West Virginia State Farm Museum
Mr. John E. Greene and his associates of Milton, WV donated the Morgan Museum to the Farm Museum. Mr. Sidney Morgan of Winfield, WV started the museum in 1905. The first bird he mounted was a loon, and it is still housed in the museum. It is in the north end of the building, mounted on a green slab.
The information from some of Mr. Morganís relatives was that Mr. Sidney Morgan was to go with Teddy Roosevelt (as his taxidermist) on a Safari to Africa. For some reason or other (which has been lost to posterity), he did not get to go, and, of course, he was very disappointed. While talking to his brother, Mr. Morgan decided that they should go on their own safari, so they built a small sternwheel paddleboat called the Shirley. During Mr. Morganís lifetime he made five trips all the way to the Gulf of Mexico, collecting birds and animals along the rivers. He also made trips up and down several other rivers, including the Arkansas and the Missouri. He financed his trips by taking along sportsmen from the Charleston area who paid him for the trip.
Mr. Morgan was an artist when it came to mounting animals and birds. He made every effort to pose his animals and birds naturally. A good example of his creativity in taxidermy is the red fox located on the top shelf display at the museum. This fox had apparently killed a grouse; so Mr. Morgan not only mounted the grouse, but he also put feathers in the mouth of the fox to make it appear more realistic. Just over from this display is another fox that had killed a duck. This fox is mounted as if running away with the duck slung over its back. As the story goes, Mr. Morgan killed the fox as it was running away from a pond. He then copied its natural pose.
You will see many other examples of his creativity as you look around the museum. For example, there is a raccoon that is mounted on an old hollow tree. Mr. Morganís step-grandson was with him the night that the raccoon was killed. The tree was cut down, and the slab was added to the exhibit.
The big elk in the back was the last elk killed in West Virginia. Mr. Morgan killed it at Minnehaha Springs, Pocahontas County and mounted it in 1912.
The biggest bird in the museum is the Golden Eagle and the smallest is the little hummingbird. There is also a two-headed calf, which was born in 1926 on one of the farms near Mr. Morganís museum. It lived for a number of weeks. But, as the story goes, it got out of the barn one cold winter night and froze to death. The farmer found it the next morning just outside the barn. He then gave it to Mr. Morgan to be mounted.
There is also a display of some unusual steel traps. The large trap is hand-made. The other is a Newcome trap, which is said to be one of the largest bear traps ever made. The box traps that are on display were used to trap live game, such as rabbits, opossums, etc. Years ago, most boys had a box trap or two. They would use them to catch rabbits for food.
The propeller on display is from the Airship Shenandoah. The Shenandoah crashed near Ava, Ohio, in 1925, taking the lives of 14 members of its crew.
Pictures and information were provided by West Virginia State Farm Museum
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