A celebration of a building, and the family connected to it

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A handful of family members in Lewisburg and Lynnville have received some special recognitions at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture in Knoxville, including on Monday this week.

The family members are all descendants of former UT agriculture leader and UT President Harcourt Morgan, who led the university from 1919 to 1934. This year, the building named in his honor, Morgan Hall, is being celebrated for marking 100 years of service as the home and headquarters of UT’s statewide programs in agriculture.

On June 7, Lucy-Fay Morgan Hinds and Sarah Lanier Morgan Davis of Lewisburg were guests of honor at the building’s Centennial Celebration. The two are granddaughters of Harcourt Morgan. Also in the special party were Morgan’s great-grandson, Jason C. Hinds, with wife Brandy, and their daughters (and Morgan’s two great- great-granddaughters), Jacy and Kaly Hinds, all of Lynnville. Davis’ husband, Phil, also was a member of the party.

Some 120 faculty, staff and students took part in celebration on June 7, with another 1,700 alumni and friends watching a livecast on Facebook. Much excitement at the event surrounded the opening of a time capsule that was installed in 1919, during Morgan Hall’s construction. The capsule, the remains of its contents, and duplicates of the contents from UT archives were displayed at the celebration, alongside a new time capsule planned to be installed in 2021. Items in the original time capsule included photographs of Harcourt Morgan and the UT president who preceded him, Brown Ayres. Student agriculture magazines and a listing of university courses were also in the capsule.

On Monday of this week, descendants of Harcourt Morgan returned to Knoxville to be guests of honor again. This time they oversaw the installation of the new time capsule, meant to be opened in 2121. They also joined university leaders, faculty, staff and students in recreating a photograph taken in 1919 when the first time capsule was installed. In that photo, a very young Harcourt Morgan Junior applied mortar to seal the building’s cornerstone in place. The time capsule was installed behind that cornerstone.

In Monday’s ceremony, Harcourt Morgan Junior’s great granddaughters, Jacy and Kaly, did the honors. Three Knoxville television crews were on hand to record them doing so, as was a reporter and photographer from the Knoxville News Sentinel. The Institute of Agriculture plans to feature the new photo this fall in its alumni and friends’ magazine. A copy also will be preserved in the university archives.

The family also brought a large portrait of Harcourt Morgan to donate to the university. The painting was gratefully received and plans are to display it in a prominent place in Morgan Hall’s main corridor.

While Lucy-Fay Morgan Hinds and her sister, Sarah Lanier Morgan Davis, were unable to attend Monday’s ceremony, the family was well-represented. There to take part in the festivities were:

· Jason C. Hinds and wife Brandy and daughters Jacy and Kaly, all of Lynnville, Tennessee.

· Another Harcourt Morgan great-grandson: Morgan Davis, son of Sarah and Phil Davis, of Charlotte, North Carolina.

· And Harcourt Morgan great-granddaughter, Beth Boles, daughter of Sarah Lanier Morgan Davis and Phil Davis, with husband Brian Boles of Nashville, Tennessee.

When the Institute of Agriculture began preparations for the centennial observances, organizers were unaware there were living Harcourt Morgan descendants. A nephew of one of the granddaughters saw a mention of the upcoming Centennial Celebration in a newspaper and alerted the two granddaughers. Lucy-Fay called the Institute’s leader, Tim Cross, UT senior vice president and senior vice chancellor. She asked if it would be OK for the family to attend.

“Not only did I tell her it would be OK for the family to attend,” Cross says. “I told her it would not be OK for them not to attend!”

Having the Harcourt Morgan descendants present for both the Centennial Celebration and then this Monday’s time capsule installation and photo recreation made the event more exciting and far more special for everyone concerned. Members of the family say they’ve made new friends at UT, and many members of the Institute of Agriculture feel the same about the Hinds, Davis and Boles family members they’ve had the good fortune to get to know.