Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Updating the Legacy of John Mann

In the Menge/Mange/Mann family story I've pieced together before now, John Mange (1722-1790) was “just” the brother of my ancestor, Ernst Mange. But with the help of another PHL researcher, we've discovered there was much more to the story of John Menge/Mange/Mann.

First, we've always known that John was an innkeeper in the Northern Liberties (NL), but where?  In 1793, after John's death, Catharina Mange was listed in the PHL directory at 219 N. 2nd St. in the NL district. Following that address through subsequent directories, that address was renumbered in 1858 to 319 N. 2nd St. Sadly, that address no longer exists --- two interstate highways intersect in that general area today. Curiously, even after consulting multiple sources, we still don't know the name of John Mann's inn, so if anybody finds a clue, please let me know.

Second, we know that John had two wives, but apparently only one child who survived to adulthood, a daughter named Sarah. Here's a quick summary of what we have since learned of Sarah's story:
  • After her parents died (father in 1790, mother in 1795), Sarah was in possession of three properties:
    • her father's inn
    • property farther north on N. 2nd St. sold to her father by her uncle, Ernst Mange in 1783
    • property in Kensington that her mother, Catherine, had purchased from John Jacobs, shorty after John's death

  • In 1797, Sarah married Gottfried Schmidt, more familiarly known as Godfrey Smith. He was merchant, and he had a business at 103 N. 2nd St. called Smith and Helmuth, Merchants. Godfrey and Sarah had six children:  Maria Magdalena (m. Benjamin German), Henry F., Sarah, William L., Charles H., and George A.

  • According to the deed evidence, Godfrey liked to invest in real estate. In fact, he bought (or rather mortgaged) the property next door to John Mann's inn, which his wife Sarah had inherited. I'm sure the plan was to expand the inn and tavern business. But then, rather abruptly, Godfrey died, so Sarah was subsequently saddled with a mountain of Godfrey's debt and several small children. There is evidence that Sarah tried everything in the book NOT to sell her father's property, and it must have been a very hard and sad day when she decided she must sell it. She, of course, knew the history of it – that her father had come to PHL from Germany, that he had started the inn/tavern less than 10 years after arrival, and that he had stayed with it throughout the Revolution and including the British occupation of PHL. And Sarah also knew she was the only one to survive her parents' toils and ordeals. But she had the next generation to think of. So on 15 July 1815, Sarah Smith sold both her father's property as well as the neighboring property acquired by Godfrey Smith to an iron merchant named Frederick Stelwaggon for the price of four unpaid mortgages amounting to $8830. It appears that Frederick was already leasing Sarah's property for his business, for in the 1814 city directory we find the business Stelwaggon and Knight, iron merchants at 219 N. 2nd St.

  • But then who should Sarah marry next, apparently in 1816?  Mr. Frederick Stelwaggon! John Mann's inn, as well as the neighboring property were back in the family! Frederick and Sarah had two more daughters: Sarah Ann (Koons) and Emma Mathilda (Miller). Sarah also created a trust in 1819 that ensured properties that she came into the marriage with would go to her Smith children, and properties in Lower Merion that Frederick came into the marriage with would go to her children with Frederick.

  • Unfortunately, then there were some legal troubles in 1824 between Frederick and one of his step-sons, Henry F. Smith, involving the property originally purchased by Ernst Mange. A Montgomery County judgment ruled against Frederick. All this was followed by an 1835 district court case brought against Frederick and Sarah by Frederick's long-time business partner, Joseph Knight. This too resulted in losses for Frederick and Sarah. The details of these cases will still need to be further researched by those with the time to invest.
Both Frederick Stelwaggon and his wife Sarah died in 1848. Between Sarah's seven children, the legacy of John Mann of Södel, Hessen, Germany very likely carries on in America today.

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