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.
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.