This story was written by a newspaper columnist about the editor's father, Hugh Henry Morgan
It was 1890. Hugh Henry Morgan was six. And that year, not far from where Hugh lived in Denison, TX, a baby was born. He was destined for greatness. His name was Dwight David Eisenhower.
But neither Ike or Hugh stayed. The Eisenhowers move to Abilene, TX, the Morgans to Oklahoma. Ike later was an Army man and President, Hugh a cowboy and preacher-evangelist. Ike's dead now, but Rev. Morgan is very much alive. Today is his birthday. He's a spry 91.
Brother Morgan's at Estes Nursing Home East, out past Huffman. He's been there about a year, and arthritis has him in a wheel chair. But sick he isn't. He's got the get-up-and-go of a much younger man, and has the memory of a computer.
Lo, these many years have passed, but Rev. Morgan, a tall, slender man who dresses well (including a western Stetson) and reads and write without using eyeglasses, can still ride the range in his recollections.
Get him to reminiscing and you can almost hear the thunder of buffalo hooves, the bellowing of driven steers and the tribal dance of Indians.
Rev. Morgan, who hasn't held a pastorate for almost 20 years, but who still preaches when he feels he's needed, was a real cowboy, a range rider, Indian teacher and railroad worker before Oklahoma became a state (that was in 1907, when he was 23). He packed a pistol for 20 years, back when all cowboys did, but never used it because he couldn't bring himself to kill.
That means he passed up deer, turkeys, buffaloes, even rattlesnakes. He remembers once when his family moved and had to leave behind more than 300 turkeys, and remembers (naturally) eating steak most of his young life.
Brother Morgan's forte was riding and busting broncos. He's been in Wild West shows as a rider (of bull, too) and calf roper. He met Buffalo Bill and Pawnee, the Indian whose head was the model for the U. S. nickel.
He can look back on the Sooner land rush, in which his father took part, remembers saloons, engineered the first train in the territory, and recalls getting off a horse during a cattle drive and “accepting Christ.” He was 17.
His mother was a very religious woman, he says, and his father “a good man.” And after Hugh was saved he said, he “ran from preaching a long time.” For 15 years, in fact. He was 32 before he left for Greenville, SC, and four years of Bible school (Holmes Bible and Missionary Institute) and study.
Meanwhile, from 1907-11 he worked as a foreman on an Indian ranch (he had gone to school with Indians, spoke Creek and Seminole). I must have been a good foreman,” he said. “I got four $5 raises in four years.”
Known (derogatorily) as an “Indian lover,” Hugh went to a U.S. School in Oklahoma as a teacher for the next four years, 1912-16. He taught agriculture and animal husbandry, dressed in Stetson, boots, levis and pistol. On the side he helped drive cattle to the railroad. Longhorns. “A mean and dangerous job.” he said.
In South Carolina, a rich family helped him through school. He finished when he was 36. And it was there (Holmes Bible and Missionary Institute) he met his wife-to-be. Only thing, she'd been assigned missionary work, wouldn't marry him until she returned. Well, they (the Missions Board of the Pentecostal Holiness Church) sent her to China for nine years. He waited and they were wed a year after she got back. He was 45. That was in 1929.
For three or four years then they traveled around America “evangelizing.” They covered 30-odd states. A girl was born to them in 1930. They named her Mary Evelyn. Two years and nine months later a son, Hugh Holmes, was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Hugh and Julia moved to Birmingham in 1931, because Mrs. Morgan had relatives here. They stayed, lived in East Lake, Central Park, Woodlawn, Clay, Tarrant and Pinson. Hugh pastored two churches, but mostly evangelism has been his work. They were missionaries.
Mrs. Julia Morgan is dead now. The daughter is Mrs. R. H. McDuff of Birmingham. The son, Hugh Holmes Morgan, who was in the Air Force as a chaplain with the rank of major, is now to be president of Southwestern College, a Pentecostal Holiness college, in Oklahoma City.
So, Brother Hugh Henry Morgan, who was a teenager before he ever saw barbwire, and still believes in hellfire-brimstone preaching, credits his longevity to faith in God, and the fact that the Indians taught him what and how much to eat. Even today he doesn't take medications.
At 91 now, in remembering back over his wild and woolly youth, he says, shaking his head: “it was safer in those days on the plains than around here now.,” And he feels an old hometowner of his, Dwight D. Eisenhower, would agree.
[Editor's comment: My father, Hugh Henry Morgan, lived to be 94. He died of pneumonia in the hospital. I was present when he died. In the providence of God I became his pastor when I resigned as president of Southwestern College and accepted a call from my home church, Good Shepherd Pentecostal Holiness Church [formerly the First Pentecostal Holiness Church] in Birmingham to be their pastor. I preached his funeral and wrote a tribute to him for my family and all who attended the memorial service.]