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Scots and Scots Descendant in America
Part V - Biographies
Donald A. Manson


THE following record of simple loyalty to kin and country, together with shrewdness and foresight in starting and continuing business where both money and business associations were made, and where hard work, persistency and integrity brought generous reward, goes far to answer the question: "What is the secret of a successful life?"

Donald A. Manson was born August 3, 1839, in Thurso, Caithness, Scotland, the fifth and youngest son of John and Cathrine Manson. The family were interested in farming and fisheries. Donald ‘s father died when he was three years old, and in 1851, at the age of eleven, he came to New York with his brother John and sister Isabella, leaving his mother at the old homestead. He attended public school in Thurso and also in New York and afterward learned the carpenter trade.

At the beginning of the War of the Rebellion, in 1861, Mr. Manson answered the first call of Abraham Lincoln for 75,000 men. He served for three years in the United States Navy and was honourably discharged as a petty officer. He served on the United States sloop of war Savannah, blockading the mouth of the James River where the two United States ships Congress and Cumberland were destroyed in an engagement with the Rebel iron-clad Merrimack. Afterwards, he served on the Atlantic blockading squadron in the gun-boat Madgie and other vessels. He had several narrow escapes, but came through without injury and was honourably discharged from the frigate Minnesota in Hampton Roads, Virginia.

On his return to New York, Mr. Manson started a carpentry and cabinet business in the Wall Street district, which he carried on personally and with merited success for thirty-eight years. The business is continued, in the same place, by his third son, Millard A. Manson.

Mr. Manson was one of the founders of the Noble Street Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn, in 1869, and is still elder and session clerk of that church, and greatly respected and beloved. For several years it has been Mr. Man-son’s custom to entertain the Men’s Club, officers and pastors of the church each year on his birthday at his beautiful summer home at Long Branch, N. J. He is a director of the Greenpoint Y. M. C. A.; Vice-President and Appraiser of the Greenpoint Savings Bank, with which he has been connected for fifteen years; a charter member of the Greenpoint Commerce Club; a charter member of Seawanaka Lodge, F. & A. M.; Lieutenant-Commander, Grand Post 327, Grand Army of the Republic; a member of the Greenpoint Taxpayers’ and Citizens’ Association; and a Veteran of the 47th Regiment, National Guard, State of New York.

Mr. Manson married, October 6, 1864, Eliza Jane Grove, daughter of Joseph and Mary Grove, of Troy, N. Y. They had eleven children, all of whom died in infancy except four sons, still living: Donald A., Jr., born March 1, 1872, photographer, Long Branch, N. J.; Howell T., born September 19, 1873, assistant cashier of the Gallatin National Bank, New York City:

Millard M., born January 2, 1875, successor in the business of his father; and Edwin Dwight, born June 14, 1876, banker and broker, New York City. Mrs. Manson died May 2, 1885.

Mr. Manson ‘s eldest brother, Major William Manson, of the Seventy-Ninth New York Regiment, was made a prisoner at the battle of Bull Run and imprisoned for six months in Libby Prison, Richmond Va.; but was one of the first officers to be exchanged. He was a prominent and well-known Scotsman, who came to New York in 1843. The New York Caledonian Club was organized in his house in 1856. He died in 1886, leaving a large family of children, all dead now excepting one son and two daughters. His sister, Mrs. John Murray Wilson, and her husband died about the same time, also leaving a family of small children. Mr. Donald A. Manson brought up both families until they were able to do for themselves.

Mr. Manson is energetic and active, enjoys the best of health—at the age of seventy-seven—and attends business regularly. He is a shrewd business man, affable and kind, and has a host of friends. He visited his native place in Caithness in 1909, after an absence of fifty-eight years, and did not find much change in the place and only a very few old acquaintances. He made an extended tour of Scotland, England and France at that time. His city residence is 114 Milton Street, Brooklyn; his business address, Greenpoint Savings Bank, 807 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn, N. Y.


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