Friday, February 8, 2013

The Family History Challenge - Joseph Manis

Here is my daily contribution to The Family History Challenge.  I am writing about my Great great great Grandfather Joseph Manis.  My first introduction to Joseph Manis occurred when I was taking photographs in the cemetery for Find A Grave. 

 I knew that Joseph had lived in Indiana and I had a little information about his birth and death dates. My son and I had decided to take pictures of a nearby graveyard and put them on Find A Grave for other people.  When we were photographing we came across the grave of Joseph Manis.  Here I had been looking for him and he came to me, but I guess he was there all along.  I didn't think any of my family had ever lived in this area, I thought I was the first.  Well I guess not.  He had lived here years before me.  My story about Joseph occurs near the end of his life.

Joseph was a farmer in Madison County in Stony Creek Township.  He worked hard over the years.  He was one of the early settlers to the area and had spent time clearing the land of trees and building a farm.  He had lived in Tennessee, and in Henry County, Indiana.   Joseph was married to his third wife, his two previous wives having died.  He was the father of several children, ages spread out by years.  

His third wife Temperance was quite a few years younger than him.  Joseph and Temperance had three children together, Mary, Herman, and Ada.  Temperance and Joseph did not have the best relationship.  She had married him because he was a very respected citizen and had a decent amount of money.  She thought he would probably not be around long since he was getting old.  If she could stick it out with him for a few years she would inherit everything and he life would be better. 

Well good old Joseph was in pretty good health and he intended to be around a long time.  Temperance and their daughter, Ada, didn't like having to wait around to have control of the money so they started mistreating Joseph.  As the days went by, they got more and more abusive.  Joseph became paralyzed and was no longer able to defend himself.  

When Temperance and Ada could wait no longer, the two of them beat Joseph with a club.  The old man's bones were brittle and it broke three of his ribs.

Joseph's neighbors somehow found out what was going on.  The neighbor's loved the old man and they wanted to protect him.  Abuse charges were brought against Temperance and Ada.
They were both fined $25.00 and costs.  The neighbors testified in Judge Lee's court.  They said that Temperance had expressed her wishes that he would die for quite some time, so she could have the farm.  

Joseph went back home to live with Temperance and Ada, but with a stern warning.  The warning didn't come from the courts, it came from the neighbors.  The neighbors served warning on the two.  If Joseph wasn't treated kindly and well cared for, the women would answer to them, not the courts.  The neighbors kept a close watch on everything from that point on, and he was treated well.

Joseph died two months later, due to pneumonia.  Was the pneumonia caused by his injuries?  He was 80 years, 5 months, and 5 days old.

Joseph was buried at Brookside Cemetery near Lapel, Indiana.  Temperance is buried in the plot beside him.  She died a year later!  I wonder if she had time to spend his money?  Maybe her daughter, Ada, was ready to get rid of her after he father died.  Maybe she wanted the farm then. Who knows? 

His daughter, Ada, and his son, Herman, are buried in graves beside him.   They lived into their eighties.  

I found this story in that had been printed in Anderson paper in 1906.

Article that appeared in an Anderson, Madison County, Indiana newspaper on April 6, 1906.
"Joseph Manis, the aged Stoneycreek Farmer who was so brutally treatd by his wife, Patience Manis, and his daughter Ada Fox, died at 5:40 last night at his home, six miles southwest of the city. At the time of his death, Mr. Manis was 80 years, 5 months and 5 days of age.
The Manis family affairs were aired in Justice Lee's court about two months ago and the fact was brought out that his wife and daughter had beaten him with a club and had broken three ribs while he was helpless from paralysis. Both were arrainged in Justice Lee's court and on a plea of gulity, were fined $25 and costs in each case. The neighbors said that Mrs. Manis had often expressed the wish that her husband would die so that she would have undisputed possession of the little 30 acre farm.
At the time of the matter the aged man was taken to St. John's Hospital and was much improved when returned to his home. Since that time the neighbors have taken a hand in the matter and have seen that the unfortunate old man was not abused.
For the past few weeks he has been under the care of Dr. John Cook, of Pendleton and has recieved the best of medical attention. Manis' system, however, broken by the previous abuse could no longer sustain him.
Joseph Manis was for years one of the most highly respected citizens of Stoneycreek Township, and was one of the early settlers and helped to clear off the dense forests at an early day. He spent most of his life on the little farm where he died yesterday. When at his prime, he was well known as a man who stood for everything that was right, and was fearless in his expression of right. Besides the widow, he leaves two children. Heman Manis and Mrs. Ada Fox.
Death was due to pneumonia. It is said that neighbors served notice on his family, who had abused the old man, that they would be held responsible to them and not the courts should there be a repetition of the cruelty inflicted and that since, Manis had been well treated."


  1. Oh my - what a story, Betty! That's quite amazing to read about, and so sad to think of Joseph being beaten by his wife and daughter. Hard life. Thanks for sharing your family stories.

    1. I so appreciate your comments! Yes this story made me sad when I first read it too. The daughter was mistreating her own father. My son wanted to spit on the graves of the wife and daughter, because he was so upset with them. Of course, I told him that was not okay. I told him we weren't there, we didn't really know everything.