CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- John Gabriel Morgan, a longtime Charleston Gazette political reporter and specialist in state history, died Friday at Hubbard Hospice House after a struggle against congestive heart failure. He was 94.
Morgan covered the Statehouse for more than 30 years, recording partisan battles and corruption scandals. He also did extensive historical research, producing a Gazette book on West Virginia governors -- which is still a staple in schools and libraries -- and producing a history of Charleston.
Morgan was born in 1919 at his ancestral Morgan farm in Putnam County, a tract later largely absorbed by the John Amos power plant. A log kitchen from the farm remains on display in St. Albans.
He graduated from Winfield High School, served in the Coast Guard in World War II and completed a degree at the University of Charleston (then Morris Harvey College) in 1947. He joined the Gazette staff the same year. In the 1950s, he received a Reid Fellowship for 18 months of study in India and Pakistan.
Morgan spent months in archives, scanning letters by West Virginia's founders. He recounted bitter passions that split the western counties of Virginia during the breakaway amid the Civil War. For example, the state's second governor, Daniel Farnsworth, served only six days to fill a vacancy, and bravely confronted angry mobs of Confederate sympathizers. Morgan dubbed him "Fearless Farnsworth."
Morgan was a longtime member of Christ Church United Methodist. He retired to his East End home in 1982. His wife Rita died in 2007. Surviving are two daughters, Sarah Morgan of St. Albans and Laura Ewalt of Nashville, Tenn., plus three grandchildren.
Chapman Funeral Home of Winfield is in charge of arrangements.