franklin ‘frank’ alonzo manley

Born 1848 Clarkson, Monroe County, New York
Died August 2, 1891 Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan

Buried Brookside Cemetery Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Tecumseh, Michigan

graylittleAs I explored my family history and pieced together the details of each generation of grandparents, I found that the life of my 2X paternal great grandfather, Franklin Alonzo Manley, was a compelling story.  My research on Frank was important as he was the conduit that connected the New York Manley’s with the Michigan Manley’s of my lineage.  After Frank’s arrival in Michigan in the late 1860’s, to date, six generations of Manley’s have been born in Lenawee County.

Franklin Alonzo Manley was born in 1848 in Clarkson, Monroe County, New York, the first child of James Manley and Susan (Smith) Manley.  At the time of Frank’s birth, James was 26 years old and Susan was 18.   Approximately two years later, Susan gave birth to Frank’s brother, Edwin Smith Manley on May 30, 1850.

Headstone of Susan (Smith) Manley 1829-1850, my 3X great grandmother, taken on my trip to western New York in 2013.

Tragically, Susan, my 3X great grandmother, dies shortly thereafter.  Records vary as to the actual date of Susan’s death.  Her brief obituary from the Rochester Daily Democrat newspaper archives dated June 12, 1850 indicates she died on May 31, 1850, the day after Edwin’s birth.

“In Clarkson died 31 inst., SUSAN, wife of James Manly (sic) and elder daughter of Leman Smith, aged 21 years.”

Some documents indicate she died in childbirth, while others indicate a day after the birth of her second son.  Susan’s burial record for Morton Cemetery, Kendall, Orleans County, New York lists her burial date as June 3, 1850. Regardless of the exact date of Susan’s death, this tragic event left James a widower with two very young motherless children.

The 1850 Federal census recorded in Clarkson, Monroe County, New York on October 20, 1850, the autumn after Susan’s death, is curious in that she is enumerated along with her family although she had been deceased for several months.  Members of the household recorded include James Manley (occupation farmer), Susan Manley, Franklin Manley and ‘Infant’.

On the same page in the census the neighbor recorded adjacent to the household of James Manley is his aunt, Melinda (Manley) Fisk with her husband Nathan Fisk and family.  The family recorded directly after James’ family consists of his father, Howard Manley, Sr. and mother, Lois (Kelton) Manley (my 4X great grandparents), and two of James’ brothers still living at home.

In 1851, James remarries to 19-year old Mary H. Phillips and in February 1852 Mary gives birth to what will be their only child together, a son, James Frederick Manley. Mary’s sister, Syrena Phillips, is married to James’ brother, Howard Manley, Jr., therefore, James and Mary were probably acquainted via that connection prior to their marriage.

1855 New York State census, household of James Manley, including 6-year old Frank Manley and a 21-year old servant, David Brown.  Note other related Manley’s living on adjacent properties.

I am uncertain at what point after the death of his mother Susan in 1850 that Edwin Smith Manley, Frank’s brother and James’ second son with Susan, was taken in and raised by Susan’s parents, Leman and Rachel (Yale) Smith.  However, in the 1855 New York State census Edwin, who would be 5 years old at the time, is not listed in the household of James and Mary.  Based on my research, Edwin is only recorded once (a few months after his birth in the October 1850 census) as living with his birth family which might indicate he was raised from a baby by Susan’s parents.

In the 1860 Federal census for Batavia, Genesee County, New York, about 160 miles east of Hamlin, New York, Edwin is enumerated as living in the household of his maternal grandparents using the surname of ‘Manley’ and listed as their 10-year old ‘grandson’.   In 1870 he is still living with his maternal grandparents, and by the 1880 census, Edwin Smith Manley is no longer listed with the surname ‘Manley’. He will officially be adopted by his maternal grandparents and takes the surname ‘Smith’.  He is never again recorded as a ‘Manley’.

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James Manley’s family is recorded in the 1860 Federal census residing in Hamlin, Monroe County, New York. In June 1863, two years after the start of the Civil War, Frank’s father, James, along with two of his brothers also living in Hamlin, Monroe County, New York register for the Civil War draft.  This draft was the result of the Enrollment Act, also known as the Civil War Military Draft Act, instituted on March 3, 1863 to procure fresh manpower for the Union Army.  Further research, however, reveals that James never actually served in the Civil War.

Headstone of James Manly (Manley), my 3X great grandfather, taken on  my trip to western New York in 2013.

One year later, on June 30, 1864, James dies from ‘consumption’ (tuberculosis) in Hamlin, Monroe County, New York at the age of 42.  He is buried in Morton Cemetery, Kendall, Orleans County, New York between his first wife, Susan and second wife, Mary.   At the time of his father’s death, Frank is 16 years old.

Before the advent of modern-day antibiotics, tuberculosis was an extremely painful, highly contagious, and often long-suffering bacterial disease that affects the lungs. Although there are no records to indicate when Frank’s father first contracted tuberculosis prior to his death in June 1864, it would have been an uncertain and stressful time for Frank, the oldest son.  It should be noted that James’ father (Frank’s paternal grandfather) Howard Manley, Sr. also died from tuberculosis 12 years prior in 1852.

To place the death of Frank’s father in 1864 into the bigger context of American history, the country was in the fourth year of the Civil War.   The war will end a year later in April 1865 when Confederate General Robert E. Lee will surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.

Mary H. (Phillips, Manley) Boyd 1832-1888, second wife of James Manley and stepmother to Frank from the time Frank was 3 years old. Special thanks to William Boyd, descended from Mary’s second husband Henry H. Boyd, who shared this photo.

In Manley family history in April 1865, less than a year after James’ death, Frank’s stepmother, Mary (Phillips) Manley petitioned the court of Monroe County, New York to surrender guardianship of both her stepson, Frank, and her biological son, James Frederick Manley.  Through the >documents< discovered on we are afforded a glimpse into the hardship the family experienced at this point in time. Researching further on the appointed guardian noted in the legal documents, Egbert H. Campbell, I identified that Mr. Campbell was actually the ‘Overseer of the Poor’ in Monroe County, New York.  It is worth a click through on the link above to read them directly, pages 623 and 624 of the document.

What is curious is that a few months later in June 1865, mother Mary and sons Frank and James are recorded in the 1865 New York State census for Monroe County residing together on their farm in Hamlin, New York.  I find no documentation to clarify what transpired after the petition for guardianship of Frank and James Frederick  in April 1865 to the State census information enumerated in June 1865.

1865 New York State census, Monroe County, New York. Of interest to note is the value of the Manley property compared to their neighbors.

However, I did unearth another document dated 1867, two years after the guardianship event, that indicates James Manley died intestate (without a will), and lists his wife, Mary, as administrator of his estate and three sons as minor children.  At this point, Frank, 19 years old in 1867, is living in Hamlin, New York while his brother Edwin Smith Manley and his half brother James Frederick Manley are living in Batavia, Genesee County, New York.

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click to enlarge

In 1870, when Frank is about 22 years old, his guardianship is ‘dismissed’ and between the years of  1867 and 1870 Frank moves from Hamlin, New York west to Lenawee County, Michigan. As Frank is the only direct line Manley ancestor that migrates to Lenawee County, Michigan, I was interested to find out why he chose this particular location where, up to present day, the Manley’s of my line reside.

After months of digging around the life stories of other related Manley’s in Monroe and Orleans County, New York I (finally) discovered that Frank’s first cousin, 1X removed, Nathan Manley also born in Clarkson, Monroe County, New York moved to Lenawee County, Michigan in about 1853 after his marriage to wife, Ellen Weber.
manleybluetreeIt might be surmised, although I have found no ‘hard’ documentation that ties Nathan to Frank other than sharing Manley blood lines and having been born and resided with all the other related Manley’s in Monroe County, New York, that perhaps Frank came to Lenawee County as Nathan was already there.   At the very least with the physical proximity of all the Manley’s in the same area of western New York, they would have certainly known one another and been aware of their family connection which makes this theory a viable one.

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In the 1870 Federal census for Lenawee County, Michigan, Nathan Manley is recorded in Deerfield, Lenawee County, Michigan, occupation carpenter.  Frank Manley is listed a few miles away in Raisin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan, occupation farmer.  It is interesting to note that although Frank is listed as a farmer, it appears that he does not own any land.  In lieu of real estate, his recorded personal value at the time of the 1870 census is calculated at $500. Converting the dollar amount from 1870’s currency to today’s equivalent indicates that Frank owned approximately $9,000 worth of personal property.

The most interesting fact gleaned from the 1870’s Federal census is that we see Frank, now 23 years old, is married.  The household of Frank includes his 23-year old wife, Harriet (Jordan) Manley, and a 17-year old laborer, Augustus Collins. Based on the fact that Harriet Jordan was born in Tecumseh, Michigan it is reasonable to assume Frank met and married her after his arrival in Lenawee County.  To date, I have been unable to locate a marriage record for Frank and Harriet.

Frank and Harriet’s firstborn child, a son, Charles H. Manley is born in Michigan in 1871.   Their second son, my great grandfather, James Judson Manley was born on May 9, 1872 in Tecumseh, Michigan and third son, Howard William Manley, was born on November 14, 1876, also in Tecumseh.

Although I have documentation that Frank and Harriet had five sons, Harriet’s death certificate from 1906 details that she actually had a total of six children. This ‘missing’ child may have been born and died between the 10-year gap of the Federal censuses, therefore, was never recorded in official documentation.

Sometime between third son Howard’s birth in 1876 and 1880, Frank and Harriet return Frank’s native State of New York.  On April 26, 1880 another son, Frederick M. Manley is born in Victor, Ontario, New York.   In the 1880’s Federal census, Frank is listed as a farm laborer in Victor.  Also included are his wife, Harriet, and four sons.

1884 Michigan State census recorded for Franklin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan on June 9, 1884.

Subsequent to the 1880 Federal census recorded on June 5, 1880, Frank moved his family back to Lenawee County, Michigan where his son, Leon Frank Manley was born in Tecumseh on December 14, 1881.  In the 1884 Michigan State census, Frank’s family has moved again and is then enumerated living in Franklin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan, approximately 13 miles west of Tecumseh.

As of this writing, between the years of 1880 and 1890 I have no documentation as to the life story of Frank’s family.  The next document I was able to locate was by complete accident during a visit to the Tecumseh, Michigan library historical archives. While searching for information on my great grandfather, James Judson Manley, I stumbled across a legal record for a landlord dispute that involved Frank.

part 1 of legal proceedings

On February 22, 1890 Frank Manley was sued by his landlord for non-payment of rent for a home located on Logan Street in Tecumseh, Michigan as well as failure to remove himself and his family after he was served with eviction papers.   Frank eventually plead guilty and was ordered to vacate the premises and pay $7 in fees.

part 2 of legal proceedings

Less than six months later, on August 2, 1891, Frank, now 42 years old, will be killed in a train accident.  At the time of his death, the family was renting a home on Railroad Street in Tecumseh, near where the accident occurred.

Based on newspaper accounts and other documentation I collected regarding Frank’s death, he was managing a livery and boarding stable in downtown Tecumseh, Michigan at the time of his death.  In the early morning hours of Sunday, August 2, 1891 Frank, with his horse and buggy, drove Pat Hendershot home.  On his return to downtown Tecumseh, newspaper accounts record that it ‘seems likely that he had fallen asleep or in the darkness did not realize the close proximity of the track.’  His buggy was struck by the train, Frank was thrown onto the track and run over by the caboose. At the time of Frank’s death, my great grandfather, James Judson Manley had just turned 19 years old.

Source Adrian Telegram
Source Adrian Telegram

Frank is buried in Brookside Cemetery, Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan, the first burial in the Manley plot that would eventually include his wife, Harriet, four of his sons and daughter-in-law, my great grandmother, Ida (Travis, Chase) Manley wife of my great grandfather.  As of 2015 Frank’s grave does not have a headstone.

Franklin Alonzo Manley (1848-1891) was my 2X paternal great grandfather.


As a footnote, I wanted to include the following information regarding Frank’s stepmother, Mary (Phillips, Manley) Boyd.  As Mary raised Frank from the age of about 3 years old, I am reluctant to call her ‘stepmother’ and only do so to distinguish her from Frank’s biological mother, Susan (Smith) Manley.

In 2013, I was fortunate enough to connect and collaborate research efforts with Mary’s descendant, William Boyd who also provided me with the photo of Mary above.  By all accounts, Mary was a kind, loving, and selfless woman who raised not only her stepson, Frank Manley, my 2X great grandfather, but also stepchildren from her second marriage to Henry Boyd.

After James Manley’s death, Mary (Phillips) Manley remarried to Henry Boyd in 1868.  What is interesting to note is that while married to James Manley,  Mary’s sister, Syrena Phillips was married to James’ brother, Howard Manley, Jr.

Mary’s second husband, Henry Boyd’s,  first wife was Jane Phillips.  Jane was another sister of Mary’s.  When Mary married Henry, she married her sister Jane’s widowed husband.  The second set of stepchildren she raised were actually her niece and nephews.  graylittle