They Live Again
Louisiana Revolutionary War Soldier and
Finally Laid to Rest with Full D.A.R. Honors
The Shreveport Times, July 2, 1961, page 1-F
WILL NO LONGER LIE IN NEGLECTED GRAVE
young Sharon Fox, seventh grade student of the Broadmoor Junior High won a
history medal. given by the D.A.R. this year, she told the ladies of the
Shreveport Chapter that her great grandmother., Mrs. F. E. Morgan of Ruston is
the only living granddaughter of an American Revolutionary soldier, and that he
is believed to be the only one buried in Louisiana.
Sharon's aunt., Mrs. W. A. McLees, is a member of the Caddo Chapter, and
it is through her that Mrs. Morgan,
who will be ninety-five years young in December, was brought to Shreveport to
tell the story of her grandfather to Mrs. J. C. O'Neal the Shreveport Chapter's
Historian, and to Miss Lilian Polk, its Regent.
Morgan, a sparkling, spirited and gallant lady, born December 30, 1866 on her
father's plantation "Safety Dale" near Zachary, Louisiana, is now the
last of the Penny line.
Civil War had only been over a year when she came into the world, and she grow
up during Reconstruction days, proud that one of her brothers, James Smiley
Penny had joined the Confederate at 13 and served to the end.
Her two fighting brothers, she recalls, were dubbed the "Black
Pennies" because of their toughness in pulling through hardships.
Penny loves every memory of her childhood, and talks of them with a twinkle.
"I fell in love when I was five or six years old with the son of
Judah P. Benjamin, whom I saw in the old Presbyterian church near our home.
My father took us there because he never forgot that we were Scotch
Covenanters." He taught her Scottish history and Scottish songs, and her
favorite book was "Scottish Chiefs."
She received most of her education from her father who had lost his
eye-sight in his later years. He
would take the children into the yard under the large shade trees for their
lessons. She pointed out that there
were no public schools after the Civil War, so that through Joseph and his
sister-in-law, who used a room in her father's large house for a little schools
she obtained an education. When
Zula was only 17 years old, Warren Easton appointed her to teach in Port Hudson.
"I bad to pass a written examination to qualify," she said
smiling "but I passed with high marks a credit to my father's
Penny, her father, was born 1807 in Louisiana and died 1887.
He was a planter and raised, ground and refined his own sugar cane.
He married (1) Annie White, daughter of another south Louisiana sugar
planter and (2) Zula's mother, Anne Carroll.
Through her Mrs. Morgan is a direct descendant of the "Carrols of
Carrollten," Maryland, one of them the famous signer of the Declaration of
were eight children in the family -- two boys and six girls.
Her sister, Alice, married Isaac Simpson Taylor.
A very lovely young lady and favorite of the family, Alice found herself
mistress of a large plantation just north of Baton Rouge known as
"Ashland" so huge that it included the property known as "Cordelia
Oakes", on which is located a celebrated oak tree said to be one of the
largest living oaks in Louisiana. Alice
died in childbirth and is buried there. A
quaint verse is carved below her dates: January 28th 1840 - December 29, 1859.
nephew wrote the description of the Penny place as it was to be found in his
day, a description no longer true for the old 18th century Penny mansion is
gone. But the remarks about James,
the Revolutionary soldier, make it interesting:
you leave Baton Rouge, and drive North on the Scenic Highway, you
pass though the immense holdings of the Standard Oil Company - their
refineries, tank farms, etc. All
this land was at one time a large cotton plantation, which I an told was owned
and operated by my uncle, Isaac Simpson Taylor.
His residence stood almost where the present town of Scotlandville now
stands. There is nothing now to
mark the place, save a single tree that can be seen from the highway.
on some twelve miles, you turn abruptly to the left and follow a diminutive
little country dirt road for some half mile.
You come upon an old residence almost hid among the trees and shrubbery.
This is a very old home dating back to the early part of the 18th
century, and I was told by those living there that it was more than a hundred
years old. In the yard of this old
house there stand what is said to be the "Henry Watkins Allen Oak"
enrolled in the Louisiana Live Oak Society.
As history goes this old place was once the home of James Penny, father
of Joseph Penny, and that the old gentleman is buried under the spreading shade
of this mighty oak.
Pennys were Scotch, and from all I can glean, James and his father (also named
Joseph) were both born in Scotland. The
family immigrated to Pennsylvania, where he resided for some time.
From there they moved to Louisiana, coming by flatboat or covered wagons
bringing all their possessions, together with their slaves.
James said that he was a large lad before he could realize that he was
living in America. But he had a
vivid memory of a lovely lady and a beautiful park-like place where he had lived
and was cared for by servants of some kind.
It seems there was a mystery about it all, somehow, that he never solved.
Daughters of the American Revolution of Washington, D. C. wrote to Edinburgh,
Scotland, and received a statement that the Coat of Arms of the Penny Family was
a Ducal Crown on an ermine background with the motto, 'I trust the hostile, but
fear the friendly", in Latin, and
referred us back to the days of David Bruce son of Robert Bruce, and to Sir
William Wallace, the Scottish hero.
Long Leaf Pine Chapter of the D.A.R. presented Mrs. Morgan with a beautiful
replica of the above coat of arms. It
also carried a greyhound meaning "Swift to do the king's bidding,")
to the official D.A.R. records, Zula Penny Morgan's Revolutionary grandfather,
James Penny, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on July 14, 1762 and came with his
father Joseph Penny (born 1732) to the colonies in the spring of 1775, settling
in Pennsylvania. His place of
residence during the war was Chester County, Pennsylvania.
Penny had been in the colonies only a year and a half, and was only 14 years and
five months old when he enlisted in Captain James Morrison's Company of the 3rd
Battalion in the militia of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, commanded by Colonel
Thomas Porter. His name appears on
a company muster roll of that organization covering the period December 17 to
26th, 1776 (as per the Adjutant General Washington, D. C.
1780, when he was only 18 years old, the name of James Penny now a veteran
soldier, appears on the roll of the War of the Revolution as a private in
Captain James Clarke's Company, 6th Battalion, Chester County militia, under the
command of Colonel James Taylor. (The information obtained from the Pennsylvania
State Library and Museum at Harrisburg is found on page 707 of vol. 5,
excerpt from American State Papers, Vol. 3 by Duff Green, 1834., shows that
James Penny was already in Louisiana by 1785, only four years after the
surrender of Cornwallis. For he
received and worked land grants given him by two different Spanish governors.
(In 1785 Louisiana belonged to Spain.)
Section 89 amounting to 105 acres was granted him by Governor C. de
Grandpre and was cultivated 1785 to 1814.
Land described as being located in Section 71 and having 426.15 acres was
occupied and cultivated 1785-1811 was surveyed February 14, 1798, and granted
James Penny officially by Governor G. de Lomas February 14, 1799.
This land is the exact section on which James Penny who died in 1845,
aged 83, and his wife, Lucy, are buried.
and Lucy Kennard were married near New Orleans 1790.
Lucy was born 1769 and died 1839. She
kept 500 snow white chickens says Mrs. Morgan.
Of their nine children (two girls and seven boys), the line of Joseph,
the father of Zula Penny Morgan of Ruston alone remains.
The others have died out.
the library at Louisiana Tech in Ruston a copy of the 1840 census records the
Penny family, including names of wives, and lists the number of slaves belonging
to each. In those days every horse
and mule as well as the land, was taxed.
1935-6 the Decker family bought the Penny property and removed the old 18th
century house, replacing it with a modern residence.
It is some 300 yards to the left of the great old Henry Watkins Allen Oak
under whose spreading shade lies James Penny beside the unmarked grave of his
beloved Lucy. Mrs. W. J. Decker now
owns the property on which the grave and the oak rest.
Gilmer C. Reeves of Baton Rouges Regent of the John James Audubon Chapter, D.A.R.,
which will share with the Shreveport Chapter the placing and dedication of the
Markers recently visited the neglected little cemetery.
To Mrs. O'Neal she wrote: "It is truly a lovely spot, but in serious
need of fencing, as the animals now roam over the place.
Even with that it has mellow and appealing looks that draw one's
attention at once. The graveyard
lies beneath an extremely large and spreading oak, and is grown over with weed,
vines and briars. It will have to
be cleared before the dedication of the two markers.
Though the grave is enclosed in a very dilapidated fence, the ground is
covered with a thick growth of periwinkle.
The entire area is resplendent with mighty oaks of a very great vintage,
and present a cool, comfortable and dignified appearance."
vault of James Penny and his wife Lucy will be provided with white marble
markers fitting the grave of Louisiana's only known Revolutionary War dead.
The dedication exercises are being arranged by the Shreveport and John
James Audubon Chapters of the D.A.R. and will be announced later.
Morgan lives in her lovely home on Highway 80 East in Ruston and enjoys flowers,
watching the birds in her patio, entertaining her friends, and learning to play
"sol' without a little cheating. She
is a greatly beloved and distinguished lady known for her hospitality and warmth
of the American Revolution Magazine, December 1961, page 697
James Audubon (Baton Rouge, La.) and Shreveport (Shreveport, La.) held a joint
dedicatory service, Saturday, Sept. 9, for a DAR Revolutionary marker to the
memory of James Penny (1762-1845). The
program was held at 10 o'clock at the Penny Graveyard, west of Highway 61, about
10 miles north of Baton Rouge on the plantation of J. W. Decker.
Keller McKowen, vice regent of John James Audubon Chapter, presided over the
dedication. The pastor of the
Plains Presbyterian Church, Rev. C.
J. Matthews, gave the invocation and the benediction.
Music was provided by Johnnie Mayfield, Past President, C.A.R., while the
marker was unveiled by Mrs. James C. O'Neal, historian of Shreveport Chapter.
The marker was dedicated by Mrs. James B. Shackelford, State Regent, and
Mrs. Edward J. Schneider, Vice President General.
Floral presentations were made by Sharon Ann Fox and Judith Lil Morgan,
descendants of the Revolutionary soldier, James Penny, and great-granddaughters
of Mrs. Frank E. Morgan.
Revolutionary soldier was eulogized by Charles A. Perrileaux, Past Commander,
Veterans of Foreign Wars. Taps,
sounded by the bugler, brought the program to an end.
dedication of the DAR marker, John James Audubon Chapter honored Mrs. Morgan
with a beautifully appointed luncheon in the Industrial Room of the Capitol
House Hotel. For the occasion the
dining room was fragrant and colorful in autumn flowers.
Honor guests included, in addition to Mrs. Morgan, Governor Jimmie H.
Davis; Mayor John Christian; Mrs. James B. Shackelford, State DAR Regent; Mrs.
R. J. Holzer, State Vice Regent; Mrs. Ralph E. Lewis, Historian; Mrs. Emile A.
Carmouche, Chaplain; and Mrs. James H. Galloway, Membership Chairman.
honoree was presented with an orchid corsage by Miss Eugenia Smith, Long Leaf
Pine Chapter, Ruston, with keys to the city of Baton Rouge by Mayor John
Christian; and with a commission on his staff by Governor Davis.
Dr. T. Harry Williams, Louisiana State University Department of History,
gave a witty resume of events in Mrs. Morgan's long and colorful life.
The luncheon was presided over by Mrs. Gilmer C. Reeves, regent of the
John James Audubon Chapter who presented Mrs. Morgan with a booklet, tied in DAR
colors, containing James Penny's Revolutionary record, his will, and other data
on the family. - Mrs. Gilmer C. Reeves.
Richard N. Fox
Web design by Richard Fox