Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lucinda the Mountain Mourner

High in the mountains in a rustic cabin we left poor Lucinda, cowering in her bed with shame about her pregnancy by a man who now ignores her. A man who was likely Melvin Brown, one-time resident and shopkeeper in Sherwood in the Town of Scipio, Cayuga County, NY.
The early 19th century has a very different outlook on unwed mothers, and Lucinda's reputation is forever destroyed. Mr. Brown will not likely suffer in any way unless he experiences a few pangs of guilt someday.
Eventually, Lucinda delivers her child. She never leaves the mountain. To discover how the book ends, visit the Scipio Offices where we have a copy available. You can sit and read it in our History Corner! Or, Google books by the title or author.
Let me know what you think of the book if you read it.


R. Mark Brown said...

Hi - thrilled to see your articles on Lucinda or the Mountain Mourner. I am well familiar with the story. There are a couple things not quite correct about the article. Soon after delivering her baby - Lucinda died - just days afterwards. Second - the letters say that Lucinda turned down his proposal for marriage and so he moved on to Marcellus. She later followed him there. What happened next is unclear to me but it says he was already courting another woman who I believe was Mary Salisbury d/o Benanuel. The book says that when finally confronted Melvin did accept responsibility for the child though it is not clear to me that he knew she was pregnant until after he learned she had died. am still not sure he was the father. Finally the book says that Melvin lived the rest of his life as a fiddler - meaning - a pauper. In fact the 5 editions of the book the last about 1855 - haunted him and his family their whole lives. He was made to be a complete villain.
I have my own theories - certainly formed with a personal bias - though I have read the book with - at least an attempt to keep an open mind. It is clear to me that Lucinda feared her step mother in Saratoga. I did not find any instance in the book which clear shows the rape actually happened. It was clear that she rejected him and he moved on - when pregnant - I wonder if perhaps she was angry and needed to come up with some kind of excuse in order to help save face with her stepmother and decided to get revenge upon Melvin. It is clear in the book that Lucinda was not well through out the time the letters were written. It's also clear that P.D. Manvil - a woman - writing at a time when female writers were not opened accepted in public - Manvil was seeking to find a way to make a name for herself. She certainly did that at the price of a man who was left with no way to defend his reputation.
One of Melvin's grandchildren was deposed about 1893. This is what was said - this is a child of Nancy Brown Trim (Melvin's daughter)

"Deponent further says that his brother Samuel died after his mothers death without leaving any children, that he sees his brother Marcus Trim as often as once in two three or four years all his life, that said brother Marcus has lived in the Woodford family in the town of Spencer, Tioga County, NY since his boyhood where he still resides, that
Catherine left home soon after her mother's death and went to live with Peter Hudson 's family where she was ? and that deponents father soon after re-married with a woman named Harriet Heath who made our home so disagreeable for us children that as soon as we were able to do so each of us young children found houses for ourselves. "

In an effort to defend her reputation - many innocent lives, innocent children were destroyed. In an effort to further her career - P.D. Manvil began a movement - her work is considered one of the earliest American examples Feminism.
I was thrilled to see your 3 articles on Lucinda and Melvin. There was an article in the paper which I found at Fulton History which cheered at Melvin's death in 1852. In truth we'll never know what really happened but I doubt the book contains all of the answers. Thanks - Mark Brown

Sandie Stoker Gilliland said...

Times were certainly different then, weren't they? I will say that I have never really thought of it from the man's point of view. I felt after reading the book that Lucinda, while naive, was likely a willing participant who found herself in a situation she could barely verbalize.
I haven't researched the writer at all, your information is intriguing. Ultimately, I find it sad that there could not be a better resolution of the situation. I wonder if a death certificate exists showing what Lucinda died of?

R. Mark Brown said...

Hi- there would not be a death certificate for someone who died at that time. NYS didn't start requiring them until 1880 and this was 1806 to 7 I think. Not a chance.....

There is a woman who did her doctoral dissertation on the PD Manville and Lucinda. She did a lot of research on the book. I would be happy to give you a copy of her dissertation. I'm in Seneca County through Labor Day when I have to go back to school. Her name is Mischelle Booher and the work is called Lucinda, Or The Mountain Mourner, a scholarly edition (2000) Booher, Mischelle Yvonne.

Abstract Typescript (lithograph copy).. Vita.. Thesis (Ph. D.)--Oklahoma State University, 2000.. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 246-250).

Booher's objective was to show was a female writer of that time did to market her work contrasting how the book changed with the times over its 50 years of editions - and putting it all in context with the feminist movement I believe.

She published something again in 2003 called Mrs. P. D. Manvill and The Feminist Companion: some correctons. Critical Essay -

She published something in the journal - Early American Literature Vol 42, No 2, 2007 called
“I Trust Every Feeling Heart”: Reader History and P.D. Manvill’s Lucinda; Or, The Mountain Mourner
MISCHELLE BOOHER and I think she published something on Harriet Beecher Stowe - found it ! The American Transcendental Quarterly Vol 17, 2003 - "Let Us only Take it as we should": the role of domesticity in Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Lot".

She teaches English at Wilkes University in Scranton, PA.

That aside - since The Mountain - is where Lucinda lived in Saratoga County - near Charlton but actually in the Town of Greenfield - the Greenfield Historical Association Greenfield Center, NY - did a presentation for the public on the story in or about 2001. It was from them that I learned of the book and story.

Are you aware of the Jan 4, 1853 Article about Lucinda and Melvin in the Auburn Chief? It's a very fair article I think. We will never really know what happened. I have my thoughts but other's will certainly have their's as well. In the case of Ms. Booher, she would like to make P.D. Manville into a crusader I think for women's rights. I suspect the Manville saw the story as opportunity and she shaped it to fit her own purposes. It seems clear that Booher has an agenda in her writings that would never favor Melvin. On one hand I get excited when I find someone who has heard of the family I'm researching though on the other hand it's sort of sad to think how long those of the 1800s prolonged the story to make Melvin's life impossible and in a way - it's sort of sad to see that some are still looking to make personal good fortune for themselves using the story as in the 2 Booeher resources. It's almost like - we still can't escape it nearly 200 years later.

At least one other researcher who has studied it feels that perhaps the the letter format were as much a way to present the story in an interesting way. She suggested that she felt that the aunt/sister may have already been dead at the time the book was written.

Melvin can be found in 1810 in the Cayuga Co. Census. In 1820 he is in Danby, Tioga Co. and in 1825 he is in Enfield, Tompkins. I can not find Melvin in 1830. In 1840 and 1850 he is in Cayuga Co though he was living in Seneca Co. in 1844 when he went into the Seneca County Poor House.

I would love to find him in 1830 and I'd be very interested in any notes - minutia etc. that you might have found about him in local records - town records in Scipio. I would be very happy to share with you a the Booher Dissertation. Would you like a copy of the Jan 4, 1853 Cayuga Chief article?

Next - I am completely stumped with regards to Melvin's daughter Mary's first husband Johnson McDowell. They lived in Ledyard -the McDowell family is a large family and very confusing - there appears to be more than one Johnson McDowell. One of them was disabled in the Civil War. One of them - perhaps the same ran a pharmacy - or post office with a Salisbury. Did you know that Polly Brown was the Mary - daughter of Benanuel Salisbury - I believe this to be so but can't prove it. I have lots of evidence.

I often go to Auburn to research - and would be very happy to share info. Mark Brown

R. Jenkins said...

I've been doing quite a bit of research in Cayuga Co, especially Scipio in the 1800 to 1830 time line, and am curious as to whether Lucinda Manvill actually died as stated in PD Manvill's book. It almost seems a little bit too tidy to have her sorrowful tale end with her death. It makes a great morality story, but as I said, I'm curious if evidence exists as to her passing. The family I have been researching is the Sawdy family, of whom I'm a direct descendant, and there were quite a few in Scipio during the time I mentioned above. As with any search, there's always a mystery or two, and my 3rd greatgrandfather Stephen b. 1789 in Rhode Island married a woman 8 years older than himself in (I believe) Scipio, Ny...of course her name was Lucinda and I've searched for at least 10 years for her surname. The first child, name unknown, was a female born about 1807 and because of the age difference I've always suspected that Lucinda was a widow and the first child was from her first marriage. You can see my interst and my curiosity as to Lucinda Manvill's death. By the way the remaining Sawdy children born in Scipio were Sidney b. 1811, Elizabeth (Betsy)b. 1815 and Valentine b. 1818.
I know I'm probably grabbing at straws in the wind here, but one never knows...

R. Mark Brown said...

Hello R. Jenkins - what a fresh shot of crisp air to get your note today. I believe you are asking if it's possible that Lucinda may not have died - and perhaps could be your ancestor.

Lucinda went home to stay with her father and step mother and Manvil Rock was near Kayaderosseras Creek in the town of Greenville, NY Saratoga County. I understand it's sort of near a place called Sky Ranch.

A friend from Greenville first brought the story of Melvin and Lucinda to my attention. Last summer she wrote me saying:

....... the area around Manville Rock is being now clear-cut to accommodate a wind farm. Soon after I gave my talk to the Greenfield Historical Society, the Town made improvements to the road (near the Sky Ranch end.) They widened it and paved it, and in doing so, obliterated the precise plot of land that I identified as the location of the abandoned cemetery suspected to be the resting place of Lucinda. Parts of three burials were unearthed there in the 1970s and were removed to the NYS Museum's archeology department...... I suspect there were more burials that ended up as fill somewhere.

I am quite confident that Lucinda died but I do question things in the book. My Saratoga County friend who wrote above also has pointed out discrepancies she has found between fact and the book. I'm sure that Mischelle Boohert who wrote on the subject in her Doctoral Dissertation will say the story is completely true - though she will also tell you that the said Greenfield, NY of the book is in Greene Co - which is not the case.

I do not think that your ancestors could Lucinda nor her daughter who did live. My Greenville friend also knew a living ancestor of the Manville family and we were given contact info and we exchanged info and compared notes a couple years go.

Have you see the actual book? It's available on Google Books. I'd be happy to share more about it if you wish and would be interested in learning about your Cayuga County family esp if it might yield any info on Melvin and his family.

Following the publication of the book Melvin seems to have been a nobody. The struggle to survive evident in the lives of his children and grandchildren.

Sandie Stoker Gilliland said...

I am so glad to hear from both of you, I don't know why I never took R. Mark Brown up on his offer of information, but I would certainly like to now if I still can.
This is one of those stories that really makes you want to know what happened, both at the time and afterwards.
I will also see if Scipio has anything on the Sawdy family. It isn't one I am familiar with but there are records I can check. Most vital records for us start about 1847, but there are a few earlier than that.

R. Jenkins said...

Thank you both for resonding to my comment regarding Lucinda Manvill. I did download the book from Google and read it from beginning to end, and up until the end where she died, I thought I might have finally latched on to something...but the search goes on. Let me give a brief outline of the Sawdys and their connection to Scipio, Joseph Saudie (the last name suffers from many different spellings) was in Scipio as of the 1800 Census, which I believe is the year after Scipio became Military Tract #12. He and his son Joseph, Jr, went on to serve in the War of 1812, one in the 1 Regiment (Davis') and the other in the 76 Regiment(Tuttles'). But I'm getting off track here...Benjamin Sawdy served in the Revolutionary War and I believe was rewarded with land in Scipio, as were others. It seems that almost the whole family of Sawdys left Rhode Island and settled in Scipio and by the time of the 1810 Census there were 6 or 7 seperate familys in the area. I believe my ancestor Stephen was Joseph's oldest son and by the 1820 Census, Stephen is listed with his family. From there a group went to Erie Co, PA and Stephen, Joseph and Joseph Jr eventually ended up in Michigan by the 1840's...which is where I live. So, I know that Stephens wife was named Lucinda, and she was 8 years older than he, and that all their 4 children were born in Scipio. Now the task is to find her last name, kind of a quest for the Holy Grail, but I'm sure there are marriage records somewhere. By the way, there is a possibility they were either Quakers or Baptist, and if you are at all interested, there is an excellent article by Jane Fletcher Fiske tittled," The Sawdy Family from Boston, Rhode Isand and Points West" written for the New England Historical Genealogical Society in 1994. I'm a member and have found excellent material there. I'll certainly look up Melvin Brown and post any information I come across. Thanks again to you both for your responses.
Dick Jenkins
Frankfort, Michigan

R. Mark Brown said...

Dick - I took the challenge of looking for Sawdy and found a post I believe you put up on a Sawdy message board which included interest in the surname Salisbury of RI.

I believe that following the publication of the book normal life for Melvin Brown and his family became very difficult. I believe that family extended family did remain in contact but seldom spoke or wrote of it in places like Family Bibles.

Benanuel Salisbury was in Cayuga Co in the early times of the 1800s and he came originated from Little Compton, RI. His route to Cayuga Co. is told in the Rev War Pension Petition of Gideon Salisbury which you can find at Heritage Quest. He and his family eventually spread out after 1840 to parts of Huron Co. Ohio and Cass County Michigan. I believe that Melvin's wife is the Mary noted in the Salisbury Bible d/o Benanuel Salisbury and Grace Spalding.

I wasn't sure if you had Salisburys in your family tree but would like to learn more if so.

I'm curious to see a list of a few of the variation of Sawdie - it's not a surname I'm familiar with but maybe in a variation I might get some ideas.

Sandie - it's been so long since my first post I'm not sure what else I had to share. I tend to work on my Melvin Brown Family Group when I'm in Seneca County throughout July & Aug - when I return to the Hudson Valley I work more on genealogy lines in this area. I wrote to my friend who first made me aware of the Lucinda story. She lives in the Greenfield, NY area and did a presentation on Lucinda and the book for their local museum/historical society. She has spent a lot of energy trying to find out what happened. She communicated with Mischelle Boohert Anthony who writes extensively on PD Manvil Lucind'a step aunt who made her fame on the Lucinda book.

The Lucinda and the Mountain Mourner Book became an example of a work by a woman of the earliest days of the 1800s that was successful. That is the KEY element of today's interest in Lucinda. Boohert/Anthony now uses it and all of the various editions of Lucinda to show what a female writer of the time did to "Sell" her works. As we all know women weren't supposed to be writing books and do such manly things in that era. PD Manvil and Lucinda became icons of the emerging Feminist Movement.

Boohert/Anthony (her married name Mischelle Anthony) continues to write about the story and I have some of the articles but it would probably not be proper to post them since they are copyrighted material. There is a copy of the Boohert/Anthony dissertation in Auburn at the 3rd Floor Historian's Office above the Old Post Office a place you are surely familiar with.

I believe that Austin Comstock a Cayuga county resident and town historian mentions the Lucinda story in his notes and says that the Melvin Brown of Ledyard is the same Melvin mentioned in the book. I think it interesting that there is a Comstock who worked with Childs - one of the editions of Lucinda.

I'm working at trying to put together some more info. MB

I wonder if we might share off the blog - it's probably just me but it takes me forever to get logged in - even when I enter what I know is my password - and this comment window is rather small. It just seems to be a lot of work compared to an exchange of emails and Im not sure how much others are interested in it all.

I have been quite interested in some of the other things you've written Sandie. In fact I copied out the info on the Scipio Techer's salary in 1823 yesterday and shared it with some of my fellow teachers - $1.16 per month ---- what a hoot.

R. Mark Brown

Sandie Stoker Gilliland said...

I will make one last comment here about Lucinda, then e-mail you gentlemen directly if we continue to track this fascinating story. Unless, loyal readers, you'd like us to continue within the blog?
I have posted the entire 1800 census for Scipio (it's first) in this blog. I did find Benanuel Salsbury {sic} on page 14, and a difficult to read entry on page 12 that I saw as Joseph L. (?)audie, likely now to be Saudie. I think if you google "soundex codes" you can find several variations of this surname to check.
Scipio was formed in 1794, and was part of Onondaga County until 1799. In 1823, Ledyard and Venice were split off from Scipio. I also have listed in this blog all the names of Revolutionary War veterans who drew lots in Scipio, and didn't find Benjamin Sawdy. However, there was a lot of "horse-trading" of lots; also depending on where the lot was, it may be in current-day Onondaga County.
I am going to look at some records to see if I have anything on Saudie/Sawdie etc. and Salsbury. Mark, I will e-mail you off list; Dick, if you would also like to hear anything I may find, please let me know at

C.V W said...

Wow...just finished reading the Lucinda story for the fifth time.
My sister, in New Jersey, gave me the book a few weeks ago. She is searching our geneology and discovered this book is about relatives of ours.
I left her a message to check out the previous blog entries and help develop more knowledge of this fascinating piece of our history.

I wonder if Lucinda was not emotionally disturbed from early on. Post-tramatic stress from her mom dying, the baby sister fatally burning herself, whatever other hardships.
I also wonder if she did not contract an STD from her sexual encounters and she died from the effects of it.
My sister told me she committed suicide. I am having trouble finding comment to that effect. She was willing herself to die but P.D. Manvill mentions murder. Is it innuendo for passing a disease on to another?
I want to know what became of Polly.
Where did Nancy live in PA?
I'm thrilled to think it could be discovered.

R. Mark Brown said...

I just did a google search of the third edition and I didn't find any mention of murder.

Curious to know who you are related to in the story? I'm wondering if you realize that PD Manville was related to Lucinda - by marriage. Manville was the sister of Lucinda's step mother.

I knew of someone who is related to Lucinda but I'm not sure I still know who to reach her.

Mischelle (Booher) Anthony an assistant professor at Wilkes University, Wilkes Barre, PA has written quite a bit about the story. I would believe that she would call it rape. I don't believe that STDs play any part in the story. Does not the story suggest that she died of a broken heart?

Certainly health care during that time was not what it is now. I have a relative who died very very sadly a few years ago due to toxemia. Her baby survived. I tend to think that Lucinda must have been sick and that accounts for her seemingly deep emotional state.

No one will ever know that truth but the book had a devastating effect on the lives of many innocent people. Over various editions the book haunted Melvin, his children and his most innocent grandchildren for at least 50 years. We have to look at it in the context of when it all happened but try placing the story in the context of today. I doubt that a birth out of marriage in today's world would generate 50 years of attention and disdain.

R. Mark Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cathc1014 said...

Dear Mr. Brown,
I find your last comments about the impact on many following generations heartfelt and giving me pause to consider my own conclusions and biases surrounding the Lucinda matter - I am a 6th great granddaughter of Mrs. Manvil.

"P.D. Manvil" (Patty Dyer Manvil) was born Martha Dyer Waterman, her parents were John Waterman and Martha Dyer of Rhode Island. Martha first married Ebenezer Corey who as a member of the Ohio Company, was one of the original 48 white settlers at Marietta, Ohio in 1788. Corey was found murdered, presumably by Indians, at Waterford, Ohio in 1794. Martha posthumously bore their only child, Julia Louisa Corey, several months later in the spring of 1794. Martha traveled alone by horse with the infant, joining her mother (John Waterman died of smallpox at Valley Forge) and grandfather, Richard Waterman, in Greenfield. (The Watermans had removed to Greenfield from Providence.) Martha's mother and other Waterman relatives are buried in the Greenfield Cemetery.
Martha Dyer (Waterman) (Corey) remarried to Mr. Manvil. Mr. Manvil educated Martha's daughter, Julia Louisa, at the Milton Academy. Julia became a teacher, met John L. Dumont, married and moved to Ohio and two years later settled permanently at Vevay, Switzerland County, Indiana. Julia Louisa Corey Dumont was for forty some years the most noted woman educator in the Ohio River Valley. She ran a school out of her home. Her most noted pupils were the Eggleston brothers. Julia, too, published quite extensively. She put many of her stories into a book which she published in 1856, a year before her death from TB.
Martha Manvil (no one can explain where the "Patty" came from as Martha was called) removed to Vevay and spent the next several decades as a seamstress to support herself, living with Julia and her family. (I have never known if Mr. Manvil died or she left the marriage.) Martha is buried in the Vevay cemetery next to her daughter, Julia.
I have met Dr. Anthony. One of her prime purposes in using the Lucinda book for her dissertation was to prove the book historically factual. At the time it was considered a "junk novel", according to Dr. Anthony. There were books coming out of London of the Harlequin-type and the Lucinda book was thrown into that pile. The book is now believed to be a "real" story.
It is indeed very sad that anyone's family more than 150 years later is under any cloud. You are correct that we will never know what exactly happened. We can only gather what we can document and we each fill in the blanks - most of probably a little or more than a little off the mark.
I own a first edition of Lucinda or the Mountain Mourner. It is in pristine condition. I prize it highly out of my very large collection of antiquarian books.

Old Marietta said...

Several years ago I read the Booher dissertation and was puzzled by some of the assertions made about Martha Dyer Waterman and Ebenezer Corey. According to Booher, Ebenzer Corey was killed by the Indians near Waterford, Washington County, Ohio, in 1794. Shortly after his death, Martha supposedly returned to the East on horseback with her posthumously born infant and later married Mr. Manville. The early records of Washington County, Ohio, which are extensive, do not include the name of Ebenezer Corey on the list of pioneers killed by the Indians. Two men were killed by Indians in the Waterford area in 1794-95. One was named Abel Sherman, and the other was Sherman Waterman. In fact, legal documents indicate that Ebenezer Corey was living in Waterford at least as late as 1799.

bil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bil said...

Booher's research is highly suspect. She only researched Lucinda because an advisor in grad school suggested she do it, because no one else had. It was academic opportunism, and I would not trust any information you get from her sloppy work (that's why no book publisher ever touched it).

cathc1014 said...

Dear "Bil",

Do you have information to add that may be of interest to the discussants on this very interesting blog? Vituperative commentary does nothing other than make me wonder as to your purpose - sour grapes over a bad grade at Wilkes University, perhaps?

R. Mark Brown said...

Thank you bil for you note. You are right there some questions that have been raised.

Boohert has confused Greenfield, Saratoga County to Greenville, Greene County -

You have the info from Marietta in her post of May 23rd.

I have another friend who I've invited to contribute but she prefers to stay on the sideline. She has studied the book, owns a copy, studied the dissertation, she's spent a lot of effort looking into it and she tells me there is questionable information presented in the original book.

Boohert had a specific focus regarding the research. She was trying to study what a female writer of the time had to do to make a hit book. Remember this was before women's liberation - women didn't write and publish books back then thus the reason for her to disguise her name. Second she was examining what the author and publisher did to keep interest in the book over it's numerous editions over 50. Times changed - and Boohert examined how various editions of the book changed. Clearly there was a feminist perspective at work. Boohert teaches women's literature.

As for P.D. Manville & Lucinda - I have seen first hand the evidence of the destruction of the book. One only needs to read the first hand accounts of Melvin Brown's grandchildren in their aunt's estate file.

I personally believe that Manvil sensationalized what ever truth there was - to be able to make a name for herself. From my person genealogical research I've learned that in those days people generally tended to hide their dirty laundry rather then publish it for all to read.

As for the published comments this evening - thank you to bil and to others - I suggest you relax. We can have a discussion without shouting out personally insulting comments.

If one reads the various posts - you do see some people who have brought up questions. Boohert's career is based around studies of women's literature. Manvil ??? we'll never really know what her motives were.

It would be nice to know what really happened to Lucinda's child - I believe that to know Manvil one has to study Julia Dumont. I'm researching Melvin Brown and his family so I'm curious but I don't have time to go there - too many other dead relatives to look for. Thanks - M

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