Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 5, May 1966

Our Contributor, Mr. Les Morgan is a very active member of both the Waihi Art Centre and Museum Assoc. and the Waihi Historical Society, his practical good deeds being much appreciated by us all. It is fitting that we should record an outline of the story of a family that helped to shape Waihi, and is still doing so.

There have been a number of Morgan families in the history of Waihi and one of the oldest is that of Robert Morgan, early mine manager of the Grand Junction mine. He was born in Glamorganshire, Wales, centre of mining and was introduced to mining at a very early age. In 1865 he emigrated to Victoria, Australia and followed the gold diggings there until 1879, when he came to Otago and was engaged in mining at Blue Spur, Skippers and White Reef until 1896. He then came to Waihi and was appointed Mine Manager to the Grand Junction Company, a position he held until his death in 1907. Morgan St., near the Junction property is named after him.

Mr. Morgan had a family of four, two sons and two daughters and they all came to Waihi and became well known here. The sons were David and Evan and the daughters Mary and Margaret, afterwards well known as Miss Maggie.

Mary was a tailoress and worked for many years for her brother. She died in Auckland in 1951. Margaret, (Miss Maggie) was a Music Teacher and was also an accomplished accompanist and assisted at many musical concerts. She was official accompanist for the Leidertafel and the Waihi Federal Band. She was also organist at the Methodist Church for 35 years, until her death in 1935. David Morgan was one of the early grocers in the town, purchasing the grocery business of George Moyes at the East end and he carried on business there until 1910 when he sold out and went to Auckland. He returned to the East end grocery for a short while about 1920 and then finally left Waihi for Auckland.

Evan Morgan became the best known of the family. He had served his time as a tailor in Dunedin before coming to Waihi where he commenced business in 1897. He returned to Dunedin in 1898 to marry and came back to Waihi where he remained in business until his retirement in 1940, when he went to Auckland but unfortunately did not live long to enjoy retirement, passing away in 1940. His wife died 5 days after him. During his life in Waihi, Evan Morgan, became a prominent public figure. He was Sec. of the Waihi Cycling and Touring Club, an enthusiastic band of cyclists in the early 1900s, the Waihi Volunteers, a military organisation of the early days and also was a leading member of the Waihi Leidertafel and Waihi Amateur Operatic Society. Being the possessor of a fine bass-baritone voice he took a prominent part in public concerts for patriotic purposes during World War I. He served for two periods on the Waihi Borough Council, 1917-1919 and 1923-29. He was a member of the defunct Waihi Fire Board and was for many years a Justice of the Peace.

There was five in Evan Morgan's family, four sons and one daughter. The daughter Ivy, (Mrs.Tom Agnew) now resides at Whangarei. The eldest son, Les, was assistant assayer at the Grand Junction when it closed and later joined the Police, retiring in 1961 and returning to Waihi to settle. He married Thelma Saunders, a member of another very well known Waihi family. They had two children Jack, a Master at the Waihi College and Gwenda, wife of Sergeant Gillespie of the Waihi Police. Royce, the next son was employed for many years on the Borough Council and later had the milk round in Waihi. He joined the Waihi Fire Brigade in 1924 and is at present Chief Fire Officer, a post he has filled for some years. He married Edna Radford a member of another old family. Gwyn, who died in February 1964, commenced in the hardware trade as soon as he left school and later became a partner in the Waihi Hardware Co., and was so engaged up to the time of his death. He married Jessie Strong and they had one daughter. Lewis, the youngest after completing his schooling at Waihi joined the Public Trust Office and is now Accountant at the New Plymouth office. He married a Hamilton girl, who died in 1957 leaving two sons and a daughter.