Friday, September 17, 2004

She's Spanish

Matilda Manson is listed in the 1850 census of Talbot County, Georgia, with her mother, Jane Manson and her sister, Mary Manson. Matilda's age is given as 6 years old; Mary is reported to be 4, and their mother Jane's age is listed as 24. All three are described as "mulatto." Matilda next appears in federal census records in 1880 in nearby Upson County as 30 year old "Mat" Manson with a 9 year old son, Otis. They are both described as "mulatto." Sometime during the 1880's, Matilda and young Otis relocated from Georgia to Milam County, Texas. Otis married Bettie Sanford (1872-?1935) and they had seven children. Otis' grandson, Harold V. Manson, recalls having seen his grandfather just once, describing him as a white man. I asked Otis' grandson why Matilda and Otis left Georgia. Here's what he said:

She was Spanish. And he [Otis] was the only Spanish boy in school in Georgia at that time. So I think he was being picked on . . . and she decided they had to leave . . . That's what I heard--that she was Spanish.

No doubt they had to leave when somebody realized that she wasn't Spanish.

Good People, Good Stuff

I recently went to Longview, Texas, to research records at the Gregg County courthouse.
I had previously been impressed with the quality of information and ease of use of the Gregg County clerk's records website.

As it turned out, the actual clerk's office was easy and friendly as the website. Records were easily accessible. In fact, my only criticism is that some of the older records are too easily accessible for sake of preservation. Otherwise, "Miss Gladyce" and her ladies are to be congratulated for running a topnotch operation. One employee, Gloria Caraway, spent over an hour with me tracking down a death certificate for my 3rd great-grandmother, Amanda McCray Bowie (1848-1924). A research visit is well worth the effort.

Another Lone Star Tale

So Matilda Manson and her son Otis had to leave Georgia . . . .okay, but why did they chose little ole Rockdale in Milam County, Texas? Well, maybe they knew somebody there. One of my theories is that they knew the heirs of John Manson, who inherited a lot of land in central Texas. A great site for land transactions information in Texas is the archives of the Texas General Land Office. According to the state records, John Manson was entitled to 320 acres of land as a bounty for his service in the Army of the Republic of Texas. I was curious to learn more about John Manson, so I went in search of his military records. I found them at the Texas State Library and Archives, which has a friendly easy-to-use search function. Military records are not accessible online, but all it took was an e-mail to the State Library and ten days later (wow! That's service!) I received the entire remaining contents of John Manson's Texas military file.

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