Memories of Sharon Huffman

Sharon Huffman (c 2009)

[My first cousin, once removed, Sharon Marie (Larson) Huffman, recently passed away. Among her documents was one where she wrote of some of her memories regarding her grandparents, my great-grandparents Arthur Durwood and Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown. Many thanks to Tim and Julia for providing me a copy of Sharon’s memories and giving permission for me to present them here. I have done minimal editing of her writing.]

Grandpa Arthur and Grandma Mary Brown
My grandfather Arthur Brown was a young farmer in the hills of Sylvan Township, near Brainerd, Minnesota. He was born in 1868 and died in 1928. If I understand correctly, he was born in Lansing, Michigan. At the age of 21, he married Mary Elizabeth Manning. She was 14 years old. Together they had 12 children, two of which died in infancy.

Arthur Durrwood and
Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown

Grandpa died at the age of 60. Mom thinks that he had Cancer, but that they didn’t call it cancer in those days. She was only ten years old. We were never to know this grandfather.

Grandma Brown was born in Kentucky around 1876. Giving birth to 12 children back in those days left her with a lot of hard work. She was quite a woman. I have the most respect for her memory. I loved her so very much. This grandma became one of my very best friends.

My earliest memories of her are of her visiting us while we lived in Brainerd. But it was after we moved to Motley and I was a teenager that I truly came to appreciate her presence in my life.

Many times she would sit us down and tell us of her earlier years. She worked very hard to raise her family often. I don’t think it was easy. There were six boys, and four girls. She didn’t have modern conveniences and I’m sure there must have been tons of laundry, meals to cook, vegetables to raise, chickens to feed, and all kinds of other chores. Medical crisis were often handled by herself, as doctors were not as accessible as they are today. She told of her baby dying in her arms, scarlet fever among the children, and one son falling against the stove and injuring himself badly. Sons gone to war, coming home with Malaria, losing her wonderful husband at such a young age and her home to fire while she was with him as he was dying. She also told of bankers coming to try to foreclose on her land and people trying to take her children. She stood firm, shotgun in hand.

Grandma helped deliver babies back then and I think was present at the time of my birth in the house across the street from her own where my Aunt Nettie and Uncle Earl lived. This was in 1940.

Grandma had a little house of three rooms when I first remember going to her house. My Uncle Dick lived with her. He was still suffering the effects of Malaria and had a hard time getting around without a cane and sometimes two. She cared for him daily. She had a bedroom, kitchen, and living room. At one side of the living room was the bed and dresser for my uncle. They had no inside bathroom at that time and it was only a short time before I left Minnesota in 1973 that they had a toilet installed at one end of her bedroom. It was a crowded little house, and yet there was always room for company. It was also around that time that they changed the “pitcher” pump for a pressure pump. I don’t remember her ever having a hot water heater.

Grandma Brown & Uncle Dick Brown

Grandma and Uncle Dick raised a large vegetable garden every year. There wasn’t a weed in it. I’d see her out with the hand pushed cultivator cleaning the rows between the veggies. Most nights you could also hear the water being pumped through the garden hose to water the garden, after the pressure pump came into being. Then when harvest time would come she would can the vegetables, pickle most everything that could be pickled, and make jellies, relishes, chow chow, and also can fruits that they had picked and some they bought at the store. All of these things, plus potatoes, onions, squash, and melons, were stored in the little cellar under the kitchen. When he could, Uncle Dick would catch lots of fish, hunt deer, and raise chickens so they would have meat to add to their diet. My favorite Christmas gift from her would be a pint jar of wild plum butter.

Flowers were also a joy in her life. She would make little flowerbeds in the sand and coax many kinds of flowers into life. She took great pride in raising beautiful gladiolas, dahlias, pinks, pansies, and others. What a special day when you were presented with one of her prize flowers as a gift.

For many years, Grandma would bake her own bread. Her fingers were gnarled and sore from Arthritis, but she kneaded the bread dough anyway. I t was a great treat to have Grandma’s home made bread toasted with peanut butter on it. I t was only later in her life that I would encourage her to buy bread from the store so her hands wouldn’t hurt so badly.

Grandma always saw too it that we had something to eat if we went to her house. There were times when we came home from school at noon and there would be no lunch – No one home. We would go over to her house and she would fix us something and send us back to school. There were times when Mom would go to her for something to feed us kids. I regret the times when she would send something over in her canning jars, and we would not wash it but just put it out behind the house. Then she would have to come and get them and wash them up to save for next falls canning season.

Another thing my grandma did was make hand made quilts. She had a treadle sewing machine and did a lot of the stitching by hand. She made use of many old clothes. Instead of just throwing them away, she would put them in a quilt. I t was quite often that you would see a piece of your old dress in one of grandma’s quilts.

She would become upset when we would take them out in the yard and sun bathe. Not only because we were getting the quilts dirty, but that we were “half naked” in our bathing suits. How I wish I had one of them now. It would never be used outside on the grass. It is because of her being a Christian that I am today. She led us to Sunday school and taught us from the Bible. She not only talked being a Christian, but she lived what she talked. I have never met a person so trustworthy in my whole life. You could tell her something and it never went any further. She didn’t gossip at all. She would never take anything that didn’t belong to her either. When Mom lived in Mound, Minnesota, she would come to visit Grandma on the weekends. She would bring food to be used while there and occasionally there would be some left over. I t took a lot of talking for me to convince her that Mom wanted her to use up what was left over so it didn’t go to waste. She would say, “That belongs to your mother.”

The strength she had never ceased to amaze me. One time she had a headache and was laying on the couch. She took some liniment and was rubbing it on her forehead. Some ran down into her eye and started burning. Quietly she got up and went to the sink to wash it out. Never a peep out of her. We finally realized what had happened and helped her wash it out of her eye.

Not being able, as a young lady, to go to school she wasn’t well educated. She would send us to the store with her “shopping bag” and a “list” of things she needed. We would always chuckle as we tried to figure out what she needed. She wrote things as they sounded to her and that would sometimes be bred, mlk, egs, serel, and other staples. I n spite of not being educated she was a member of the Woman’s Relief Corp, the Assembly of God Church, and other organizations. She read her Bible as best she could, memorizing many verses and chapters.

Mary Brown

She truly loved each one of us kids. She became our source of comfort and security. She was always there for us. As I became older and would bring my own children to visit her, I acquired many memories. We would prepare a meal and then I would help her with the dishes. She would hold the dishpan in her lap and wash and I would dry and put away. The heat from the dishpan helped ease the pain in her legs and the hot water helped with her hands. After we would get everything put away, she and I would 
sit with a cup of tea and visit. How I loved those times of fellowship with her.

Grandma also loved my children very much. I t would tickle me when she would call my son Forrest so many different names trying to say it right. Sometimes he was Forrester, Foster, Foister, and then she might get it right. When he was just a baby, she thought he had fingers long enough to be a piano player some day. Tim, she called “the investigator.” She knew him quite well as he grew up loving to take things apart. Renee, her “pretty little girl” and Todd was the baby.

We never went to Grandma’s that she didn’t want us to spend the night. She said she would make a bed on the floor for
us. She didn’t want us to go home in the dark. That is one of the reasons that when my Uncle Dick said that we were coming too often, that it was too hard on grandma that it broke my heart. I don’t think she would have been happy knowing he had told me that. She loved having us come.

It was a sad day when we moved from Minnesota to Idaho and I had to say goodbye to my dear grandmother. I was visiting her and telling her how afraid I was to fly. I just knew that I would die in a plane crash. She reassured me, telling me I was going to be just fine She hugged me and told me she loved me, and that God did too and He would look out for me. I left her with a longing and sadness in my heart over leaving her behind. Years passed and we had moved to Alaska. She had moved from her little home to a nursing home. When I was able to come back to see her I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to see her again and feel her love. I t was not to be. My sister, Barbie, and I went to the nursing home and Barbie said to her, you remember Shari don’t you grandma? She said yes, and turned away from me, talking about Barbie picking a bouquet of flowers out of her Poinsettia plant. She was in another dimension. She didn’t know me anymore. It broke my heart.

I wasn’t able to come back for her funeral. She died on Mother’s Day in 1983. Gone to be with her heavenly father. The one she had served all of her life. Our loss was Heaven’s gain and I’m sure the angels welcomed her with open arms for she truly was one of them.

Mary Elizabeth and Arthur Durwood Brown

Children born to them were:


Clyde
Clarence
Richard
Arthur
Edward
Charles
Victoria
Cora
Delores
Nettie Mae

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.

Arthur Eugene Brown

My mother sent a copy of the funeral card of her uncle, Arthur Eugene Brown. Of course that got me to thinking about him. I don’t recall meeting him, although I may have when I was young.  I have a photo of Arthur and his second wife Gertrude with my mother and my sister Glennis from the same year he died. 
Arthur was the 10th child of Arthur Durrwood and Mary Elizabeth (Manning) Brown. He was born 2 April 1909 (although the 1920 census says he was 8) in Williston, North Dakota. His death records and most other records indicate he was born in 1909.
He moved to Sylvan Township, Cass County, Minnesota about 1917.  His father died in 1928, when he was 19 years-old.  He lived on a farm near Brainerd, Minnesota in 1935 and married Gladys Grace Hoggarth at Zion Evangelical, in Brainerd, on 24 Sep 1938.
In 1939, the first of six boys was born; Art, Gladys, and the boys appear to have lived in Baxter, MN, which is a small town adjacent to Brainerd. 
On 7 Mar 1944, Art enlisted in the Army. 
Tragedy struck in 1968 when Gladys died. 
In 1980, Art married Gertrude Lillian Wilson and moved to Clearwater, Wright County, Minnesota. His mother died in 1983. 
Art died 20 Dec 1996. He was buried with his first wife at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Brainerd, Minnesota.