Friday, June 10, 2005

Who Was Jane Manson?

A Major Breakthrough

The following entries appear in the 1850 census of Talbot County, Georgia:

1261 Jane Manson 24 F M Ga
Matilda 6 F M Ga
Mary 3 F M Ga

I've previously written about Matilda Manson, who in 1884 absconded to Rockdale, Milam County, Texas, with her son Otis, and George Preston Birdsong, the son of the former sheriff of Upson County, Georgia. But until recently, I knew very little about her mother, Jane.

A Wild Goose Chase?

"Jane Manson" is not an uncommon name in the southern United States. My first plausible hypothesis was that the 24 year old mulatto woman in the 1850 Talbot census was somehow associated with the prominent Norwood family of Georgia. The basis of the hypothesis was this: Caleb Merriman Norwood of Blount County, Tennessee, married a Jane Manson in 1818. [Blount Marriages 1795-1858, by Surname]. . She is described in some sources as being "a Tennessee lady, of Scotch-Irish parentage" [see History of Monroe County, Georgia, by Elizabeth Robertson, 2005. The family appears on the 1820 census in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, but is said to have settled in Culloden, Monroe County, Georgia, in 1830. They are enumerated in Talbot County, Georgia, on the 1830 census. Indeed, their most famous offspring, judge and U.S. Senator Thomas Manson Norwood, was born in Talbot County in 1830.

Of course, Jane Manson Norwood is not the Jane Manson we're looking for. But my thought was that our Jane Manson may have been a slave or servant brought into the marriage by Mrs. Norwood. While plausible, and not unheard of, I couldn't find any evidence to support that theory after many months of searching. Still, given the geographical proximity, the name similarity, the temporal coincidence, and the apparently inexplicable "free" status of Jane and her daughters (suggesting perhaps a powerful or influential patron), this was a theory worth further examination.

All in All, Just Another Brick in the Wall?

After my recent trip to Upson County, Georgia, and a conversation with Penny Cliff, I was even more perplexed about the origins of Jane Manson. I obsessively re-traced my own cyber-footseps and spent sleepless nights pouring over previously examined documents for clues. And one night last week, this document turned up on the Georgia GenWeb site for Taylor County. It purports to be from the Taylor County Deed Book A, page 563. [Thanks to Virginia Crilley!].

Jane Manson, commonly called Jane Brown is and ever was a free born person
her mother being a white woman married to James Curington of Marion County formerly now Taylor. Her mother's maiden name was Chalotte Manson. Jane is I suppose about Twenty Six or seven years old from the best information I can get and that she said girl's color came from the father's side who was the Creole or Indian race as information says which her appearance indicates references Starling Barlett, Eliakim Rhodes, Absolem Rhodes, former Tax Receiver of this county and many others of this county who knew her mother and Jane before I did.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto subscribed my name.

N. Brown
Wit: John Sturdivant, JP
May 30, 1856

And there was this deed at page 169:

Taylor 8 Oct 1853
Nathaniel Brown to Mary C. Manson, daughter of Jane Manson
Love and affection 1/2 acre Pine land where Jane Manson now lives.
Southwest corner of lot of land conveyed to me by J.C. McCants, A. McCants, & J.T. Gray three acres

Wit: W.W. Wiggins, Isaac Mulkey, JJC
Recorded: 14 Nov 1853

Clearly, there was some relationship, probably other than Platonic, between Jane Manson and Nathaniel Brown. And one wonders if "Mary C. Manson" is "Mary Charlotte Manson."

The 1830 and 1850 censuses show Nathaniel Brown in Talbot County [Talbot was one of the counties from which Taylor was formed]. The 1880 and 1900 censuses show Jane Brown [of the same age as Jane Manson would be] in Talbot County.

Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte

Charlotte Manson could be the link back to the entire Scots-Irsh line of Mansons for this family. Here's some out-loud thinking: On the 1900 census, Jane Brown's mother's birth plcae is given as South Carolina. I have yet to find a Charlotte Manson in either North Carolina or South Carolina. But I do find "Jane Manson" in South Carolina. In 1767, Jane Manson arrived in Charleston from England. [See Jones, J. M. and Warren, M. B., South Carolina Immigrants, 1760 to 1770. Danielsville, GA: Heritage Papers, 1988, p. 228]. In 1768, Jane Manson was granted 100 acres in Granville County, South Carolina. [See Dobson, D., Scottish Quakers and Early America, 1650-1700, p. 86]. Perhaps this Jane Manson was an ancestor of Charlotte Manson.

So time to validate the source documents and go the next step . . . .

No comments: