Charles P. Morlan Memorial



Short Title

Charles P. Morlan Memorial

Full Title

Charles P. Morlan Memorial 1871-1964




James L. Cox





Publication Information

Approved by the Representative Meeting c. 1966 and published. Written by his grandson James L. Cox.

Last Modified By

Chronicler 09/20/2011


The following is the entirety of the memorial:
Charles P. Morlan 1871-1964
In loving memory and appreciation of the life of Charles P. Morlan
In memory of Charles P. Morlan, a valued minister of Ohio Yearly Meeting
Prepared at the direction of the Representative Meeting and under the care of the Committee for Memorials of Ohio Yearly Meeting members. Written mostly by his grandson James L. Cox, from his diary and memories of his family and friends.
Charles P. Morlan: husband, father, friend and counselor. One who lived close to his Heavenly Father and consulted him in all his decisions. In the words of a daughter-in-law, "I have never known anyone who lived so close to God." It is our hope that these memoirs and accounts may be an inspiration to others to live closer to God in love. "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us" (1 John 4:11-12).
Many of America's great men have been humbly born in a log cabin in the wilderness, and by their own endeavor have risen to prominence among men to become wealthy and powerful, or even President. It has become the American Dream. But such a dream is not possible without hard work and perseverance. Charles Morlan, in his way, lived out this dream in real life. From a humble beginning he rose through striving to attain the high Christian goals he set for himself, to become a pillar in the Society of Friends.
Charles was born Eighth Month 16, 1871, in a small frame cabin near a very small town called East Carmel, Ohio. (East Carmel was located a short distance east of Rogers, in Columbiana County. No trace of the town exists today.) His father, Theophilus Morlan, was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in 1826, and worked as a young man with his father on the Erie Canal until they came to Ohio and settled in Columbiana County. He married Sarah Holloway, Charles' mother, in 1861, just a month before the Civil War began. Theophilus Morlan was a farmer and young Charles and his brothers helped to run the farm and were thereby introduced to hard work at an early age. Hard work and Charles Morlan were never to be separated. It was the means to his goal.
Charles spent his summers working on his father's farm and in the winter he attended the short sessions of school in a little white school house at Middleton. In the spring of 1889 he entered the summer term at the Friends Boarding School at Barnesville [today's Olney Friends School], but after the following winter term he had to return home for want of money for tuition. Charles wanted to continue his education and began casting about for a means of making some money. He began to feel that possibly teaching might be the right thing to do, but he knew of no such opportunity at the time. It was a momentous decision for a young man, one that he could not make without first consulting his Heavenly Father. Charles felt that choosing an occupation is one of the most important things that a young person does and that it has so much to do with his whole life that he should if possible have the approval of Him who can see the end from the beginning. One evening as he was milking the cows, he put up a silent prayer to his Heavenly Father, asking Him if it would be right for him to take up teaching. Charles prayed that if it should be according to God's will that He would confirm it by an opportunity being presented when the time was right. Little did he think that there would be a definitive answer so soon. That very evening, after the chores were done and the family had gathered in the living room, Charles' father asked him if he would be willing to teach a short spring term at the Middleton Friends School. He said the teacher wanted to quit teaching and the school committee was desirous of having the school continue.
So Charles was employed in 1890 to teach a short spring term. Although he was only eighteen at the time, he seemed to have a natural ability for teaching and the employment was extended to the following winter term. One of his pupils was Ellen Edgerton, daughter of Jesse Edgerton, a harness maker at Winona. Ellen was a childhood acquaintance of Charles' but it was here that she became aware of her love for him, and he of his for her. Charles grew to know Ellen as a sensitive and loving girl with a rare ability for expression and feeling. Ellen, for her part, fell in love with Charles quite suddenly. One day in class she raised her hand to call the teacher for help with a problem in her book. When Charles reached her desk she looked up and found him looking at her instead of at her book. The moment her eyes met his Ellen knew that she loved him, and the certainty of that knowledge remained with her through all her years. It must have been during this term that Charles decided Ellen would be his wife. However he felt it prudent to delay announcing his intentions until he was better able to provide for her. In fact he kept his intentions so secret that for a long time Ellen was puzzled by his seeming indifference.
The savings from his meager salary of $15 per month allowed Charles to return to the Boarding School for the summer term of 1891. At the close of this session he received his diploma. In the fall of that year he went to Iowa and taught at Scattergood School for a year, and in 1892 he returned to the Boarding School again, this time as a teacher. His natural ability with words and ideas made him beloved by his students. Often, in order to stimulate their thinking, he would ask "Why?" after they had responded to a question. It wasn't long before he was known as "Teacher Why." He worked hard as a teacher and found that he enjoyed it and when he was sure of his ability he decided it was time to announce to Ellen his intentions.
Charles Morlan and Ellen Edgerton exchanged vows at Columbiana [editor's note: the MM records say the wedding took place in the Middleton Meeting House] on Seventh Month 20, 1899, and then took an excursion to Niagara Falls for the "honeymoon." As soon as the newlyweds arrived by train at Niagara, they went to the "Temperance House" where they expected to get a room. All the rooms were full however and Charles and Ellen counted themselves fortunate to find a nice quiet room in a private home a few blocks away. The widow at whose home they stayed said she thought she had never seen a happier face than Ellen's.
The happy couple returned to Olney where Charles resumed his teaching career. Unfortunately the Boarding School at that time consisted of but one building and provided little hope of "home life" for married teachers. Charles had taken up the work of teaching with the feeling that it would be his life's work. He loved teaching and had hoped that the Boarding School Committee would see its way clear to either build them a cottage on campus or make arrangements for them to live in a house nearby. But the idea of having a married teacher who did not live in the building with the students was unheard of at the time. Neither Charles nor Ellen felt that they wanted such an arrangement. Ellen was especially reluctant to accept such a plan as she had dreams of a home of their own uppermost in her mind.
After much soul-searching and anguish they finally decided it might be best to give up the idea of teaching. It was a very difficult decision for Charles and caused him to shed some tears. He felt as if his anchorage had pulled loose and he was adrift on a surging sea without even an oar to guide his boat.
They moved then to Youngstown where Charles found employment as bookkeeper in the office of the Youngstown Ice Co. and they set up housekeeping on Elm Street but soon removed to a more comfortable home in nearby Hubbard. In 1902 their first child, Lawrence, was born. Their second child, Melva, arrived in 1906, and early in 1908 Anna was born. And then tragedy struck the happy family.
On a cold and wintry morning in 1909 Charles brought little three year old Melva downstairs with him and left her in the sitting room where there was a small gas heater. Melva said she was going to get her feet warm. Charles admonished her to "be careful and don't get burnt" and then went down to the cellar to start up the furnace fire. After a moment he heard her begin to cry and he rushed up the stairs to find Melva's clothing afire! He beat out the blaze with his hands, and Ellen, hearing the commotion, came rushing downstairs. Together they removed Melva's charred nightie and found her little body badly burned on the right side. They called the doctor who came and dressed her burns. She looked up into her father's eyes and said, "I got burnt, papa." Charles kissed her little face and answered, "Yes, dear, thee did get burnt!"
Melva was restless all that night and the following day, but her cheerful disposition did not desert her. Toward evening she began to have convulsions and became delirious and it was evident that her condition was grave and becoming worse. They put her little feet in warm water and put cool compress on her head as the doctor had instructed. Charles began to rub her hands and arms, but the little fingertips grew cold and coldness crept up her arms in spite of rubbing. And in the small, dark hours of the morning she quietly passed into the Great Beyond. Charles looked at the dear little form and face he loved so much and cried softly, "The Lord gave, and he Lord hath taken away."
It was only Charles's unshakeable faith in the divine wisdom and purpose of the Lord that gave him the strength to endure the unbearable grief that comes with the loss of a beloved child. Ellen knew there had been a very special bond between those two.
Soon after little Melva had gone to her Eternal Home, Charles resigned from the Youngstown Ice Co. and with three other men, Arthur Binns, Barak Cope, and Will Garrett, incorporated a lumber and planing mill business in Salem which they named "The Eastern Ohio Lumber and Construction Company." "A whale of a name for a very small and insignificant concern," he wrote later. He went to work as Secretary-Treasurer of the company and worked in the office of the planing mill. The duties of the small company were shared by all the partners and Charles was frequently called upon to help unload railroad cars of lumber, or to deliver lumber out into the country. This latter chore he always enjoyed because it took him out into the sunshine and beauties of the countryside. The slow progress of the horse and wagon gave him time to enjoy the Almighty's handiworks and to commune with God and reflect upon the pathway his Heavenly Father desired him to follow.
But the tiny company was handicapped by lack of capital and could not carry sufficient stocks of lumber and builder's supplies. And because they did construction work, some of the local carpenters would not buy supplies from them and they were forced to dissolve the corporation after less than a year. Charles immediately began looking for work again and presently received offers from The Register Co. and The Deming Co., both in Salem. He discussed the offers with Ellen and then sought the guidance and direction of his Heavenly Father. As he waited quietly, with his mind turned to God, it became clear that he should accept the Deming Company's offer. (The Register Co. went out of business in a few years.) And so, late in 1909, Charles accepted a position as head of the cost department and remained with The Deming Company until his retirement in 1941.
Two more children blessed the family with their arrivals: Wilson in 1910 and Elizabeth in 1913. Charles was too old to be subject to military service in World War I, but he was opposed to war and provided guidance and counseling to other young conscientious objectors. The Christian principles which led him to oppose war in any form angered certain persons who were afflicted with blind patriotism, and some of these persons made threats on his life and his home. But Charles's faith in the wisdom and mercy of his Heavenly Father gave him strength and courage to face these troublesome times. One night when Charles was at home with his family, there came a vicious pounding on the door! Charles went to the door and opened it and was confronted by a group of angry men. Charles stepped outside, closing the door behind him, leaving his family inside, very frightened. They could hear loud voices at first, but the sounds presently diminished and then they could hear nothing. He met with this person or persons at some length and when he finally came back into the house he was unharmed and knew that the Lord had been with him and had guided him in this trying situation. The night visitors never returned.
Charles continued to have an active interest in the problems of conscientious objectors and visited some of the Civilian Public Service camps of World War II. He discovered that many of the young men in the camps felt they were performing useless and insignificant tasks, that their talents were being wasted when people were starving and dying and in need of their help - help they could provide if only they could be placed in appropriate jobs. In short they were acutely frustrated. Charles was concerned by what he felt to be the wrong attitude and objectives of the CPS program. Many times he journeyed to Washington and spoke with Senators and Representatives about his concerns. Eventually new projects were initiated – such as work in mental hospitals – which were designed to remove the sense of frustration from lack of valuable work.
Charles Morlan was recorded as a minister in the Society of Friends on the 20th of Seventh Month 1933. His was a ministry of Love. Rarely did a meeting for worship pass that he did not arise and share a message that the Inner Voice had given him. He often stressed "praying without ceasing" as expressed in the book of Thessalonians, and explained it as "living prayerfully, and including God in every step of our lives." He spoke often of the importance of Love, and the miracles wrought when one is obedient to, and in tune with, the Inner Light. In one of his books Charles quotes Rufus Jones. Perhaps it best expresses his own philosophy. "Life is one unending revelation of God, because God, if He is to be our God, must be Life and Love and Truth and Beauty and Goodness – the very realities which we dimly know in ourselves."
Charles was frequently concerned that his ministry was inadequate; that he was unable to express his inspirations in the best way. But he was unduly concerned, for he had a greater influence for good and spiritual understanding among all those with whom he was associated than he ever appreciated.
Charles was the author of numerous tracts and booklets which he considered a part of his ministry. Many people have expressed their pleasure and appreciation at receiving these booklets and messages… Perhaps his best known booklet is Living Atop the World. A young mother, prominent in the Damascus area, but belonging to the other Friends Church, said she was delighted with the booklet. It meant so much to her and expressed things in a way she could never grasp before.
Time passes quickly in a happy home. The children grew up and married and left home and soon another generation began to make its appearance. Charles delighted in his grandchildren and was never happier than when he could have a good romp with them. Sometimes, to amuse his grandchildren, he would suddenly leap into the air unexpectedly and prance about waving his arms, sometimes making odd noises in his throat. It never failed to evoke a reaction from the grandchildren subjected to it; delighted amusement from the younger ones and embarrassment from the older.
The Boarding School always remained uppermost in his thoughts and he was always more than ready to do anything in his power to help the School. He served on the Boarding School Committee for many, many years and was called upon frequently to address the student body which gave him considerable pleasure to do. He felt moved to give something to the Boarding School and at last decided to give the purchase price of the old Plummer Farm to … Olney in 1940, and it had been his intention to keep the source of the money secret, but the information leaked out. He turned aside expressions of appreciation by saying thanks were not to him but to the Heavenly Father who had made the gift possible.
Early in 1941 an illness overtook Ellen. At first it seemed to be merely a cold. But when it lingered for week after week Charles persuaded her to enter the hospital where she underwent a series of blood tests. Her fever and fatigue persisted however. When her illness was diagnosed as Hodgkins disease, the hospital began a series of X-ray treatments as a last hope. But the treatments failed to arrest the progress of the disease, and left Ellen even weaker than before. She wanted to die at home.
With a heavy heart Charles brought his dear wife home. Her chief regret seemed to be leaving so much work undone, "work for other shoulders to bear," she said. Charles and all her children were at her bedside when she passed quietly to her Reward, just before dawn on a rainy summer morning. Charles knelt by her side and offered a tribute of thanksgiving for their beautiful life together, and a prayer for strength to go on without her. It was as if "the soul of the home was gone!" he said. It was another period of overwhelming depression and grief for Charles. And again his faith in the Lord sustained him.
Charles retired from the Deming Company about this time, but kept busy by devoting more of his time to the Boarding School Committee. The work of the Committee was partly a never-ending search for suitable persons to act as Superintendent and Matron at the School. It was a task that was often difficult to fulfill. He filled the post of Superintendent himself from 1946 to 1948 and the post of Matron was ably entrusted to Sarah Crumly. Apparently their working together for the School was agreeable to them for they were subsequently married in Stillwater Monthly Meeting.
All of Charles' children had attended Olney and now his grandchildren were coming to the School. His oldest grandson remembers a time when he was a junior at Olney and enjoying a certain degree of dignity while his grandfather Charles was Superintendent there. One First Day when faculty and students were clustered in the hall awaiting admission to the dining room the Superintendent espied his grandson in line and without warning leapt into the air and pranced about wildly! A sudden silence ensued and every one was nonplussed, with the exception of his grandson who was acutely embarrassed and who spent the next few weeks trying to explain the incident.
Charles was a great strength and inspiration as Superintendent of the Boarding School. Many have spoken with high regard for Charles and the inspiration and example he provided, and for his singular ability to give comfort or counsel to those in need.
Beside the many tracts and booklets he has published and which are well known and cherished by so many people, he spent several years of his retirement in compiling an excellent narrative which he entitled A Brief History of Ohio Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, published in 1959. It is more than just a comprehensive history of Ohio Yearly Meeting – it is a story of the beginnings of Quakerism in England, the causes and effects, and its migration to America. It is an account of the trials and triumphs of early American Friends, their relationship with their neighbors and their government, and their attitudes towards the American Indians, Negroes, and the issue of slavery.
In 1962, as was their custom, Charles and Sarah were spending the winter in Fairhope, Alabama. Charles began feeling pain in his leg which due to poor circulation continued to be more and more severe. The problem became so acute it seemed best for them to fly to Knoxville, Tennessee, and stay with Sarah's sister Esther Coughlin, where Charles could be under the able care of Esther's son, Doctor Dennis Coughlin. Finally, it became necessary to amputate the leg above the knee. His daughter, Elizabeth Outland, and his son Wilson went to be with Charles and Sarah at the time of the operation and were rewarded by the demonstration of Charles's great faith. His glorious feeling of love radiated to everyone present. Just before going to the operating room he offered a beautiful and impressive prayer, putting himself completely in the hands of his Heavenly Father and telling Him that whatever the outcome, it would be all right with him. The doctors and nurses were amazed that he came through the operation so well and attributed it to his faith and love which they could readily sense. After three weeks in the hospital he was flown home to Damascus where he spent the next few years in a wheelchair. His valiant effort to use a wooden leg did not work out.
Charles had his moments of discouragement. Once as he was sitting in his chair trying to compose a … letter, he felt so low in spirits and so unequal to the task that he was about to give up. Then he heard a voice. "Charles, this is unbecoming to a Christian.” He was immediately given assurance that all would be well and he went ahead to write one of his most inspiring letters.
Finally, Charles's life was touched by a phenomenon of our times: the automobile accident. His injuries, of themselves, were not especially serious, but complications arose, borne of a very long trip along Life's Road and he seemed to know, and be content, that he was near the end of his journey at last. He was satisfied that his work on earth was done and looked forward to being with his Heavenly Father with whom he'd always had such close communion. All of Charles's children came from far and near to visit him in the hospital, and many of his grandchildren, and some great-grandchildren too. His oldest grandson brought his nine-month old son, whom Charles had never seen, to his bedside. The baby, being held in his father's arms, kicked his legs in excitement. And Charles, with a twinkle in his eyes, poked his own foot from beneath the covers and wiggled it in response.
A few days after his visitors had gone home he remarked how strange it was that his great grandson was just beginning life's journey, while his own was just ending. And then, apparently content that he had seen all his loved ones once again, Charles resigned from this world and allowed himself to sink into a coma. And on the last day of the Sixth Month 1964, Charles Morlan, in his 93rd year, crossed over to join the dear ones who had gone on before. Those he left behind grieve at his loss. But his loss to us is Heaven's gain.