BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Morgan early historic black businessman
By KEN HALL/Special to the Daily Sun
In the Corsicana of the 1920s Ben Morgan
established himself as the first black tailor of men's clothing.
Although having no formal training Morgan became an expert in
alterations, gaining the trust of many fashion conscious men of the
day because of his talent. His services were called upon in not only
the black community but also from such notables as P. Samuels, the
Marks Brothers, J. M. Dyer and Joe Butler, to name a few.
"Whenever anybody needed something altered
they'd ask for him," said his daughter, Marguerita Springfield.
"They wouldn't let anybody else touch their clothes except my father
because he did good work."
Born Sept. 20, 1885, Morgan's family
settled in Corsicana with his parents and seven siblings; five girls
and two boys. While getting his tailoring business going he met his
future wife, Cornelia Jackson.
"My mother lived right behind him with her
family," Springfield said. "They were about to move to Oklahoma but
she stayed behind after the rest of the family went on." After a
time the couple married, producing Marguerita, Hazel and John P.
There were several locations used during
the run of the business, with one of the early sites located at the
corner of East Fifth Avenue and 10th Street (Commerce) around 1922;
Fifth Avenue being the hub of a thriving enterprise zone at that
time that served the needs of blacks because of segregation. A
couple of the surrounding establishments included Stewart's
Undertaking parlor and the Economy Drug Store. For a time Morgan
partnered with Ezra Carroll, owner of the Savoy Tailor Shop, in the
200 block of east Fifth. Ever needing more room Morgan parted ways
with Carroll, moving to other locales around downtown, including a
shop at 308 N. Beaton, behind Roy's Cafe. Finally the business made
its last move, next to the home site in the 1000 block of East
Seventh Avenue (now MLK Boulevard). The building housing the shop
"It didn't make any difference where the
shop was," said Springfield with a smile. "They would follow him all
over town to get their clothes altered. The reason he moved his shop
over here (on Seventh) was because Mother didn't really like him
staying too late downtown. She wasn't afraid or anything but it was
easier for her to help out with it being so close."
While the business took up much of his time
Morgan was able to make room for his family and other things in his
"He was a master mason and served on the
board of regents at Texas Southern University," Springfield said.
"He was appointed to that post by
Gov. Beauford T. Jester. Father had done alterations on the
governor's clothes and they became good friends after that. Whenever
he was in town the governor would come by and visit."
Although alterations were his strong suit,
Morgan also offered pressing service at his shop.
"He really didn't like to press clothes,
but he did it anyway," Springfield said. "Over the years he taught
several young fellows how to press and had them do it all. Many of
them went on to start up their own shops."
After 40-plus years in the business Morgan
passed away May 18, 1965. His beloved wife was called to glory Oct.
People may not be aware of the
contributions of Morgan but he did make his mark and has a place in
the history of Corsicana.
"Everybody in town at the time knew Ben
Morgan's was the best place to go to have men's clothes altered
right," said Springfield proudly.
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