Friday, April 11, 2014
THE PORTLAND TRANSCRIPT, NOVEMBER 11, 1871
Jonathan Morgan is dead. This remarkable old man, whose singular appearance upon
the streets has for many years been familiar to all Portlanders and attracted the attention
and inquiries of strangers, died unattended at his residence on Cross Street sometime
between Saturday evening and Monday morning last. His bent form enveloped in his
capacious cloak, and crowned with his slouch brimmed hat, will be seen no more on
our streets. Up to the last that was seen of him by his fellowmen, he retained his
faculties, his sight, his hearing and his active ever-scheming brain. He was born in
Brimfield, Mass., March 4, 1778, and graduated at Union College, Schenectady in 1803.
In 1912 he removed to Alna in this state, and remained there until 1820 when he came
to this where he has ever since resided. It was while he at Alna he invented and built,
as he claimed, the first steamboat ever constructed. His first attempt was a failure, but
in 1818 he succeeded in forcing a boat through the water by steam power at the rate of
four miles an hour. Numberless other inventions, mostly failures have been the result
of his life long studies in mechanics. He always claimed to be the first to think of every
great successful invention of the age, but somehow somebody always stepped in before
him when the waters were troubled. He has written several published works. He
translated the New Testament from the original Greek in a very original way indeed.
His English Grammar known as the "Steamboat Grammar," because its cover was
ornamented with a large cut of a steamboat was no more successful than his other
works. He has lived alone much of his life, and it was of late years as his decrepitude
became extreme, to think of the inevitable end which has now reached the poor old man.
No one knows when he died, but it is probable he passed away without pain last Friday
night. It was his custom down to the last to spend his evenings in calls upon his friends,
and he was often seen late at night creeping homeward. He was probably so chilled last
Saturday evening that his waning vitality was not sufficient to keep his active soul
longer chained to his enfeebled body. He was a man who always had the respect, if not
the love of the whole community. His life was ever temperate and blameless.