Good Old Mantuan.

Laudator Temporis Acti posts a passage from Basil Gildersleeve’s reflections on Pindar (American Journal of Philology 32.4 [1911], starting at p. 480) which includes this:

Commonplaces? Yes, there are commonplaces, but do we not all live by commonplaces? What gave ‘good old Mantuan’ his vogue for two centuries except his copy-book sentences? ‘Semel insanivimus omnes’ has become as familiar a quotation as any in the whole list of household words, though few of us stop at ‘semel’.

The phrase “good old Mantuan” meant nothing to me, and I was unfamiliar with that familiar quotation “Semel insanivimus omnes,” so I did a little googling. Baptista Mantuanus, traditionally known in English as “Battista the Mantuan” or simply “Mantuan,” was “an Italian Carmelite reformer, humanist, and poet” whose posthumous reputation was based mainly on his Adulescentia, a collection of Latin eclogues, and in the first of these we find the line “Id commune malum, semel insanivimus omnes” (118; in Lee Piepho’s translation, “’Tis a universal evil. We have all been crazy once.”). Horace Furness says rather unkindly in his notes to Love’s Labors Lost (1904, 2nd ed. 1906, p. 150, referring to the passage where Holofernes says “Ah, good old Mantuan!”):

As to the cause of his popularity in the schools of the sixteenth century, — I think it is not utterly incomprehensible; his verse is very smooth, — almost too smooth, — and, being no poet, his ideas are common-place, and, expressed in lucid language, quite suited to teachers of moderate intelligence and Latinity. One phrase, — it occurs in this very Eclogue quoted by Sir Nathaniel, — is become one of our hackneyed quotations: — semel insanivimus omnes.

Le pauvre vieux Mantouan…


  1. J.W. Brewer says

    Maybe it’s the “Good Old,” but this somehow sounds like an old model of upscale automobile. “Check out the new 1958 Packard Mantuan, now with automatic transmission and power windows.”

  2. Be the first on your street to own a brand-new Packard Mantuan! Semel insanivimus omnes!

    (A classic example of an advertising campaign that failed to excite the car-buying masses.)

  3. I’m pretty happy that so much of what Basil Gildersleeve considered common educated knowledge has vanished.

  4. @Brett sheesh! yes.

    … the fusion of the whites and the blacks was gravely recommended as the only solution of the troublesome problem of slavery. Misled by Yankee statistics and by his own foul imagination, the writer …
    Unless you drive these wretches howling back to their haunts of impurity and keep them there, you [men [**] of the South] will be “of all men most miserable.”

    Tackle the ball _and_ tackle the player both.

    [**] And Gildersleeve means men: the invective is notable for almost as much sexism as racism.

    Gildersleeve was a professor of Greek and Hebrew at the University of Virginia from 1856 until 1873, … — and clearly thought it had all been downhill since the Greeks.

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    Good grief! He’s practically up there with my favourite Nazi Africanists.

    (OK! OK, drasvi! I give in, OK?)

  6. Sounds like the barbarous, impure etymology of miscegenation hurts him as much as anything.

    His WP article notes at its end, “Fannie Manning Gildersleeve, a black woman born approximately 1869, lists Basil Gildersleeve as her father on her funeral records.” Welp.

    The most recent issue of the American Journal of Philology, which Gilderseeve founded, has an article titled Harshing Zeus’ Μέλω: Reassessing The Sympathy of Zeus at Iliad 20.21. Classicists these days are a wild bunch.

  7. wp’s biog

    In a memorial published in the American Journal of Philology, Professor C. W. E. Miller paid tribute to Gildersleeve, stating, “Of Greek authors, there were few with whom he did not have more than a bowing acquaintance.”

    Is that tribute one of those mis-negated sentences? Would that G himself had written it in a more forthright style. I’m all for forthright!

    Gildersleeve House, one of the undergraduate dormitories at Johns Hopkins University … and Gildersleeve Portal at Brown Residential College … both named in his honor.

    So wokeness against G’s unapologetic defense of slavery, hasn’t reached those institutions?

    a black woman born approximately 1869, lists Basil Gildersleeve as her father

    So his moral righteousness

    … the great “social evil,” which exists wherever the sons of Adam are what they are.
    … the standard of morality in the male sex is as high here as it is anywhere in the world, despite the “temptations” over which the Puritan preachers are wont to gloat with peculiar unction.

    Had evaporated barely 5 years later? BTW gives “Fannie Manning Gildersleeve” (m. Tonsler) dob as 1860 (when her mother would have been 14)/died 1892 — which also disagrees with wp’s cite. Can I ignore that?

  8. ‘Miscegenation’ the word-coinage seems to be an example of fake news. 1863, a few months before G’s piece — is there nothing new in (U.S.) politics?/Was it them showed the Fascists how it goes?

    So was G duped by the fake? Was he in on the fakery?

    The project of the wholesale amalgamation of the white and black races, to which the Yankees have given the barbarous name of Miscegenation, …

    There was no such project. The Yankees had given no name. The whole thing was an anti-Yankee/anti-Lincoln beat-up.

  9. J.W. Brewer says

    The wiki article on Prof. Gildersleeve asserts that his unreconstructed Southernness (as a supplement to his undoubted academic qualifications, German Ph.D., etc.) was relevant to his having been chosen as one of the original faculty of Johns Hopkins, which hired him away from U. Va., because the founders were eager to reassure the local elites of Maryland (a slave state until the end of the peculiar institution and a Jim Crow state through and including the circa 1962 time frame in which the movie “Hairspray” is set …) that the new university was not a monolithically Yankee/abolitionist project. So he was, to use anachronistic vocabulary, hired at least in part in order to promote diversity and inclusion.

    (To its comparative credit, JHU began to admit black students as undergraduates* as early as 1945, which was notably ahead of the curve compared to elite private universities a bit further south.)

    *There were apparently some earlier isolated instances of black graduate students, which is not an uncommon pattern, for the same reason that “all-male” colleges sometimes had a limited number of female graduate students early on – the perceived social dynamics of integration/co-education were different for undergraduate students.

  10. The Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Al Gore was not one of the show’s best. However, the sketch (written by Al Franken*) with Gore is my impersonating Trent Lott (as Lott was being forced out as Senate majority leader for his endorsement of Strom Thurmond’s** 1952 segregationist presidential campaign at the latter’s hundredth birthday party) was brilliant. My favorite part was the Al’s’*** explanation of the difference between Thurmond’s positions in favor of segregation and against miscegenation.

    * Some of the jokes were used in both that sketch and his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

    ** After Thurmond’s death, it turned out that he too had a mixed-race daughter.

    *** Is this the best way to write the plural possessive of “Al”? Since their full first names are different, maybe I could have used the compound possessive “Alan’s and Albert’s” instead.

  11. Had evaporated barely 5 years later?

    Seriously? Have you hitherto been unaware of the existence of hypocrisy?

    Is this the best way to write the plural possessive of “Al”?

    Absolutely not; it has to be Als’, just like Germans’ or farmers’.

  12. J.W. Brewer says

    It was noted above that not all claims on the internet about Gildersleeve’s purported mixed-race daughter agree with each other about dates and the like, but at least if one accepts the 1869 date of birth as accurate for the sake of argument, one might note that Thurmond, to his (comparative) credit, fathered his own mixed-race daughter at a time when he was unmarried, so that at least there’s not an infidelity angle.

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    Separately, the larger quote from Gildersleeve posted at L.T.A., from which hat excerpted one bit, has other content of interest, and one wishes the internet provided a copy of Gildersleeves’ “Pindar-Quote-a-Day” calendar.

    The “Prof. MUSTARD” he references as having revived interest in the Mantuan is presumably this dude: Having apparently been born, raised, and initially educated in Ontario, we might hope Prof. Mustard was not an enthusiast for Confederate apologetics (although he well might, not least as an immigrant, have valued sectional reconciliation among U.S. white elites over racial equality or justice), but who knows.

  14. Quoth:

    W. P. Mustard was one of our first classicists who devoted himself seriously and extensively to the study of the classical tradition. A man with an amazing breadth of knowledge, he came to Johns Hopkins as had his fellow Canadians G. J. Laing and H. R. Fairclough to study Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit under Minton Warren, Gildersleeve, Kirby Flower Smith, and Maurice Bloomfield. Following stints at Colorado College and Haverford, he returned to Johns Hopkins as Collegiate Professor. At the death of Kirby Flower Smith, Mustard was elevated to Professor of Latin, joining Tenney Frank in the administration of the program. His most enduring work is his contribution to our study of the ancient sources of the European pastoral, work that he fostered by his regular classes in pastoral poetry. His work on classical echoes in Tennyson as well as other English poets is always precise and encyclopedic and his ability to find correspondences and allusions in authors widely separated by place and time represents a diversity if not a skill in reading that has nearly disappeared. He served classics effectively in the pages of AJP as associate editor, writing numerous reports and reviews. The sheer amount of careful publication is impressive, and is typical of the production of Johns Hopkins classicists of the time: over 30 notes of a page or less, many long articles citing classical parallels in modern authors, six critical editions of Renaissance pastoralists, and over 50 reviews.

    His heaviest involvement with AJP was only after Guildersleeve’s retirement from the editorship, but the two had to have been on at least reasonably amicable terms.

  15. J.W. Brewer says

    I can’t say I was previously familiar with the Sanskitist Maurice Bloomfield, mentioned in Brett’s block quote, but it turns out that he was an uncle of the probably better-remembered Leonard Bloomfield, as well as the second president (in 1926) of the LSA, an office his nephew held in turn in 1935.

    I will say that I don’t know how much of an outlier the LSA was or wasn’t among comparable American learned societies in having multiple Ashkenazic presidents during that time period (not just the two Bloomfields), although if it was ahead of the curve that’s obviously to its credit.

  16. I’d like to know more about Fannie Gildersleeve Tonsler.

    The widely available 1859 date for Fannie Gildersleeve Tonsler’s birth is pretty solid. She was married in 1880, and the funeral home (whose owners are closely associated with her family based on a variety of Charlottesville histories) lists her birth date then. Wiki is wrong. The Ancestry entry cited by AntC is giving Basil Gildersleeve’s white wife as her mother, so it is also wrong in suggesting her ‘mother” was 14 when she was born.

    I started looking precisely because that 1869 wiki date was startling. The real date puts it in the pattern of white masters fathering children with their slaves. (Though as with Strom Thurmond, other patterns of unacknowledged paternity combined with race hatred exist.)

    The Bell Funeral home listings give father and mother for other people in the cemetery, but only list her father. I might have expected the opposite – a clear relationship to her mother, and a father who refused to be named. This added to my intrigue. What was her relationship with Gildersleeve like? What was his attitude?

    Her husband was the locally celebrated longtime principal of “the negro school”, beloved by blacks and some whites, meriting repeated newspaper attention. She named two of her six children Basil and Gildersleeve. With a locally prominent husband, that would not have gone unremarked. One could understand a range of motives here – certainly not necessarily respect or love for one’s father, but wanting acknowledgment from one’s father, love from one’s father, resources a father could make available, anger that he was forthcoming with none of those. But it’s hard to see naming the kids serving those functions unless her father was at least somewhat open about the relationship. Otherwise, I expect he would have seen it as an aggressive attempt to ‘out’ him.

    Based on a lecture at Wash U. St. Louis in 2021, she may have become a classics scholar/teacher herself (it’s not published online, but the title is about post-bellum women classicists, and a Johns Hopkins report on Gildersleeve references it as relevant to Fannie). While her father’s (s)Creed of the Old South from the 1890s is offensive and ahistorical, I would not really call it a defense of slavery. He argues that maybe it wasn’t as bad as is believed, in a strange aside about how white fears of massacres didn’t pan out, that Negros were better people than whites had expected, and that that must partly be attributable to the upbringing they received through slavery. Gahh!!

    But not really a defense… He also writes that there was significant abolition sentiment in the south that would ultimately have won out, but those damned Yankee abolitionists just doomed the movement… That slavery was doomed by other forces regardless. Ahistorical to the point of ridiculousness, admittedly. But also a sign of some movement of opinion since his much uglier pieces during the war. Could some fondness for his black child have moved him?

    The essay includes a passage that contradicts his earlier screed on miscegenation, where he claimed it almost never happened. He now says that the relations between master and slave varied in all the ways that relations within a family varied. Is this a cryptic acknowledgement of his own situation?

    An Arcadia Press book about the African American community in Charlottesville (I absolutely love their local histories) available online has a picture of Fannie, with a mysterious caption sourced to her grandson stating that she “originally came to the United States from England”. I’m not sure what to make of that. She was born in Charlottesville. The line might simply be something Gildersleeve had asked her to say to make it seem she was not his daughter, but maintaining that fiction hardly seems consistent with naming her sons for him. Could it be true that she went to England in her youth? If so, only GIldersleeve would have had the resources to send her. Could she have studied classics there, somehow?

    Her husband proudly became one of the first African Americans to register to vote after the 1902 Virginia Constitution. I briefly thought, wow, just a couple years after the Wilmington riot, Virginia was going the other way and re-enfranchising (some) African Americans? But of course not. The new state Constitution used means testing to disenfranchise an enormous number of blacks and some whites. Tonsler was relatively well-to-do.

    Tonsler himself is listed as “mulatto” in places where such things are recorded. His family relates a story that he was educated by the owners of the plantation where he grew up. One of his close friends was apparently the son of the owner and was also educated.

    It makes you wonder how “mulatto” elites saw themselves, and how racists perceived their African American kids. Did people like Gildersleeve maintain their racism, embedded in an elitism by which they perceived their own mixed-race children as better than the sort of poor white who would be disenfranchised?

    I wish the Hallett Wash U. lecture was available. I checked her academia profile but couldn’t find it.

    Gildersleeve’s impact on the country was certainly ugly. He promoted slavery and racism and minimized the incredible harms. But I still find it interesting to see that there may have been contradictions of that worldview in his treatment of his daughter.

  17. I noticed that it looked appeared—and I was able to confirm with a little more searching—that Maurice Bloomfield (whom I was vaguely familiar with) and his sister Fannie married another sister and brother, Rosa* and Sigmund Zeisler. It seems like that kind of arrangement tends to happen primarily within small social circles—but it occasionally crops up in dynastic politics as well.

    When Ferdinand and Isabella and Emperor Maximillian married their children, Joanna the Mad and Phillip the Handsome,** together, they were not anticipating their grandson Charles [interthreaduality] would become ruler of both sides’ entire territories. They also arranged a marriage for the Prince or Asturias, Joanna’s elder brother, with Phillip’s younger sister Margaret. It was only the deaths of both Joanna’s elder siblings that made her her parents’ sole heir. After Isabella’s death, although Joanna was titular queen of Castile, her father had no intention of yielding any practical authority over the country to his daughter and her husband. I have often wondered whether he might have behaved differently if his long-intended male heir had not died young. In any case, Ferdinand tried hard to father another prince after Isabella’s death, so that the Habsburgs would not inherit Aragon as well as Castile, but he had no further sons. When he died, Charles took over Spain directly, leaving his mother to languish in near captivity through essentially the entirety of her son’s reign, as she had for much of her father’s.

    * Rosa is the only one who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page. Fannie was a noted concert pianist, and her husband Sigmund was one of the defense lawyers in the Haymarket cases.

    ** I distinguish the Hapsburg Phillip the good-looking as “Phillip the Handsome” versus the Capetian Phillip the good-looking as “Phillip the Fair.”

  18. J.W. Brewer says

    There’s more on Gildersleeve’s apparent son-in-law at this local-wiki article, including a reproduction of the obit/tribute that allegedly ran the day after his death on the front page of the local (white) newspaper. He was, as you would expect for someone in his position (black principal of the all-black school that was dependent on white political establishment for its funding) a work-within-the-system guy rather than a complain-about-the-structural-injustice-of-the-system guy. At least out loud. Don’t know about the one in Charlottesville, but the blacks-only Jim Crow public high school in the border-state area where I subsequently grew up required Latin as a mandatory subject until circa 1920. I wonder if they used Basil Gildersleeve’s Latin grammar (in wide use throughout the U.S.) in those classes.

  19. John Cowan says

    So his moral righteousness […] [h]ad evaporated barely 5 years later?

    Gildersleeve is not making any moral claims, except about Yankees. He is making three factual claims, viz.:

    1) There are essentially no darkskins among the white population. This is true by definition, giving the one-drop rule that nobody with even one African ancestor could be white[*].

    2) There are essentially no offspring of black fathers and white mothers. This is hard to establish one way or another, but it’s likely to be true, given the intensity of the social stigma. Such children would have to be either socially or physically buried.

    3) There are few blacks with white ancestry. We don’t know how true that was in 1864; we know that it is not true now. Gildersleeve concedes that there are some, and says it is to be expected. We also don’t know how much opportunity he had to compare American blacks with African ones, since he has nothing but skin color to go on.

    If he were charged with begetting a black daughter, he would probably (given circumstances in which he could sidestep the stigma) say that it was true, and why should he be better than any other son of Adam? — but that his individual case (and other cases) did not affect the general position. That would not be hypocrisy on his part.

    [*] In Twain’s 1894 historical novel The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, the focus of the plot is Roxy, a slave who is 15/16 white by ancestry and looks entirely white and who bears a slave son to her owner: partus sequitur ventrem. She is also the wet nurse of her owner’s legitimate son, and decides to swap the half-brothers so that her own son will be freed from slavery and exempt from being sold off the plantation. The two grow up together as children (a common thing), but are increasingly separated by their circumstances.

    The title character’s role is relatively minor: he is a fingerprint hobbyist (this is before fingerprinting is a regular thing), and he is able to establish, when the two children are in their twenties, that they have been swapped. The result is a disaster all around: the one young man does not know how to be a slave, and other slaves resent him; the other does not know how to be a free man, and other free men despise him. As you’d expect in Twain, they speak different dialects.

    The Yankees had given no name.

    The name amalgamation was entirely standard.

  20. Ryan: Fannie Manning Tonsler’s death certificate (of June 8th, 1937) seems to be the primary source for the paternity claims. It was based on information given by her son, Compton Tonsler; her husband had died before her (and Compton would pass away not long after). The typed date of birth says “Sept. ?”, with “1869” added above it written by hand, as was her age, 67 years and 9 months. Her mother’s name and birthplace are typed in as “Don’t Know”. Her father’s name is given as “Basler Gildersleeve”, born in Charlottesville, Va.

    “Basler” would be Basil (perhaps melded with Tonsler?) and Charlottesville confused with Charleston. I wonder why Fannie carried the surname Gildersleeve, if Basil would presumably deny his paternity.

  21. J.W. Brewer says

    @Y: Just-emancipated American blacks in the immediate aftermath of the formal end of slavery (and many/most of their descendants unto this present day) frequently, probably typically, bore the surname of their former owners, so the surname implied a connection but not presumptively a genetic one. Naming her own kids as she did may have been a bit more unusual.

    @John Cowan: The “one-drop rule” was a post-Reconstruction retcon, which earlier white Southerners would not have been willing to actually live by because they knew how many members of their “own” community it would adversely effect. Consider the following passage from John Belton O’Neall’s* treatise on “The Negro Law of South Carolina,” published 1848: “When the mulatto ceases, and a party bearing some slight taint of the African blood ranks as white, is a question for the solution of a Jury. … No specific rule as to the quantity of negro blood which will compel a Jury to find one to be a mulatto has ever been adopted. Between 1/4 and 1/8 seems fairly to be debateable ground. When the blood is reduced to, or below 1/8, the Jury ought always to find the party white. When the blood is 1/4 or more African, the Jury must find the party a mulatto.” I’m not sure if the retcon had already happened when Twain wrote, or if he was exaggerating a bit for the sake of effect as comic writers (even when trying to make a serious point about a serious topic) are wont to.

    *The whole book is mostly written in the sort of practical, matter of fact tone one might expect from a modern legal treatise about how a bankruptcy filing by various participants in a real-estate development project may affect the other participants. Given the subject matter, this seems very weird, but of course it’s the sort of thing that can be useful for understanding long-dead writers on their own terms. To be fair, wiki claims that some of O’Neall’s contemporaries objected to the book as excessively liberal. One of his rhetorical tactics was to suggest that moderating/reforming certain particularly brutal features of the status quo would deprive the abolitionists of a propaganda talking point without really creating any practical difficulties, but I suppose not everyone bought that style of argument.

  22. @JWB: But if she was born in 1869…?
    Could her father have been a slave of Gildersleeve’s, and also named Basil? Or were given names of the whites in the estate avoided when naming their slaves?

  23. J.W. Brewer says

    @Y: Or her mother could have already been surnamed Gildersleeve, since babies of unknown/unacknowledged fathers tended to be given their mother’s surname. I don’t even know if the family tree of the indisputably-white Gildersleeves is well-known enough to exclude the possibility that the *famous* Basil had a cousin or nephew or uncle or whatever floating around also named Basil and also conceivably the father?

  24. @Ryan The Ancestry entry cited by AntC … is also wrong

    Thanks Ryan, yes I’d figured that out too late to correct my post. Further than “wrong”, I’d say pile-of-s***. (I also looked around some of the other family members. Just a total confusion of right people with wrong partners/children, wrong dates …) Is entirely unreliable? Perhaps they deliberately mess up until you pay money? How do they collect their data? I did find some other Basil Gildersleeve’s (to answer one of the q’s) — but the whole lot seemed unreliable and inconsistent.

    Interesting, though, that Ancestry’s dob for Fannie is only a year out, compared to wp’s decade out — and they link to a funeral home doco.

    Thank you for everybody else’s speculations. Yeah I guess Basil can refute the charge of hypocrisy with plausible deniability/fog of war.

  25. Ancestry is two things. Fantastic access to a wide range of original records, and also the trees built by a range of members with varying knowledge and understanding of what they’re looking at. Trust the records (for the most part). Verify the rest.

    And no, she was not born in 1869 which would mean she got married at 11.5. The funeral home run by family friends is more reliable. The Johns Hopkins bio gives 1859/60, and they consulted census records to build their profile. Census records show age. I’d link them but the JH links won’t copy properly in my phone, but you can consult them.

    There isn’t any question that her father was Prof. Gildersleeve. It’s supported by family memory, her classification as a mulatto, and by various ancillary bits of evidence. It looks to me like it would have been common knowledge in C’ville.

    My sense is that freedmen were not in the habit of reusing the master’s name other than as a surname. So her naming her kids this way is unusual. But there are other examples of white fathers showing some concern for their formally unacknowledged black children. I believe there was a situation like that in Ida Tarbell’s biography. Can’t remember whether it was her or her mother.

    My question is just how much he did for her. The kids’ names, her pursuit of the classics, the possible sojourn in England, the failure to acknowledge her mother while mentioning him, are all unusual, tantalizing bits of evidence that he may have been fairly involved but they don’t quite add up to proof.

  26. JW, Gildersleeve was from South Carolina, so I think we can safely exclude the idea of a second Basil G who happened to be in Charlottesville at the same time.

    Ockham is leading us on a direct path to the professor.

    And again, the direct sources include not just her son saying so on an official death cert. It’s in the records of a funeral home run by close family friends who were part of a circle of people, an informal social club called The Four Hundreds, where such backgrounds—of patronization by a slavemaster father—were not uncommon. They would have known. And in the understandable but somewhat unfortunate “high yaller” politics of the day, probably taken special pride in it.
    Correction to an above post. While Ida Tarbell certainly had a white grandparent, she certainly had four such. Ida B Wells is the turn of the century journalist I meant.

  27. J.W. Brewer says

    I don’t know what other Basils with the surname there may have been, of what age and in what area; that came from someone else’s googling-based comment w/o those sorts of details shared. The Prof. Basil’s father (the Rev’d Dr. Benjamin G.) apparently relocated from Charleston to Richmond in the 1840’s, so most of the Prof’s younger siblings ended up in Virginia as well, but presumably the siblings had non-Basil names and a nephew would probably have been too young to be the father of Fannie.

    Note that while the Rev’d Benjamin G. was a northern guy who’d gone south in connection with his calling as a Presbyterian minister, there was a *different* (although conceivably related) Presbyterian Rev’d Gildersleeve who went north in pursuit of his ministry and whose Georgia-born son eventually became a nationally-known anti-slavery figure. All very complicated:

  28. There are no other Basil Gildersleeves in any of the mid-19th century censuses.

    But here’s a bigger twist in the story. In 1860, Basil, or rather “Bazil” according to the census taker, seems to have lived in a household with his 26 year old brother Benjamin, a student at UVa. And no one else.

    While only free people of color were named in that census, enslaved people were enumerated, with age, gender and, well, race (ie, Black or “mulatto”), under the name of the slavemaster. The census taker in St Annes Parish, Albemarle, had great penmanship, and you can find Bazil, the Professor of Greek, listed with his brother here on page 322:

    Whoever transcribed the Albemarle Co. slave schedule for Ancestry wasn’t as good or as careful. I offered Ancestry a correction for a Math. Tamer, who is certainly a Turner. More important, they transcribed slavemaster into the slave name column so the null result from an initial search isn’t meaningful. But interestingly, Ancestry gives full access to the slave schedule images so you can click through and recognize the problem. (I can’t get the main census images without a paid membership — the image above is from a non-Ancestry source.)

    Searching both columns, slave and slave-owner name, for Gildersleeve, even with Ancestry’s fuzzy match, no one shows up. Rev. Benjamin does show up with 4 slaves in Richmond, Henrico Co. But his 4 slaves are women of 60, 50 and 11 years of age and a male teenager, so no solid candidate for Fannie’s mother.

    It seems impossible to learn much more about Fannie’s mother, Emily Monroe (?). Since there are no Emily Monroes listed for Virginia in the 1860 census, she was likely a slave. President Monroe (long dead at that point) was a resident of Albemarle Co. Could she have had some relationship with his plantation? Even if she was the slave of someone other than Gildersleeve, their relationship carries an utter imbalance of power. And given that neither mother nor child are living with him, he certainly hasn’t taken on the normal responsibilities of a father.

    It’s fascinating to skim the records for a county like this, largely rural and already somewhat ancient, because you see how the farms were subdivided to family, neighborhoods carrying the same surnames over and over. The greater mobility of later years means that wouldn’t be nearly as true even today, 200 years into the settlement of rural Illinois.. There are a fair number of free mulatto people in Albemarle, and an extraordinary percentage bear the surname Goins. Was there a Goins patriarch freed fairly early during colonial times?

  29. Any idea where Fannie’s middle name of Manning comes from? Maybe her mother was Manning, not Monroe?

  30. A good question I’d lost track of. There’s no Emily Manning in Albemarle Co. in 1860. There is an 18-year old Emily Manning in Henrico County, where his father lived. But without paid access, I can’t tell her race, to even know whether she’s a candidate for Fannie’s mother. And of course, if Fannie’s mother was a Manning, not a Monroe, she could still have been enslaved and invisible in the census.

    Thinking this way opened up other thoughts, since Fannie Gildersleeve herself doesn’t obviously show up in the 1870 census. But no combinations of Fannie or Frances with Monroe or Manning turn up anything relevant.

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