Sunday, September 16, 2018

David Bannister Morgan

According to materials in the Donald J. Sharp Collection at Southeastern Louisiana University, David Bannister Morgan was a leader in the Madisonville community for many years.

Between 1800 and 1804, he was a surveyor at Natchez, MS, and also did some work in northern Louisiana. He served as a surveyor in West Florida in 1804, appointed to several positions by Governor W. C.C. Claiborne. He was hired to do a survey on the Tchefuncte River in 1804 and returned to settle permanently in St. Tammany Parish in 1812.

In 1804 he surveyed two 400 acre plots for Joseph Baham, becoming acquainted with the family, and two months later surveyed 800 acres for Juan Baptiste Baham. This was to contain the Madisonville cemetery.

When he returned to live on the Tchefuncte River, he renewed acquaintances with the Bahams.

After he surveyed Basil Krebs and his mother's lands in 1804, Morgan was captured by Spanish troops near Baton Rouge and held a captive on a Spanish schooner (warship) in September for two months. He made a "daring" escape from the warship in November offshore from Bayou St. John.

In 1814, he was placed in command of the West Bank of the Mississippi River at Chalmette during the Battle of New Orleans. 

During his life, Morgan served a the parish surveyor, a planter, a brick maker, as well as a Justice of the Peace in later years. He is one of the most renowned "celebrities" buried in the Madisonville cemetery, and he had a lot to do with the history of the ownership of the land upon which the cemetery is located. 

His knowledge of federal and state laws was crucial in the advice he offered the Baham family. The Congressional land laws of 1819 (640 acres) and 1822 (old boundary lines) gave back the land which the cemetery was on to the Baham family that had been taken away in 1784 and given to Commodore Charles Parent, according to Sharp's research on the matter. 

In 1824 he purchased the Montrose land grant tract, in 1826 he purchased the Keating Tract, and in 1827 he purchased the J. B. Baham Tract (the old David Ross tract of 1796).

The collection materials also noted that the United States Navy was on the Tchefuncte River between 1806 and 1823. Jefferson gunboats patrolled the waters of Lake Pontchartrain, and the frigate "Tchefuncte" was to 80% complete in 1814. The building of "Fort Oak" on the east side of the Tchefuncte River across from Madisonville was also around this time.