citizens of the new town and was regarded as an intrepid Indian fighter, farmer, and town leader. He had been given the title of "Sergeant Morgan" on the journey from Boston. In addition to establishing the farms that meant survival to the colonists, he was also the butcher in the community and, in later years, operated a boat on the Connecticut River, trading with other colonists and with the Indians. He was subsequently known as "Captain Morgan." Unable to read or write, his mark on the town records was the sign of an anchor.

On the voyage from Bristol he made the acquaintance of Miss Prudence Gilbert, who was immigrating to the New World with her family. Once settled in Agawam, he had a letter written to Prudence, who had settled in Beverly, north of Boston and prop0osed marriage. She accepted and in 1642, accompanied by an Indian guide, a packhorse, and two companions, Miles set out for Beverly, where the couple was married. Prudence, her possessions piled on the horse, walked the 120 miles back to Springfield with her new husband.

Morgan built one of the few fortified houses in town, was active in the militia, and was depended upon in protection of the frontier town. During the fighting that swept the colony during King Phillip's War in 1675 the Indians attacked Springfield, nearly destroying the town. Many of the citizens took refuge in Morgan's house, and under his command, held off the attack. An Indian servant who worked for Morgan managed to escape and alerted the Massachusetts Bay troops under the command of Major Samuel Appleton, who broke through to Springfield and drove off the attackers. Morgan's sons were famous Indian fighters in the territory. The Indians in battle killed his son, Peletiah, in 1675.

Miles appears in the records as a selectman, constable, surveyor, fence viewer, and overseer of highways. He was also appointed to sit in the balcony of the church during services and maintain order among the young men in the congregation. ("...up in ye gallery, to five a check to disorder in youth and young men in tyme of God's worship"...) Giv3n the piety of the early settlers this was a position of some honor and also attests to his force of personality.

Not all their time was spent in church, however. According to the records, in 1673, Hannah Merrick, unmarried daughter of Thomas Merrick, accused Miles's son Jonathan with the paternity of her child. Miles provided his son's bail, and Jonathan fought the chare. The court found him guilty, however, and ordered him to pay two shillings, six pence towards the child's support for four years. Jonathan's second wife eventually got a full confession from Hannah (the records do not indicate how) and Hannah was condemned to pay a fine of seven pounds or receive twenty lashes as punishment for her perjury. Jonathan, not letting matters lie, then filed a suit charging slander against Hannah's father, but lost. Eight years later Miles was again in trouble over a child. His daughter Lydia worked in the household of the family of Samuel Gaines, who became the father of her child. Miles filed charges and won his suit and Mr. Gaines was ordered to pay child support. The judges declared the "greate Cause to Lament and bewaile ye sore hand of Gof agst us in sufferin such vile inormityes to Breake out amongst us which as a Flood does threaten to overwelm us."

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