There are times when people opt to ignore or try to eliminate information about their family. How and why do they do this? Who knows, records can be changed by providing incorrect information and making assumptions with most of it being just a fantasy or an alteration of information. Could there be more to it, sure, but what, and who knows. Sometimes there is nothing you as a genealogist can do but just gather the information and share what you have found. In this case, we have a 'free colored' female who marries a Native American and the Native American side "chooses" to ignore the Negro blood and actually tells of a different story about her family and who she actually is. Nancy "Ardella" Marsh was born free in Jefferson County, West Virginia about 1864. Ardella, as she is known as is the daughter of George and Mary (Goens/Goins) Marsh. She is the first and only Marsh child born in West Virginia. The information about Ardella's birth was a written entry in Lawson & Sarah (Hart) Goen's family bible. George's parents were slaves and are unknown at this time. Mary's parents are Lawson and Sarah (Hart) Goings and they are my great, great, great grandparents. This makes Ardella my great grandmother's older sister. I have not been able to locate George and Mary's actual marriage via a document, we only have the entry in the bible as they were married on June 19, 1863, in Jefferson County, Virginia, a day before West Virginia officially broke off to be its own state. Each state has informed me on several different occasions that the other state has the record. So far there is no official record found.
During the Civil War, Mary passed down the story of troops coming on to their land. We never heard if they were Confederate or Union troops, since Jefferson County changed hands eight times. George was in the field. A soldier came to Mary acknowledged Ardella being a cute baby and then asked for some supplies. Mary was so scared; she also had two dollars wrapped in Ardella's blanket. The soldiers received some supplies and left.
George and Mary Marsh left West Virginia with baby Ardella after the Civil War. The family migrating north made a stop in Morrow County, Ohio for a couple of years and it is where their second child was born. Sarah Elizabeth Marsh was born (1867) in Morrow County, Ohio, based Sarah's baptism record from the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints in Benzie, County, Michigan. (The Marsh family attended the church along with the other two colored families in the adjacent county; the Davis and Baty families).
The Marsh's met the Reed family on route and ended up homesteading (160 acres) next door to each other in Manistee County, Michigan around 1868. That is also interesting, the Reed's are a white family coming out of New York and the Marsh's are people of color coming out of Virginia. These two families to this day have remained close. The Reed's are still on their homestead land and the Marsh family has 30 acres of the original 160 acres still in the family.
Ardella meets John Manitou, son of Chief Joe Manitou and gets married around 1884. Ardella is the second wife of John Manitou. When they were courting, John would bring treats for Ardella. Ardella's mother Mary warned her repeatedly to not eat the treats. Ardella ignored her mother and ate the treats, and then they were married. Family history tells that John dealt a bit with roots and herbs. We are not sure if he was some sort of a medicine or herb man. There are various times that John would hang roots/herbs above the bed and all of a sudden Ardella would be deathly ill and could not get out of bed. Ardella and John's oldest daughter Mary would climb up the bed and pull down the roots so her mother would feel better. They had the following children together: Mary, Gertrude, Clarisa, Sallie, Frank, Anna, Walter and baby Quincy who died at a young age.
Apparently there was a reason to validate Ardella and John's marriage, why? Who knows, some type of legal document was filed. Look at this document that was posted by a distance relative to the Manitou's file. At this time we do not know what they are filing, since it references them being complainant’s.
An attorney writes it and the transcription is:
30 September 1888, Mister JB Shipman, Attorney at Law, Mr. Shipman I have additional information regarding the following petitioners, John Manitou whose Indian name is Man-e-to-way and his wife Della Muckadayskan whose Indian name is Obe-maw-bun-O-Qua residing at Solon Leelanau County, Michigan. Johs father is Pottawatomee of the Ke-Kon-a-me-zoo river and is also a claimant, his mother is Ottawa. Della is an orphan probably of the Mi-she-min-a-kon-nag Pottawatomies. Her parents names are lost to her as she was a child when they died (1868). She was taken by a Negro family to live with some of her relations (blackman) in the upper part of Michigan. They were wed in the summer of 1884 in Manistee.
Your friend, Phineas pamp-to-pee.
So what do we do with this information? At this point, nothing. We don't understand why this document was generated. We know the information is not true based on other records and oral history. There might be a reason to hide Ardella's Negro blood and also when this was written both of Ardella's parents and family are still alive. The Marsh family is believed to be the first people of color to homestead in Manistee County. The document just brings up too many questions, so, as a genealogist, I have to leave it alone until more evidence can be located.