Biography of Benjamin Franklin Morgan M.D.

Benjamin Franklin Morgan, M. D., is a physician and surgeon of nearly thirty years’ experience, almost all of which time had been spent in the State of Kansas, and the past seventeen years in the City of Clay Center.

The name “Dr. Morgan” is a household word in almost every family throughout Clay and surrounding counties, as four of the immediate family have practiced in Clay Center and never since the year 1883 had there been a time when the familiar form and genial smile of one or more of this family of physicians did not form a part of the memories of a day spent on the streets of Clay Center, and during quite a number of these years the “Shingle” of “Doctors Morgan & Morgan” had swung in the breezes or basked lazily in the sunshine of the Sunflower state.

This branch of the Morgan family originated in Wales. Doctor Morgan’s early ancestor came to America just before the Revolutionary war, in which war he joined with the colonists and fought with them for independence. After that he settled in Kentucky. Doctor Morgan’s father, E. D. Morgan, was born at Sardis in the Blue Grass state in the year 1816. In his early manhood he learned the tailor’s trade, which he followed most successfully for many years.

In the year 1838 E. D. Morgan was united in marriage with Karrilla A. D. Wilhoit, daughter of Elliott and Julia Ann (Fink) Wilhoit. She was born at Crawfordsville, Indiana, in the year 1814. Elliott Wilhoit was a descendant of John Garr, who was of Bavarian extraction. The immediate ancestor of Elliott Wilhoit came to America in the early colonial days and with all lovers of liberty he fought for independence. In the fifteenth century the Garr family was ennobled by Emperor Charles, the fifth, for notable bravery, and a family crest given them. This crest now decorates many of the homes of his descendants, and of which they are very proud. Mrs. Morgan was a devout Christian and a staunch Baptist. Her life was full of good works and of charity and love.

E. D. Morgan with his wife and the children then born to them removed to Pella, Iowa, in the year 1854, when Iowa was still a territory. Soon after locating at Pella, they bought a little farm one mile east of the modest village, which farm was the family home for a period of about thirty-four years. As life on a farm in those very early pioneer days did not furnish very favorable opportunities for prosecuting his chosen profession, E. D. Morgan drifted into things that were more in harmony with his surroundings, depending more upon good Mother Earth for her aid in caring for his growing family. He made a specialty of the cultivation and growing of the hardy fruit trees which were adapted to the rigorous Iowa climate. This business increased until his was the largest nurseries in the state, and all of the very old orchards of the surrounding country owe their origin to “The Morgan Nurseries.” In 1888 Mr. and Mrs. Morgan moved to Clay Center, Kansas, where they made their home with one of their sons until the day of their passing.

E. D. Morgan was a republican. In religion he was a Baptist, for which organization he worked untiringly and for which he made many sacrifices during all of his sojourn in Pella. He was many times a member of the church board, and years without number he was superintendent of the Baptist Sunday school.

When this family arrived in Pella in the year 1884 they found that the Baptist people of Iowa had already organized a college known as “Central University of Iowa.” Mr. Morgan was soon made a member of the building committee, in which office he did very earnest and efficient work. In those days it was necessary for each one to work with his own hands as well as to direct the labors of others. So he with other members of the building committee helped to quarry the rock which formed the foundation of the college building, and to haul it to the building site in heavy wagons drawn by oxen. This foundation still stands firm as on the day when it was laid, a fitting memorial and symbol of the honest purpose of the hearts of those who sacrificed themselves for the thing in which they believed.

E. D. Morgan was also a very staunch Mason, and often said to his sons, “As soon as you are old enough, son, join the Masons, it will make you a better man and will be a safeguard always.” He was serving as master of the lodge in Pella at the breaking out of the Civil war. By special dispensation he was granted the power to give the three degrees in a single night to his son John S., and two other young men who were to go to Oskaloosa the following day to muster in as soldiers of the Union. Mrs. Morgan passed away in 1890. Mr. Morgan following her in two years, each at the age of seventy-six.

Dr. B. F. Morgan was the seventh in a family of eight children. His eldest brother, Henry J., owned and operates a fruit ranch in Penryn, California. The second brother, John S. (above mentioned as a soldier in the Union army), was a graduate of Central University. He began the practice of law after his return from the war, but after a very short but successful career as an attorney he passed away in the year 1872. Mattie M., the third child, is a graduate of Central University and now resided at Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is the widow of J. W. Paschal, who was a lieutenant in the late war and a high class machinist. The fourth child, Wilber Fisk, died at the age of three years. Horace Wilber was a physician of high standing, a graduate of the Medical College at Keokuk, Iowa, afterward taking several post-graduate courses at Bellevue Hospital Medical College and other medical schools of New York. He began the practice of medicine in his native state, but removed to Clay Center, Kansas, in the year 1883, where his home was at the time of his passing in 1895. Teda A. J. is the wife of I. M. Earle, who is a successful attorney and at present vice president and general counsel for the Bankers Life Insurance Company of Des Moines, Iowa. Curtice C. was also a physician, a graduate of the time of his graduation he formed a partnership with his brother H. Wilber in the practice of medicine at Clay Center, Kansas, where he followed this profession until the time of his death in 1897.

Dr. Benjamin Franklin Morgan was born at Pella, Iowa, August 3, 1857. He attended the public schools of his native town, graduating from high school, and in 1885 he completed the course at the Iowa Central University. He prepared for his profession in the medical department of Drake University at Des Moines, from which he received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1888. Doctor Morgan is a wide awake physician and surgeon and a constant student. He took post-graduate work in the New York Post-Graduate School, and two courses in the Chicago Post-Graduate School.

Doctor Morgan began practice at Riley, Kansas, in 1888, and that was his home and center of practice for twelve years. In 1900 he removed to Denver, Colorado, but as the high altitude affected his wife’s health, he gave up his practice there after a year and in 1901 located at Clay Center, where his two brothers had previously practiced. Since then Doctor Morgan had built up a large general medical and surgical practice and had offices in the Galloba Building. He is a member of the Clay County and Kansas State medical societies and the American Medical Association, and for two years was lecturer on anaesthesia in the University of Kansas. While living at Riley he was county coroner of that county and had served on the United States Board of Pension Examiners in both Riley and Clay counties. During the illness of ex-President Taft while he was passing through Kansas Doctor Morgan had the honor of being the attending physician.

Doctor Morgan is a republican and like his father had become a deep student in Masonry. He is affiliated with Clay Center Lodge No. 135, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and for three years was Master of Riley Lodge No. 48. He also belongs to Bethany Chapter No. 38, Royal Arch Masons, and is past commander of Coronado Commandery No. 20 of the Knights Templar and is a life member of Isis Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Salina. In 1916 he was representative to the Imperial Council from Isis Temple at Buffalo, New York.

Doctor Morgan owned his home at 329 Dexter Street in Clay Center. On May 22, 1882, at Wakeeney, Kansas, he married Miss Lucy M. Hanna. She is a daughter of the late B. J. F. and Margaret (Phillips) Hanna. Her father was at that time register of the United States land office at Wakeeney. Her mother was a sister of Colonel Phillips, who platted Salina as a town, was colonel of an Indian regiment during the Civil war and afterwards was agent for the Cherokee Indians.

Doctor and Mrs. Morgan have two children. Edwin Clyde, the son, graduated A. B. from the University of Kansas and took his medical course in Northwestern University Medical School of Chicago and had been in practice as a partner with his father until August 20, 1917, when he was called to France in the medical department of the United States army and is now serving his country in a base hospital on French soil, having been commissioned a first lieutenant. The daughter, Margaret, is a graduate of the University of Kansas in the classical course and is still at home.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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