Dr. James Manney House circa 1812

Painting inspired by a rare 1905 postcard

When Dr. James Manney ventured to Beaufort from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., there were only 600 residents, some 75 houses and about twenty various commercial establishments that supported the needs of a somewhat isolated seaside village.

In August of 1812 Dr. Manney purchased lot #70 for only $65 and most likely began building this house for his soon-to-be bride, Maria Frederica Lente, also from Poughkeepsie.

The original classic Federal-style home, with two stories and double front porches, also included a ventilating attic under a broken-pitch roof.

This unique Beaufort residence has been added to extensively over the years, but still retains a remarkable assortment of the original material—much of it embedded in the home. Locked within the walls is the complete pegged, mortise and tenon timber framing the original structure. All framing joints are marked with chiseled Roman numerals.
The long east (back) extension, with its two-story gallery and the hand-sawn “Turkey Buzzard” gingerbread that covers the house, appear to have been added in a late-Victorian (1850-1890) attempt to “gussy up” this home.

Besides tending to the sick in Beaufort and at Fort Macon, Dr. Manney was an entrepreneur and a prolific letter writer. He was a partner in the building of the canal that connects Beaufort with the Neuse River and was appointed by President James Monroe as collector of customs for Beaufort.

In the late 1820’s, Manney was involved in supplying the brick for the building of Fort Macon, just across the inlet from Beaufort. Otway Burns competed with Manney in supplying the brick for the fort - both losing a substantial amount of money.

In 1830 Manney ended up having to mortgage all of his property, both personal and real, which included extensive holdings in real estate, ten slaves, all of his household and kitchen furniture, his library of books, medicines, surgical instruments, a gig and harness, two horses and his brick yard. In 1832, unable to repay the debt, part of his property was sold under foreclosure.

Manney and his wife had eight children. James Lente Manney was born in 1827. On December 20, 1848 he married Julia Ann Fulford, whose father was the lighthouse keeper at Cape Lookout. He followed in his father’s footsteps, studied with his father and then went to medical school in the 1840’s – first at the Medical College of the State of South Carolina, in Charleston, and then continued at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the University of the State of New York, where he received his M.D. degree. He returned to Beaufort to practice medicine except for his service as a Captain in the Confederate Army. J.L. Manney married Sidney Styron August 22, 1867.

Rosetta (Rosie) Howland Manney (1853-1889), the youngest daughter of Dr. James Lente Manney and Julia Ann Fulford, married William Alonzo Thomas (1849-1915) at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Beaufort. In 1900 Alonzo Thomas helped purchase Pivers Island so that it could be established as a U.S. Fish Commission marine laboratory.

Dr. James Lente Manney enlisted in the "Old Topsail Rifleman" in 1861. Captain Manney and his unit were at Fort Macon when it was captured in 1862 by Federal forces. During the remainder of the war he and his unit helped build pontoon bridges and boats in Kinston and Goldsboro as well as in Virginia. He continued to practice medicine in Beaufort until his death in the late 1800s.

The Manneys are buried in the Old Burial Ground in Beaufort.

The Dr. James Manney is featured in Porchscapes - The Colors of Beaufort, North Carolina - Three Centuries of History Woven Through Art and Words.
Son - Dr. James Lente Manney