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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.


A letter by Wade Hays from California

So, I wasn’t planning a new post, but I just spent 15 minutes typing a new letter from the Draper Manuscripts, then about an hour looking up details of the man’s family. This is why research can be so cumbersome. You start off on one task, then get sidetracked. It happens to all of us, even those who keep telling themselves, “the people are dead, what does it matter!” Alas, another hour I will never get back. However, the search turned up a little interesting information.

A little backtrack–most of the information about Daniel Boone is contained in an collection known as the Lyman Draper Manuscripts. These are a massive group of documents, letters, and interviews collected during the 19th century. Anyways, in the winter of 2016, I discovered our local library owns a set of the microfilm, and I dove into its depths in search of the original interview and letters from Daniel Boone’s son, Nathan Boone. What I discovered is a trove of family letters, memories, and other such history that I have been slowly reading and transcribing for use at the historic site where I work. I set out to discover if there is mention of family gossip concerning Nathan Boone’s family, as little is known outside his military career. I was beyond excited to find so many letters from family members and some even discuss Nathan and his family, as well as other details concerning life in Missouri before 1900.

Back to the letter I transcribed. The letter is from a Wade Hays (1828-ca 1912), grandson of Daniel Boone’s daughter Susannah Boone Hays. It’s typewritten and dated 1889. He gives a little biographical info, stating he and a few others moved to California in 1849 and met up with another Boone, Alphonso, a cousin to Wade’s father, William. This puts the Boone family right in the middle of one of our most exciting events, the California Gold Rush. Delving into a paper trail on Ancestry, I learn that Wade is not out for gold, but rather he buys land, lots of land, and raises cattle, then farms. He is successful enough to be worth $12,000 in real estate and $3,000 in personal assets in 1870, a time when many people were experiencing huge losses following the Civil War.

He and his wife, Mary Susan, have 4 children, but none of them have any children, so the line dies out. I have not found graves for any other than a son, Van E. Hays, who died at age 9 in 1874. The family lived in Los Angeles, so it’s likely with little family to claim the bodies, they may have been cremated or buried in unmarked graves. Fannie was the youngest child and the last to die in 1965, 20 years after her sister, Ida died, and about 30 years following her parents. So goes another lost history.