Sunday, June 1, 2008

Was Captain William Morgan's Body Ever Found?

By Michael Keene

Correspondence exists and was found recently from a husband of a great-granddaughter of William Morgan. The correspondence tells a completely different tale of what happened to William Morgan. According to some letters found, William Morgan lived peacefully until age 89 in Honduras.

But, what happened that late night in September 1826 when he was released from jail into the hands of his enemies? We will probably never know for sure. It is a mystery that mostly likely will never be solved. Several of the sheriffs involved in different county jurisdictions crossing boundaries where the kidnapping was said to have taken place were freemasons - hardly objective officials.

Some stories say he was tied up in ropes and drowned in the Niagara River. Other stories say he was given a choice between moving to Canada or receiving $500 in gold, and a horse and relocating somewhere in the United States. All the stories agree on one thing and that one thing was that Captain William Morgan was wanted by the Masons for threatening to publish a book, which outlined the group's ceremonial rites and secret practices.

The general theory which is believed most widely is that Captain Morgan died that night. But, the body was never found . . . or was it? What happened to him, if anything, before he drowned in the Niagara River? Let's examine some possibilities that have caused speculation in the case.

According to Thurlow Weed's "On the Morgan Abduction" (Mr. Weed was a prominent investigator in the case), a body washed up on the shores of Lake Ontario in the Autumn of 1827. The Coroner suggested it was the body of William Morgan. Mrs. Morgan was called forth to identify the body, including the peculiarities of a double row of teeth, a scar on one foot, and the color of his hair. The body found had the oddities Mrs. Morgan described, however, she failed to recognize the clothes on the body.

A short time after that initial inquest, however, a statement was released that the body was thought not to be that of Captain William Morgan, but to be that of one Timothy Monroe, who had drowned in the Niagara River several weeks before the body thought to be Captain Morgan was found on the shore. At the second inquest, Mrs. Monroe described a completely different body type than that of the one found, but . . . the clothes on the body she described in exact and specific detail.

The body found was declared to be that of Timothy Monroe. How could this be? While the clothes were his, the body found was three to four inches shorter in height than Timothy Monroe's stature, according to Monroe's own wife. The hair on the body found was described as "long, silky, and of a chestnut color" while Mrs. Monroe said her husband's hair was black, short, and cut close to his head. Both men were said to each have had a double row of teeth.

To discover more about the mystery surrounding "The Strange Disappearance of Captain William Morgan," visit

Michael Keene is the award winning producer of several independent historical documentaries.

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