Friday, April 26, 2013

A "Lively" Side of the Family--Skeletons and All

I've decided to bore you some more with the genealogy stuff so just move along if you don't want to go down that road with me today.

Continuing with my sister-in-law's ancestors......
Her 3 x great grandmother, the one who family tradition says was of native descent and who may also be a descendant of the "Lost Colony" settlers was Nancy Payne(Paine/Pain).

So Nancy Payne Twiford and Wallis Twiford had 8 children.  Among them was a son, Manliff Dickerson Twiford, born in 1844.  This is my S-IL's direct ancestor.
Manliff is found living with his widowed mother and a younger brother in the 1870 census, in an area of East Lake Township in Dare County known locally as "Beechland".  It is a marshy area adjacent to the Alligator River which is part of a wildlife refuge today.
Interestingly, Manliff gives his occupation in that census as "Swamping".
Yes, my S-IL's 2 x great grandfather could have been on SWAMP PEOPLE.....

Basically they lived off the land, or the marsh as it were.  And yes, alligators are native to this region of North Carolina, thus the nearby river being named the "Alligator" river. ;-)
It sticks out to our generation, looking at swamping as an occupation, whereas, "back in the day", I'm sure no one thought it a bit odd or out of the ordinary.

Not only could you live off of the animals, berries and plants found in the swamp, you could earn some good money harvesting hides and furs, plants for medicines, vines for industrial use and the product as described in this video clip from the History Channel show, Swamp People.

Just imagine my S-IL's GGrandfather explaining this in a traditional Southern drawl instead of a Cajun one....

Moving on.....
Manliff married in 1872 to Zenova Adeline Basnight.  He was 28, she a child of 18.
Here they are in later years.

                                     - credit Ginger Griffith

They had 9 children(7 lived to adulthood) and were married for 40 years until Zenova's death in 1912.
After some digging I would venture to say that Manliff was a "character".

After his wife died and at the ripe old age of at least 68 years(I have reason to believe he was 78 or 79), Manliff went wife hunting.  Since there was no eHarmony dotcom or Match dotcom in the early 1900's, he took out an ad in the paper.

From the Elizabeth City NC newspaper of the time, The Independent.....

M. D. Twiford, postmaster, merchant and farmer of East Lake, Dare county was in Elizabeth City this week buying supplies for his store and looking for a wife.  He says business is brisk in East Lake, with labor getting $3.50 to $4.00 a day and nobody sick.  He says business is so good in fact that he has got to have a partner and he will make a life contract with the right sort of woman.  He says he has a twelve room house and a wife coule have as many rooms for herself as she would want. "I'm old enough to sleep by myself anyway.", says Mr. Twiford.  He has placed an advertisement for the wife in this newspaper and being a kind, sprightly and substantial old gentleman he probably will get results from his advertisement.
-credit to Doris Ann White

Well it looks like Manliff didn't stay in the swamping business for long.  He went on to become a postmaster and merchant with a store.  H seems to have done alright for himself.
I couldn't find any indication in marriage records of whether he actually did tie the knot again.

But then, while I was researching one of Manliff's sons, I found another newspaper article, dated June 8, 1923.
Manliff's son, Dennis Simmon Twiford was killed in action in France during the closing days of World War I.  The article is about Dennis' younger brother, Fowler Miller Twiford and his scandalous doings.  Take a look and make note of the mention of Manliff, the father.  Seems the apples don't fall too far from the tree in this family.  ;-)
The Independent (Elizabeth City, NC) - Friday, June 8, 1923; pg. 1 GIRL'S BETRAYER MUST SERVE IN THE ARMY - Considerable dissatisfaction is being voiced in Dare County. The verdict of the jury last Friday freed Fowler Twiford, young man about 27 years old of East Lake in Dare County, for seduction under promise of marriage to Miss Mary Creef, 24 years old. Young Twiford had been engaged to Miss Creef about three years off and on, according to testimony in evidence. When his fiancee advised him of her condition several weeks ago, he ran away and joined the U.S. Artillery at Fortress Monroe, Va. Authorities brought him back for trial and altho his lawyers, E.F. Aydlett, J.C.B. Eringhouse, and Chas. Grady got him off, he must fulfill his enlistment in the Army. The defendant didn't take the stand in the case, and used his own brothers chiefly as evidence. He is the son of M.D. Twiford, age 80 years old of East Lake, who figured recently in a breach of promise case in this city wherein Mrs. Sarah Salter sought damages. Young Twiford served in the world war with his brother Dennis Twiford, and the two took out insurance policies for $10,000, each making the other the beneficiary. Dennis was killed and Fowler got the money. Solicitor W.L. Small was assisted in the presentation by members of the firm of Meekins & McMullis of this city. Miss Creef had little resources with which to fight her case. She will become a mother in a short time.
--credit to Kay Midgett Shepperd & Marla Beasley

Seems old Manliff decided against a new(to him)bride after all.  I just wish I could find the proceedings of the court case against Manliff without having to go to Dare county. 
I have to say that too bad DNA testing wasn't around in the 1920's.  At least Fowler's jilted fiancĂ©, Mary Creef, could have proved paternity and gotten some of that insurance policy money to raise his son.

I now need to know who this Mrs. Sarah Salter was.  It's fairly obvious she was a widowed or divorced woman, so her maiden name is unknown, which hinders finding her. Another brick wall to aim at knocking down.  8-))



  1. This would be interesting reading even if they weren't your relatives.

  2. Fascinating stuff! I'm a genealogist too and it takes up sooooooooo much of my time. I've had to take a break from as I couldn't keep on top of it all - when I retire I'll get back to it again.

  3. I am a Twiford and I find all of this very interesting. Thanks for posting.

    1. Welcome Chatterbox. Have you done any genealogical research on your Twifords?


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