Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown’s Mother – Part 1 of 6

Could it be Sarah Jane Garvin?

By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.It has been nearly eight years since I wrote about my 2nd great-grandmother, Eliza Jane Fannin (1861-1882). Eliza’s parents have been a brick wall for me. In 2017, I thought I might have broken through, but further research convinced me that Eliza Jane Fannin’s parents were not Thomas & Cynthis Ellia (Ellis), as some researchers have suggested. After eight years, I decided it must be time to revisit Eliza Jane Fannin and see if new material may provide answers. Over the years, I have also improved my genealogical skills and my analysis of sources.

List of Grands

What I know (A review of my known sources to associated facts.)

1880 Census – John & Lisa J Mannin live in Pine Grove, Rowan County, Kentucky. The household consisted of:

  •             John Mannin,  age 34
  •             Lisa J Mannin, age 19
  •             Mary Mannin, age 2

What I think I know (Unsourced Facts) – Find sources!

Great-grandma Mary Brown, and her son, Grandpa Dick.

I didn’t have a good source for Mary Elizabeth Manning’s (1878-1882) mother being Eliza Jane Fannin, and Family Search suggests that Mary Elizabeth’s mother was Sarah Jane Garvin[i]. I need to review all my sources for Mary and see what documents refer to my great-grandmother’s mother’s name.

My Original Sources.

In 2001, I contacted Les Crider[ii] regarding information regarding my Grandfather, Dick Brown, and his mother, Mary Brown. Les was Mary Brown’s minister for many years.

    • He replied that Mary’s dad was John William Mannin.
    • Marys’ mother was Eliza Tolover.

In his email, he gave a caveat that he “Cannot promise it is accurate, but a starting place.”

Photo of Enoch Mannin
Enoch Mannin

Mary’s grandmother was Minerva (Tolliver) Mannin. Mary, Phoebe Jane, and Robert lived with her and Enoch Mannin during the 1885 Minnesota Census.

In 2005, I received a letter from my great-aunt, Delores (Brown) Pribbenow. She didn’t provide Mary’s mother’s name but did confirm that Mary had one sister, Phoebe, and one half-brother, Robert Manning.

So, I’m not sure where I came up with Eliza Fannin’s name. I have a couple of suspicions. I suspect it came from someone else’s tree, and “Fannin” was a corruption of “Mannin,” which would be Mary’s mother’s married name. I also suspect that “Tolover” was confused with Mary’s grandmother’s maiden name, Tolliver.

So, I decided to start anew by researching Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown’s mother.

FamilySearch sources linked to Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown.

  • 1880 Census – Already have.
  • 1885 Census – Already have.
  • 1900 Census – Already have.
  • 1910 Census – Already have.
  • 1920 Census – Already have.
  • 1928 – Death Record for Mary’s husband, Arthur D. Brown – Already have.
  • 1930 Census – Already have.
  • 1940 Census – Already have.
  • 1971 – Mary’s son, Clyde L Brown, death records – Already have.
  • 1971 to 1998 – Three entries in the Minnesota Death Index confirm her maiden name of Manning.

Ancestry Sources

Ancestry has 131 Public Trees that refer to Mary Elizabeth Mannin, wife of Arthur Durwood Brown. These trees suggest five different mothers for Mary.

    • Sarah Jane Garvin (1843-1877)
    • Lisa J. Mannin (1861-___)
    • Eliza Jane Fannin (1861-1882)
    • Mary A. [Mannin] (1851-1877)
    • Nelly Nellie Burton (1863-1949)

I’ve long thought that Eliza Jane Fannin and Lisa J Mannin were the same person. However, I’ve not heard the other names before, so I’m interested in what sources folks have for these different names for Mary’s mother. I’ll also briefly look at the DNA relationships and see if that can provide any illumination into Mary’s parentage.

Mary Elizabeth Mannin, daughter of John William “Joe” Mannin (1846-1888) and Sarah Jane Garvin (1843-1877) – 12 Records.

    1. 1880 Census – Mary Mannin, the 2-year-old daughter of John and Lisa J Mannin, living in Pine Grove, Rowan County, Kentucky.
    2. 1900 Census – Mary Brown – No Mention of her parents.
    3. 1910 Census – Mary Brown – No Mention of her parents.
    4. 1920 Census – Mary Brown – No Mention of her parents.
    5. 1930 Census – Mary Brown – No Mention of her parents.
    6. 1940 Census – Mary Brown – No Mention of her parents.
    7. Minnesota Death Index – Mary E Brown (17 Apr 1876 – 8 May 1883) mother’s maiden name is Fanning.
    8. Social Security Death Index – Mary Brown (No Relationships shown).
    9. Find-a-Grave – Mary Elizabeth Manning Brown. No mention of her parents.
    10. Social Security Applications & Claims Index – Mary’s son, Clyde Leroy Brown’s record.
    11. Social Security Applications & Claims Index – Mary’s daughter, Nettie Mae Briggs’s record.
    12. Social Security Applications & Claims Index – Mary’s son, Charles William Brown’s record.

So, other than other peoples’ Ancestry trees, there appear to be no records indicating Sarah Jane Gavin was Mary’s mother from the first researcher’s sources. Instead, two sources, the 1880 Census and Mary’s death record, suggest Mary’s mother’s name was Lisa J Fanning.

The next researcher I looked at had ten sources. Nine of them are the same as the previous researcher. They had one additional source, which I previously had.

  • The 1885 Minnesota Census Reports that Enoch and Menorvi Mannan live in Stearns County, Minnesota, with three children. Robert, Mary, and Jane. There is no mention of her parents; however, it corroborates Delores’ family history letter indicating that Phoebe Jane was Mary’s sister and Roberts was a half-brother.[iii]
  • The next researcher has three sources. Two of them are the same as previous researchers.
  • The third source is a 1917 wedding announcement between Mary’s daughter, Victoria, and Denzil Collett.
  • The next researcher has eight sources. Seven of them are the same as previous researchers.
  • The eighth source is OneWorldTree which is no longer in use.[iv]

There are no additional sources on any remaining Ancestry Public trees for Mary Elizabeth Mannin(g) that identify her mother as Sarah Jane Gavin.


Other researchers did not have any sources that I didn’t have already in reviewing the references. Also, two of those sources appear to conflict with Sarah Jane Gavin being Mary’s mother. I’m not ready to say Sarah Jane isn’t Mary’s mother, but I know of two findings that suggest someone else is Mary’s mother—Lisa J Fanning.

Follow-up – Plans

I’ll look at Sarah Jane Gavin and see if there appear to be any sources that explain why other researchers believe she is the mother of Mary Brown.


[i] The likelihood that my great-grandmother’s entries on FamilySearch being correct is low. It suggests that Mary had a sister, Sophia and doesn’t include Mary’s known sister Phoebe.

[ii] Leslie M. Crider of Motley passed away on January 20th, 2018 at the St. Cloud Hospital at the age of 84.See his obituary at for more information.

[iii] In the fall of 1882, Enoch led a group of 9 families from Kentucky to Minnesota including his wife Minerva and himself. The surnames in the move were: Barnett, Bryant, Fugate, Horn, Jones, & Mannin. Please see Biography – Enoch Mannin (1823-1907).

[iv] The user-submitted family tree databases called OneWorldTree was discontinued by Ancestry in late 2013. The discontinued One World Tree has been replaced by’s much improved Family Trees, a much improved database that contains family trees submitted to Ancestry by users.


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