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John B. Morgan, M.D.

Contributor: Lee Freeman


From the Florence Herald, Saturday, June 22, 1889, p. 3:

The Deadly Drug.

          The community was shocked to hear of the death of Mrs. Morgan, the wife of Dr. Jno. B. Morgan, who keeps a drug store near the L. & N. depot, this (Friday) morning at 10 o’clock, caused by an overdose of morphine. She had threatened her life before, but no attention was paid to it. No reason for the rash act can be given other than jealousy of her husband, who is a practicing physician. The deceased leaves four little children under five years of age.


From the Sheffield Enterprise, Tuesday, June 25, 1889, p. 1:

          Mrs. Morgan, of Florence, committed suicide yesterday by taking morphine. Several times within the past few months she has threatened to end her life, but the threats became so frequent that no attention was paid to them and yesterday’s tragedy was the result. Mrs. Morgan was the wife of Dr. John B. Morgan, a druggist of that city, and leaves a family of four small children, all under five years of age.


Advertisement from the Florence Herald, Saturday, August 17, 1889, p. 1:

Office at Morgan & Stafford's Drug Store,
Royal Avenue, Sweetwater.
Dr. Morgan gives his personal attention to compounding prescriptions. may11 - ly,
[Note-This was the last date this ad appeared, probably due to the Doctor's arrest.]

From “Gleanings of the City,” The Weekly Dispatch, Tuscumbia, Colbert County, AL, Tuesday, August 20, 1889, p. 3:

For the past few days Florence has been excited over a most unpleasant scandal, or worse, in which Dr. J. B. Morgan and his newly made wife, are the principal characters.

It will be remembered that about three weeks ago Dr. Morgan’s wife committed suicide, but the matter was hushed up and passed over without investigation. About one week after the death of his wife, Dr. Morgan married a widow Pruitt, who for some time had been living in the family in the capacity of housekeeper. A week or thereabout after this last marriage the new made wife gave birth to a child which it is supposed was foully dealt with and buried in the garden of the Dr.’s residence. The parties live several miles north of Florence. The occurrences were most suspicious and on Friday the Doctor was arrested and put in jail and yesterday Mrs. Morgan was also arrested. Later in the day she was released on a writ of habeas corpus but the Doctor’s reputation is not of the best and it is expected that facts damaging to both, will be divulged at the investigation. – Enterprise, Sunday 18th.


From the Florence Herald, Wednesday, August 21, 1889, p. 3:

Charged With a Heinous Crime.
          A great deal of excitement prevails throughout this portion of the county, concerning an abortion case which has come to light and is revolting in details. Dr. John B. Morgan and Mrs. Morgan nee Mrs. Mollie Pruitt, who live near Rawhide,* are charged with procuring an abortion. The preliminary trial was held on Friday near Rawhide, before Esquires McDonald and Simpson. There were over two hundred people in attendance, and there was some talk of lynching Morgan by the excited crowd. Mr. C. E. Jordan was prosecutor, and Mr. C. H. Fairman defended the accused. Sufficient evidence was produced to bind them both over to the criminal court, and their bond was fixed at $500 each. The trial lasted from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.. There was one witness, John Pruitt, who gave direct testimony, and eleven others gave circumstantial evidence, which exactly coincided and dovetailed with it. The child, [sic] was buried in the garden, but was removed on Tuesday by some unknown person, and cannot now be found. The crime was perpetrated during Saturday or Sunday, the 10th and 11th instant.** Dr. Morgan was at the house all during that time. The pair were married on Wednesday last at New Bethel by a minister. They were both brought to town and jailed in default of the required $500 bail. Mrs. Morgan has always borne a good reputation and is well connected. Her husband has been dead about five years and she has two little daughters. Dr. Morgan has been indicted for practicing medicine without a license, but has succeeded in having the indictment squashed each time. His wife committed suicide some two months ago, and there has been a mystery overhanging it. He has had a very checkered career in this community. He has six indictments resting against him at present, for selling liquor without license, carrying concealed weapons, and other charges. His bondsmen in these cases, surrendered him to the Sheriff Saturday and were released. He has been keeping a drug store near the L. & N. depot here and practicing in and around the city for some time past.
          The trial, which will take place in September, will be a very interesting one, and will doubtless be attended by much excitement.


From the Florence Herald, Saturday, August 24, 1889, p. 3:

The Morgan Abortion Case.
          In our last issue we gave an ac[cou]nt of an alleged abortion involv[ing] Dr. J. B. Morgan, in which evide[e]nce of the prosecution was chiefly [gi]ven. It is but just that we give [th]e fats on the other side, which [all?] good citizens doubtless wish [w]ould prove true.
          We have reliable information that [w]itnesses for the State in the case, [te]stified before the justices to the ef[fe]ct that the prosecutor was actuated [b]y interested motives; and that the de[f]ense claims that his story is the [f]abrication of a jealous and disap[p]ointed lover.
          Mrs. Morgan, under oath, denied [t]he pregnancy and the whole abortion [s]tory, and two witnesses, believed to [b]e entirely trustworthy, swore that [l]ess than three days after the day on which the unnatural birth is charged [t]o have occurred, Mrs. Morgan “did a day’s washing and appeared heal[t]hy and in gay humor.”


From “Gleanings of the City,” The Weekly Dispatch, Tuesday, August 27, 1889, p. 3:
          There are no new developments in the Dr. Bolton Morgan case at Florence. He is still in jail awaiting trial at fall term of Lauderdale county court, and from the evidence which will be made against him there is no doubt but he will be a charming acquisition to the boarding department of the State penitentiary. There are already several indictments against him.

Note: This is the last known newspaper article located on the Morgan case. The local papers said nothing further about it, so the outcome, and Dr. and Mrs. Morgan’s guilt or innocence, remains unknown. By the time of the 1900 federal population census, Morgan, a native of Franklin County, AL, was married a third time, living in Chickasaw Station, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma), with children from his first and third marriages . His mother Abby was also living with the family.


Indictment Record, Volume I [Circuit Court]


p. 245, 7 Sep 1888:
          "J B Morgan whose Christian name is to this grand jury unknown, in the presence or hearing of a female made use of abusive insulting language [the word language is crossed out] or abusive language."

p. 245, 8 Sep 1888:
          "J Bowling [sic] Morgan carried a pistol concealed about his person."

p. 246, 8 Sep 1888:
          "J Bowling [sic] Morgan whose Christian name is otherwise unknown to this grand jury sold spiritous liquors in quantities of a quart or more than a quart & suffered the same as a ? [can't read words here] to be drunk on or about the premises."

p. 248, 11 Sep 1888:
          "J Bolten [sic] Morgan sold spiritous liquors without license & contrary to law the Christian name of said Morgan is otherwise unknown to this grand jury."

p. 249, 13 Sep 1888:
          "J Bolling [sic] Morgan whose Christian name is to this grand jury unknown [word unknown crossed out] otherwise unknown carried a pistol [the word concealed crossed out] in the presence of R K Garner."

p. 249, 13 Sep 1888:
          "J Bollen [sic] Morgan whose Christian name is to this grand jury otherwise unknown carried a pistol concealed about his person in the presence of Mattie F. Garner."

p. 330, 10 Sep 1889:
          "John B Morgan administered to Mollie Pruit [sic] a pregnant woman a drug or substance which is to this grand jury unknown to procure her miscarriage. And the grand jury further charge that John B Morgan willfully used or employed some instrument or other means which are not known to this grand jury on Molly Pruit [sic] a pregnant woman to procure her miscarriage."

p. 332,  10 Sep 1889:
          "John Pruit [sic] a man & Mollie Pruit [sic] a woman did live together in a state of adultery or fornication."

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