California Genealogy and History Archives
Nearly a quarter of a century has passed since the death of Mr. Manion, but so thoroughly was his personality impressed upon the community in which so much of his active life was passed, that it would be impossible to write even a meager history of the locality and make no mention of his name or his accomplishments. At the time of his death Sonoma county had benefited by his citizenship for a long period of thirty-five years.
A native of the south, William Manion was born in Kentucky in 1816, the son of Edmund and Elizabeth Manion, who were also native of that same southern state. When their son was a small child the parents immigrated to Missouri, locating in Cooper county, but finally transferring their citizenship to Lafayette county, the same state, and there the father engaged in stock-raising. Life in Lafayette county made a vivid impression on the mind of Mr. Manion, for there were enacted many experiences that were indelibly impressed upon his young mind. The country schools of that locality he attended during the winter season, the summer months being occupied in duties on the farm. When he had grown to years of maturity he undertook an enterprise of his own, and was occupied with the duties of his farm when the call for men to serve in the war with Mexico induced him to lay down the peaceful implements of agriculture for those of warfare. The year 1847 witnessed his enlistment in a Missouri regiment of cavalry commanded by Colonel Doniphan, the regiment being assigned to duty in New Mexico and also on the plains, where the Indian uprisings were causing terror among the white settlers. Mr. Manion remained with the regiment until his discharge in 1848, after which he returned home and resumed his farming operations.
It was soon after his return from the war that Mr. Manion was married to his first wife, Miss Rebecca Hatton, the daughter of Joseph and Millie Hatton, also residents of Lafayette county. About two years after their marriage Mr. Manion and his wife undertook the long and toilsome overland journey that was to bring them to their new home on the Pacific coast. The journey was accomplished in safety, though not without enduring innumerable hardships, which finally caused the death of the young wife, her death occurring the same year, 1850.
Mining had been the chief attraction in bringing Mr. Manion to the Pacific coast, hoping thereby to become a partaker in the good fortune which the mines contained, but his experience and training had been in an entirely different line and he became impatient when success was not immediately forthcoming. However, he continued to follow mining more or less for two years, after which he gave it up entirely and instead took up farming in Sonoma county. His first experience was on a rented ranch in Los Guilicos valley, remaining there for one year, then going to Bennett valley. There he was one of the few settlers who had as yet attempted to carry on agriculture on an extensive scale, and his movements were watched with interest by the less venturesome. Others seeing his success followed in his footsteps, and it is chiefly owing to his leadership that Bennett valley became the thriving agricultural center that it now is. For over twenty years he continued in that locality, when, in 1873, he removed to Santa Rosa valley, and located two miles south of the city, on two hundred and sixty acres of land which he purchased, at the same time retaining his ownership of four hundred acres in Bennett valley. Mr. Manion had been a resident of Santa Rosa valley about fifteen years when death removed him from the midst of those who in the meantime had learned to love and revere him. His death occurred October 11, 1887.
Some time after the death of his first wife Mr. Manion was united in marriage with Miss Elizabeth Barnett, a daughter of James and Rebecca (Bryant) Barnett, natives of Kentucky. In company with a brother Miss Barnett started across the plains in 1851, but before they reached their journey’s end the brother was stricken with a mortal sickness and she continued the journey in company with the rest of the party. Four children were born of the marriage of Mr. Manion and his wife, as follows: William H., of whom a sketch will be found elsewhere in this work; Sarah F., who became the wife of W. C. Wooley; Lily Belle; and Lulu. Mr. Manion was a stanch member of the Christian Church, giving liberal assistance to its charities, in fact he gave unstintingly of both time and means for any cause that would uplift his fellowmen, whether of a religious or secular nature. None knew him but to love him, and his friends were as numerous as his acquaintances.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011