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Manley Family papers

Identifier: SC 0085

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

George W. Manley Collection, 1707-1953, contains about 300 items housed in two boxes and one flat file. The collection is composed largely of two kinds of materials: personal, business, and genealogical papers relating to the Manley family of Augusta County, Virginia and Marion County, formerly of Virginia and later West Virginia; and miscellaneous business and legal papers not directly related to the Manleys that document the functioning of law and government in what is now Franklin County, West Virginia, and Augusta County, Virginia, with scattered references to other Virginia counties and Marion County, West Virginia. The collection is arranged topically and then chronologically into seven series: Correspondence, 1774-1953; Business & Legal Documents, 1707-1909; Family Memorobilia and Genealogical Notes, 1870-ca. 1940s; Civil War Papers, 1861-1867; Native American Data, ca. 1932, and Miscellaneous Virginia History, ca. 1900s.

Series 1: Correspondence, 1774-1953, includes general correspondence, 1774-1953, comprised of Manley family letters, which are genealogical in nature and discuss family connections with the Righter family of West Virginia, the Bigler family, and family land transactions. Eight photographs of family members from Percy Manley's Aunt Jessie in DuPont, Washington, ca.1950s, are also included. Also notable in the collection is a 1933 letter from Percy C. Manley (George's father) to Lauretta K. Muir, an official in the Civil Works Administration, concerning a self-sufficiency homestead project for the poor of Mineral County, West Virginia. Also interesting are a 1774 character reference for a member of Cedar Creek Congregation, a 1777 letter from John Lowning (likely a Revolutionary War soldier), and other letters that offer glimpses of 19th Century life, mostly in Virginia.

Additionally, ten letters written to Hugh W. Sheffey, Augusta County representative to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850 and to the Virginia General Assembly in 1850s and 1860s are included. The relationship between Sheffey and Manley is unclear, but the correspondence is foldered separately due to Sheffey's political position. The transcript of a letter written to Sheffey by Kenton Harper, dated December 16, 1846, is also available in the collection.

Series 2: Business and Legal Documents, 1707-1909, compromises the bulk of the collection and includes general documents, court case documents, deeds and indentures, and tax papers. Many of the documents originated in Franklin County, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries; some materials are from other Virginia counties, particularly Marion County. The dominant concerns are land and debt.

General documents contain Franklin, Bath, Marion, and Shenandoah County legal and business documents, dating from 1785-1909, such as lists of goods and services rendered, agreements, payment receipts, cancelled checks, and promissory notes. Several of the promissory notes and other interesting items are in a sixteen page account ledger, marked "Bill of Injuction in Franklin Court, March 1800," which itemizes merchandise sold to John Hook by D.W. Thomas Osbourne, 1795-1800, and Dr. George Cunningham's list of visits to the slave-owning J.W. Moore family, 1834-1835. Also included are miscellaneous documents such as the estate of Samuel Beam of Shenandoah County, 1978; marriage licenses/documents (1822: Cyrus Ross to Sarah Righter, 1830: Joseph Stump to Susan Mansen, 1853: George W. Manley to Harriet B. Righter); an 1839 contract for Mary C. Moore for her teaching in Bath County; an 1855 share certificate for the Howardsville and Rockfish Turnpike; and 1880s liquor licenses for George W. Manley at the Continental Hotel in Fairmont.

Court case documents contain judgements, summonses, depositions, complaints, lawsuits, etc., pertaining to Franklin, Augusta, and Marion Counties, 1707-1855. Several summonses carry the note: "kept off by force of arms." Materials include two statements by unwed mothers naming the fathers and declaring need for financial assistance from them (1804, 1805); one summons for illegal slavery (1805); two orders to pay court witnesses (1840); a 1786 Augusta County seal; and several complaints of assault.

The deeds and indentures consist of numerous deeds from Marion County relevant to the Manley and Righter family. Other deeds pertain to Franklin County, with a few from Augusta, Shenandoah, and Hardy Counties. An 1834 land plat dividing Henry Gochenour's land in Hardy County is also present. Materials that are oversized and housed seperatly include materials such as a 1774 indenture of John Haynes of Bedford County for sale of slaves to William McDonald, deeds and indentures relating to the Saunders family of Franklin County, deeds granting land in Augusta County to John Archer, signed by Lord Dinwiddie (1759), to Gabriel Fox of Hampshire County, England, signed by Lord Fairfax (1780), an 1847 indenture documenting the sale of land in Illinois from Carlos Enos to William Tams, as well as deeds relevant to the Manley Family.

Tax papers include an 1812 list of lands not found in Franklin County after division of the county in 1786, and 1856-1862 Manley family receipts for personal and property taxes in Marion County.

Series 3: Family Memorabilia and Genealogical Notes, 1870-1940, consists of three folders relating to the Manley family, including poetry of P.C. Manley and typed excerpts ostensibly from George Washington's diary mentioning Harrison Manley; family memorabilia such as documents and certificates and two small publications, entitled "The Naval Career of Captain John Manley of Marblehead" (1909) and "Hand Book of Pohick Church" (undated with postcard; Fairfax County); and twelve photographs, seven of which are identified as various Manley family members and taken by various photographers from Fairmont, West Virginia.

Series 4: Civil War Papers, 1861-1867, consists of a small number of materials related to the Civil War. Documents include an 1863 C.S.A. mail contract, two reports of deserters, documents relating to Peter Righter, including documentation regarding his Presidential pardon (the pardon, which is signed by Andrew Johnson is housed with the oversized materials). Also included are two unsigned, undated notes that may have been from Confederate spies. When the collection was originally recieved in Special Collections, it included an envelope labled "Trial and hanging of John Righter, Confederate Spy," the envelope was empty, and nothing concerning John Righter was found in the collection.

Series 5: Native American Data, ca. 1932, documents a 1932 excavation of an Indian Mound near Lewis Creek in Augusta County, Virginia, including an anonymous typescript describing the excavation, photocopied newspaper clippings, photocopied drawings of relics, and transcript from Augusta County Deed Book No. 22. Six photopraphs of the excavation are housed here also. An undated oversized map entititled "Indian Tribes of North America," and compiled by Driver, Cooper, Kirchhoff, Libby, Massey, and Spier is housed seperately.

Series 6: Miscellaneous Virginia History, ca. 1900s, consists of two folders of material: documents and images. Documents include anonymous notes regarding the Beverley Patent, copies of newspaper clippings regarding stage coaches, and notes regarding stage lines and businesses along stage line routes in Virginia in the 1800s. (An 1870 broadside advertising the sale of stage coach horses in Bath County is housed with oversized materials.) The Images folder includes one poor-quality engraving of the Hotel Altemonte in Staunton, Virginia likely removed from a publication. Also included are eleven postcards of various scenes and structures in Harpers Ferry and Charles Town, West Virginia, particularly of sites relating to the execution of John Brown, the abolitionist who led an unsuccesful slave rebellion at Harpers Ferry in 1859.


  • 1707-1953


Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Bio/Historical Note

George W. Manley descended from a prominent family which owned property near George Washington's Mount Vernon and intermarried with the Washington and Harrison families. The collection also contains letters to Hugh W. Sheffey, who was the Augusta County representative to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850 and to the Virginia General Assembly in 1850s and 1860s.


1.2 cubic feet (2 boxes, 1 flat file)

Language of Materials



The Manley Family Papers, 1707-1953, consist of various documents pertaining to the Manley family's personal, genealogical, and business activities, covering several Virginia and West Virginia counties. Included in the collection are letters written by family members and an assortment of legal papers detailing taxes and land deeds.


The collection is arranged topically and then chronologically into six series:

  1. Correspondence, 1774-1953
  2. Business and Legal Documents, 1707-1909
  3. Family Memorabilia and Genealogical Notes, 1870-circa 1940s
  4. Civil War Papers, 1861-1867
  5. Native American Data, circa 1932
  6. Miscellaneous Virginia History, circa 1900s

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Mrs. Mary E. Turner, heir to George Manley through Mrs. Ruth Beam of Planters Bank & Trust Co. in Staunton, Virginia, in September 1983. 


  • Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner, 1936.
  • The General Assembly of Virginia,1619-1978. Richmond: Virginia State Library, 1978.
  • Peyton, J. Lewis. History of Augusta County Virginia, 2nd ed. Bridgewater, VA: C.J Carrier, 1953.
  • Waddel, Joseph A. Annals of Augusta County, Virginia, from 1726 to 1871, 2nd ed. Staunton, VA: C. Russell Caldwell, 1902.
  • Wingfield, Marshall. Franklin County, a History. Berryville, Virginia: Chesapeake Book Co., 1964.

Processing Information

This collection was minimally reprocessed in April 2017 and renamed Manley Family Papers, a change from the George W. Manley Collection. In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 2010.



A Guide to the Manley Family Papers, 1707-1953
Gabriel Walman and Tracy Harter
April 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2017: Collection renumbered.
  • 2020-04-01: Minor revisions to finding aid.
  • 2022-12-01: Oversize series was intellectually removed and items were arranged into other existing series.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

880 Madison Drive
MSC 1704
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612