Filson Family Farm

Filson Family Farm

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Great Grandpa and Grandma (Filson/Manuwal lineage)

Catherine Manuwal Filson and John Thomas Filson 1940s   1
My Great Grandfather John Thomas Filson was born to Taylor Silver Filson and Amanda Hunter on February 24, 1872. He grew up on the Filson family, 120 acre farm, northeast of Inwood and attended school through the 8th grade at a country school west of his house.

1881 Map of Small Schools in Marshall County, Indiana  2
At the time many people believed educating their children would rob them of much needed farm hands. John was fortunate to get an education through the 8th grade. Here is an example of a one room school house in Indiana. This one shows District 13 over the door but Great Grandpa went to District 3.

Photo by Kevin Chodzinski  3
After finishing school John continued to work on the farm alongside his father, Taylor and brother, William.  He lived his life as a farmer and a stockman and these trades he passed onto his sons Russell and Robert.
In 1896, at the age of 24, he married Catherine Lavinia Manuwal who was 18 at the time, she was also fortunate to have received an 8th grade education.

Marriage License  4

Census records are a very important source to tracking your family in history. Below is the 1920 census for John, Catherine and their three children. On the document, we see their names and relationship to each other. We can see they lived on a farm that they owned and they owed a mortgage on it at the time. We can see their approximate ages and their education. It shows what state they were born in and where their parents were born.
1920 Census Records  5
In 1934 John and Catherine moved from the farm to a little white house situated next to the Inwood Methodist Church. It was remembered by some that John Thomas Filson, as well as many men of his time, did not give much thought to the women in his world. He felt they had their place and pretty much just got in the way. His family members recall John Thomas was very tight with his pocketbook. I am sure he viewed himself as responsible, but eventually his need to control his money ended up killing him. He injured his leg on a piece of farming equipment and he would not go to the doctor because it would cost him. Gangrene set in and by the time he took himself to the doctor he was too far gone. He suffered greatly and ultimately passed away. For his funeral his wife Catherine choose the most expensive casket she could. She obviously was going to start spending the money her way.
Obituary   6

Catherine Lavinia Manuwal was born on March 2, 1879 to Christian Manuwal and Elizabeth Zimmerman Manuwal in Marshall County,  Indiana.
I remember Great Grandma Catherine as a petit, boney lady who made wonderful sugar cookies, possibly the same sugar cookie recipe passed onto my Grandma that I wrote about in a previous post. She would love to invite the neighborhood kids over to eat them. She was also known for her bad coffee, as she would leave the old grinds in the kettle and add new ones, making her coffee taste like tar. Probably, because she had to save money and did not know when she would be able to buy fresh coffee. I do keep in mind these are people that lived through the depression, so while it may seem cheap to us, it was survival to them.

Catherine loved to grow African violets and filled her house with them. She was a devoted member of the Inwood Methodist Church and the Women's Society of Christian Service.
Woman of Inwood Methodist Church 1960s, Catherine is in the front row, second from the right   7

Catherine lived to the age of 90 and died on January 22, 1969. I lived in Texas at the time and we were unable to go to her funeral, but we did end up inheriting her antique sofa made of burgundy velvet fabric. I will always think of Catherine sitting on that sofa eating sugar cookies as I watched her drink her coffee.
I was thrilled to get glimpse of her while I was recently going through some old family photos. The picture captured her looking out the window as we all gathered on the lawn for a family photo in 1957. I wonder why she was not outside to join us.

Grandma Catherine Manuwal Filson 1958   8
I found a video you might find interesting called “Feeding the World - 1930's Farming Documentary Film”. It gives us a glimpse into the same time period when John and Catherine were raising their children on a 1930s farm. You will see cow’s being milked and farm animals being feed. You will see cars, appliances and farm equipment of the time. You can view it by clicking here.


1) Filson Family private photography collection

2) Historical Map Works

3) Flickr

4) Marriage License

5) 1920 Census Document

6) Newspaper

7) Marshall County Historical Society photography collection

8) Filson Family private photography collection

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