Over the course of the growth and history of New Philadelphia many homes are built, torn down, replaced, or remodeled for their modern occupants. Some homes are never replaced and the lots on which they sat become parking lots or vacant land. Despite that, they still have stories to tell us that deserve telling. This is one such story worthy of being told.
A note about addresses: House numbers and street names often change over time.
Whether James L. Manley (1826-1901) was born a slave in Hertford County, North Carolina in 1826 is unclear from the existing records. There was one white slaveholding Manley family, headed by a man named Henry Manly, recorded in the 1820 census for the county. However, by the time of the 1840 census there were a handful of free black families with the surname Manley recorded in Hertford County. It is possible that James L. Manley was born into of one of these free-black families. Regardless it is impossible to know what motivated James, and his sister Jane (1828-aft. 1902), to migrate to Harrison County, Ohio in the 1840s.
James acquired land in and around Cadiz, Ohio in the late 1840s and, in the summer of 1848 he married Anne Jordan (1822-aft. 1870) and, a few years later, James’ sister married as well. James must have been successful in his farming and teamster work endeavors because in 1859 he was able to purchase two prime lots on the market square in Cadiz. James and Anne welcomed three children by the time of the 1860 census, two sons and daughter, as well as employing a relative of his new brother-in-law to help with the farm work. That James had met with some success in Ohio is evidenced by the fact that his Harrison County property was valued at $1,000 by the 1860 census enumerators.
James, at 35 years old, was not a young man when the American Civil War began in 1861. Like many other men in the community, he registered for the wartime draft and watched as men from his community went off to war. What precisely motivated his desire to enlist is unknown, but 38 year-old James L. Manley travelled to Uhrichsville, Ohio where he enlisted for one year in Company H of the 4th United States Colored Infantry Regiment in September 1864. It is from James’ enlistment record that we learn of his birth in Hertford County, North Carolina in 1826 and that he was 5 feet, 9 inches tall.
The 4th United States Colored Infantry Regiment, initially organized in Baltimore, Maryland in the summer of 1863, was an African-American unit of the Union Army during the American Civil War. James joined the regiment as it served in the Union lines outside of Petersburg and Richmond, Virginia in the late fall of 1864. James’ service in the 4th returned him to his native North Carolina in December 1864 to take part in the capture of the Confederate Fort Fisher. Fort Fisher guarded the entrance to the Cape Fear River and the city of Wilmington, North Carolina. The fort finally fell to Union forces on January 15, 1865.
Over the next nine months James Manley, and the 4th USCT Regiment, took part in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Carolina Campaign. The regiment marched on Goldsboro, Raleigh, and witnessed the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston’s army at Bennett Place, North Carolina on April 26, 1865. When James’ enlistment expired in September 1865, he was mustered out of service in New Bern, North Carolina and sent home. Whether he was still married when he returned is unclear, but his marriage to Anne ended either during his service or immediately afterwards.
After he returned from the war, James initially continued to reside in Cadiz where he was appointed in January 1868 as an officer in the newly formed John Brown Lodge No. 74 of the International Order of Good Templars. His stay in Cadiz was short though and, by the summer of 1868, he had relocated to New Philadelphia. Here he met and married Mary Lisle (1833-1900) and the two established their household on the 100 block of North 5th Street (modern 2nd Street NW). Mary’s father and her two brothers also lived in the Manley’s small house on east side of the street. There were also times when James’ sons from his marriage to Anne also lived in the Manley’s New Philadelphia home.
There is no way to know exactly what the Manley’s home looked like when they lived there, but some details can be gleaned from a series of Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps done from 1887 to 1901. The home was a modest, one-story home that was likely in the gable-end family style that was so common on the city’s deep, narrow lots. Over the years there were a handful of outbuildings that dotted the lot as well. Sometime in the 1890s the house was enlarged to include a small one-story addition to the rear and a small back porch. The expansion was likely needed as James and Mary needed to make room for their two teenage boys born in the 1870s.
James continued to work as a teamster in New Philadelphia during the 1880s and 1890s as Mary tended to the household. The couple suffered a tragedy in the fall of 1892 when their youngest son, Charles Manley (1874-1892), who was destined to be the valedictorian of his graduating class contracted typhoid fever and died. A year later James placed an article in the Cleveland Gazette newspaper soliciting information on the locations of some of his fellow 4th Regiment comrades, though it is not known if he was able to make contact with them. It was not long after their eldest son, Spivey Lafayette Manley (1872-1941), left home that Mary Manley passed away.
After the departure of his son and the death of his wife, James Manley moved back to Cadiz to live with his sister. James was staying with Jane for less than six weeks when he died from what was described as a stomach ailment. Jane travelled to New Philadelphia to see to James’ property and estate, selling the house and lot on North 5th Street to fellow teamster James E. Scott (1868-1953) in February 1902 for $1006. Today the location of the Manley House is a parking lot, but the story of one of Tuscarawas Counties only Black Civil War veterans and his family endures.
© Noel B. Poirier, 2022.