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Munger, George Merrick (1839-1919) | Morse Department of Special Collections

Name: Munger, George Merrick (1839-1919)

Historical Note:

George Merrick Munger Sr. was born on January 17, 1839 in Bergen, Genesee County, New York, the son of Lyman and Martha Munger. In 1865, George Munger started a laundry business with two of his brothers in Chicago. On May 2, 1865, George married Susan Bingham Owens, daughter of John and Martha Owens. They had seven children (four of whom died in infancy). Alice Owens, Agnes Stoddard, Anna Pearce, Gaius M., Martha Louise, George Merrick, Jr., and Belinda Torrence; the latter three lived. George served as a Regent of Kansas State Agricultural College from 1897-1901. In 1887, George and his family moved to Greenwood County, Kansas seven miles north of Eureka. George named the property Catalpa Knob, an area of 2000 acres where he raised fruit trees as well as Catalpas. On August 9, 1908, George and Susan moved to Los Angeles where George died on October 29, 1919. Susan died six years later on May 23.

Martha Louise Munger, their oldest child, was born February 24, 1866 in Chicago, Illinois. She was the first white woman to cross the Chilkoot Pass, near Skagway, Alaska, and have a child in the Yukon Territory. Later she became the second woman in the Canadian Parliament and was a member of the House of Commons. She wrote My Seventy Years, published in 1938. Another book, My Ninety Years, detailing the latter years of her life and career, was published in 1976. She married her first husband, Will Amon Purdy, in August or September of 1887, and together they had three children, Lyman, Donald, and Warren. On August, 1904, Martha married her second husband, George Black. He was a lawyer, who served as a captain during WWI, before being elected speaker to the Yukon Council three times and appointed seventh Commissioner of Yukon. Martha died October 31, 1957 in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. At the funeral, her casket had both the Stars and Stripes and the Union Jack flags laid across the top. George remarried after Martha's death and died on August 23, 1965 in Shaughnessy Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.

George Merrick Munger, Jr., the middle of the three children, was born June 8, 1872 in Chicago, Illinois. He helped run his father's laundry business in St. Louis, Missouri. During the Gold Rush of 1897, he, along with his sister Martha, crossed the Chilkoot Pass to the Yukon Territory where they both lived fairly comfortably. George died February 1, [1938?] in State Tuberculosis Hospital, Salem Oregon.

Belinda (Belle) Torrence Munger, the youngest, was born April 3, 1883, in Chicago, Illinois. While in college she attempted a degree in engineering but found that women were not allowed in this field. On October 7, 1903, Belle married her first husband, Edward Palmer Riggle, son of John and Mary Riggle. Together they had two children, George Merrick Munger Riggle and Ed Palmer Riggle, Jr. When Belle's father and mother moved to California, she and Ed took over Catalpa Knob, Greenwood County, Kansas. Belle married her second husband, Irvin Hays Rice, after Ed's death on June 10, 1915. Mr. And Mrs. Rice were divorced on January 9, 1929. Belle died October 22, 1966 in Glendale, California.

Additional information about the Munger family is included in the three appendices at the end of this register: 1) biographical sketch of Martha Louise Munger Black, 2) Munger family chronology, 3) Munger generational line.

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