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A family reunion

Nov 18, 2021


Ashley Majalca, Former Strategic Communications and Marketing Manager

Part of  these categories:: Collection

At the Carter, we are committed to connecting our community with American art. In 2019, we connected a visitor to his long-lost grandfather. Come in and look around. You never know what you might find! But don’t take our word for it, take Jerry Morrison’s.

“My paternal grandfather, Floyd Wellington Morrison Sr., abandoned his family when my father was a young boy. My father never had any contact with him, so I grew up not knowing my grandfather. As I got older and became curious, my father said he didn’t know anything about him and never wanted to talk about him. When my paternal grandmother passed away in 1997, she possessed only two pictures of my grandfather, taken when my father was a baby. My mother made copies of those photos for me. One depicted my grandfather with another boy around the same age as him. On the back, my mother wrote ‘Floyd Morrison and a friend.’

My mother passed away in 2010 and I inherited the original pictures. They sat dormant for several years until 2018, when I restarted my research and was looking at some old family pictures. I discovered on the back of the original photo of my grandfather with a friend that, after the friend’s first name, there were ditto marks indicating that the friend was also a Morrison. After extensive research, it turned out he was my grandfather’s brother. I eventually discovered that my great-great-great-grandfather was John H. Morrison and he lived in Seguin, Texas, at one time. As I Googled "John H. Morrison" in early 2019, some of Sarah Ann Hardinge’s watercolors popped up. The captions referenced Views of Texas that were published by the Carter.

I contacted the Museum to see if they could give me more information about the artist and/or John H. Morrison. To my surprise, I was invited to the Museum where Carter curator Maggie Adler and several employees gave me a private viewing of Sarah Ann Hardinge’s watercolors and personal letters, which included mention of my ancestor. Then they gave me a copy of the book Views of Texas featuring the watercolors that I had just seen in person. It turns out that Sarah Ann Hardinge lived with John H. Morrison and his family for several years and taught his children while creating watercolors of his home and surrounding area. I was totally blown away by the experience and I still get emotional when I tell other people about it. It was awesome to read about my ancestor through the words of Sarah Ann Hardinge. It was even more awesome to actually see her letters and watercolors in person, thanks to Maggie and the Carter.”

Works by Sarah Ann Hardinge

The experience touched not only Morrison, but our Curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper, Maggie Adler. She was extremely touched by the revelation she helped to guide and is excited about continuing to connect the community with the Museum. Morrison has since researched his family history. “This is a legacy that I will pass down to my children and grandchildren. I’m going to the Seguin area soon to try and locate the exact location of John H. Morrison’s home as depicted in Sarah Ann Hardinge’s watercolors.”

More work by Sarah Ann Hardinge

This holiday season, we hope you learn about yourself, your loved ones, and, most importantly, spend time together, whether in person or a screen away. Head to the Carter and connect with American art!