Saturday, January 30, 2010

Heirs proud of John Brown


Great-great-niece donates book to Christian academy in Akron
By Marilyn Miller
Beacon Journal staff writer


















Mary (Morgan) Graves of California (left) and her mother Peg Morgan, (center) 91, of Hudson, great great niece of abolitionist John Brown, presents a copy of "John Brown and his Fight for Freedom"" by John Hendrix, to Emmanuel Christian Academy students on Tuesday in Akron. Philip Hamilton (right) accepted the book and took it to the school library. (Paul Tople/Akron Beacon Journal) 

Hudson's Margaret ''Peg'' Clark Morgan grew up learning the history of her great-great-uncle John Brown (1800-1859), an American abolitionist.

''We had family reunions where speakers, mostly family members, would tell stories about John Brown,'' Morgan said. ''They would talk about what he did and what he believed in. I was proud of him.''
The 91-year-old woman on Tuesday recalled attending the reunions that were held each June in Kent from ages 5 to about 40.

When her daughter, Mary Morgan Graves of California, found the children's book John Brown, His Fight for Freedom by John Hendrix, she shared it with her mother. She had her daughter order 30 copies so she could give them to family members.Graves said the Hudson Historical Society reviewed the book and said it gave an accurate account of John Brown's life.

''There was a time when descendants of John Brown were ashamed and didn't readily admit they were related to Brown, but things have changed,'' Graves said. ''My mother is a quiet person, she has always lived in the shadow of her husband, [businessman and entrepreneur Burt Morgan], but she also has her own roots.''
Peg Morgan wanted to share the book with others. On Tuesday, she donated a copy of the book to the kindergarten class at Emmanuel Christian Academy on Diagonal Road in Akron.

Graves pulled up a chair next to her mother in the classroom and described a little about the book's subject with the children.

''John Brown was famous and lived in Akron around 1857, 1858 and 1859. He lived not too far from here in the Perkins Park area,'' Graves said. ''He had a lot of friends, black and white, but whites were not very nice to blacks. They made them slaves. One day John Brown said this is not right. We're not going to do this anymore.''

As Graves gave her condensed version of John Brown's life — how he led an 1859 raid in Harpers Ferry, Va., to take over weapons to fight for what he believed in, was captured, faced trial for treason and hanged within days of his conviction — the children were intrigued and kept running up to see the pictures in the book.

Student Philip Hamilton accepted the book on behalf of the school. Emmanuel Christian Academy, which was established in 1993, has 370 students. The classes range from pre-kindergarten to the eighth grade.
''I'm glad to be here. I hope you will enjoy the book,'' Morgan told the children.
She signed it, ''With Love, Peg Morgan.''

Graves said her father, Burt Morgan, who started dozens of companies, died in 2003. His legacy continues with the Burton D. Morgan Foundation in Akron. In 2001, Burton Morgan established the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation in Hudson in his wife's name.

Marilyn Miller can be reached at 330-996-3098 or mmiller@thebeaconjournal.com.

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This article is a great segue to my upcoming blog postings about the Brown Family Reunions that were held from 1903 until the 1960s. Mrs. Morgan mentions that she remembers attending the reunions, and I hope to interview her soon about those memories. I will keep you posted 

 

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