Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monday Mornings

For the foreseeable future my Monday mornings will be devoted to research at the Sandy Bay Historical Society for my next ROS article.Monday morning is the only time that the research room is open, at least at this time of year. Just over a week ago, I began searching the Internet for information on William N. Manning. "Billy" Manning built reed organs, here in Rockport, for a brief period in the 1870's. The Sandy Bay Historical Society Museum has two of his organs in their collection. One of them is a rather typical design, the other, I believe utilizes Manning's particular patented construction. He has several patents, to his credit, on improved actions for reed organs (as well as an early form of roller furling for sailing vessels). He was a musician and a composer, playing violin, piano, and organ. He was the organist for the Unitarian Church in Rockport. He wrote at least four compositions that were published. One of local interest is "Our Cape Ann Home".He owned two stores in Rockport that sold organs, music, violins, jewelry, and clocks. I haven't discovered which store came first, Main Street or Railroad Ave. Maybe he had them both at the same time. The Manning Reed Organ factory building was located in Millbrook Meadow. It was occupied first by the American Hide Seat Company with Manning Organ Company located on the upper floors, then by the Lawrence Bobbin and Spool Co., the Russia Cement Co., and finally, until it's abandonment in 1915, by the Haskins Isinglass Company. On July 2, 1932 the building burned. "Billy" came from a rather large family that arrived in Rockport in 1798. His grandfather was one of Rockport's first physicians. Many others in his family were doctors, lawyers, and educators. Some, like William, seemed to thrive on inventiveness. As with most early Rockporters, several family members along with the same family friends seemed to be continually involved with each others businesses, served on several town committees, and held offices of community or religious importance.

Last Monday was my first sojourn into the files of the research room at the historical society. I read through the folder for the Manning Reed Organ Company, took 6 pages of notes and recorded which early photos or documents I wished to photocopy (the copy machine was broken). I gave the research room copies of the Manning patents to add to the file. Since then, 'A' and I have walked two cemeteries. We located the Manning family plots at the Union Cemetery.

If the society's research room is open tomorrow (doubtful as it is a state holiday), I'll be starting through the six boxes of Manning Family Papers. I'm also bringing my digital camera to photograph some items if the copy machine is still not functional. I'll be donating copies of the four pieces of sheet music written by Manning.

I have added links to the web sites for the Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum and for the Reed Organ Society to the sidebar.

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