Who was Lena?


Lena was the beloved 'Nanny' for our Grandfather, William Sanford (W.S.) Morgan during his childhood years (1894-1900’s) in Tennessee; Years later (1920-1930's), she was Nanny again for Sanford’s children, Leon, Elizabeth, and Mary (our Mother). Lena was a black woman, descendent from slave Families that the Morgans had set free during the Civil War. Lena was always spoken of in loving terms, and passed away sometime in the 1930’s.

The Morgans did not separate their slave Families, or divide them in any way; When they set the Families free during the War the Morgans gave each family 40 acres, a plow, a mule, and a cabin.  Over the decades these families stayed in an 'economic relationship' with the Morgans, providing farming assistance, and tobacco cash crops. This 'economic relationship' became the cause for a Ku Klux Klan raid on the Morgan Plantation in the early 1930s. (Story told elsewhere on this site.)

The story of “Bloody Bones & Goo Goo Eyes” (as told elsewhere on this site) came from Lena... and is believed to be an African legend carried over to America by her family.

W.S Morgan took care of Lena in her old age, providing her with a small house in Bumpus Mills, TN and necessary sustenance. The house was still standing in 1977. No picture exists of Lena, unfortunately.

Oral History provided by Mary Morgan LaPeer, Elizabeth Morgan DePaul, and Maggie Belle Ford Morgan.