Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

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Feb 02

Greene County VIP: Arthur E. Morgan

Posted on February 2, 2022 at 10:10 AM by Melissa Dalton

Our next Greene County VIP is well known in the region as the engineer of the Miami Conservancy District (MCD) flood control project and his commitment to Antioch College. Today, we highlight Arthur E. Morgan (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 1 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 2 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will and Testament of Arthur E. Morgan, page 3 (JPG)

Fig 1. Last Will & Testament of Arthur Ernest Morgan (Greene County Archives)

Arthur Ernest Morgan was born on June 20, 1878 in Cincinnati, Ohio to John and Anna Morgan. John, an engineer, moved the family to St. Cloud, Minnesota shortly after Arthur was born. Morgan always had an inquiring mind and was eager to learn. After graduating high school, Arthur set out on his own, traversing the Mississippi River and making his way west to Colorado. Morgan always enjoyed being outdoors, and along the way, sought out odd jobs that afforded him the opportunity to work outside. Arthur also took some college courses while in Colorado. It was at this time that he learned more about engineering, specifically hydraulic engineering.

After three years on his own, Morgan returned home and entered into business with his father, forming Morgan & Morgan. He honed his skills while working as an apprentice to his father. Morgan was ambitious, and willing to take on challenging problems. In 1904, at the age of 26, Morgan offered to draft the statewide standards for drainage control for Minnesota. Morgan’s proposal was adopted and he was offered a job as the state engineer (which he declined).

In 1904, Morgan married Urania Tamar Jones, and their son, Arthur Ernest Morgan, Jr., was born the following year. Sadly, Urania died just months after the birth of their son. In 1910, at the age of 32, Morgan established his own engineering firm, Morgan Engineering Company in Memphis, TN. In 1911, Morgan married Lucy Griscom and the couple had two children, Griscom and Frances.

After the 1913 flood, Morgan was called on to assist the Miami Valley region in devising a flood prevention plan as his expert knowledge of drainage control and hydraulic engineering made him the perfect man for the job. Within days of the flood, Morgan came to Dayton to assess the damage and create a plan. The MCD was established, and the Miami River Flood Control Project was underway. Ultimately, five dams were constructed along the tributaries of the Great Miami River (Fig 2).

Fig 2. Consulting engineers visiting Lockington Dam, 1919 (JPG)

Fig 2. Consulting Engineers visiting Lockington Dam, 1919 (Miami Conservancy District)

Morgan was active in the Unitarian Church, and was the vice-president of the American Unitarian Association. The beliefs and ideals of the church influenced his work, and Morgan had utopian dreams of society. In 1919, Morgan was appointed as a trustee of Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The college was failing, and the following year, Morgan was appointed President. Morgan spent the next sixteen years rebuilding the school, and focused on turning out well-rounded individuals (Fig 3). As such, students were required to take coursework in the humanities, sciences, personal finance, health, and physical education. Morgan also instituted a work-study program, allowing students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience during the course of their studies. Morgan also was known for taking long walks in Glen Helen on the weekends, and had an open invitation for students and faculty to join him.

Fig 3. 1930 US Census with Morgan family outlined (JPG)

Fig 3. 1930 US Census with Morgan family outlined (Ancestry.com)

In 1933, Morgan was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to direct the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the first large scale regional planning program in the United States. Morgan saw this as an opportunity not only to provide resources and development to a region ravaged by the Great Depression, but also to change the standard of living for Americans (Fig 4). He believed that small communities were vital to society, and used this opportunity to breathe life into small towns in Tennessee. However, Morgan was not in unison with his fellow board members on many issues, but did see success in many of his early projects. In 1938, tension between the members reached a breaking point, and Morgan was removed from the agency after he publicly voiced his criticism of the program.

Fig 4. Arthur E. Morgan during tenure as a member of the TVA (JPG)

Fig 4. Arthur E. Morgan as member of the TVA (Library of Congress)

Morgan returned to Yellow Springs, but stayed active and committed to his work in engineering and the future of small communities. In particular, in 1940 he founded the Community Service Inc. in Yellow Springs to study the future of small communities. Lucy Morgan died in 1972 and three years later in 1975, Arthur Morgan died at the age of 97 (Fig 5). To pay homage to the great educator and engineer, in 1976, Lucy and Arthur’s ashes were reinterred at the entrance of Glen Helen and a large boulder was placed over the site (Fig 6). Today it stands as a memorial to man of great resilience and fortitude.

Fig 5. Obituary of Arthur E. Morgan (JPG)

Fig 5. Obituary of Arthur E. Morgan (Ancestry.com)

Fig 6. Arthur and Lucy Morgan Memorial at Glen Helen Nature Preserve (JPG)

Fig 6. Memorial for Arthur and Lucy Morgan at Glen Helen Nature Preserve (FindAGrave)

Sources:

Ancestry.com

FindAGrave.com

Greene County Archives

Library of Congress

Miami Conservancy District

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