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The Foundation for The Gator Nation An Equal Opportunity Institution Samuel Proctor Oral History Program College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Program Director : Dr. Paul Ortiz Office Manager : Tamarra Jenkins 241 Pugh Hall Digital Humanities Coordinator : Deborah Hendrix PO Box 115215 Gainesville, FL 32611 352 392 7168 35 2 846 1983 Fax The Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (SPOHP) was founded by Dr. Samuel Proctor at the University of Florida in 1967. Its original projects were collections centered around Florida history with the purpose of preserving eyewitness acc ounts of economic, social, political, religious and intellectual life in Florida and the South. In the 45 years since its inception, SPOHP has collected over 5,000 interviews in its archives. Transcribed interviews are available through SPOHP for use by research scholars, students, journalists, and other interested groups. Material is frequently used for theses, dissertations, articles, books, documentaries, museum displays, and a variety of other public uses. As standard oral history practice dictates, S POHP recommends that researchers refer to both the transcript and audio of an interview when conducting their work. A selection of interviews are available online here through the UF Digital Collections and the UF Smathers Library system. Suggested corrections to transcripts will be reviewed and processed on a case by case basis. Oral history int erview t ranscripts available on the UF Digital Collections may be in draft or final format. SPOHP transcribers create interview transcripts by listen ing to the ori ginal oral history interview recording and typing a verbatim d ocument of it. The transcript i s written with careful attention to reflect original grammar and word choice of each interviewee; s ubjective or editorial changes are not made to their speech. The draft trans cript can also later undergo a final edit to ensure accuracy in spelling and form at I nterviewees can also provide their own spelli ng corrections SPOHP transcribers refer to the Merriam program specific transcribing style guide, accessible For more information abo ut SPOHP, visit http://oral.history.ufl.edu or call the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program office at 352 392 7168. May 2015
TMP 065 Interviewee: Forrest Morgan Interviewer: Diana Dombrowski Date: October 24, 2014 D: Okay so this is Diana Dombrowski. Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida, here in Mathews with Mr. Forrest Morgan. Mr. Morgan, would you tell us how to spell your name? F: F o r r e s t M o r g a n D: Okay, and would you tell me when and where you were born? F: August 5, 1941, Norfolk, Virginia, Norfolk General Hospital D: Okay, and did you grow up there as well? F: Yes. D: Okay, so you grew up in Norfolk? F: Up through the senior year of high school. D: Okay, and what did your parents do there? F: My father [inaudible 00:40] business and my mother was a florist. D: Oh, she was a florist? F: Can you hear this? D: though because I know we have th e divider in the other room. F: How, h
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 2 D: F: D: Oh F: The quality. D: Oh, t he quality? Well, we bought we tested a couple recorders before we even purchased these and our humanities coordinator really liked this one. We used to have external microphones but those were a little problematic because students would forget to turn them on and off like maybe fifty percent of the time so the microphone is included here and as long as the time is going and I can see the record button here F: the quality is getting is it picking up the volume? D: Oh you mean if we you were looking for level s or something like that, to tell F: Right, mm hm. D: that might be another option but Deborah likes to keep it basic with what she tells us to do. F: Okay. No, I would agree with that. We were going to be using for what I have in mind, we are going to be using people who are not technologically skilled, I would expect. D: M m hm. She keeps it to plugging the recorder in press record, press stop, and
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 3 F: Good. D: Yeah. because it picks up really good quality audio, grew up, and what it was like to live in Norfolk : where you lived, where you went to school? F: Ye s. I went to Maury hear about the last class of  59? D: Yes, absolutely. F: Let me skip to that. D: Okay, sure. F: I was a rising senior at Maury High School in Norfolk when the general assembly, in order to prevent integration actually made the command, whether it was the govern or or authorized by the general assembly, such that Maury high school was clo sed during my senior year, at least the first semester. A s a consequence, I came to Mathews County because my aunt taught here, a nd the school board of Mathews County permitted people there were actually two people from Norfolk who came to the schools in Mathews My wife and I were in the same high school class, an d she went through Portsmouth, they also did the sam e thing. Other kids went to so called segregation academies. I have not heard that term recently but what they currently called them. B ut I came to Mathews ; I was quite happy. This was where my family was from. My family got here and ancestors in 1653.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 4 D: Wow. F: And I think I know where they landed actually, I think I got a shot of finding the house D: Really! F: D: F: Wh D: as well F: Yeah. I became state debate champion of D: Oh really? F: For . D: For Mathews ? F: For Mathews yeah. It was D ivision 3 but hey, it was something. But I made a lot of new friends, and then went off to college. And [inaudible 04:13], in my class, and there are several other people being interviewed here today, who were in my class, the class of 59 The irony is that at our fiftieth reunion in Norfolk at Maury H igh S choo l, they awarded us diplomas from Maury, so I have two actual high school diplomas. D: I was gonna ask, yeah, exactly. S o most people have two high school diplomas,
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 5 F: [ Laughter ] Yeah n onetheless. [Laughter] N ext question. D: Oh sure, sure! So, you went the first three years of high school in Norfolk and then you were here? F: Right D: O kay, a l l right, and F: Which caused a lot of kinds of problems because in Norfolk, the y count the last three years for the purpose of determining whether you were an honors student. In Mathews they took the first I mean the last four years Mathews I was thirteenth ou t of four hundred people in Maury as we counted back. So t ha t always bothered me. Anyway. D: Mathews County at that time so was the high school that you went to integrated or segregated at the time that you went? F: That was befor e integration. D: Okay, okay. F: It was just beginning to happen, this was 1958,  59 and Mathews was D: Okay. F: I left the county at that point.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 6 D: Okay. F: And went off to college. D: Okay. F: So I do but it was a very quiet town F or example, So, I mean, it was that simple. [Laughter] D: Yeah. So up here and also change over time in Mathews Have you lived here for many years since ? S ince you were in high school? W hat was the trajectory of your career like? F: No. I came back ab out fifteen years ago. D: Okay. F: I went off and made my fortune, I was a Wall Street lawyer D: Oh really! F: And international lawyer for thirty years. D: Where did you go to college? F: William and Mary. D: Okay. F: F rom there went to law school at William and Mary went to Wall Street so that certainly goes there, and became an international lawyer and been to seventy
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 7 seven countries around the world. Negotiated deals in most places from, you know, the Soviet Union to the . my spec ialty was a Communist contract. D: Really? F: And dealing with the Communist countries. You had to make sure that you protected your client, however, t he Communists were insistent that they be in the Communist form. My fir st deal was Romania, and what you have to do i s put the right language it makes them happy, but you have to put the hooks in to make sure y our client is protected. O nce I worked that out, I took that to the Soviet Union and to China, w as very successful, they thought that was great. Greater glorificatio n of the Communist party. But, you know, again, it protecte d us, and we did so good for them. W e had some problems. One of the deals we worked on was a pipeline a gas pipeline in the Soviet Union a nd also, b efore the 1980 Olympics, we were selling them flash cube technology remember flash cubes D: No [ L augh ter ] No, what are those? F: Your Kodak instamatic camera. T hey were obsolete in the U.S. but t he Russians were preparing for the 198 0 Olympics, and ur flash cube technology and manufacturing equipment. Deal never happened because the U.S. withdrew from the Olympics and they canceled the contract, b of the problems you have in dealing with odd countries. D: M m hm F: I spent a lot of time in Saudi Arabia
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 8 D: Oh wow! What was that like? Do you have any favorite memories of being there ? F: rite memories of Saudi Arabia D: Yeah. F: I t is in fact a medieval kingdom. T he word of the king is absolute. There are no permanent laws, they make them up as they go along. I wound up having to go to the Saudi Arabia about once every six to nine months to see what the curren t law was. You have things like . I had a client who seven clients who were accused of drinking coffee during Ramadan, Ramadan being the holidays in not supposed to during daylight, to drink or eat anything. The y really just police found the coffee stains in the bottom of the cup, arrested th em, when I got involved. There was no due process in Saudi Arabia, the only sol ution was to appeal to the king, w hich I did, and he granted relief. They were sent out of banished from the country in chains, a little better off than a hundred lashes. D: M m hm. F: Although they said that the religious person who administered the lashes has to have run into. In Spain, I was targeted by the terrorists. The police came to us and said, the terrorists d. T hey had just killed one of our people a month ago. So we were protected by former CIA types and managed to pull off
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 9 an international lawyer a ll over the place. D: Wow. What brought you back to Mathews after so much international travel? F: After I retired from I worked for a corporation Westinghouse Electric Corporation. When I retired from the m, and I came back to Ric hmond, joined a law firm, and Mathe ws but I was looking around for a law firm after I retired where I was, I realized we were close to Mathews so I bought a weekend house in Mathews which was in poor shape, really. I really fixed it up, and when I retired from where I was years and renewed acquaintances with all the former people and have become involved in the historical society here. W e have many, many projects running. This is one of them [ Laughter] D: Yeah [Laughter] F: An d I had become an archaeologist. The state will train you an archaeologist, an amateur archaeologist. D: Oh wow. F: in Mathews a couple of significant places. One is a 1650 tobac co farm with thousands of artifacts. Another one is a major plantation that no one knew anything about, but as large and important as the major plantations on the James River
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 10 D: Which plantation is that? F: D: Okay. F: were considering taking you to, but you went to . D: We went to Rosewell. F: Rosewell and then D: Hewick. In Middlesex. F: Where? D: Well, we went to the Hewick House, in Middlesex? F: Okay. D: e with a lot of trees on both sides. F: That defines most properties here. D: Okay, yeah. T l L F: [L augh ter ] D: I he trees . it took a minute for us to drive down and there F: Right, that was in Middlesex. D: It was.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 11 F: D: We also enjoyed Rosewell a great deal, yeah. F: And I understand you went to a plantation to do some archaeological work? D: Yes! Yeah, mm hm. The Fairfield House. F: Yes. I hav e arranged for you to have a tour of Jamestown. D: Oh, w o w. F: with a professional archaeologist who will show you around. D: Oh F: If you wanna do that. D: Sure yeah F: No, I understand. So if you all want to do it, she said she was up to doing it but D: Yeah! Good! F: But a member of five historical boards and D: Can you tell me all five? F: D: Could you tell us all five, for the record?
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 12 F: Yes. I was a founder of the Tidewater Virginia Historical Society out of cluding setting up a museum trai l, the museums through the Middle Peninsula the middle of the neck providing a digital means using your you can see where they are, the hour s, the collection, and so forth, w hich they are very happy with because thes e are e of the projects, giving you an idea of what and so forth. Then Mathews County Historical Society which is sponsoring your organization here, and then there is the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Middle Peninsula Chapter, of which I am Vice President, and they do archaeology Then, two weeks ago I was elected Vice President of the Archaeological Society of Virginia and the s tate o rganization. There a re six hundred archaeologists, and D: Congratulations. F: b ut we have a number of plans going forward from there. Bu have the problem, challenge in Mathews it has never really been examined. I did a presentation on the history Mathews County and pointing out that, in the 16 00s, well, Mathews well, put it this way. Gloucester was the largest county in the colonies. Kingston Parish was the
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 13 wealthiest town in Gloucester, and therefore the wealthiest parish in the colonies. That was the 1600s, lar gely from raising tobacco. T hat has changed a little bit. D: Yeah. F: [ Laughter ] N distance from any interstate, b ut in those days, the Chesapeake Bay was the interstate, and Ma thews was a natural place for people to come T a large population who were all raising tobacco and were very successful. D: And your family was here? F: D: And your family was here from 1650 on? Is that what you said? F: 1 653, yeah. They landed near Garden Creek. Garden Creek? Did you catc h the name of that? We have learned to find si tes, house sites from the 1600s. W actua lly gotten pretty good at this, a actually some dispute on how many we found b ut I have obtained several grants for the county writer In which we are well, this came out of that. We had to a grant to survey the historic homes in Mathews County and we did two hundred and thirty. W hat has developed was that the sta te wanted to make sure that there was a local dealing with the locals here, because in other counties, people would come out to the surveyors with shotguns. Not a problem in Mathews County at all But what I heard was a number of fascinating oral history stories that I getting done They were being lost! And so I went to the Virginia Foundation for
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 14 the Humanities and they gave us a grant and then we contacted Jessica and she had a project for us, and then the rest, as they say, i s history. D: Yeah. F: jumpstart it. And these two ladies are going to be working on th e program to develop volunteers, the Saturday program. T he object is to develop that i nformation and create an archive here, in the here in the library. What I found from talking to other counties, Albemarle, for example, which is interesting they did an oral history program, but there were record ings made, D: M m hm. F: What we want to do here is develop digital versions as you know, that can be printed out, you know, but more importantly I think that will be preserved on the server. Researched through the internet. T he concept behind that is that you can do word searches, so y ou if want to find Mobjack and steamers, you can see steamers because we had stea mers, there were no railroads in the county. As a consequence, up until the 30s and  40s, everything was transported by s teamers, coming in through the b ay. I t would be nice if we could capture some of that, but Diane was telling me, as I thought, that most of those people were capture people before they pass on.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 15 D: M m hm. F: And tempting to do. D: M m hm. Are there any family stories that have c ome down in the centuries your F: That I would like to have preserved [ Laughter] D: Yeah, yeah! F: Well, the thing that excites people from outside the county are Old House Woods. You heard of Ol d House Woods? D: Yes, yeah, yeah. F: can talk about Old House Woods. Turns out my family owned Old House Woods. D: Really! F: [ Laughter] D: Oh , like students who will be listening at UF, a little bit about it? J ust on this tape? F: Well Old House Wood s I had personally not experience d this several people to come out with me and w had no takers at this point. D: Oh, wow.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 16 F: Old House was the first written version of the stories: y ou have the Baltimore Sun in the 1920s and I have suppl ied Jessica with that article. I also found a lady Old House Woods. D: Oh, really? F: And I will have that in the hand shortly, along to on Jessica. And I will put that in our library. Surprisingly But t he story of Old House Woods is that it is one of the five most hau nted areas in the entire United States, according to the internet. D: Yeah [Laughter] F: there are videos of people who have been there, stories, and so forth. The basic stories are all kinds of ghosts floating around in Old House Woods and several sources, one is that the goal of Charles I who was executed if I got the right Charles in there, in England sent his gold over there to Mathews, and it was buried in Old House Woods, so there are actually people out there real people looking for the gold. But people have also reported seeing individuals dressed in T ship that comes floating in off the Ba y. P irates walking a round, you can hear the clanging, you can see them, and there is my favorite is, if you drive up in a pick up truck, then their headless hounds will come and jump up in the back of your pick up truck. And the road carrying a light, I mean, those those are the ghost stories. W
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 17 all in one place. Y ou may have a much better feel than I do about these. [ L augh ter] history with people in the woods. D: Oh F: Yes, the house itself, Old House Woods, allegedly burned down and then rebuilt itself overnight, s o if you come back the next day stayed down. As an archaeologist, I like to find the Old House Woods. Find behind the old house. The state maintains a list of houses historic houses throughout the Commonwealth. As I was saying, do you have a place for houses that burn down and come back the next day? They have no sense of humor. [Laughter] But nty. That seems to draw the attention of people from the outside. D: So ? T he location, is it right there on the water? F: g s D: Okay. F: About four or five miles down the road here. D: Okay. F: We can take you down there and show you. D: Oh yeah. T
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 18 F: But if you want to go at night, that makes it exciting. The, well . D: Yeah. So that property was in your family, that F: Yes, it was. The extended family, not the direct family. Unfortunately the person who reall y knew the most died last year, a tape. But s uch is life. D: So you had family who lived in Old House Woods and then around the c ounty? What did they do, primarily? F: Farmers. D: Okay, what did they farm? F: They farmed grains. D: Okay, okay. F: T he houses, the properties are still there. Many of the houses have been abandoned, unfortunately, because . D: Oh really. F: O ne of the things w as I mentioned the survey of all the houses in the county is, m are abandoned, no longer used, i n part because of the way the water has developed. e usable now as such, b
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 19 D: Yeah, absolutely. I know a little about coastlines in Florida, you know. [ Laughter ] A nd how powerful that can be y eah. F: B ibles. D: Oh, really? F: Yes. D: With names? Are they written in and that kind of thing? F: Yes, quite. A nd printed on the front, as a matter of fact. D: Oh. F: I have a my great great great grandfather was in the Confederate army, and I have his B ible. D: R eally. F: It has his name printed on the front of it. D: Wow. F: As is not unusual in Mathews C ounty, I would say, if the people have been here for a while, is that th ey have family records and they have fam ily stories and so large, I suppose, extended family in many respects. The people I knew have largely passed on a nd people begin to move fr om the county, and other things. B ut when I was here in high school, I met a lot of my relatives, who are fascinating people, but have now moved on, their children have moved on. They died and the children moved on, w hich I think is the nature
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 20 of the c ounty. You may hear that from some of the other people doing interviews with. D: Why do you think that is? F: Because, typical of industry. Fishing used to be the princip al industry. Mathews was the only county in Virginia in which fishing was oyster disease and so forth. S and other jobs have opened up other place s. I was on an economic development council for Mathews for a while, and it was not obvious to us what we could bring into the county that was unique, to take advantage of. So that the problem. A lot of people here are from other places, retir ing here. D: Come here s ? F: Excuse me? D: I heard, come here is a F: Yes. Well here s here for a long time. My grandmother used to say it takes three generations to longer a come here, so. D: Wow. [ Laughter] F: Well, y D: Yeah, m m
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 21 started doing that work about where your family lived, or what they did, or members of your family and their lives. F: Well the surprisin g thing is Bette who is a librarian here, we are related, actually. W e have the same great grandfather I guess it is. Sh e pointed out that one of my ancestors was in fact, a turncoa t during the Civil War. D : F : I think he decided it was more proximal to be with the Yankees than with the Confederates. He was actually i n the Confederate Army, the Confederate Navy, and then we went to the Confederate, we went to the Northern he was actually in the Navy, but he w as supplying the Chesapeake Bay. It was a source of transit, for goods, and it was with that, my Confederate ancestor was w ith the Mathews line artillery, w hich, the unit went through the entire war and had no casualties. D: Wow, okay. F: [Laughter] Yeah. you find the lot of people with Confederate ancestors and because the county goes back so far, and the people go back so experience is. I w hich I think people from t have anything to do with racism, per se. [Laughter] D: Have you had tourists come in or people like that who have tried to make compar isons? Or have you c onfronted that in different ways of people vis iting?
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 22 F: D: Well, you mention people from the outside who think it might have to do with hate more than heritage, you know, that kind of thing, so F: m not worried about any of that, actually. D: Okay. F: The problem people here see is that it no longer politically correct to acknowledge anything about the Confederacy. It bothers some people just the way it is. S just not seeing this lem here There was the one when I left, so there was integration in the meantime, b being a problem now. In fact from a historical perspective, we work with see, go out into the Wales Center D: F: Did you, did you see D: No. F: inte to gether
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 23 try and blend the two together. And there were three Rosenwald schools in Mathews. D: Wow. F: You know what the Rosenwald schools were? D: Ye s. Ye ah, I do. F: One is under the current middle school, so D: Oh really? F: Yeah. The second one is the Wales Center. T hat was a Rosenwald school. ins, which I would like to dig as an archaeologist, to see what it looked like, to get a feel for what it was undisturbed. We think we know whe re we are where it is but we would like to dig that as well. things in Mathews County, particularly the early years, in the 16 00s, we are attempting to find. Surprisingly, they are still around. I am now seeking a grant from the federal government to do the prehistoric history of Mathews County. D: Oh really? F: Yes. It goes back twelve thousand years, and the idea : couple of prehistorians who will help us, i be exploring before D:
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 24 F: Y es, w ne that to some extent. W that we have the SOLs, we try ing to get it as part of the SOLs. You know what the SOLs are? D: No but I heard about it a little at the panel. F: D: Oka y. F: Virginia has them. And they tend to teach the Standards of L earning, which is understandable, but we like to get this included. Bett e, the librarian here has programs during the year that incorporate s that. done sev eral lectures with schools talking about the archaeology of Mathews e y farm or what we do is take artifacts into the school and let the kids wash them as they come out of the ground. You know, B y doing that, they understand what the artifacts are, you know ? A s they come out and see what this is that, this was something and got the artifact, the n you start drawing judgments about who these people were and why finding the history of Mathews County. D: I know w e just turned up a lot of oysters when we were digging, so [Laughter] F:
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 25 D: Yeah. F: Called Fort Nonsense. Did you all get a chance to see that? D: We did! Yeah, Tom gave us a tour. F: Yeah, he probably mentioned North End Plantation. D: M m hm. F: W e were doing a park as you saw, we were doing measurements in the fort before it was developed as a park, just to see what it l ooked like before they potentially took it apart, a nd we found 800 artifacts associated with the mid originally in the f ort w hen it was a Confederate fort, anyway w hich suggests that there was a plantation nearby. So we spent a noted amount of time finding that plantation, which we did, North End Plantation. W e the house; it was a magnifi cent plantation. You saw Rosewell not quite as grand as Rosewell which is the grandest building in the entire co lony [Laughter] In fact the governor complained about a hovel his house compared to that. But this was a measure the owner was John Page, and he was the son of Man Page, who built Rosewell D: Oh! F: And so, we believe he had some of the same undertaking in terms of parameters. W e found the pieces
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 26 an eighteen hundred acre plot, and we found various pieces. What makes it s residential area. D: Oh. F : So we were concerned that the main mansion house was under a modern the sort of thing we work with, and that D: Yeah. F: To figure out where these things are. D: How did you find it? How did you end up locating it? F: This particular case, we knew where about, about where it was know. It was on a line; we figured it was on a line somewhere because the way these houses are built, we h ad enough experience to know that uilding a 1740s plantation, build o n a hill overlooking the water. A n d we knew it was on a certain path, but we d five year old lady who I was hoping you cou ld interview at this point D: Oh! F: D: Okay. F: She said she used to pl ay in that area when she was a child. H er grandfather owned the land and there was a big hole that supposedly was the basement of
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 27 North End Plantation. N ow ould take us to it, and she did. S he said D: Wow [ Laughter ] F: And twenty feet from the house. S o we did some probing, some digging. I went yard? E ventually, I convinced her that was not going to be a problem for her, and we found all the things indicating that we were in the right place, and did some probing and found the ir front wall of the mansion house. S o, the answer is Well, t o gether with a little bit of luck. D: Yeah, yeah. I curious too town in Pennsylvania, is that true? F: s correct. D: been here a long time. Were any of you r relatives in generations past involved in p olitics here? Or, what was their F: D: Role in the community? Okay! F: No, I seem to be unique. D: Okay [ Laughter ] F: I was chairman of the well, I was a Democratic party official in Virginia in the  60s.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 28 D: Oh wow. F: T hen I moved to Pennsylvania with work and wound up being uh mayor for sixteen years of Peters let me put it this way, I nev well, skills. You handle things. One of the old rules is call the rol l and the other part of it is when you have the votes, call the roll. As chairman you could stall things that you got them the way y ou wanted them, and that was the right decision. But i t a council that was still the great conflicts. P art of that is to make sure you choose the right council membe rs in the first place. [Laughter] just the way of politics. D: S F: much to my horror, the last day before th e filing deadline, people showed up in the wound up another eight years. Yeah. D: Wow [ L augh ter you went to school at William and Mary, you l ived primarily in Pennsylvania, and then you also traveled around the country F: Around the world, yeah. D: Yeah. A round the country, around the world, yeah.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 29 F: not now nor have I ever been an agent in the Central Intelligence Agency. Frequently accused of, but j ust a simple international lawyer. Did a lot of big deals, but that was a lot of fun T hen coming back to Mathews County was the real joy, after having been away. When I came back, a lot of I actually hired a genealogist who went back, and it turns out, I am related to half the people in the county. [Laughter] Because when you star t in the 1600s, it just fans out dramatically. D : Yeah. Did you find any relatives who were in the Revolutionary War? F : Yes, right. Thanks to the lady you met, Becky D: Yeah F: She h as access to all those records. So we have the Revolutionary War recor ds, we have the Civ il War records, and so forth So yes. And the War of 1812. D: Wow. F: There was a major b attle fought here in the county during the Revolutionary War One of the first battles, as a matter of fact. So there were a lot of people as sociated with that. heard of. D: No. Was it a big one? F: Well, it was fairly big. It was significant in the sense that the governor of Virginia was tossed out of Williamsburg, as he was the capital and he brought his
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 30 it was floating. He had all of the lawyers with him, and he had his troops with him, a nd they set up on and the Americans eventually tossed him off. The British General said, there sit the Americans like crickets on a hill. Hence the Battle of Cricket Hill. D: Oh. F: So one of the major [inaudible 42:39] of a major colony, a nd removed the governor from the colonies. He went then to th e West Indies. So Overshadowed by subsequent this is obviously, by subsequent battles. D: It sounds like there is enough history here to fill a couple museums [ Laughter] F: We in fact have six historic interest groups. D: Okay. F: The population of Mathews County is less than 9,000, and we typ ically turn out anywhere from eighty to a hundred and ten people when we have programs. T he one we had here last night, well, the other night, sure about [ Laughter] D: And we ended up having a full house. F: We did, a nd I was concerned it would be fuller than that. D: Yeah. F: Bette was horrified maybe a hundred people b typically what we draw. I think it wa s seventy or something like that, so, t hat was
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 31 the lower end of our but that was sure how to call that one. D: Do you all often work wi th people from William and Mary or other places around the state? Or is it mostly t he six interest groups that end up getting things done? F: We work with the people we need to work with. fortunate to have two archaeologists who are p robably the best in the state, a nd we do archaeology he re, in Mathews County. W e have reference to William and Mary and to for you. I know all the professionals over there and they were happy to accommodate. D: F: And we did find one thing that baffled ev erybody here. And I took it over to Blythe Straub who is the chief curator, a nd she agreed that it was baffling. We decided that probably the wrong attribution, t hat was the only explanation. But the point is, utilize them. D: Are you planning to in the future? F: D: Are you planning to in the future? To utilize F: As is appropriate. We ha ve enough o use, but
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 32 D: What was the baffling item? What was surprising? F: Well it was a piece of ceramic, [inaudible 45:15] detail we could get into, t hat was silver on one side and plain ceramic on the other. Blythe at Jamestown is an expert on the sixteenth and seventeenth century. In fact, the British Museum comes to her. [Laughter] D: Really? Wow. F: Well twenty years. They have 1.5 million artifacts have come out of James town, a That and working with the British Museum. But she had not seen anything like I her opinion. D: Yeah, what did she think? F: She had no explanation. D: Really? Wow. F: And we thought it came out of the seventeenth century. She thinks it may have come out of the eighteenth century. D: Oh, really. F: And that may be the explanation. D: [ Laughter ] Yeah, yeah.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 33 F: But then [Laughter] She is the expert. But we have people like that around, that we can utilize. D: Yeah. Well these interviews are going to be used by students, interns who are here right now, as well as others who are in the class in Gainesville, and a lot of the students who are here have heard a lot of stories about Mathews and have been really excited to come. So like to concl about your family history or F: Our family is sort of typical, middle class farmers originally. Nothing special. Supposedly about Mathews, the reason Mathews was separated from Gloucester was Gloucester wa s an area of large plantations, w hereas Mathews e today, in the area. So there are not any great heroes or millionaires, or things like that. gentleman who was one of the founders of IBM, who after he retired, moved to Ma thew s. We have tapes fr om his children, an look at those. I was just handed two of them, handed to me yesterday, Do you all know of prominent people that we cou ld talk about? D: U :
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 34 F: There are none as such that stand o ut D: e folks that we interview about, you know, their relatives, about values and traditions that they pass on or stories that they hear about their families through generations A n politics is great , just the way that communities grow over time, and keeping that history in a record. really just want to talk to people about their grandmother who bring a picture, who talk about how important education was in their life and how much their grandmother taught them that. So interesting, you know F: We have ministers and teache rs and so forth in the family. Excuse me. D: Mm hm. F: D: [ Laughter ] F: In any sense of the word. I mean, unique. E ven the library involved in tracking that back. We have a large, as you know, fishing and maritime history
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 35 D: M m hm, yes. F: We have a maritime museum here somewhat independent of an island. [ Laughter ] D: U : Oh, you know there is one tradition that more . more captains from Mathews County were simultaneously captaining ships around the world than any other place on Earth. D: Wow, really? F: Yes, r probably the best known product, is just that, is the captains. And shipbuilding. D: Yeah, shipbuilding. F: In 1805, five percent of all the ships in the United States were built here in Mathews, seagoing vessel s. C onsiderin unique. D: M m hm. F: O ne of the projects we ha d is to find the shipyards from that period. We But want to highlight. D: Yeah, there must have been master craftsmen here.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 36 F: but actual ly captains. During WWII, I think maybe the most captains lost were from Mathews? U : Yeah, I believe so F: And m erchant vessels U : A friend of ours was captain of the Moore McCorma ck line for about thirty years Went around the world, never home. D: [ Laughter ] F: Yeah, I know, I used to date a girl whose father was a Gulf captain. And I never met him. U : His name was Hodges. Raymond Hodges. F: Hutchins, like that [ L augh ter ] And Morgan, Forrest, y eah, t hat track through history. D: Mm hm, y anything else. F: Well D: Okay. F: Bett e the librarian, as you know, i s my cousin. H er mother was my home room teacher in high school, and one of thesis I was telling you about, about Old House Woods, one of the informants was my other home room teacher in Mathews High School. This was done about 1978, the interviews, so it
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 37 really is a small world. And I think we enjoy it, b ut we do have come here people come in and they are a plus; a plus in a sense that most of the historical socie ty things are populated by come heres, oddly enough. M any of the organizations are that way except, maybe obviously . D: Why do you think that is? F: Coast Guard, generally, all come heres. T bad. I mean, w come heres make significant contribu I think it works very well. D: F: transcripts, just fascinating about what you find out. And much of this history about this. D: M m h m. W e do too. F: Any questions? I knew you wanted to see what it looked like was it good or bad or . U 2 : Yeah relaxed.
TMP 065; Morgan; Page 38 D: Thanks [ L augh ter ] [Laughter] you know, for months, all the plannin the trip, so pleasure interviewing you. F: but I wanted to see what it looks like myself, so D: [ Laughter ] Sure F: I volunteered [ Laughter ] D: Su re F: Any other questions ? Along that vein? D: F: Thank you. [End of interview] Transcribed by: Rachel Reiss, March 17, 2015 Audit edited by: Diana Dombrowski, March 18, 2015 Final edited by: Jessica Taylor