Mary Elizabeth Manning [Brown] (1878-1983)

By – Don Taylor

We know that often as a person ages their birth date
changes. Women often get younger during their adult years and then get older in
their latter years.  Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown was just such a woman. 

Birth
Year
Year
Source
1878
1880
Census
1879
1900
Census
1877
1910
Census
1880
1920
Census
1877
1930
Census
1877
1940
Census
1878
1965
Social Security Death Index
1876
1983
MN
Death Index
1876
1983
Marker
1876
c.
1984
Notes
of Mary’s daughter, Victoria Quelland
1878
2001
Notes
from Mary’s minister, Les Crider
1876
2005
Letter
from Mary’s daughter, Delores Pribbenow
Only three of the many documents I have indicate the birth
year I prefer, 1878, The 1880 Census is probably the most accurate; it is the
only document I have found where the data was provided by someone who was at
her birth (presumably one of her parents). 
It is corroborated by her Social Security application.  None of the records before the 1970s indicate
her birth year as 1876, the year for which she celebrated her 100th
birthday in 1976.
Going through all of the birthdates for an individual is
important. When there is a discrepancy in dates, it is important to analyze all
of the dates and determine which is likely the most accurate.

Bio – Mary Elizabeth Manning [Brown] (1878-1983)

Mary Brown

Childhood

Mary Elizabeth Manning was born on April 17, 1878, the
oldest child of John William and Elisa Jane (Fannin) Manning in rural Kentucky.
One source indicates she was born in Kernsville, Carter County, however, I
haven’t been able to find a Kernsville in Kentucky. 
The 1880 Census shows Mary living with her parents near Pine
Grove, Rowan County, Kentucky. Her sister, Phoebe, was born in January 1881.
Again, I’m not certain where, but probably either Carter County or Rowan
County. Mary’s father, John, did have another child, Robert Manning, with
another (name unknown) woman. Robert was 9 years older than Mary was. I need to
do much more research in this area. In December 1882, Mary’s mother, Eliza,
died. Oral history indicates that she died in childbirth.
There is a lot of confusion about what happened to Robert,
Mary, and Phoebe after their mother died. One story line is that Mary &
Phoebe lived with their aunt & uncle, Thomas & Mary Jones.  Another story line is that they lived for a
time with their aunt & uncle, Joe & Sarah Bryant. I know for sure that they also lived with
their grandparents, Enoch and Minerva Manning in Holding, Stearns County,
Minnesota in 1885[1].  We know that the three children’s father also
died when they were young. Family history says he was poisoned so someone could
steal money from him. One researcher indicated that John William died in 1888.
If he died so much later then it wouldn’t make as much sense as to why the
three children were living with their grandparents in June 1885. 
In
1888, Enoch moved to Cass County, Minnesota. It is unclear if that is when the
children went to live with the Joneses, the Bryants, or stayed with Enoch. 

The Child Bearing Years

Arthur Durwood & Mary Elizabeth
(Manning) Brown [date unknown]

Family oral history says that Enoch was a harsh man, so it is easy to understand why young Mary wanted to get away from him. According to Les Crider’s records, Mary married Arthur
Durwood Brown on 19 October 1892, when she was but 14 years old. This year is
confirmed by both the 1900 and 1910 Censuses. Most of the next thirty years of
her life she spent pregnant or nursing.

First was Clyde Leroy who was born 1894 in Sylvan Township,
Cass County, Minnesota.
Then the young couple moved to North Dakota. I recall Mary
telling me that they traveled to North Dakota by oxen and wagon.  I don’t know if it was this time or one of
the other times they moved as they switched between North Dakota and Minnesota
several times.
Victoria Cecelia was their first child born in North Dakota;
she was born in 1896.
They moved back to Minnesota where Clarence Arthur was born
in 1897.
The 1900 Census indicates that Mary had had four children,
three of whom were living.  That gives
rise to an unknown child probably being born in 1899 who died before 2 June
1900[2].
Cora Elsie was born in Pequot Lakes, Crow Wing, Minnesota,
in 1901.
My grandfather, Clifford Durwood Brown, was born in Robinson,
Kidder County, ND, in 1903, three days before the famous flight of the Wright
Brothers.
Two more children, Martin and Dorothy, were born between
1904 and 1907. They both died of measles before 1910.
Edward Lewis was born in North Dakota in July 1908.
Arthur Eugene was born in North Dakota in in 1909.
Charles William was the last of the children born in North
Dakota in 1914.
The family moved back to Minnesota where Delores Sarah was
born in Sylvan Township in 1917 and Nettie Mae Viola born in Pillager in 1921.

The Middle Years

In 1928, Mary’s husband of 36 years died. Mary was 50 years
old when Arthur died.  Who would have
guessed that Mary hadn’t lived half of her life at that point?
The 1930 Census shows Mary living with her three youngest
children in Fairview, Cass County, Minnesota. Nearby is her son Edward with his
new wife Mary[3].
Cora, Nettie, Delores, Arthur, and Clarence were all married
in the ensuing ten years and began having many children.  Grandchildren, and great-grandchildren were
being born frequently. Her son, Clifford had a child out of wedlock. He
illegally took custody of the child and brought her to Minnesota to be raised
by his mother and himself. He was arrested and went to prison in Illinois for
child-napping. When he got out of prison, he changed his name to Richard Earl
Durand. Some years later Richard would return to Minnesota and change his name once
again, this time to Richard (Dick) Earl Brown.
The 1940 Census shows Mary living as hired help in May
Township with Isaac Reynolds. Isaac was the local postmaster[4]

The Motley Years

Five Generation Photo
Mary Brown, Clyde Brown, Granddaughter Marie,
great granddaughter Yvonne (on far right), &
GG Granddaughter Yvonne (on Mary’s lap) – Dec 1961

Shortly afterwards (before 1943), Mary moved to Motley and
lived a very quiet life.  Apparently,
also in the 1940s her son Dick came to live in the same house. In September
1961, she became a great-great grandmother with the birth of Yvonne Marie [living].

 I remember visiting
Grandpa Dick and “Ma Brown” many times in the late 1950s and 1960s. On one
occasion, Grandpa Dick had just bought a new $50 clunker automobile.  Mary was upset with him spending money on the
car and admonished the universe with a quote I will forever remember.  “Those crazy kids and their motor cars –
cars, cars, cars, that all they think about.” She was calling my grandfather a
“crazy kid.”  He was probably about 60 at
the time and still a kid. It is all about perspective. He may have been 60 but
she was about 85 at the time and from her perspective, he was a kid.
Ma Brown was an amazing cook. She had separate cast iron
pans for fowl, beef, and venison. She made a rhubarb sauce that was amazing. We
just called it “sauce” and everyone knew which sauce we meant.  I always think of her when I see strawberry
rhubarb pie because none I’ve ever eaten since compare to her pies.  I have a pencil sharpener on my desk that
looks like a hand water pump.  It reminds
me every day about Ma Brown and her life in Motley.  In her kitchen was a hand pump, their only
source of water until into the mid 1960s. They had an outhouse that was a cool
visit in November and December. We never visited in January, so I can only
imagine – outhouse – January – Minnesota – Burrrr.  Along side the Motley house Mary kept a huge
garden – probably most of a house lot in size. She maintained it well into her late
80s, probably into her 90s.

Mary’s later years

Sadly, I think the last time I saw Mary was in 1965 or
so.  As a teenager, I didn’t have the
inclination to visit “up north.” I went into the service in 1969 and didn’t see
Mary at all during the ensuing years, although I did visit Grandpa Dick a few
times in 1970s but he was in Motley and Mary was at the Bethany Good Samaritan
Center in Brainerd.  Not visiting her in
Brainerd is something I regret not having done.
In 1976, that Mary Elizabeth Brown celebrated her 100th
birthday.  I believe it was a couple
years premature, but that is okay.  Her
celebrations continued for another seven years. She died on 8 May 1983 at the
age of 105 at the Bethany Home in Brainerd, Minnesota.
Mary E. Brown
1876 Mother 1983

She is buried at Gull River Cemetery, Pillager, Minnesota,
near her husband Arthur who died fifty-five years earlier.

Conclusion

Mary had an amazing life. She was orphaned young; she was
married young. She had 13 children and raised 10 of them to adulthood. She
lived a life without conveniences, not getting indoor plumbing until the 1960s.
She was very active in her church. In her Motley years, she cooked and canned
from her garden and prepared the game her son brought home.

There are many of Mary’s grandchildren still alive.  I would love it if they, their children, or
anyone with first-hand memories of Mary, would use the comments below to add to
the stories of their experiences with Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown. 
Further Actions:
Learn more about Robert Manning
Find out more about Kernsville, KY
List of Greats
1.    Mary
Elizabeth Manning [Brown] (1878-1983)
2.    
John William
Manning (1846-c.1888)
3.    
Enoch Mannin
(1823-1907)
4.    
Meridith
Mannin (1802-1885)
5.    
John Bosel
Mannin Sr. (b. 1776 in Virginia)
6.    
Samuel
Mannin  (b. abt 1756)
7.    
Meredith
Mannin (b. Abt. 1720)

[1] 1885 Minnesota,
Territorial and State Census, Ancestry.com,
1885 – Holding,
Stearns County, Minn – Page 3 (Post Office: Saint Anna).
[2] 1900 Census, Ancestry.com, 1900; Census Place: Township 136, Crow Wing,
Minnesota; Roll: 761; Page: 2A; Enumeration
District: 0069; FHL microfilm: 1240761.
[3] United States of
America, Bureau of the Census. Fifteenth Census of the United States, 1930.
Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1930. T626,),
Year: 1930; Census Place: Fairview, Cass, Minnesota;
[4] 1940 Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1940; Census Place: May, Cass, Minnesota; Roll: T627_1912; Page: 10A;
Enumeration District: 11-33.
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