Friday, July 10, 2009

My Conclusions on the Manning Files

The Manning Files. Wow. Last Monday night after my visit to the South Caroliniana Library, my head was swimming with Samuels, Johns, Jameses, Wileys, Hughs, Lavisas, Lavoiceys, Ellens, Elizabeths, Marys, Marthas, Julias and many more! We Reeds surely know how to recycle names!

The bottom line on the Manning Files for me is that they are, at best, a guide, a jumping-off point, for further research. That’s it. They certainly are not gospel.

The Mannings wrote these volumes for their family and friends in Barnwell County. Many, many people contributed information that the Mannings did not verify.

They wrote in the preface to each book a disclaimer regarding errors. In Volume VII dated November 1968 that contains our Reed info, they wrote, "They were double checked, yet there will be errors. If you find errors don’t tell us, just write a bigger and better record yourself." In most volumes I checked I found simply, "If you find errors don’t tell us, just do a better job yourself." (Comma splices theirs.)

The verification is up to us, folks. So, please do not assume it’s true just because it was found in the Manning Files.

A few errors that jumped off the page were:

1. Samuel’s service in the Revolutionary War (couldn’t have been here then if his son Hugh was born in Ireland in 1783) (subject of future blog post)

2. Lavisa Reed Hair’s death date is listed incorrectly as 1827. This error is repeated in the Hair section of the files. And it has been copied erroneously many, many times. (subject of future blog post)

3. Incorrect statement that Samuel’s son John married Julia Odom first and Emelia Odom second (It was the other way around; Julia was mother to all his children except his first son Benjamin whose mother Emelia, who was Julia's oldest sister, died most likely in childbirth.)

4. My 2gGF James Henry Reed listed as James W; wife listed as incorrectly as Anna; children listed for this James W. are incorrect for my James H.

I could go on and on, but it’s just not worth it. I appreciate very much the massive effort the Mannings put into these volumes, but we just cannot count on the accuracy of the information they were given. Repeating erroneous information over and over does not make it true.

Suffice it to say, dear cousins, it’s our job to write that bigger and better record.


  1. Thank you for your observations on the Manning Files. Since I can't access that information from here in Arizona, I really appreciate your willingness to share. It has been my experience that a lot of "first person" information is not as accurate as you would expect. It is, as you say, often a case of misinformation being repeated.
    I was wondering, however, if the Manning Files had confused your James H. Reed with my James W. Reed. James W. is my 2g grandfather and his wife was Anna Tyler. Both would have been grandsons of Samuel and Mary Clark and their birth and death dates are almost identical. I have James H. Reed as 1825-1901 and James W. Reed as 1827-1901. It would have been easy for these men to have been mixed up by the person relating or recording information.


  2. Henry, you are absolutely correct!

    I did get copies of the Reed pages in the Manning Files. When I checked, your James W. is listed under my John and Julia Odom Reed's children as marrying "Annah H. _____, b. Aug. 31, 1829." I checked my Tyler resource (Al Brodie's book - more on that soon), and see that your James W.'s wife Ann Rebecca Tyler has a birthdate of Aug 31, 1828. The Mannings listed two children here (Al lists 13). They are Ann Jane 1847-1849 and Henrietta 1853-1879. These two children were listed by Al as James W. & Anna Tyler Reed's (along with 11 other children)!

    In the Manning Files under Hugh, where this listing should be, it shows "James W. Reed; m. Annie Tyler." No further listing that I've found.

    Now I can see where my James sometimes is given the middle initial W.

    Good thinking! Thank you!