Manuel Jones, son of Derry

I had time for more transcription work tonight, and I went back to the transcription of letters by Eviza L Howell Coshow, a great-granddaughter of Daniel Boone. These are also in the Draper Manuscripts, and she was a prolific correspondent, with over 20 letters (volume 21, letters 21 through 69.) I have been working my way through them and am fascinated by the little drops of gossip and family lore she discloses, along with her version of events concerning her grandparents, Flanders and Jemima Boone Callaway. Eviza is writing in the early 1880s and I truly enjoy her letters. They are not very chatty, but she lets us in on a few details of what appears to be a life that is not quite the norm for rural Missouri. I’ll save more of her life for another post. On to Manuel Jones…

In Letter 55, dated October 28, 1885, Eviza mentions her great-grandfather Daniel Boone and his hunting companion, Derry (many historians refer to him as Derry Coburn,) a family servant, a.k.a. slave.

According to Eviza, Derry had a son, Manuel who is still living nearby and he is about her age (about 67) with a large family. She says, Derry was a good trusty servant in our family; he has only one Son living his Name is Manuel–the t??? of his Father–honest to a letter; has a large familey; he is about my age. I will see him and let you…know what he knows of his Fathers familey soon. 

In a second letter, Letter 58, Jan 24, 1886, she mentions more about Manuel, referring to him as Manuel Jones, married to a girl, Becca, a former slave of her cousin Boone Callaway. She also names Manuel’s brothers (Plesant, Preston, Isak) and a sister (Hariet.) This information is astounding to me, as we have very little knowledge of the enslaved persons owned by members of the Boone family. A small study was written several years ago about the enslaved people owned by Nathan Boone, Daniel’s son, but very little traceable information exists, let alone a bit of genealogical information.

I quickly went into Ancestry to try and locate Manuel Jones of Mechanicsville, as Eviza identifies him. I find him in 1870, in St. Charles County with his wife “Becke” and their children, Eliza, 10; Georgeanna, 9; Major, 6; Mary, 5. These names match the information Eviza gives. I am so excited I can hardly contain myself. I am quickly disappointed as these appear to be the only record of him.

I do find another “Manuel Joens” in 1880 Census for Callaway, St. Charles County, which was not too far from Mechanicsville. However the children living with Manuel and “Rabicke” have vastly different names. The ages are about the same as the 1870 children would be, so it is possible they are the same. Listed are “Roblene, M, 16; Ellen, F, 20; Laura, F, 19; J an, F, 18; and ??Liner, F, 14.”  So I have no definite conclusion they are the same family. I am unable to find any more men by the same name.

Delving a little deeper into the internet, I find several articles about Derry Coburn and several mention his son, Pleasant, owned by Nathan Boone and later brought to Greene County, MO. None of the articles mention Manuel Jones, though. The study about Nathan Boone states Derry and his wife, Sophira had only one son, Pleasant. Interestingly enough, it coincides with the name of Manuel’s brother. I have not been able to track Pleasant.

In conclusion, this tantalizing bit of information, has some intriguing implications. Manuel Jones must have been a fairly regular part of the Boone family life, to be remembered and visited nearly 30 years after the end of slavery. This gives a little more insight into the relationship the Boone families had with their enslaved people. I hope to discover more information as I continue through Eviza’s letters.

If you would like to read more on slavery in Missouri during the pre-Civil War era, I highly recommend the book, On Slavery’s Border by Diane Mutti Burke. It is one of the more comprehensive books on the culture of slavery in Missouri. Dr. Burke focuses on both slave owners and enslaved people, drawing heavily on memoirs, letters, and other contemporary evidence.


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