Posted by: marthabernie | August 22, 2014


On my mother’s side of the family, the family surnames are Shank and McMenus.  As I wrote earlier, McMenus is a variation of McManus, and we from Lawrence and Catherine Cattrall (MacCollin) MacManus of North Carolina and earlier from Ireland.  Lawrence was born in Fermanagh, Ireland in 1733, Cattrall also born in Ireland a few years later.  We don’t know if they married there and came to the U.S. or whether they met here and married, but they settled in North Carolina and produced many, many children.

We have one missing link between our Joseph McMenus/McManus and Lawrence McManus, that being Joseph’s father who we believe to be Lawrence’s son, Eli.  This makes perfect sense since the names Joseph and Eli were carried down in each generation of this line of McMenus men for many, many years.  It appears that Eli went to Tennessee from North Carolina when young, married and had four children, Eli, Joseph, Amy and another daughter whose name I cannot remember off the top of my head.  The girls married McGuire brothers in TN and Joseph married Anna Phillips, producing three daughters and another son, Joseph. The elder Joseph went off to war in 1814 just a few days after his baby son was born, and he was dead from measles a few short months later.  Anna remarried a man by the name of Taylor, and had she not written the names and birth dates of her four children by Joseph McManus in the Taylor family bible, we never would have been able to trace the generation back.  That’s what I love about the internet…it has opened up communication between genealogists that never occurred previously.

Father Eli seems to have left the four children in TN (they were nearly grown) and returned to North Carolina, and then went with a sister , her family and in-laws to Ohio.  He lived to be very old and seems to have had these two separate lives.  We assume his first wife died, but it remains a mystery, and I often come across descendants of his first four children who, like me, are trying to tear down the last brick wall and make the documented connection to Eli and then Lawrence McManus.

However, taking the DNA test last year has proven that we are definitely descended from Lawrence as my DNA matched with that of documented descendants of his.

The above photo is the earliest McMenus photo that I have.  It came from a tintype and it is my great gandfather, Joseph McMenus, about 1860-65.  He was born in 1838 in Tenneesee and came with the family to Laclede County, Missouri in 1840.  He married Rebecca Frances Smith in 1860 and they started their family just before he went off to fight in the Civil War for the Union in Company I of the Eighth Missouri Volunteer Cavalry.  He was away fighting when his wife delivered their first child, a boy, but the baby died shortly after birth.  He was home on leave again in 1864 and then went back to the fighting in Arkansas.  He sustained a leg injury when the horse he was riding was shot in the head and was eventually discharged at the rank of sergeant.  His Civil War uniform hangs in a case at the Laclede County Historical Museum in Lebanon, Missouri.  He was an active member of the community and in 1896 was elected circuit court judge for the county.

The next photo is Rebecca Frances Smith McMenus, Joseph’s wife, when she was a girl.  She was born in Greene County, Missouri in 1844.  Her parents were John Wesley Smith and Margaret Clark.  Her mother died when she was a child and her father remarried Fidelia Mariah Wait, a local school teacher, and they produced several half siblings for Rebecca Frances.  Her father was a prosperous merchant and later a judge for more than seven years, also acting as Justice of the Peace.  She was always known as “Aunt Frank” in the family and her corn bread and weaving skills were greatly acclaimed.  I have pieces of a blanket she wove for her daughter, Annie, when Annie married in 1886.  Both the McMenus and Smith families were founding members of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Phillipsburg, Missouri.

This next photo shows Joseph McMenus and his three brothers taken about 1895.  That is Jopseh top right, his brother George Prestion top left, brother William S. seated left and brother Eli seated right.  Quite a big difference in Joseph from the young man above, but the eyes and cheekbones are unmistakable!

The last photo below is Rebecca Frances McMenus with her youngest child, daughter Inez McMenus, my grandmother.  Judging from the approximate age of Inez, the photo had to have been taken about 1890.  Rebecca Frances would have been about 46.  I have one other photo of her taken later in her life where she is wearing little glasses on wire frames.  I have them put away with other keepsakes, including the hand carved rolling pin her husband, Joseph, made for her when they married.  It was passed down to daughter, Annie; to Annie’s daughter, Ednah, and then my mother, who was named after Annie.  It has seen a lot of rolling in its time!

I sometimes am asked how someone my age living in 2012 could have a great grandfather born in 1838; they think there should be other generations in there somewhere!  It’s not hard to explain.  The families were very large back in those days, and since the girls got married fairly young, they were often still having children when their older daughters were having children of their own.   There were also gaps between surviving children because so many babies died at birth or while small due to things like pneumonia, measles and whooping cough. So my grandmother was the youngest of a large family; and my mother was one of the youngest in another large family.  I am the youngest in my family, so there are generational gaps.  I have a first cousin who was 25 when I was born.  Other second cousins are 20 or more years older than me.  I see folks on The Antiques Road Show who appear to be about my age and say things like, “This is my great great great grandfather born in 1835.”    They obviously aren’t descended from a string of youngest children!


  1. I have studied your McMenis line somewhat. I believe that my gg grandmother Rutha McMinis was related to Lawrence McMinis Sr and Catherine. There was a Joseph McMenis and a Mary Ann McMenis living in the same county and regiment where Rutha McMinis, Craft lived in Morgan County, Alabama in the 1840s. Rutha and her husband’s second son was named Joseph. He died in the Civil War. Rutha, Joseph and Mary Ann were born in TN, but don’t know the county.I learned this from census records. There were no other McMinis or McMenis living in the area during that time period. Rutha married Elias in 1836 in Morgan County, AL. have corresponded with Jerry McMenis a desendent of Joseph’s. He told me he doesn’t know Joseph’s parents’ names. I have never learned Rutha’s parents’ names either. Rutha is said to have been a percentage of Native American. I have a copy of a photo and she does have N.A. features. Have you heard any family lore about Native American heritage? Jerry McMenis said he had never heard that. I have tried and tried to find Eli Sr’s first wife’s name, but with no success. I had been told by a descendent, Jim Phillpot that Joseph Sr. died from measles in 1814. Jim also said that he was told that Eli left his wife and moved to Ohio and lived to age 100. I found Eli in a TN in the early1800s. He was working with a crew of men building a bridge. I have never found him on a census after 1800 while living in N.C. I also found Eli Jr. living in Monroe Co. TN in 1830. Hannah McManners lives in the same vicinity. I have seen McManners interchangeable with McManus. I suspect she is related to Eli Sr. I have speculated that she was Eli Sr’s second wife and was much younger that Eli. I have no proof of this and is merely speculation. There is three children in Hannah’s home fitting the age that Rutha, Joseph and Mary Ann would have been in 1830. Rutha was born in 1816. Joseph was born in 1821 and Mary Ann in 1824. If it is them, I have pondered how they got to Morgan County, AL. I have also wondered if Eli Sr’s first wife died before he first left N.C. or shortly after. I have also wondered if Hannah was Native American and Eli left because of the removal in the 1830s. I have never found Hannah on another census. Do you know if there is proof that Eli moved to Ohio and lived to be an old man? Do you know if there is proof that Joseph died in 1814? Another thought is could one of the McMenis men living in TN had children with a N.A. woman. If so could he be Eli Sr? As we know it wasn’t uncommon for settlers to have a white wife and an Indian wife. I have thought a lot of things in trying to unravel the long held mystery. Rutha had parents and I firmly believe she is closely related to Lawrence and Catherine. I feel a kinship to this family. My sister is a member of Ancestry., She recently had DNAing test done by them. Another member connected that closely matched hers. This particular member has Lawrence and Catherine McManus in her family tree. We were both excited to learn this. I would love to hear back from you. My e-mail address is Thank you! Darlene


  2. My great grandfather was George Preston! Wonderful thing internet! He died in washington state. After my great grandmother died in kansas he married Elizabeth Dunham and moved later to washington state! WOW!!!


    • Hi LInda, we have been in contact before. I have photos of George Preston when in Odessa, WA. Come back often to the blog as I will be posting everything I have on the McMenus/McManus side of the family and I plan to go to Fermanagh, Northern Ireland next year to check out where the family came from.


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