Letter to the Editor in Washington Reporter

The following transcription was researched, abstracted, typed and submitted by J. Florian of [TBD] for inclusion at the Genealogy in Washington Co., PA web site in August 1998.

Notes:

This letter to the editor was first published in the "Waynesburg Messenger" Aug. 27, 1833 and then reprinted in "The Reporter", Tuesday, Sept. 3, 1833

  • Capitalization of names and locations has been added by the author.
  • Text contained in double-quotes is taken verbatim from the newspaper.
  • Text outside the double-quotes is abstracted by the author.
  • Text contained in square brackets is parenthetical information added by the author.


"From the Waynesburg Messenger, Aug. 27 (1833). 
Mr. Editor -- A little more than two years have elapsed since the CUMBERLAND 
PRESBYTERIANS first visited this State, to commence any thing like permanent 
Ministerial operations, during which time the culminating tongue has been 
constantly and industriously engaged in circulating slanderous reports 
concerning some one or another of their Mininsters; but nothing tangible , or 
that could be traced to its author, or to any person who would say that is was 
true, appeared --- it was always that busy fellow called Somebody, 
but no person knew who -- until recently a report was started 
which has run like wild fire through several counties. 

[space-paragraph inserted by the typist]

This report is in the humblest dwellings and in the most splendid mansions - - 
alike in the mouths of infedels and (italics start) professed (italics end) 
Christians: --it is, 'that the REV.  JOHN MORGAN, of the 
CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, has a wife and two children in some part 
of the State of Ohio,' as some say; others say Kentucky, and others again 
Tennessee or Alabama; whilst there are still some others who do not pretend to 
give their residence so definite a location, but state that they reside 
somewhere in the West, as I came from the West. [typist decided to leave in 
details of the actual rumor for better understanding...]

[space-paragraph inserted by the typist]

I am sorry to be induced to believe that many persons who are highly 
respectable, and indeed [paraphrase: the writer goes on about rumoring being 
unchristian-like]... .... for instance : A man goes into the house and 
at once the question would be put, Why, did you hear the report about 
MORGAN or BRYAN, as the case might be; and then they 
proceed [paraphrase: to spread rumors as though fact]. I do not intend these 
remarks as personal, but only applicable to those religious bigots and 
unprincipled Infidels who alike wish to obliterate the very name of CUMBERLAND 
PRESBYTERIAN from being. I am also aware that a degree of triumph has marked 
the manner in which they have told this last mentioned report, as applied to 
myself [typist- i.e. Morgan is the writer and the rumor is about him], because 
they say, 'a respectable gentleman OF GREENE COUNTY, states that he saw a 
person in OHIO who told him that these things were so. This gentleman is a 
CANDIDATE FOR the office of SHERIFF in his county, and surely he (would not 
lie)'. I shall not say anything concerning MR. SMITH'S character, 
for two reasons: 1st Because I do not know it, only from rumor; and, 2ndly, 
because I do not wish to injure him. But the succeeding will show what MR. 
SMITH'S conduct has been towards me, from which the public may form their own 
opinion.

[space-paragraph inserted by the typist]

I did not hear of the report referred to until in June last, and then thought 
I would pay no attention to it; ...(paraphrase: because I didn't think any 
intelligent person would believe it). The matter, however, spread far beyond 
the circle of my acquaintances, and...(paraphrase: was greatly embellished and 
my friends thought I should respond). I concluded I would do so, but then 
remembered that MR. SMITH WAS A CANDIDATE, and it would be said at once that 
it was intended to injure his election &c. (sic). But, as MR. SMITH has 
taken the liberty to circulate a slanderous report concerning my character, 
and then to put my name in the paper, I shall [paraphrase: not remain quiet 
any longer, despite any consequences].

On the 30th ultimo, being IN JEFFERSON (typist: Jefferson, PA), I addressed to 
MR. SMITH, the following note:: 
                                                         'Jefferson, 30th July, 
1833. 
MR. B. SMITH : 
Dear Sir -- I have never had the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with you, 
but the circumstances of the case must apologize for this forwardness. I have 
recently.....heard a great deal said about a report, concerning my character, 
said to have birth with you, at least in this county. [paraphrase: We both 
know how rumors grow and have a life of their own, so I don't know what you 
have actually said.] I have, therefore, come down to see you myself, and hear 
from your own mouth what you have to say. I wish to 
have some four persons present to hear the conversation. I will have two, and 
you may have two, and we will talk the matter over in their presence. I know, 
if you are a man of principle and honour, you do not wish to stain any man's 
character, and you will also do anything that is right to wipe off a stain 
that may have been put upon it. [paraphrase: The report is "as totally 
groundless as it is malicious", and I can prove it; I don't want to injure you 
in any way]. You must know, however, that to assail a mans character, more 
especially a MINISTER'S OF THE GOSPEL, and a stranger's 
too, is a most delicate matter... If you will have the politeness to meet me 
at 9 this morning, at THE HOUSE OF JOHN HILLER, ESQ., we can canvass the 
subject in a friendly, honorable, and I hope a dignified manner.....

I am, dear Sir, Most ob'sty, yours, &c., JOHN MORGAN.'

We accordingly met at the house of JOHN HILLER, ESQ., in the presence of COL. 
JAMES MAXWELL and AARON GREGG, and some others. [paraphrase: I'm not going 
to say all that went on...] but the following certificate from JOHN HILLER, ESQ. 
and COL. JAMES MAXWELL, will show the substance:

'We do hereby certify, that the REV. JOHN MORGAN, OF WASHINGTON, PA. called 
on BENJAMIN SMITH, OF JEFFERSON, GREENE COUNTY, to give him an 
explanation concerning a report [paraphrase: that Mr. Smith started] concerning Mr. 
Morgan's having a wife and children in some other parts, to which Mr. Smith's 
reply was as follows:

'That MR. MICHAEL MAGOVERN and himself fell in company with a man on the road 
leading from WOODSFIELD, OHIO TO ST. CLAIRSVILLE, who called his name 
SAMUEL M. PRICE, who said that he had a brother-in-law, by the name of Morgan 
[with] no christian name given, who had formerly been a Methodist preacher, and was 
at this time a CUMBERLAND preacher, and that he had went to WAYNESBURG, 
GREENE COUNTY, and that said Morgan [paraphrase: more details of the rumor, plus a 
statement now that Smith thought Price was a liar on many points]...
The above statements were made in the presence of JOHN MILLER, JAMES 
MAXWELL. 

[Mr. Morgan continues his letter and tries to set the record straight.]
"....there is no minister of my name in the CUMBERLAND PRESBYTERIAN connexion 
[sic], ...I have never been any thing ..but a Cumberland Presbyterian. My 
father never saw the State of Ohio [paraphrase: and the following documents 
will show I have an unblemished character].

[Mr. Morgan goes on about how he has been mortified by these rumors. The 
column continues with the affidavits.]

WASHINGTON COUNTY, PA Aug 23, 1833 
Extract from the minutes of the GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the Cumberland 
presbyterian (sic) Church. (paragraph) Resolved...That Rev John Morgan be 
authorized to act as a Missionary of the General Assembly to the Eastern 
States... True copy of the minutes. (signed) J. COPP, CLK. PRINCETON, KY. 
May 22nd, 1833.

Extract of a letter from the REV. ROBERT DONNELL, to the REV. JOHN MORGAN, 
dated POPLAR MOUNT, ALABAMA, August 1st, 1833:: (paraphrase: regrets that 
Morgan's reputation has been assailed).... 
It is hereby certified that the REV. JOHN MORGAN, RECENTLY FROM ALABAMA, 
but now of Pennsylvania..... was received a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian 
Church, at CONCORD MEETING HOUSE, MADISON COUNTY, ALABAMA, and 
was Licensed and Ordained a Minister ... by the TENNESSEE Presbytery of said 
Church...... 
(signed) 
ROBET (sic) DONNELL, PASTOR OF ATHENS, SALEM, AND MOORSVILLE, 
CHURCHES, LIMESTONE COUNTY, ALABAMA. 
ALBERT G. GIBSON, PASTOR OF CAIN CREEK AND CONCORD CHURCHES. 
ISAAC SHOOK, PASTOR OF THE CUMBERLAND CHURCH IN HUNTSVILLE, 
MAD. CO., ALA 
FINIS HARRIS, PASTOR OF PROVIDENCE CHURCH, do 
ROBERT ERWIN, ELDER OF CONCORD CHURCH, do 
W. H. VINING, SHERIFF OF LIMESTONE CO, ALA. 
JOHN A. DEWADAY, ATHENS, ALABAMA 
JOHN DENTON, HUNTSVILLE, ALA

[Another cerificate vouching for Morgan's character]..... "...that previous 
to his residence in Pennsylvania, he never resided out of the state of 
Alabama...where his parents now reside, and have for a number of years. 
[continues with comments about the rumors]... (signed) MILTON BIRD, August 
22, 1833

[in brackets "By Request"] Washington Pa. Aug 1, 1833 - Having formerly 
resided in TENNESSEE, we were acquainted with....Rev John Morgan, (in 
parantheses- whose father then lived in Alabama, about forty miles from our 
former place of residence). [Goes on about Morgan's character].... 
(signed) THOMAS W. HAYNES, MILTON A. HAYNES

[Another letter..] Almost six years have elapsed since our first acquaintance 
with Rev. John Morgan..... [goes on about his character]... 
(signed) SAMUEL M. SPARKS, MINISTER OF THE CUMBERLAND 
PRESBYTERIAN CONGREGATIONS OF WILLIAMSPORT and PITTSBURG [sic], 
PA. LEE ROY WOODS, PASTOR OF THE CONGREGATIONS OF WAYNESBURG, 
JEFFERSON and CARMICHEALTOWN [sic], PA.

Washington County, Pa. August 23, 1833- 
Gentlemen- As my engagements are such that I cannot visit your place at this 
time, I send you a number of introductory letters, &c., handed me by my 
friends in the States of Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky, ON MY LEAVING HOME 
IN 1831, as a Missionary, (under the direction of the Assembly...).... 
Respectfully, &c. JOHN MORGAN. 
MESSARS. JENNINGS, CAMPBELL, PENNOCK, CLEAVENGER, and IRONS.

The letters, referred to in the above note, are in our possession, and we will 
take pleasure in showing them to any who may wish to see them. They are from 
gentlemen of high standing, both Clergymen and others.... [rest about Morgan's 
character[... (signed) 
NATH'L JENNINGS 
BENJ'N CAMPBELL, JR. 
H. L. PENNOCK 
JOHN IRONS.

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