Morgan Plantation Ku Klux Klan Raid


The KKK raided the Morgan Plantation because the Morgan’s refused to stop hiring the local Blacks…

The story starts over 200 years ago…

The Morgan’s had settled on the Cumberland River, Tenneessee, around 1807 after ‘coming West’ over the mountains from Edgefield County, South Carolina.   Over the ensuing century they developed a large Farm/Plantation operation in the Bumpus Mills–Tobaccoport area just south of the Kentucky state line.   In the 1930’s, their major crop was tobacco which required a great deal of labor to work.   Several black families lived adjacent to the Morgan farm, dating back to the days of their Emancipation by the Morgans during the Civil War.  These families had been given their freedom, along with 40 acres, a mule, a plow, and a cabin to get started in free life. Over the decades following the Civil War a close ‘working relationship’ had developed between these families & the Morgans, and this was still strongly in place in the early 1930’s.

In 1930 Stewart County, Tennessee, the Great Depression was on and jobs were very scarce… it was a desperate time. The Ku Klux Klan had (again) become a potent political force in the United States, and a part of everyday life in the South. As the story was passed down, “the Klan had warned the Morgans several times to stop hiring the niggers and start hiring white men - or else”. The Morgans refused – they were close to these families… and the following event took place (as told to me by Elizabeth Morgan, later augmented by Mary Morgan).

We (Mary, Leon, and I)  were gathered together in the early evening by Lena, and were told to ‘Hush’ and quietly come along. Lena had a blanket and took us across the road and into the woods where we were told to lie down behind a big fallen tree trunk.   As it became darker we heard horses hooves… and then saw lights in the distance coming down the road.   As the riders got closer we could see the white hoods, and lit torches, and some of the riders had guns. They were riding towards the “Big House” (Main Farm house).

They rode on past and it was quiet for a while. Then we heard shouting and yelling… and then a few gunshots. Then it became quiet again… then we saw the fire - Something was on fire. Lena was scared and when we heard voices in the distance she made us put our heads down and covered us all with the blanket. We fell asleep… and woke up the next morning in our beds – Daddy (William Sanford Morgan)  had come to get us from the woods while we were sleeping and had taken us all back to our home.    

Mary Morgan added; The next morning we ran up to the Big House… and I could smell the burning flesh before we could see the Barn. The Klan had burned the livestock barn, with our horses and pigs and cattle in it.   The men were out in the stock yard shooting the animals that could not be saved. It was terrible… our favorite horses were there, the ones that ran in the (sulky) races.

In addition to the Livestock Barn, all the tobacco drying barns were also burned down, destroying their major cash crop for the year. This was a tremendous blow during the Depression.  Neither Aunt Elizabeth, Mother, Mamaw Morgan or Zola Morgan thought anyone was killed… just livestock.



Note: Our Grandfather, William Sanford Morgan, became Sheriff of Stewart County for a few years not too long after this happened… One can only wonder if he ever sought to identify the men that raided his family’s farm. He chased a major bank robber, raided moonshiners, and arrested murderers… but no word on the Ku Klux Klan.

Geneology: (Rev) Abel Morgan (1673, Wales) ---> Enoch Morgan ---> Evan Morgan ---> Enos Morgan ---> John H. Morgan ---> Eli H. Morgan ---> John Eli Morgan ---> William Sanford Morgan (1894) ---> Mary Morgan (1926)/Kenneth LaPeer (1921)---> Jim LaPeer/Alice Ragsdell

The Morgan geneology is long & honorable; Rev. Abel Morgan came to Philadelphia from Alltgoch, Llanwenog, Cardiganshire, Wales in 1711 to escape religious persecution; during the sea journey his 1st wife and infant son died. Rev. Morgan remarried in Philadelphia, and founded several Baptist churches (including the First Baptist Church of Philadelphia), published a Welsh-English Bible Concordance,  and was one of the founders of Brown University.

Oral History -  Provided by Elizabeth Morgan DePaul, Mary Morgan LaPeer, Maggie Belle Ford Morgan, and Zola Morgan.

Internet Geneology Sources - Simply Google “Abel Morgan” for extensive geneology information.