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Morgan-Gardner family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Morgan-Gardner

Scope and Content of the Collection

Travel journal and three memoirs written by members of the Morgan family and Henry A. Gardner.

The travel journal, written by George Cadogan Morgan while in Revolutionary France, describes the countryside of France, as well as some of the violence taking place in Paris during July of 1789. It is a contemporary copy with a map of Morgan's route, compiled from letters Morgan sent home almost every day. The biographical memoir written by Richard Price Morgan vividly depicts Morgan's voyage to America and following struggles to make his way in the developing nation. Morgan travelled through the Northeast and Midwest, often on foot with an Irish "tinker" and encountered Indians in the military camps where they were refugees. He attempted several trading expeditions which he describes in great detail, including the hard travel and price gouging which took place in various pioneer ports. His descriptions of railroad construction and expansion are particularly informative. He was involved in several aspects of the industry, from labor, surveying, and invention, to the politics and business practices that propelled it forward. His son George C. Morgan's memoir likewise describes life and work on the railroads in Illinois. The memoir of Henry A. Gardner, son of Morgan's business colleague and son-in-law Henry A. Gardner discusses his father's work, as well as his own life in Chicago from 1853 until the turn of the century.


  • Creation: 1789-approximately 1900



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Morgan-Gardner family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Morgan-Gardner family papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Conditions Governing Use note

The travel journal and biography of Richard P. Morgan are fragile, and it is recommended that patrons use the typed transcripts of these documents.

Biography of the Morgan and Gardner Families

The Morgans were a Welsh family, whose members emigrated to America in the late 18th century.

Welsh dissenting minister and scientist George Cadogan Morgan was born in 1754 in Brigend in the county of Glamorgan. Morgan left Oxford after a year to attend the dissenting Hoxton Academy, and then preached in Norwich and Hackney. Sympathizing with the American Revolutionary War, he also was a supporter of the French Revolution. In July of 1789, while accompanying three friends on a Continental tour, Morgan arrived in Paris in time for the fall of the Bastille, and traveled through the country. Also a scientist of some fame, Morgan died in 1798 after inhaling fumes while conducting a chemical experiment.

George Cadogan Morgan’s son, Richard Price Morgan (1780-1882) emigrated to America in 1798 with his mother and several siblings, and they settled on a farm adjacent to farm of his brother George C. Morgan in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Around 1814, Richard P. Morgan ventured west in search of better fortune. Over the next six decades Morgan pursued many trading ventures and by the 1820s found work in the growing railroad industry. He worked as a surveyor and civil engineer on many lines in New York, Wisconsin, and Illinois through the 1870s and also maintained a farm in Kendall County, Illinois.

Richard Price Morgan’s son, George C. Morgan, joined his father on the railroad. He helped construct the Eastern Extension and Michigan Central roads, and in 1868 worked on the first iron bridge in Chicago, the 18th Street Bridge. He continued to work in railroad construction and surveying until illness forced his retirement around 1900.

Born in 1816 in Massachusetts, Henry A. Gardner was Richard P. Morgan’s business partner, and he married Morgan’s daughter, Sarah. Also a civil engineer, he worked on the Hudson River Railroad and the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and died in 1852. Sarah and Henry Gardner’s son, Henry A. Gardner, born in 1845, was a Chicago lawyer who often represented railroad companies. He died in 1911.


0.2 Linear Feet (1 box)


Travel journal written by George C. Morgan, a schoolteacher and minister (1754-1798) while travelling in France during the Revolution, 1789; autobiographical memoir written by the son of George C. Morgan, Richard Price Morgan (1790-1882), who immigrated to the United States from England around 1808 and became a civil engineer; brief memoir of Richard Price Morgan's son George C. Morgan (b. 1833) who worked with his father on the railroads; and memoir by Henry A. Gardner, grandson of Richard Price Morgan and son of Morgan's business colleague Henry A. Gardner, also a railway surveyor and civil engineer.


Arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 26 4


Gift of Henry A. Gardner, 1980.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2010.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Morgan-Gardner family papers, 1789-approximately 1900
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States