photo sharing and upload picture albums photo forums search pictures popular photos photography help login
j>a>e>17 :):):) | all galleries >> Chicago Survivor Scenes > My Quaker Durham-Morden Family Reflections-July 4, 2006
previous | next
My Quaker Durham-Morden Family Reflections-July 4, 2006
04-JUL-2006 John Charles Williams Ireland

My Quaker Durham-Morden Family Reflections-July 4, 2006

Arran Place-Ontario-Canada

Ralph Morden, my great-grandfather, born in 1742 in Yorkshire, sailed across the Atlantic with his family when he was just a year old. Ralph's father was James George Morden who decided to immigrate to the colonies, settling in Penns Woods in 1743. In 1755, 13 year old Ralph lived on the 55 acres his father owned on the Delaware River in Northampton County, just north of Easton. Easton would have a very different meaning for Ralph.

While on a hike in 1765, Ralph fell instantly in love when he met a young English~Irish Quaker lass named Ann Durham. Ann's parents, Catherine and John Durham fled religious persecution of their homeland and settled in the peaceful Penns Woods. After their courtship, Ralph and Ann married, with Ralph converting from his family's Anglican religion, embracing the Quaker beliefs of the Durhams. The love Ann and Ralph shared resulted in the births of their nine beautiful children.

Drastic changes brought war between Patriots and Loyalists to the tranquil forest where the Morden family flourished. Needless to say, the Revolutionary War would forever change countless lives. Little did Ann and Ralph know how much change would enter their family.

One of Ann and Ralph's neighbors was Robert Land, a staunch Loyalist with England. Robert was a courier for British forces and in 1780 sought help from Ralph to lead his way to Canada. Robert knew he would face certain death if he remained in Pennsylvania. Ralph being a true Quaker was only too happy to help his neighbor in need.

As Ralph guided Robert through the woods, a group of Patriots who had learned of Robert's plans to flee, were waiting in silence. With shock, they attacked the two neighbors and Robert was shot on sight. He fortunately survived and did escape for his successful journey to Canada. Ralph was immediately taken captive by the Patriots and imprisoned. Being a Quaker, 38 year old Ralph had taken no side in the War and he only had helped a neighbor and friend in need. Ralph would easily clear his name and be home with Ann and his children. Or so he thought...

The atmosphere in 1780 was volatile to say the least. Emotions ran high in both Loyalist and Patriot camps. Both groups had a disdain for Quakers who mainly were Pacifists. Tragically, this effected Ralph only in the worst way. He quickly would find out that he would not be released as easily as he thought. In a shocking turn of events, Ralph was charged with high treason and a hasty trial found a peaceful Quaker guilty and condemned to death. Only his sweet Ann and his loving children stood by his side.

On a frigid November 25, 1780, Ann Durham Morden and her eldest son John witnessed the public hanging of their patriarch Ralph in Easton. No one even glanced their way as a murderous rope forever altered one family's journey.

Ann, a 37 year old widow, was left broken hearted and a single parent in a world gone terribly awry. She did her best to love her family as she held strongly to her Quaker beliefs. Her eldest son, John, finally went against his mother's wishes and entered the War as a Loyalist soldier joining Sir John Johnson's King's Royal Regiment of New York. His younger brother James soon followed him in the Loyalist regiment. This same regiment had been the one their father's brother James had joined, meeting his own death in 1777 in Montreal. Ann's son Moses then joined the New Jersey volunteers and he soon went off to War.

By 1786 after the War finally ended, the 3 Morden sons reunited at Fort Niagara. They had no idea they would all meet there. John told his brothers of his meeting with Robert Land who was now living in peace at Burlington Bay. John and his brothers decided that it would be best to move into Canada.

Ann couldn't agree more when she heard of her sons plans. She could no longer tolerate the endless persecution by Patriots who formerly were friends and neighbors. Even the Loyalists and some Quakers who remained in the area had shunned the Widow Morden and her fatherless children. This was a totally different world than she had ever thought possible. At this time, she also had taken in her 2 orphaned grandchildren. They were children of Ann and Ralph's daughter. She gathered what belongings they could carry and packed their wagon for their new home in Canada.

They spent the winter at Fort Niagara before moving into the Dundas Valley, an area that they were to be the first white settlers. Ann decided it was already too crowded in Burlington Bay for her family. Ann also spoke Mohawk and as a Quaker had always gotten along well with Native folk.

With Ann's sons being Loyalist soldiers, the family was granted land by the English in the area of today's Dundas, Ontario. Ann and her family struggled through times of near death, including a bitter winter when death lurked at every corner. Finally, Ann's family built their sawmills and farmed the land. Her son, Moses, settled at what is now Rock Chapel. Another Morden family settlement was at Spencer's Creek, near Crooks Hollow.

Ann at one point even ran a still to help support the family. She was known to help Governor Simcoe to deal peacefully with the Natives, translating for them. Ann and her eldest son John decided to move into the London, Ontario area where they spent their last years. John married another Quaker of New Jersey named Hannah Sutton. This couple had a large family as well who settled the London area. On a bitterly cold January day of 1832, Ann's eldest son John passed away on his 64th birthday. In a strange twist of fate, Ann soon followed her son and rejoined with her sweet Ralph in 1832. No grave markers exist where Ann and John are buried on the family farm. Their lives forever flow within my heart and soul.

I write this as July 4th winds down another year. I cannot help but have mixed emotions. My journeys through time with my great-grandparents share very diverse stories concerning this country I call home. Besides, my Mordens, I think of where my other greats were at the time Ann and Ralph faced so much tragedy. To give a brief glimpse, at the time of Ralph's 1780 tragic execution, I had Swiss Patriot greats living in Pennsylvania Dutch country, Scottish Highlanders and Lowlanders living across Scotland, Native Cherokees living in North Carolina, Irish Protestants living in and around Belfast, Irish Gaelic Catholics living in County Clare, Native Shawnees living in the Ohio valley, English Quakers living in North Carolina, Manx Methodists living in the Isle of Man, German Lutherans living in the Black Forest of Wurttemberg, Welsh Quakers living in Ireland, and French Huguenot Patriots living in New York... (and there are more)

I share these diverse greats of this "1780" period as a way to express how diverse family lines are in each of us... Across the globe there are rarely any who can say they are pure bloods... We are all eclectic folks and each ancestor has a story to tell... Each shares an equal voice in us... I say, they deserve our equal time...

I hope one day ALL people embrace their family history, a key I say to global peace...

"Just say no to labels!" John Charles with many surnames Williams Ireland....

Canon PowerShot SD110
1/8s f/2.8 at 5.4mm full exif

other sizes: small medium original
share
Guest 18-May-2014 02:32
I am also a descendant of Ralph and Ann. They were my 6th great grandparents.
David McLean, Forest, Ont.
guest 23-Mar-2014 20:36
Who was Francis Erasmus Morden. Believe I am related.
Warren 17-Mar-2014 12:55
Has anyone pinpointed Ann Durhams parents ancestral home in Ireland? Always a curiosity for me on St Paddy's Day! Happy St Paddy's Day Mordens!
karen 04-Feb-2014 21:16
sorry, made an error....Mary Morden married Robert Earl Skinner. James Fredrick was one of their sons. So easy to make a mistake with all these names.
karen 04-Feb-2014 21:12
Regarding simeon morden - we are related. Your aunt Mae Hiebert was my dad's cousin. My dad used to go to his uncle sim's farm in tyndall, Mb. I hv met your aunt Mae & understand she is not well. My sister (Tess) also visits with your aunt Mae. Simeon was a brother to James Lake Morden. James Lake Morden ran the mill in Bowmanville Ontario.
I also hv the geneology book/disk researched by Mae Morden. There is a lot of history with the Morden's of Ont. James Lake Morden's sister Minnie Frances Morden married a Yaeger & she wrote a book "Jungle Woman" (story of the 1st white woman on the island of Sumatra). Her husband was an oil man. Skinner family has a copy of this book. As earlier stated. My great grandmother was Mary Morden who married James Fredrick Skinner. Any other info...I may be reached at biscuitsblonde@hotmail.com. regards, karen
Karen Skinner 25-Jan-2014 21:53
I live in Wpg., Mb. Canada & am related to these Morden's. Some ancestors lived in Ontario & others went to western Canada where I am. My great grandmother was Mary Morden who married Robert Earl Skinner. Mary was one of several children & I believe a sister to James Lake Morden who descended from Francis Erasmus Morden. James L.Morden operated a grist mill & later, a zoo (Bowmanville Zoo)in Ontario. Our family is very aware of this Robert Land/Ralph Morden connection. Regards, Karen Skinner
Karen Skinner 25-Jan-2014 21:47
My great Grandmother was Mary Morden descended from Francis Erasmus Morden. James Lake Morden (owner of Bowmanville Zoo) was my dad's uncle. We know of this Morden/Land connection. Mary Morden married Robert Earl Skinner (born in New York)& my grandf. was born in PA. There are Mordens living in Winnipeg, Mb. Canada & they own a chocolate Business (Morden's Chocolates. These many ancestors are everywhere & hv made names for themselves everywhere in Canada now. Regards, Karen Skinner Wpg., Mb. Canada
Al Hasse 22-Jan-2013 05:15
In researching the Morden side of my family and came across this wonderful story. I don't know how correct my "search" is, but I believe my mother, a Morden, appears to be descended from Ralph's brother George. Through the years, I've heard of one of my relatives was in trouble on both sides of the Revolution, but until I read this story, I had never heard about the hanging. My searching is mostly family trees available on the internet and some other documents found there. If my searching is correct, I can go all the way to 1665 England and Samuel Morden.
Guest 11-May-2012 19:18
HELLO MY DEAR NICE MEETING YOU.
HOW ARE YOU, OVER THERE IN YOUR COUNTRY HOPE FINE.GLORY BE TO GOD.
MY NAME IS MISS PASSY. I AM LOOKING FOR HONEST GENTLE FRIEND AND I FOUND YOU ON AND I AM INTERESTED IN MAKING FRIEND WITH YOU........THE LAMP OF FRIENDSHIP ALWAYS BURNS WITH THE OIL OF LOVE.
FOR MORE INTRODUCTION PLEASE REPLY ME TO MY PRIVATE E- MAIL BOX. passyand12@yahoo.com AND I WILL SEND YOU MY PICTURE FOR YOU TO KNOW WHAT I LOOK LIKE. HOPING TO HEAR FROM YOU WITH LOTS OF LOVE. I AM WAITING TO SEE YOUR MAIL IN MY PRIVATE EMAIL BOX. passyand12@yahoo.com
Denisha Cumpton 19-Oct-2011 21:17
Thank you for sharing this story. My name is Denisha Cumpton. My maiden name is Morden. I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ralph's brother Joseph is my 7th great-grandfather. I'm currently working on a research paper about the Morden Family. I was able to trace the lineage back to Samuel Morden. I've tried to contact various Historical societies in the UK for more information, but I've had no luck. Thanks for the great story. If you have any advice it would be greatly appreciated.
Mary Catharine Ehrismann 08-Oct-2011 23:11
I am a decendant of Ann Durham and Ralph Morden and for the past 55yrs have lived in the Stratford, St Mary's and London area. There is a delightful book depicting the difficult journey to the Dundas area of Ann and the children as well as Robert Land's role in this situation.....If Ponies Rode Men. It seems that few folks are aware that there is a grave stone relocated in a stone wall on a small patch of land which was next to a Methodist Church which burned down many years ago. My great grandfather was a Methodist minister in this region (Rev. Benjamin Clement and Amanda Freeman). This wall is located just south of Lambeth across from Thomas Bros Farm Market.
Guest 06-Jul-2011 15:06
I am a direct desendent of Joseph Morden, a brother of Ralph.I had a brother named Ralph. In our family, we knew we had a relative who had been hung.
Jonathan Thornton 21-Feb-2011 23:41
A great story, and I suspect it is part of my story too. I am descended from Walter Morden, son of Jonathan Morden born in Ontario in 1822. Family records give his father as George Morden born in about 1780, and his father as David Morden, but this last is just an old typscript that my grandmother made. Do any of you seeing this know anything about what branch of Ontario Mordens I come from? My grandmother always said her ancestors were "Pennsylvania Dutch" more lately from Ontario. -Jonathan Thornton
wendy 29-Mar-2010 01:31
Hi thankyou for sharing I was on a hunt for the Durhams in My family we were told that family members were Quackers and someone was hung as a loyalist and one of our great Grandmas was Laura Ann Morden but I thought that most to history as loyalists went was on the Cramer side but looks like I was wrong My Grandma was Lydia Durham and she married George Lawson Whos Dad was Matthew Thomas who was Married to Laura Ann Morden
Guest 11-Mar-2010 21:39
I am Peter Morden, Great Great Grandson of Ralph Morden. Great Grandson of Ralph's Son Wm Crooker Morden, Grandson of Crooker's son Robert Corbert(Bert) Morden and son of Corbert (Bert) Morden, William Robert Morden. I live in Buckhorn Ontario.
morden1@sympatico.ca
Barbara Sly 08-Mar-2010 22:45
I am a Morden decendant. My grandmother, Elizabeth Olive Morden, born 1894 was a daughter of Wm Crooker Morden, born 1856(his parents William L Morden, born 1828 and Harriett Davies, born 1829 (?), both in Upper Canada. I'm interested in finding which branch of the Mordens he came from - and also connecting that information with other relatives.

If anyone has information on Wm L Morden/Harriett Davies, I can be reached at slybarbara@aol.com. (please put a reference to morden ancestry in the subject line so I will know it isn't spam). Thanks... Barbara
Irene Ponce 13-Mar-2009 01:32
My name is Irene Ponce of Los Angeles, California. I was at an estate sale a couple of months ago and found a bible that is about 109 years old belonging to the Durham family of NC. There are hand written notes of family members including their names, births and deaths - all dating back to the 1800s.

ireneponce@earthlink.net
Irene Ponce 13-Mar-2009 01:31
My name is Irene Ponce of Los Angeles, California. I was at an estate sale a couple of months ago and found a bible that is about 109 years old belonging to the Durham family of NC. There are hand written notes of family members including their names, births and deaths - all dating back to the 1800s.

ireneponce@earthlink.net
Amber Morden-from Indiana 08-May-2008 01:57
hey u guys=]
i am also a Morden
i thought that Ralph was captured and hung after helping someone escape from jail to Canada?
Amber Morden-from Indiana 08-May-2008 01:56
hey u guys=]
i am also a Morden
i thought that Ralph was captured after helping someone escape from jail to Canada?
Warren 18-Mar-2008 00:11
... With regards to the what Ralphs political or spiritual beleifs may or may not have been... I think its safe to say, like in any age, we do what we have to do.

The rumour thats been passed down for hundreds of years in my family was he simply loved Ann and his family with her... and The Quaker element was a merely a fact of life not his religion.

Everyone in the Ralph Mordens' family since Christ wore a cross is Anglican...

Ralph trusted the wrong person and payed with his life.

WoW what a rush history is.
Warren 17-Mar-2008 23:44
Heya Guys. I'm a Morden.
Grandson of Fred Morden.
Great Grandson of Simeon David Morden.. born in 1867 in Sarnia.
I was born in 1967 in Flin Flon.

Loving this information. My Aunt May Hiebert... my Mums sister.... has hard copies of a lot of the information here..... I am stoked to see it online.

Maybe we can find out some more stuff.
andrew peake 18-Jan-2008 03:41
I am looking at the Morden family history in an attempt to reveal details of my own familys history. My info to date has a daughter of ralph morden marrying a Ithimar Shaw. She died I believe in 1799. Ithamar shaw was one of a handfull of youth that were abducted by native tribes,I am guessing mohawks or chippewa's from caledonia or brantford area. Ithamar's family was slaughtered and he was hauled north.The shaw side of my family stops with ithamar shaw. His marriage to elizabeth morden interests me as it may help reveal where ithamar came from.I enjoyed you telling off events it was a dangerous time ffor all
regards
andrew peake / toronto
j>a>e>17 :):):)26-Oct-2007 04:53
thanx guest... How are you related to Ann & Ralph? I'm very curious as to who you are :):):) Also, makes me wonder if those Irish Catholic sponsors were relatives of Catherine...always sad that no one knows her maiden name or anything about her family... Mysteries of genealogy are alays flowing...
Guest 25-Oct-2007 20:49
Oops. "Eleanor" should be "Elizabeth" when referring to daughter of Ralph and Ann who was married at St. Marks in the following entry.
Guest 25-Oct-2007 20:42
The first 3 children of Catherine and John Durham were christened by Father Schneider. The youngest 2 children are not mentioned in the Goshenhoppen Registers 1741-1764 due to a gap in the records. Quakers did not believe in baptism. Hence one of the parents must have been a Catholic. Why else would they have had their children baptized? Since John is listed as a Protestant in daughter Margaret's record, then Catherine must have been the Catholic. Also, all the sponsors were known Irish Catholics, viz: Denis Onan, Patrick Cardy, Catherine wife of Edward Cardy [McCarty] and Ann Blany. For history on this congregation, see A Collection of Papers Read Before the Bucks County Historical Society and go to Saint John the Baptist Church at Haycock a paper read in 1910.
As to the religion of Morden Family members, Raplh's brother, George served on the board of an Episcopal Church in NJ before moving to Ontario. The obit of Ralph & Ann's son John states, "...was a member of the Church of England in his youth and after arriving in Canada he became a Methodist" Christian Guardian 21 Mar 1832. Ralph & Ann's daughter Eleanor was married at St. Mark's Anglican Church, Niagara. Both she and her sister Eleanor had their children baptized at St. Marks.
As to French and Indian War service see Muster Rolls of Forces on the Frontiers of New Jersey 1757-1758. Both Ralph and his brother George are listed.
j>a>e>17 :):):)24-Oct-2007 04:34
for the guest if you return... I believe Ann Durham was a Quaker... I'd be curious how you know that Catherine, Ann;s mother, was definitely Catholic. Seems no one even knows her maiden name. Add to Ann being buried in an unmarked grave which was definitely a Quaker ritual. Her children mainly became Methodists once they settled in Canada and odd they didn't become Anglican. I have also never seen evidence that Ralph served in the French & Indian War. Thanks for writing and hope you read this.
Guest 24-Oct-2007 04:07
There is no proof that Ralph was a Quaker, just heresay. Other Mordens seem to have been Anglicans [Church of England]. His mother-in-law, Catherine, was definitely Roman Catholic as his wife, Ann Durham, was christened by a priest [see Goshenhoppen Register which spells name Dorm]. In the christening record for one of Ann's siblings, there is a "P" for Protestant after her father's name. A Durham researcher has suggested that John Durham was one of three Durham brothers orphaned in Noke, Oxford where the official [Anglican] church looked the other direction when it came to Roman Catholics and Quakers. However, there is no proof to this connection. It is interesting to say the least that in addition to the Durham family in Noke that there was also a Haycock family. Some of the Durham children were christened in Haycock Township which is next to Durham Township in northern Bucks Co., PA. Also, Ralph Morden served several times in the NJ militia during the French and Indian War 1757-1758. So much for his being a pacifist.
D 07-May-2007 17:55

So nice to hear your story John. I am related to you by marriage . My Husband was Harvey Durham. He passed away two years ago and I miss him very very much. I too have been working on the Durham history but have only been able to get back to Buck Count.
Delia Durham
Guest 21-Mar-2007 16:41
I found your site when I googled " John Morden" in an attempt to discover my own forgotten family tree- far too many lost leaves. You are so lucky to have these stories and photographs available to you!
N.C. FRIEND 01-Jan-2007 17:34
BEAUTIFUL ANCESTRY YOU HAVE JOHN
ALWAYS SAY NOT TO LABELS AND CONTINUE TO BE YOUR OWN WRITER OF YOUR LIFE.
YOU ARE A STAR
Guest 11-Dec-2006 08:49
A beautiful, well told story. I too am a decendant or Ralph Morden. The story handed down to me by my father, was not so detailed. He talked of tar and feathering... did not talk of a trial for treason. I guess in a way they tried to forget about what happened. The other slightly different side of the story I heard, was the patriots burned down the Keaton's house and murdered the family, and they tried to do the same with the Land's family. The Land's family escaped to New Brunswick after they got a warning, and Ralph told Land's that he would be hung if he was caught. Lands asked him to help him escape to Niagra Falls and he showed him as he new the land. The version you say about him getting, caught and hung is pretty much the same. The Family moving to canada, says that Lands sent for them when he heard from his wife what had happened to the family. Sad anyway you look at it a family caught up in the war, and paid a very steep price for America's Independance, and they just wanted to be left alone. Funny how the Pacifist seems to pay the highest price.
Matylda Lempel-Chareza Photography06-Dec-2006 14:28
Hi,John !My English is not precise ,but I know what you wont to do ,and to show.
you encourage my to tell the story of my famylli.For my - all we are the cousins !
Matylda
Bernard Bosmans04-Oct-2006 06:46
Hear, hear. A beautiful story John.
Netty 05-Jul-2006 22:15
I say NO to labels.
Thanks for sharing Love and Peace.
Type your message and click Add Comment
It is best to login or register first but you may post as a guest.
Enter an optional name and contact email address. Name
Name Email
help private comment