The History of Morgantown, Oktibbeha County, MS
George Decatur Morgan, Sr. was born on November 7, 1827 in North Carolina. He came to Mississippi with a family by the name of Outlaw, who moved in covered wagons which formed a long train. He paid his transportation by helping tend to the stock, etc. They settled in the eastern part of the county of Oktibbeha. Some of the Outlaw descendants live there today.
By the way of explanation, he worked for Mr. Outlaw a an oversser of his slaves. He worked at this until the Civil War. He served two or three years in the Army. After the surrender, he came home to his wife and son.
In 1864, the slaves being freed, left him without work; naturally he had to look for something else. He obtained a tract of land one mile South of the present site of Morgantown. The land was all woodland with just a little shanty which he and his family moved in to, to begin farm life for himself. Of course just getting out of the service he had no provisions for himself or his stock.
Mr Outlaw came to his rescue again. True the slaves were free, but many of them chose to stay with their master. These hired hands loaded wagons with the necessary things, for the "new beginning". These supplies were enough for the first year. Mr. Outlaw sent a team of mules to work the crops the first year.
In August of 1864 a new addition was added to the family. A few years later, he built a log house which has been preserved through the years. In 1975 it was torn down and moved to Starkville.
Having a family of five boys and two girls, he realized they needed to attend school. Therefore, the decision was to move to Sturgis and send the children to school. The two older boys kept the farm going. It was during this time that he set up a horse powered cotton gin. Since there wasn't a gin in each community, people came from some distance to have their cotton ginned.
Mr. Morgan was an excellent financier. He has aid many tiems when he first began work after the war, he worked for fifty cents a day and at the end of two years he had saved fifty dollars.
To begin with the history of Morgantown, let us give a little geographic survey. The community lies between two streams, Noxubee River and Sand Creek. This tract of land begins where the place of Peter Davis (colored) ended, located five miles East of Sturgis on the Sturgis and Betheden Road known today as Morgantown Road. This road divides the community almost in half. On the North side it is approximately one mile from Sand Creek and on the South it is about the same distance from the Noxubee River.
The pioneer settlers date back to 1860. They were: George Decatur Morgan, Sr., Daniel McHann, Miland Scott and George Johns (colored). The descendants of G.D. Morgan, Sr. bought at different times different plots from the Daniel McHann heirs. Morgan Brothers finally purchased all the McHann estate with the exception of that owned by Daniel's grandson, Charlie. In later years, J.A. Reeves purchased the plot.
In the early days, farming was the principle vocation with cotton as the main money crop. While waiting for crops to mature for harvesting more woodland was cleared for cultivation. This timber was utilized in various ways. Some was made into cross-ties hewed by hand with a broad ax, some was cut and split into rails which was used to fence croplands, and some was used for heating purposes. As time advanced, farming too advanced. With better equipment, more crop land could be cultivated and greater increase was the result.
With the appearance of the boll-weevil, the cotton crop was cut short and other vocations were tied in with farming. The Morgantown settlement was occupied with hird help both black and white. Morgan Brothers became known commercially and did a thriving business. They owned the following: a sawmill, a grist mill, a cotton gin, all of which was powered by steam. Being commercially established, they bought all their supplies wholesale. The younger Morgans do not operate as their forefathers did. They have their individual farms and businesses.
Education in Morgantown began about the year 1864 in a two room school building with one teacher. It was a one teacher school until 1908. It was given the name Macedonia. The terms were short, about four months, starting in November and closing in February. About 1910, the school had an enrollment to justify two teachers which it maintained until about 1925 or 1926 at which time the school was then consolidated with Sturgis High School.
Social life in the early days was attending church and family visiting. The churches were very scattered and transportations was by wagon or buggy.
In the early history of Morgantown, there were two organized churches, the Lutheran and the Methodist. Neither had church houses but held services in the schoolhouse. In 1907, Rev Bess Wallace held a revival in the schoolhouse, and during the revival the Morgan Brothers joined the Missionary Baptist Church. At this time, Rev Wallace organized the Morgan Chapel Church. The charter members were: G.D. Morgan Sr., D.O. Morgan, Mrs. Peggie McHann, Mrs. Rebecca McHann, Uryah Miller and Mrs. Matilda Miller. In 1908, a one room church house was built where the new brick structure now stands. In the 1920s, three Sunday School rooms were added. As the community grew, so did the church membership. The need for a new and bigger building was evident, so a new building was built.
Mrs. Jodie Morgan, wife of J.T. Morgan Sr, who was widely known, always said of the people of Morgantown If a person wasn't a Morgan, they married a Morgan. She said the community should be called "Morgantown" and that's how the name stuck.
This was excerpted from the document, "Sturgis, A History of the Town and Community" by the Sturgis Chapter 279 of the Eastern Star Organization. The original uncondensed version was written by a Mrs. Allye Morgan Landrum when she was 85 years old.
This page was last updated on: March 9, 2002