Rebecca HartRebecca was born on December 25, 1816, in Prathers Creek, Ashe County, North Carolina, the daughter of Peter and Hannah (Iahannah?) Poe Hart. On November 13, 1838, Rebecca Hart married her sister's widowed husband (and her first cousin), William Morgan Hart, in Putnam County, Illinois. She was nine years younger than her sister Elizabeth, William Morgan's first wife.
Rebecca and William sold the property that William Morgan had been living on to Rebecca's father, Peter Hart, in 1838 and moved from Putnam County, Illinois farther west to the old Livingston County, Missouri. They are found on the Missouri census in 1840, with the three children from William Morgan's first marriage. Rebecca's parents, Peter and Hannah Poe Hart, as well as other members of Rebecca's family are found living in Livingston County, Missouri in 1840.
The area where the Hart families settled was Layfayette Township, Livingston County at the time they arrived in Missouri in 1839. This area in the northern part of the county was taken from Livingston County to form the new County of Grundy in 1841. Four years later, in 1845, a new county was again formed from Grundy County and the area where the Hart's were living became Harrison Township, Mercer County, Missouri, which it remains today.
William Morgan and Rebecca Hart's first child, James Elliiott Hart, was born in January 1840, in the northern part of old Livingston County, in an area known as the Goshen Prairie. We have been told that he was the first "white child" born in that sparsely settled area, close to the Iowa State line. Others have told us that he was not actually awarded that "distinction" locally, as his grandmother, Hannah Poe Hart, was full or part Cherokee Indian, making him part Indian and, thus, not considered to be wholly "white". This is not a story we have verified, but do find interesting. Perhaps local historians in Mercer County could furnish more information on what child is "officially" considered to be the first white child born in that county.
In a "History of Mercer and Harrison Counties", published in 1888, William Morgan Hart's son from his first marriage, Franklin Benton Hart, states that his father entered 100 acres in (present day) Mercer County in 1839, when he came to Missouri. He states that his father lived on that land the rest of his life. Land purchases taken from "U.S. Land Sales" Abstract of Sales (in Missouri) do not show a purchase of Federal Land by William Morgan Hart until 1846, when he entered 520 acres at the Plattsburg Land Office. This land was all located in Mercer County, Missouri. Perhaps William Morgan Hart's first land purchase was from a private sale. Franklin Benton Hart goes on to state that his father owned 1500 acres of land in Mercer County at one time, which would certainly have made him a respected land owner in Mercer County.
More children were soon born to Rebecca Hart and William Morgan Hart. They had a daughter, Missouri America, in 1841, Rebecca Kentucky in 1842 and a son, Franklin Benton, in 1844. These three children were born while the area where the family was living was Grundy County. Their last four children were born in Harrison Township, Mercer County, after that county was formed in 1845. Willard P. Hall was born in 1846, Eliza Ann Josephine in 1848, Virginia Lind in 1850 and Hazeltine Hall, their youngest daughter was born in 1852.
William Morgan's daughter Hannah Jane, born in 1834, relates in "Roger's History of Mercer County", published in 1911, that her husband's uncle, Johnny Reeves, and her father were the first settlers of what was referred to as the Goshen Prairie. She states that there were Indians living in that area at the time her family settled there, and Hannah recalls them visiting her stepmother, Rebecca Hart. They were fed and at times would stop for the night at the Hart home, where they slept, wrapped in blankets, before the fireplace.
William Morgan and Elizabeth Hart Hart's son, John Morgan Hart, is found living at home, at the age of 13 on the 1850 Mercer County, Missouri census. We have been told that he did not get along well with his stepmother and left home at age 16 to "live with relatives" in Bloomfield, Davis County, Iowa. We do not know of any "relatives" living in Davis County in this time period and do not know if this story is accurate. We have searched for John Morgan Hart on the 1860 Iowa, as well as later, Census both in Iowa and in other states. We have been unable to find him. He is listed in his father's estate settlement in 1876, with his residence given as "unknown". His family did not know where he was, and at one time we felt he might have died at a young age, in another state with no one knowing where his family lived, to notify them.
But, recently, we have obtained a copy of an undated letter that we feel was written in the 1950's or 1960's. This letter was written by Mrs. Grace Friede (now deceased) of Chinook, Montana. Mrs. Friede was trying to trace her Hart ancestors, and in talking to the local barber in Chinook, Clarence Hart, she discovered that he was the grandson of John Morgan Hart, and the great-grandson of William Morgan Hart. We have tried to find Clarence Hart, with no success. We are told that he and his family moved from Montana to California, many years ago. It has been a frustrating attempt to find the family of a man who left home in about 1853 and apparently was never again heard from by his family. Yet, he did marry and have children - and his grandson, Clarence Hart had been told that William Morgan Hart was his great-grandfather. Perhaps someone will be more successful than we have been, and will be able to find John Morgan Hart in census records and find his family.
We have located all eight of Rebecca's children. A record of their families is found here. Some of these accounts relate interesting stories of what the area, in northern Mercer County, was like when this family settled there over 150 years ago. Members of this family are still found living in Mercer and Harrison Counties today.
In an interesting joining of families, four sons of Joseph and Fanny Prichard Moss married three daughters and a stepgranddaughter of Rebecca Hart. Joseph Moss was born in 1812, York District South Carolina, the son of Joshua and Jennie Howser Moss. His family moved from South Carolina to Tennessee in 1815. In 1832, Joseph went north to Knox County, Kentucky, where he married Fanny Prichard, who was born in Knox County, Kentucky in 1813. Joseph Moss and his family moved from Kentucky to Mercer County, Missouri in 1840. This family, who was joined to the Hart family by four marriages, came from the same County in Kentucky where William Morgan Hart was born -- and the adjoining County to Whitley County, where William Morgan Hart's parents lived all of their lives.
Both families migrated by different routes to Missouri. They both arrived in Mercer County within a year of each other, with William Morgan Hart and his family arriving in 1839 and the Joseph Moss family in 1840. Joseph and Fanny Prichard Moss' son William P. Moss married Rebecca Kentucky Hart, their son Calvin married Eliza Ann Josephine Hart, and their son Joseph L. married Hazeltine Hill Hart. These three Hart wives were all the daughters of Rebecca Hart. Joshua Moss married Jennie E. Reeves, the daughter of Hannah Hart Reeves, William Morgan Hart's daughter by his first marriage to Elizabeth.
William Morgan Hart died October 17, 1876 at his home in Harrison Township, Mercer County, Missouri. Rebecca, with the help of her two sons, Franklin Benton Hart and Willard P. Hall Hart, continued to live on the farm where she had spent most of her life. Rebecca Hart Hart died there 15 years after her husband on March 21, 1891. Rebecca and William Morgan Hart are buried together in a family cemetery, which was then on their own property. This cemetery is surrounded by a wrought iron fence, and is fairly well taken care of today. It is close to where the town of Goshen was once located. This town, which was once well known in the area, cannot easily be recognized as a "town" today. But the local people can still tell you where it once was.