James & Isabella Manary

Of  the Ottawa Valley

James Manary, who settled in the Ottawa Valley, was born in 1793 and came from County Tyrone, Ireland. James arrived in Canada about 1830 and settled on Lot 7, Concession 7, Lanark Township. The first one of his family group to emigrate, several of his relatives immigrated to Ontario in the following years: Robert Manary and his wife Maria McWilliams, who first came to Lanark, then went to Listowel, Perth County; Sarah Manary, who settled in Lanark and married Robert Penman; Joseph Minary who married Ellen Coleman, and Mary Manary who married Francis Allingham, both of whom settled in Mono, Dufferin County.

James’ age of 37 when he emigrated suggests he may have had a previous marriage in Ireland but if so, his wife must have died in Ireland. About a year after he arrived, the 38-year-old James married 17-year-old Isabella McLellan, a daughter of William McLellan, who also lived in Lanark Township. The age gap was as unusual then as it is today: James was over twice the age of his young bride. But it was a successful partnership. Over the years, James and Isabella had a large family of fourteen children: eight boys and six girls. They were a hearty, healthy bunch and each of the children lived to maturity, married, and had children. There’s no doubt each one of them contributed to the family’s fortunes, the boys working in the fields and tending livestock, the girls helping with younger siblings and housework.

The first census showing James and Isabella and their family was in 1842 and James stated at that time that he had been 12 years in Ontario. In the 1851 agricultural census, the family was living in a 1 ½ story log home and had 100 acres of land. 60 acres were under cultivation, 12 acres in crops (wheat, rye, potatoes and hay), 48 in pasture, and 40 were wildland. At the time of the census, they had 2 oxen, 3 cows, 5 calves, 12 sheep, and 6 pigs, as well as producing 35 pounds of wool, 200 pounds of butter and 3 barrels of pork. These figures compared favourably with their neighbours.

The three oldest brothers – David, William, and Joseph — married in their early 20s and by the time of the 1861 census had established farms of their own in Darling Township on neighbouring farms along Concession 8 (Lots 11, 12 and 13). The Hercules White and Elizabeth Nevil family lived in the same area and three of their children married Manarys.

But land in Darling and Lanark wasn’t easy to farm, so sometime in 1861, the entire family except for the oldest daughter, Jane, moved to Bristol, Pontiac County, Quebec. Farmland was more desirable there, although the second-youngest son, William, later opted to return to his farm in Darling, where he remained for the rest of his life. James and Isabella settled on the rear half of Lot 15, Range 5 in Bristol Township and the remainder of their sons and daughters settled on various properties and married into Bristol families such as the McLellans (who were relatives), the Reids, and the Vielows.

James died in 1 September 1872 at the age of 78 or 79, willing his farm and all his worldly goods to his wife Isabella. This was enlightened for the time, as most men willed their farms to a particular son, with the provision that the mother could live there until her death. James, however, stated that the farm and all the goods went to Isabella. James also stated in his will that if Alexander, the youngest son, helped his mother and treated her properly, the farm would revert to him upon Isabella’s death. But if Alex failed to do that, it was Isabella’s choice who would inherit the farm. Where James was buried is a mystery — perhaps he lies somewhere on the old family farm. He and Isabella had over a hundred grandchildren and now, their descendants number in the thousands, scattered from the homeland of the Ottawa Valley to all parts of Canada and the United States.

Isabella McLellan Manary

4 Feb 1814 – 12 Nov 1888

James Manary’s wife, Isabella McLellan, led a remarkable life. Born 4 February 1814 in Scotland, likely in Renfrewshire where all the related McLellans came from, she came to Lanark County in 1821. Her father, William McLellan, crossed the ocean on The Earl of Buckingham, bringing his family with him as well as a retinue of other relatives. Isabella would have been seven years old.

Ten years later, she married James Manary, who was 21 years older than she was. He arrived the year before they married and probably had much work left to do on his house and farm. Undaunted by the age difference and the work challenge, Isabella took the plunge. Over the span of 25 years, Isabella bore 14 children. The first child was born in 1832, and the last in 1857 when Isabella was 43 and James was 64. Every one of their children survived into adulthood, married, and had their own families. Compared to the statistics in Ontario at that time, to have fourteen children and have every one survive to maturity was unusual. What does this say about her? The great killer of children in the past was infectious diseases. Lanark County was quite remote and isolated, but epidemics did happen. It’s likely that Isabella was a conscientious mother and had considerable healing skills and methods of keeping her family unusually healthy.

And how did her children feel about her? A clue is the fact that the name Isabella seemed to be held in high esteem: several of her granddaughters were named Isabella and the name survives in the family to this day (although the holders of the name might not be aware of where it originated). The family was close-knit and many of the children married brothers and sisters from neighbouring families. They also migrated together, almost half the family moving to South Dakota in the late 1870s and 1880s. At the time of James’ death in Quebec in 1872, Isabella was 58. James had willed their farm to her and she was surrounded by the rest of her family, so she had no worries.

But around 1881, when she was 67, she decided to sell the farm and move to South Dakota to join those of her children who had emigrated there. Part of her motivation may have been to use the proceeds of the sale to help some of her children purchase land in South Dakota. Even so, for a woman of 67 to sell her property, leave familiar surroundings, family, and friends, and make a difficult migration of approximately 1200 miles was an unusual undertaking. This would seem to establish beyond a doubt her adventurousness, her robust health, and her strong ties with her children.

Compared with her contemporaries, Isabella appears to have been an unusually strong and independent woman. Not afraid of a challenge, she emigrated from her native Scotland as a young girl, began her own family at the age of 17, moved from Ontario to Quebec, and finally, as a vigorous woman of 67, moved to untamed land in South Dakota. She died at the age of 74 on 12 November 1888 in Canistota, South Dakota. Her large tombstone in the Canistota Cemetery (shared with her youngest daughter, Elizabeth Manary Vellow) reads, with telling sentiment:

My mother!

We miss the sunshine of thy face

We miss thy kind and willing hand,

Thy fond and earnest care.

Our home is dark without thee

We miss thee everywhere.

The Children of James Manary & Isabella McLellan

David: Born 10 February 1832 in Lanark. As the oldest child, David was a prime force, leading the way in decisions and migrations for the family. At the age of 22, he married Jane McLellan from Bristol. They had a family of nine children, two daughters and seven sons, although one daughter died young. By 1860, they had moved to Bristol, Pontiac County, Quebec, where David had acquired parcels of land, and farmed there for several years.  In 1878, he and his family immigrated to McCook County, South Dakota, where he became one of the first three Commissioners of the newly-formed McCook County.   He was instrumental in organizing the county and his son James became the first Sherriff. David was also the first postmaster and was instrumental in organizing the first school. His first wife, Jane, died in 1884; a few years later, he remarried to widow Minnie Meier. About 1890, he and several of his grown children moved to Silverton, Oregon, where he died at the age of 63 in 1895. David and Minnie are buried in the Silverton Cemetery in Oregon. The burial location for his first wife Jane McLellan has yet to be located.

David Manary with his first wife Jane McLellan

David Manary with his second wife Minnie Meier and her son William Meier

William: Born 25 August 1834 in Lanark, William married Margaret White of Darling Township. They moved to Bristol, Quebec in the early 1860s with the rest of the Manary family and owned a lot beside his parents on the 6th line. They stayed only a short time and returned to their farm in Darling. William and Margaret had nine children who married into many of the old Lanark families. William and Margaret’s family are known to have used the spelling Manarey for their surname. After farming all his life, William died at the age of 78 in 1912; his wife Margaret White died in 1929.William and Margaret are buried at the Clayton United Cemetery in Lanark County, Ontario.

William & Margaret Manary

Jane: Born 28 June 1835 in Lanark, Jane married Robert White, brother of Margaret White. Jane and Robert were the only ones not to make the move to Bristol Quebec in the early 1860s, and instead remained in Lanark, Ontario. There were nine children in their family, several of whom married into many of the Lanark pioneer families. Jane, the longest-lived of all the siblings, died in 1921 at the age of 86 in Lanark. Robert died in 1911. From the records, Jane and Robert are buried in Clayton United Cemetery in Lanark County, Ontario.

Jane Manary White

Mary: Born 1 December 1837 in Lanark, recent research has uncovered that Mary had a son named  William Turriff when she was about 17. William named her as his mother in his baptismal certificate later in life. Since she was the only Mary Manary in Lanark at that time, and DNA from the Turriff family matches that of her other descendants, there is little doubt that this was the case.  About 1855, she married William McLellan of Bristol and was probably the first of the family to move to Bristol. She and William had eleven children, several of whom later moved to Manitoba. William and Mary obtained the land of his parents, John McLellan and Martha Nielson, in Bristol, Pontiac, Quebec, which happened to be right across the road from the Manary farmlands. William’s parents had moved to Bristol on their arrival in the 1840s and homesteaded there until their death. Mary died in 1916 in Quyon, Pontiac, at the age of 79. William, who was 16 years older, died in 1900. William and Mary are buried at the Norway Bay Cemetery in Pontiac, Quebec.

Mary Manary & William McLellan

Joseph: Born 14 July 1838 in Lanark. In 1858, Joseph married Caroline White, another sibling of the White family of Darling, and they had a family of thirteen children. They moved with the rest of the Manary family to Bristol, but at some time during the late 1860s, they left and moved to Ashburnham, Peterborough County, the only ones in the family to live in this area. In 1891, they left Canada and immigrated to Powell Valley, Oregon.  One of their sons, James, established the Manary Logging Company, a large operation in Oregon in the 1920s and 1930s. A well-known company, it operated at least thirteen logging camps along the Pacific coast of Oregon, Washington, and California. Joseph died in 1918 at the age of 79 in Cottrell, Oregon; his wife Caroline White died in 1926. Joseph and Caroline are buried at Lincoln Memorial cemetery in Portland, Oregon.

Joseph Manary

Caroline White Manary

James: Born 17 March 1842 in Lanark. After the family’s move to Bristol, James married Mary Hannaberry, whose family was Roman Catholic and had been in Bristol since emigrating from Ireland. He and Mary had a family of eight children. Sadly, the oldest three died young, two of them from scarlet fever. Most of their children remained in Quebec and Ontario, with one of the daughters marrying and moving to New York. James farmed in Bristol until his death from blood poisoning at the age of 61 in 1903. His wife, Mary Hannaberry, died a year later in 1904. An exact burial location has yet to be found for James and Mary, although it is suspected that they are buried at the St. Edwards Catholic Cemetery in Pontiac, Quebec, along with the Hannaberry Family.

James Manary

Isabella: Born 2 July 1843 in Lanark. Isabella married David Small of Bristol in 1863. David, who was born in Ireland, first worked as a “shantyman” (lumberman) in logging, then became a farmer. They raised a family of twelve children a few miles away from the rest of the Manary Family near Bristol Mines, Pontiac, Quebec. Most of their children remained in Quebec and Ontario, many moving across the Ottawa River and into northern Ontario. Isabella died at the age of 75 in 1919 in Bristol. Her husband, David Small, died in 1927 in Pembroke, Ontario. Records indicate that Isabella was buried at Norway Bay Cemetery in Pontiac, Quebec, although a marker has not been found.

Isabella Manary and David Small

Isabella McLellan Manary about 1883 with one of her granddaughters, Canistota, South Dakota

Sarah: Born 30 April 1844 in Lanark, Sarah married Robert Reid in 1863. The couple had nine children (eight daughters and one son), all born in Pontiac County, Quebec. In the 1880s, Robert investigated land in Manitoba and may possibly have lived there for a time. Eventually, he decided to join the members of the Manary family who had immigrated to South Dakota and moved there with his family sometime in the 1880s. Robert farmed in the area and most of their children remained in South Dakota. In later years, Sarah lost her eyesight. She died in 1928 in Canistota, South Dakota at the age of 84; her husband Robert Reid had died previously in 1912. Robert and Sarah are buried alongside her mother Isabella, in the Canistota Cemetery, South Dakota.

Sarah Manary

Isaac: Born 11 November 1845 in Lanark, Isaac was dogged by misfortune after he moved to South Dakota with his brother David in 1878. With his eldest brother David, he was one of the three original Commissioners of McCook County, South Dakota. At the age of 33, he married Mary Jane Finn and they had two children. Tragically, Mary Jane died in a prairie fire that came up suddenly while Isaac was away in town. Only 36 years old, she was pregnant with twins, who died with her. A year later, Isaac married again to Alice Reid, who had come down from Bristol, Quebec, and they had a daughter together in 1886. And then in 1888, tragedy struck again. Isaac was building a house and one wall collapsed, crushing him underneath. He died a day or two later at the age of 42. His family suffered as well: His older two children went to live with their in-laws and led an unhappy life; his second wife Alice and her daughter were left penniless. Alice eventually married their former farmhand, Adam Rauch, moved to Washington and had several children. Isaac is buried in the Canistota Cemetery in South Dakota.

Isaac Manary and Mary Jane Finn wedding, 1877 (photo A. B. Horgen)

John: John was born 5 November 1849 in Lanark. He married Catherine Burns Reid, sister to Sarah’s husband, Robert Reid, in Bristol in 1874, and they had a family of eight children. Sometime between 1881 and 1884, the family moved to Canistota, South Dakota to join the members of the family who had moved there. It was likely just before the winter of 1880/1881, one of the worst winters in the history of South Dakota and one which was written about in Laura Ingles Wilder’s book The Long Winter. The story is told in the family that they almost froze and starved to death after they moved there, and after only that one winter, John and his family had had enough of South Dakota and returned to Quebec. John farmed in Bristol on the farm that had been operated by Catherine’s parents from the time they immigrated, diagonally across the 6th line from the Manary farm lands. Most of their children remained in Pontiac County, with two moving to the prairies. Catherine died in 1918 and John in 1930 at the age of 81. John and Catherine are buried in the Norway Bay Cemetery in Pontiac Quebec.

John Manary

Margaret:  Born in 1850 in Lanark, Margaret was the only sibling to die before the age of 20. She married James McJanet Dodd, a plasterer, in Bristol in 1868, and the next year, died in childbirth at the age of about 19. Their child, John Henry Dodd, survived and was raised by his Dodd grandparents in Arnprior, Ontario. No burial location has ever been found for Margaret.


Robert: Robert was born 29 February 1852 in Lanark and was 17 years old when he married Harriet Sheffield of Bristol in 1869. Robert and Harriet had a daughter and two sons, but, sadly, Harriet died with the birth of her third child. The children were taken on by three different families (including the Sheffields) and never lived with their father again. Three years later, Robert married again, to Emma Ford of Portage-du-Fort, and they had three children together. Robert was a logger and a teamster at various times in his life. He died at the age of 71 in 1923 in Ottawa. His children with Harriet Sheffield later moved to the prairies and British Columbia, while his children with Emma Ford remained in the Ottawa Valley area. Robert and Emma are buried at the Protestant Cemetery in Portage-du-Fort Pontiac Quebec.  A location for Harriet’s burial site has yet to be found.

Robert Manary

Harriet Sheffield Manary

Alexander: Born on 4 January 1855 in Lanark, Alex was the youngest son of the family. When he was 19, he married Agnes Vielow (later spelled Vellow), who came from Onslow from a French-Canadian/Algonquin/Irish family. They had a family of six children. The first three were born in Quebec. Alex and his family likely lived with his widowed mother, Isabella, on her farm after his father James’ death. About 1881, they made the decision, along with Isabella, to sell the farm and join the family who were in South Dakota. Three more children were born there. Sometime before 1901, Alex and his family returned to Bristol, Quebec, after about twenty years in South Dakota. They later lived in Braeside, and also owned one of the Manary family farms in Darling, where Alex died at the age of 61 in 1916. Agnes died in 1934. Their oldest son moved first to the prairies, then to British Columbia, while the rest of their children remained in Ontario and Quebec. Records indicate that Alexander and Agnes are buried at Clayton United Cemetery in Lanark County, Ontario, although no marker has been found for them..

Alexander Manary & Agnes Vellow, sons Bert & Dell

Elizabeth: Born 12 March 1857 in Lanark, Elizabeth was the youngest of the fourteen siblings. At the age of 16, she married Joseph Vielow (later spelled Vellow), brother to Agnes who married Alex Manary. They had three children in Bristol, then sometime between 1879 and 1881, Elizabeth and Joe joined the family in South Dakota, where their last child was born. Joe Vellow was an enterprising man and owned a livery stable and pool hall, as well as his farm, parcels of land, and houses he had renovated. Elizabeth died at 45 in 1902 in Canistota (cause unknown). Her mother Isabella lived with Elizabeth and family during her last years and they are buried together under an impressive monument in Canistota, South Dakota. Joe never remarried and eventually moved to North Dakota to be with one of his daughters, where he died in 1917. Elizabeth and Joe’s daughters remained in South Dakota and Minnesota, while their only son moved back to Canada, first moving to Alberta and then to British Columbia.

Elizabeth Manary, Joseph Velow & family


Contact Us