Rev. A. Rufus Morgan:
"Moses of the Mountains"
Anyone who spends much time in the Southern Appalachians soon hears the name
A. Rufus Morgan, or, Rufus Morgan. Rufus lived from 1885-1983; he was an
Episcopal priest. Rufus Morgan was born in Franklin, N.C. and always
considered the Smoky Mountains his home. He completed high school in
Waynesville, N.C.; graduated from the University of North Carolina; and received
his theological education at General Theological Seminary in New York City, and
Columbia University. His ministry included St. Peter's in New York City,
Penland School of Handicrafts, Penland, North Carolina; several small churches
in South Carolina; and, 11 small churches in western North Carolina.
Rufus helped build
St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church
in Cherokee, NC. The church has
a website that includes a
Rufus -- who was known as "Moses of the Mountains."
Rufus loved the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee.
He was a regular visitor to LeConte Lodge -- I recall meeting him several times
and my brother, John, took this photo of Rufus in 1969.
Places named for Rufus
Rufus not only loved the mountains, he also was active in
several hiking clubs and was instrumental in helping establish the Appalachian
Trail in the Southern Appalachians. To honor his contributions to the
mountains, his name has been attached to several places Western North Carolina.
- Hikers on the Appalachian Trail can stay in the
Morgan shelter in the Nantahala National Forest, Swain County, NC.
- Near Franklin, NC, you will find the
Rufus Morgan Falls.
Here is another link to Rufus Morgan
- Here is a link and description of
Rufus Morgan Trail in Macon County, NC.
- This website belongs to
"Chelle Rose," a local
singer and songwriter from Loudon County, Tennessee. She wrote a
song inspired by Rufus.
Note in her description of the song that she mentions a PBS documentary
about Rufus hiking up LeConte at age 92 -- as of March 2006 I am trying to
track down that documentary.
Penland School of Crafts is a national center for craft education located in
the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Penland was founded by Miss Lucy
Morgan, who came to Penland in 1920 to work as a teacher at the Appalachian
Industrial School, an Episcopal mission school established primarily by her
brother Rufus. What she found was an opportunity to expand that school’s
vocational program to include handicrafts, particularly weaving.
At that time very few women in the community still practiced the craft.
Morgan realized that the reintroduction of weaving would not only revive a local
tradition, but could also provide economic support for families. She invited
well-known weaving expert Edward Worst to teach annual workshops and in 1929,
when requests for craft instruction began to come from other parts of the
country, Penland School was born.
Today, Penland School of Crafts is a national center for craft education with
programs in fourteen professional studios that encompass traditional and
contemporary craft, providing instruction in books and paper, clay, drawing and
painting, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking, textiles, and wood.
Penland School celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2004; this
gives the history of the school. Note the prominent part played by Rufus
and his sister Lucy.
More links about Rufus Morgan
Here are more links I found on the Internet that mention Rufus Morgan and
that reveal the extent of his influence on the lives of people in the Southern
To be continued -- with your help
This article was started on 29 march 2006. If you have more photos or
stories of Rev. Rufus Morgan, or if you can point me to such information, please
send an e-mail message.
NOTE: If you do a Google search for "Rufus Morgan," you will
find several entries about another Rufus Morgan who was a noted photographer in
North Carolina who lived 1846 - 1880 -- he is not our Rufus Morgan but his story
is interesting. Here are some links about him:
LeConte Lodge Site Table of Contents