Thursday, April 26, 2012

George Morgan III and the Morgan Lake Ice Co

Old Gravestones of Dutchess County New York, a publication copyrighted in 1924 by the Dutchess County Historical Society, provided me with information that led me to believe that our protagonist George Morgan only had three sons; all having had a very early end to their lives prior to the 1870s. Reading this, it became clear to me why George Morgan's sister Miss Julia A. Morgan took over the Ice Co. after his passing in 1879. However, when I later came across an article dated 1917 listing George Morgan as the head of the Ice Co.1, I realized I needed to conduct some more genealogy research.

Using to find any Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle articles mentioning members of the Morgan Family and the free version of the Family Tree Builder program available for download on, I was able to chart most of the Morgan Family history and find that George Morgan had eleven (if not more) children! He named two of his sons after him. The first passed away at the age of one in 1832 and lies in the family plot at the Pine Plains Cemetery.2 The second, George Morgan III, passed away a century later as a patient at Bowne Memorial Hospital in September 1932.3 This was the George Morgan mentioned in the 1917 article I read. He inherited his father's company from his Aunt Julia around 1910. 

While he was the manager, the Ice Co. entered a rather unfriendly suit against the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad for $10,000 in damages in 1928.4 The suit, which I will write about in more detail in another post, ended in 1934 two years after he passed away. George Morgan found himself involved in another crime against his property earlier in 1917 when thieves stole potatoes from his potato patch in the middle of the night.5 In 1929, he had a new patch on his property; this one designated as the official dump for the city of Poughkeepsie.6 George Morgan agreed to this temporary change to his property, as well as a more permanent one. Morgan Lake was once off of Smith Street rather than Creek Road, until part of the Morgan property on Smith Street was sold to build a connection to Salt Point Turnpike (then Salt Point Road).7 Today we still drive on this connection that was paved sometime in 1931.

If you thought I was going to keep you guessing again on who took over the Ice Company after George Morgan's son, George Morgan III, I can understand why, but for once I'm just going to tell you now. His sister Eva Morgan-Niver* was the head of the Ice Company after he passed away. She played a role in the topic of the next blog post. What's the topic you ask? Sorry, but I have to keep you guessing somehow. You will have to wait to find out more next week!      

*Correction made on Saturday 8/25/12 - more research revealed that it was Eva Morgan-Niver, George Morgan III's sister, not his wife, Mrs. Effie Morgan, who became president of the Company after George Morgan III passed away in 1932.

1. "Ice Harvest in Full Swing Here," The Poughkeepsie Eagle News, Wednesday January 17, 1917. 
2. Poucher, J.W. Old Gravestones of Dutchess County New York, (NY: Dutchess County Historical Society, 1924) 194.
3. "George Morgan Dies After Short Illness" The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News, Wednesday August, 31, 1932. 
4. "Brief Bits of County News," The Harlem Valley Times, Thursday November 1, 1928.
5. "Morgan's Potatoes Stolen," The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News, Friday July 20, 1917.  
6. "Crispi to Request Dump Designation," The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News April 25, 1929.
7. "Purchase of Land Voted by Council: Two Contracts are Authorized to Acquire Realty for Development Projects," The Poughkeepsie Eagle-News 1931.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Don't Rain on My Parade

"You know it's supposed to rain on Sunday?" Yes I knew, but I refused to let that stop me from carrying out the Earth Day cleanup I planned for today 4/22/2012. The rain didn't stop 15 other volunteers from coming to clean up litter at Morgan Lake either! Among those in attendance were some of my family members who are all very supportive of this revitalization project. My mom (Amy Fugere-Wallace), dad (Daniel Wallace), aunt (Michele Fugere), grandma (Betty Fugere), and brother (Josh Wallace) were all there in their rain gear; ponchos, full body rain suits, a golf umbrella and a vintage plastic rain hat. Our Lake Stewards from Marist College, Nicole Koenigsmann and Craig Corbeels, were also in attendance and they brought some friends from Marist along with them: Benjamin Bruckenthal, Erin Hoagland (Environmental Science and Policy major), Jenna DePue, and Rachelle Fakhouri. F.D. Roosevelt High School was also represented today by students junior Josh Wallace (my brother) and freshman Emily Shaw, a returning Lake Steward. My good friends Brittany Bush, an alumni of Binghamton University, and Nicole Braun, a celebrated vegan baker at Mother Earth's Storehouse, Inc., also came to help out. Our special guest of the day was Ken Rose. Ken and his wife Cheryl organize the "Get Hooked on Fishing" Weekend held each May at Morgan Lake. This year will be the 25th anniversary of what Ken and Cheryl proudly call "Kids Day."

Starting at 1pm we broke into groups of two and three and tackled areas around the north side of the lake. Nicole, Craig, and Benjamin found 33 glass bottles, a zip-up sweater, and a metal folding chair. Michele found a crows head and a shower head in the reeds. Nicole Braun and I found a black water line tube and a lot of plastic bags.

At 2pm, Emily Shaw blew the Vuvuzela, a gag gift from my boyfriend, to let everyone know it was time to return to the Check-In table to sort through the garbage. Using the Green It Movement Activity Report, we recorded the number of plastic bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, clothing items, food wrappers, metal items, plastic items, paper items, fishing-related items, and Styrofoam pieces we picked up. Total numbers for the day included:  24 plastic bottles, 51 glass bottles, 25 aluminum cans, 6 clothing items, 41 food wrappers, 6 metal items, 53 plastic items, 16 paper items, 14 fishing-related items, 44 Styrofoam pieces.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mobilize the Earth for Earth Day 2012

"The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life to speak out
against the deterioration of the environment and demand change.  As a result, the Environmental
Protection Agency was created, the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts were passed,
and the modern environmental movement was born.  Today, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.  This year, in the face of global inaction on pressing environmental problems, we must harness that power.
Earth Day Network is calling upon individuals, organizations, businesses and governments to Mobilize
the Earth™ and demand that environmental issues become a top priority."

"The volunteer Morgan Lake Park Lake Stewards are joining the mobilization." The Park's first BIG volunteer, organized cleanup through the City of Poughkeepsie Department of Public Works Adopt-A-Park Program will be held on Earth Day, Sunday April 22, 2012 1pm-3pm. The theme of this Earth Day event is a scavenger hunt for litter. A map of the lake marked with several "X's" for the scavenger hunt will be handed out to groups of at least 2 or more volunteers. The volunteer groups will select either 1 or 2 areas of the park to clean in search of the items listed on the map next to the "X's" i.e. empty fishing bait containers, plastic drink bottles, empty potato chip bags. Any piece of garbage found will be picked up using the provided litter pickers and placed into the provided trash bags. The scavenger hunt will begin at 1pm and will end at 2pm. At 2pm the volunteer groups will head back to the check in table near the parking lot and will then empty the contents of their trash bags. Piles will be made of recyclables (plastic and glass bottles) and garbage (food wrappers, etc.) The number of items in each pile will be counted and recorded. The volunteer group that found the most items listed on the scavenger hunt map will receive a small prize!  

"It’s time for our leaders put us on the path to environmental sustainability and jumpstart the new green
economy. Join us on Earth Day, April 22, 2012, as we Mobilize the Earth™ and demand action from the world leaders. With your help, we will marshal A Billion Acts of Green®, organize rallies around the globe,
gather petitions, register voters and build the support necessary to enact change."

"Watch this video:

"And go to to join the movement and help make a difference!"

**The paragraphs and sentences in "quotes" are taken from the Earth Day Network website resource page for social media samples.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A friendly suit against Miss Julia A. Morgan

After her younger brother's passing in 1879, Miss Julia A. Morgan became the sole owner of Morgan Lake and the Morgan Lake Ice Company at the age of 68. This came as a surprise to me. Although advocates of women's suffrage began gaining visibility a decade prior to 1879, it was still uncommon for women to be business owners and managers. As a result, I was curious to find out if anyone questioned her ability to lead the Ice Company.

An article published in the Daily Eagle on August 5, 1885 provided me with some insight on how Miss Morgan and her business were viewed by some members of the public in Poughkeepsie. A "friendly suit against Miss Julia A. Morgan"1 was held, City vs. Morgan Lake Ice Co., charging the Ice Company with "violation of the city ordinance regarding peddling in the streets of the city without a license."2 According to the article, Miss Morgan's counsel Captain William H. Woodin informed the jury that she had a regular office in the city where business was transacted and agents who delivered ice to homes and businesses.3 Woodin also argued that "hawkers" and "peddlers" blow horns, ring bells, or cry out and Miss Morgan's agents [did] not cry out.4 The jury's verdict was for the defendant; a ruling that hopefully encouraged Poughkeepsie residents to view Miss Morgan in a different light.

As the sole owner of the Morgan Lake property and the Ice Company, Miss Morgan was permitted to do with both as she saw fit. In 1888, she sold the 15 acres next to the lake (what is today the open lawn, picnic table and bench area, and parking lot) to the Poughkeepsie Bridge Railroad Company for a Maybrook Line railroad trestle to be constructed over Morgan Lake.5 Below is a picture of what remains of the trestle today.
That same year she also leased the Lake to Stephen A. Perkins and his brother Jacob A. Perkins who became the proprietors of the Morgan Lake Ice Co.6 The advertisement below was printed in the Daily Eagle in 1893. It reads: "ICE from MORGAN LAKE, is from Pure Spring Water and contains no Sewage or other Impurities. All orders left at the Office or with the drivers will receive prompt attention"

Miss Morgan lived a long and healthy life and passed around the age of 99. Who inherited the Lake and the Ice Company from her you ask? Stay tuned once again to find out!

1. "A Test Case: City vs. Morgan Lake Ice Co.: The Question of Peddlers' Licenses - A Just Trial...The Verdict Against the City" Daily Eagle, Friday August 5, 1885.
2. "A Test Case: City vs. Morgan Lake Ice Co.: The Question of Peddlers' Licenses - A Just Trial...The Verdict Against the City" Daily Eagle, Friday August 5, 1885.
3. "A Test Case: City vs. Morgan Lake Ice Co.: The Question of Peddlers' Licenses - A Just Trial...The Verdict Against the City" Daily Eagle, Friday August 5, 1885.
4. "A Test Case: City vs. Morgan Lake Ice Co.: The Question of Peddlers' Licenses - A Just Trial...The Verdict Against the City" Daily Eagle, Friday August 5, 1885.
5. *in need of relocating the article.
6. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Dutchess and Putnam, New York. (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1897) 330.  

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

$15 per ton, and $1 per hundred

If you've seen the "budget friendly" signs hanging up at Morgan Lake (one on the chain link fence near the bathroom, one by the lake front, and the other attached to the fishing pier sign with wooden clothes pins) you may have already figured out how George Morgan made a profit off of his lake's water: by selling it as ICE. The Morgan Lake Ice Company provided householders and businesses alike with, as the advertisement below states, a "SUPERIOR QUALITY OF ICE."

Customers were encouraged to procure tickets from the Company's office at 363 Main St., which could be redeemed for the occasional supply of ice.1 Although ice was in demand each season, the crop of ice varied each winter and so did the number of men willing to harvest it. A county wide "Strike on Ice" began in January 1875. Icemen employed by the Morgan Lake Ice Company and the Poughkeepsie Company were paid $1.50 per day and they wanted more. The counter argument to the strikers was that at Highland Lake across from Fort Montgomery, men were harvesting ice for $1.25 per day so $1.50 should be viewed as a fair wage. The Icemen disagreed and some eagerly awaited the opportunity to start a riot to get serious results.2 In just three months, the Daily Eagle was back to printing ice notices encouraging families once again to buy "Superior Clear Water Ice, taken from the celebrated Morgan Lake."3 With business soaring, George Morgan built an addition to his ice houses in 1877.4  

From its opening circa 1870 to 1879, George Morgan acted as the agent for the company, while Albert O. Cheney and brothers were the proprietors.
When George Morgan passed on September 21, 1879, the Morgan Lake Ice Company entered a new era when Morgan's sister, Julia A. Morgan took over the business. Once again, please stay tuned to find out more in the next post about the Ice Co.!

1. Daily Eagle, June 3, 1874. 
2. "The Strike on Ice: It is not yet ended. More trouble expected today" Daily Log Book, Monday, January (13), 1875.
3. Our Own City, Saturday, April 17, 1875. 
4. Our Own City, Tuesday, October 1(0), 1877. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Oh, how sickly

"Poughkeepsie, which was claimed to be the Central Park of the Hudson, now turns out to be a city of pest holes and malarial diseases." - The Eagle's Work October 10, 1870

Had a few of the above Bobble Bottles entered the market in the mid 1800s, Poughkeepsie residents would have probably dueled in order to get their hands on one. Poughkeepsie's drinking water, supplied largely from backyard wells and cisterns, was severely contaminated in 1854. At this time, Poughkeepsie became a city and its population approached the 20,000 mark.1 The wells and cisterns were in close proximity to the "family privy" (or outhouse). According to an article in the Poughkeepsie Journal by Elizabeth I. Carter, "The result was inevitable. Epidemics of cholera, typhoid fever, smallpox and diphtheria claimed hundreds of victims."2 Newspapers reported as far west as Chicago that Poughkeepsie was "The Sickly City" and one reported that it was "A fine place to live, with fine schools and churches and railroad accommodations, well governed but oh, how sickly."A return to good health could be achieved if Poughkeepsie residents secured  an alternative, long-term supply of sewage free drinking water. "The Sickly City" needed an answer to its "water question," as it was referred to in articles printed by the Poughkeepsie Daily Eagle, and our protagonist had one.

Entrepreneur George Morgan purchased the College Hill property at an auction to settle the estate of Charles Bartlett, lead instructor of the Intercollegiate College on College Hill, conducted by Henry W. Shaw in 1865.4 He also bought the Swift Farm, on which he excavated the ground and dammed its natural springs in order to construct Morgan Lake.5 Morgan submitted a proposition to the Mayor and Common Council of the city of Poughkeepsie on February 21, 1866 agreeing to furnish a sufficient supply of water to dwellings and other buildings for thirty years.6 This offer was turned down after the Water Board and engineers Theodore W. Davis and James P. Kirkwood selected first the Fallkill Creek and then, after more careful consideration, the Hudson River as the main supply of drinking water.7 A reservoir was constructed on top of College Hill (the property that Morgan owned) in 1872 to pump the water from the Hudson and engineers Davis and Kirkwood built the first sand-filtration filters in the United States right here in Poughkeepsie.8

Although Morgan did not sell his lake's water to the city for the supply of drinking water, he still made a profit off of the water. Stay tuned for the next blog post to find out how!      

1. Poucher, J. Wilsom, M.D., "Poughkeepsie's Water Supply," Dutchess County Historical Society Year Book 1942,  66.
2. Carter, Elizabeth I. "'Sickly City' made waterworks history," Poughkeepsie Journal, Friday, October 7, 1983.
3. Carter, Elizabeth I. "'Sickly City' made waterworks history," Poughkeepsie Journal, Friday, October 7, 1983.
4. Platt, Edmund. The Eagle's History of Poughkeepsie: From the Earliest Settlements 1683 to 1905. (Poughkeepsie: Platt & Platt 1905) 204. 
5. Commemorative Biographical Record of the Counties of Dutchess and Putnam, New York. (Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1897) 133. **I am still in the process of researching the Swift Farm. 17 Creek Road may have originally been the address for it.
6. Biever, Duane A. Old Poughkeepsie New York 1865. (North Country Books Inc., 1997) 170-171.
7. Poucher, J. Wilsom, M.D., "Poughkeepsie's Water Supply," Dutchess County Historical Society Year Book 1942,  66-67.
8. Poucher, J. Wilsom, M.D., "Poughkeepsie's Water Supply," Dutchess County Historical Society Year Book 1942,  67-68.