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Edwin Manning


Posted By: Fran Hunt, Volunteer
Date: 10/6/2001 at 10:15:08

From the Portrait and Biographical Album of Jefferson and Van Buren Counties – 1890
Edwin Manning, the honored pioneer, has for half a century made his home on the site of Keosauqua, Van Buren County, of which city he was the founder. This volume would be incomplete without his sketch for he has not only been long a resident of the county, but has been identified with its growth and progress and few have aided more in the advancement of its interests.
Mr. Manning was born in Coventry Connecticut February 8, 1810, and is a son of Calvin and Desire Gurley Manning who belonged to old New England families. They were parents of two sons and two daughters. Fannie the eldest, married James Preston and died in her native county; Edwin is the second in order of birth; William died on the old homestead at the age of thirty years, and Anna R., wife of Dr. S.W. Barrows is living in Hartford Connecticut. The parents, who were consistent and faithful members of the Congregational Church, died in Coventry, Connecticut, respected by all who knew them. Mr. Manning was a Whig in political sentiment and was honored by an election to the office of Commissioner of Des Moines River Improvement and also served in said office until its affairs were finally adjusted.
The subject of this sketch was reared in a manner similar to the majority of boys of his day and received his education in the primitive schools of his native state. When a lad of sixteen years he entered the store of his uncle Royal Manning, as salesman, which position he held for six months, when he went to Bethany Pennsylvania, where he accepted a similar position with another uncle James, Manning, receiving $10 per month as a compensation for his services. After five years, in which time he had mastered the business, he was taken in as a partner with a third interest. Aside from the knowledge gained concerning mercantile life, Mr. Manning acquired other information, which proved of much value to him in after life. His uncle during his stay in Bethany, was elected Associate Justice and Recorder of the county, and Edwin became acquainted with the routine of those offices which knowledge proved of great benefit to him in after life in making plats, etc. In 1831, he left Bethany and embarked in business at Canton Corners, Bradford County Pennsylvania, forming a partnership with J.C. Rose under the firm name of Manning and Rose, which connection was continued until the autumn of 1836, when he disposed of his interest and started for the West. He boarded a boat for St. Louis, then the metropolis of the West, and on reaching his destination Col. Benton advised him and his associates to locate in that city, but thinking his purse too light to invest much in real estate there, he pushed on to Lexington Missouri, where he made inquires in regard to lands. On receiving information that he could obtain property in Saline and Jackson Counties, accompanied by his uncle and a Mr. Tyler he made his way to the places indicated and became owner of some real estate, of which Mr. Tyler was left in charge. Being opposed to slavery, he and his uncle proceeded northward up the Mississippi and Des Moines Rivers to St. Francisville, Lee County. That was in December of 1836. After making some investments they continued on to Ft Madison, where they visited the wigwam of the noted chief Black Hawk, who treated them in a friendly manner but appeared rather reticent in regard to giving information seeming to realize that his power was fast being taken from him.
In January of 1837, Mr. Manning with James Hall, John Fuirman and John Carnes, purchased a claim to the land and platted the town of Keosauqua. Our subject then returned on a visit to Pennsylvania, but the following year again came to Iowa and attended the first land sale at Burlington, purchasing several small tracts of land for himself together with quite a large amount for others. In 1839, he purchased in New York the first stock of goods ever brought to Keosauqua, shipping the same by way of the sea to the mouth of the Mississippi and up that river to Churchville, the mouth of the Des Moines River, being seven weeks on their way. He also built the first flatboat, in 1844 that floated down the Des Moines River, and ran the first loaded steamer from St Louis to Des Moines in 1851. He was appointed Commissioner of the Des Moines River Improvement, by Gov. Grimes; serving in that capacity in 1859. In fact there are few industries or enterprises or works of improvement and progress of the early days with which he was not connected.
Mr. Manning has been twice married. In Lee County Iowa March 8 1842, he was joined in wedlock with Miss Sarah J. Sample, who was born in Pennsylvania, July 21, 1816 and died June 1, 1857, leaving three children—Calvin a prominent attorney of Ottumwa Iowa; William who is engaged in farming and Anna G. The second marriage of Edwin Manning was solemnized November 3, 1859, the lady of his choice being Nannie Bryant, who was born in Indiana, February 3, 1832, and is an adopted daughter of Hon. Joseph A. Wright. Unto them have been born five children: Albert, Edward Bates, Stanley, Craig and Katie W. Mrs. Manning and Katie are members of the Congregational Church, and are among its most active and faithful workers. Out of the kindness of her heart Mrs. Manning performs many acts of charity and deeds of love which have won for her the lasting gratitude and affection of those who were recipients of her bounty and the respect of all who were witnesses of her kindness. However her work is all performed in a quiet and unostentatious manner, that it may not be praised by men.
In early life, Mr. Manning was a Whig and cast his first vote for Gen. Harrison. Since the organization of the Republican Party he has been one of its stalwart supporters, yet notwithstanding his prominence in the county and State he has steadily refused to accept public office, devoting his attention exclusively to his business interests and the discharge of his duties as a private citizen. Words of praise and high regard are spoken on every hand of Mr. Manning who, it would seem is without an enemy. Stories are told of his generosity, of numberless good deeds quietly performed, of words of encouragement offered to the despondent and of substantial aid given to those in need. In his earlier years his own life was a struggle to gain a firm financial standing and he therefore readily feels sympathy for others. His capital when he started out in life for himself consisted of a good constitution, temperate and frugal habits, pluck and perseverance and unquestioned integrity, but he has in the years which have come and gone acquired an ample competence and worked his way upward to a prominent position and is respected by all men.
As an illustration of the changes, that has taken place during the half century, which Mr. Manning has spent in Van Buren County, he cites the fact that he has lived in the territories of Michigan and Wisconsin, and the Territory and State of Iowa all under one roof. On his arrival there were only about one-fourth as many inhabitants in the whole Territory as we now find in the county. Few improvements had been made, the land was in its primitive condition and the future of the State was unknown. Even the most far-sighted could not have dreamed of its brightness and we would certainly claim it an honor to have been an eye witness of the wonderful transformation, but to be an active participant in the various changes which have taken place is a favor not shown to every one, yet among the latter class is enrolled Edwin Manning, the pioneer of Van Buren County, and the builder of the first brick courthouse in the State of Iowa in 1842, which is now as good as new.
I am not related, and am only copying this for the information of those who might find this person in their family.


Van Buren Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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