WILLIAM J. MANTON. In the settlement of the far southwest, conservative New England has contributed sparingly of her vigorous young manhood, and the ready assimilation of those of her sons whose courage and fortitude enabled them to exchange the society of bosom friends and the comforts and conveniences of a model home for the barren waste of a practically unclaimed region on the frontier into one homogeneous social fabric peculiar to the occident alone. In the settlement of Clay county Rhode Island has furnished the worthy subject of this article, and for a score of ten years have his efforts wrought in the substantial improvement of a home.
In 1879, William J. Manton left his native state and sought the prairies of the Lone Star state, establishing himself first in Fayette county where, near LaGrange, he devoted himself to pioneer farming. When he left that locality, three years later, he joined a force of linemen of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway Company constructing telegraph line and he remained with his employment a year and a half, quitting the force at Quanah and returning to Bellevue, Texas, and soon thereafter taking possession of and beginning the work of improvement of his present farm. He purchased a section of raw land four and a half miles southeast of Bellevue, and the crude shanty he erected upon it for the habitation of his family was a two-room box house with dimensions fourteen by twenty-four, and this makeshift provided him with shelter and summer comforts until 1893, when it was remodeled and enlarged to the commodious farm cottage of the present. Fences enclosed his acres in time, and the soil responded to the touch of the plow and yielded abundantly in season, and his animal industry became varied and numerous and included draft horses, cattle, hogs and sheep. His position among his brother farmers is one of thrift and substantial independence, and the inherent qualities of the man himself render his social position equally as conspicuous as that of his financial.
Not far from Providence, Rhode Island, William J. Manton was born May 14, 1855, Crawford J. Manton was born May 14, 1855. Crawford J. Manton, Senior, was his father and Esther Wilbur was the mother. The father was the only child of William J. and Freelove (Jencks) Manton and in early life was cashier of the Lime Rock National Bank of Lime Rock. In later life he was foreman of the lime-burning plant of a Providence concern and he died in 1892 at seventy years of age. He was a native of Rhode Island and his father and his wife’s father, David Wilbur, were early settlers there and of English ancestry. Esther Manton died in 1886, being the mother of: Freelove, wife of Frank Draper, of Pawtucket, Rhode Island; William J., of this review; Daniel, of Lime Rock, Rhode Island; Lydia, who married Thomas Angell, of Riverside, Rhode Island; Crawford, of Salesville, and Thomas, of Berkeley, Rhode Island.
William J. Manton was brought up in the country and the public schools, Scofield Commercial School and Amherst College gave him his educational equipment. He was a sophomore when he left Amherst and thus liberally equipped he turned his attention to the real sober issues of life. Vivid accounts of the opportunities in the southwest for young men beginning life enlisted his interest and induced him to come hither and it is now more than a quarter century since he was first enumerated wwth a Texas census. He was first married in LaGrange, in 1882, his wife being Lucy Manton, a daughter of Edward Manton and a sister of Mrs. Dr. Gault, of Bellevue, Texas. Mrs. Manton survived him until 1889, when she passed away, leaving children: Sarah M., wife of Professor C. A. Cooper, of Bellevue; Crawford, Esther, Edward and Catherine.
October 22, 1903, Mr. Manton married Mrs. M. H. Fowler, a daughter of W. J. and Mintie (Hern) Briggs, the father of New York birth and the mother born in Maine. Mrs. Manton was born in Rock county, Wisconsin, and was married in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Mr. Fowler. She came to Texas in 1892 and the same year Mr. Fowler died. For six years she was head nurse in the Fort Worth sanitarium of Doctors Walker and Adams, leaving the institution in 1903. She has a daughter, Helen Fowler, and by her presence the domestic life of Mr. Manton has been strengthened and sustained and an atmosphere of good cheer and good will ramifies and pervades his household.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 660-661.