Saturday, February 26, 2011

Emily Malbone Morgan (1862 - 1937)

Emily Malbone Morgan's family were prominent citizens of Hartford, CT, and her Anglican heritage came from both sides of the family. The home in which she was born formerly belonged to the parents of J. Pierpont Morgan, Sr. Her early education was done by her mother through reading, home tutoring, and travel: to Italy, Bermuda, Russia, Egypt, Spain, North Africa, Jerusalem, and, in this country, California. She studied for a time at a Miss Haines's school in Hartford, where she took up writing.

In 1883 a friendship with Adelyn Howard began.
Adelyn, a Hartford playmate with whom Emily had climbed apple trees and shared attic treasures, had fallen
victim to a fatal hip disease. She was lonely and desolate in a new town away from relatives and friends. Learning through a common friend that Adelyn needed friends, Emily drove from Hartford to Winsted to see her. Because of this bond Emily co-founded in 1884, with the support of Harriet Hastings of Wellesley, the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross, in order that Adelyn, the shut-in, might be able to offer prayers and thanksgiving for the many people for whom Emily and Harriet were working in a more active way.

"My greatest desire," Emily Morgan, who never married, once wrote, "has always been to make tired people rested and happy." She was extremely generous, and wherever she traveled, she bought gifts for her friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Her principal form of giving, however, was providing hospitality. She welcomed people to home, established summer homes across the northeast, and found special satisfaction in carrying forward the summer programs of the Society of the Companions of the Holy Cross. In 1901, the Society established a permanent home in Byfield, MA. New facilities were built in 1915 and given the name Adelynrood, which continues today as the Society's headquarters and retreat center.

Vida Scudder tells us: "Through long years of sharing with others [Emily] found fulfillment of her best self, a satisfactory expression of her Christian religion, an opportunity for leadership, and growth in power. Her early diaries show a rebellion against formal religion per se and confusion at the willingness of so-called Christians to overlook the suffering of men, women, and children living in their cities. For several years she struggled against unbelief and lived in an agony of soul. When she had found an opportunity to plan for the happiness of others, she began to know the Christ whom she sought. It was through her obedience to His law 'Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself' that she reached the higher law 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.'"

Emily Morgan was a loyal member of the Episcopal Church, but was never partisan in her devotion either to her branch of Christianity or to any group within the Church. She was a member of Trinity Church, Hartford, in her childhood days. Later she and her family became members of Christ Church, now the Cathedral in Hartford, and attended regularly there. In her latter years she was a member of Trinity Church, Boston, where she had a Bible class for young women.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story. This year the Society of Companions of the Holy Cross will be 130 years old. Adelynrood near Byfield, MA, named for Adelyn Howard will be 100 years old.