Great-grandson reminisces about early Oklahoma congressman

By Chris Eversole

The great-grandson of one of the most influential leaders in early Oklahoma extolled his ancestor’s virtues Tuesdayat the Yukon Rotary Club.

David Morgan, who is a retired Oklahoma City attorney, told about Dick T. Morgan’s accomplishments – including helping many homesteaders obtain title to their land and serving six terms in Congress.

He also attested to his great grandfather’s character as a lawyer, religious leader, congressman and husband.

“He was passionate about good things,” David Morgan said.

Dick T. Morgan’s leadership skills were evident at the age of seven.

He had learned to play the tenor drum, and when Union troops marched through his hometown of Prairie Creek, Indiana, during the Civil War, he played the drums at the head of the procession.

He became a lawyer, and he served as member of the Indiana House of Representatives in 1881 and 1882.

He moved to Oklahoma, and he was on hand for the Land Run of 1889.

Morgan helped many homesteaders resolve conflicts over their land claims and win the right to their land.

He moved from town to town, including Guthrie and Perry, always setting up his office across the street from the U.S. Land Office.

When he got to El Reno, he bought a building and leased part of it to the federal government for the land office.

“Instead of being across the street, he was now across the hall,” David Morgan said.

David Morgan tells the Yukon Rotary Club about his great-grandfather, Dick T. Morgan, who was an early congressman from Oklahoma. Photo/Chris Eversole

Dick T. Morgan wrote a book on land regulations that was known as “Morgan’s Manual.”

It became the definitive guide that land offices and courts used.

His clients benefitted from his expertise.

“It was like they had an answer sheet,” David Morgan said.

President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Dick T. Morgan as the register of the U.S. Land Office in Woodward in 1904.

In 1909, Morgan began his first term in Congress.

Morgan was the champion of the people – farmers, ranchers and small businessmen.

He introduced legislation that led to establishing the Federal Trade Commission and federal farm credit provisions.

Following World War I, Morgan introduced legislation that would have given extensive benefits to veterans.

Although it didn’t pass initially, it was a precursor to the GI Bill that was adopted after World War II.

Morgan also was an early Oklahoma leader of the Disciples of Christ, a denomination known as the Christian Church, and he helped it grow to 491 churches in Oklahoma.

David Morgan learned much about his great-grandfather from the numerous letters he wrote to his wife, Ora, which were filled with tender sentiment.

‘It’s heartwarming to know they loved each other so much,” David Morgan said.

 

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