Volume 4 , Number 2, Winter 1970-71
Charles Preston Mahnkey and Mary Elizabeth Prather were married at Kirbyville, in Taney County, Missouri by Captain James Van Zant on January 18th, 1899.
Five children were born to the marriage. The first born, a little girl died on her eighth day. Douglas was born June 18th, 1902; Roberta was born February 2 1st, 1905; James Reginald was born May 19th, 1907; and William Richard was born December 18th, 1912. William Richard was killed in a tornado at Melva, Missouri on March 11th, 1920. The other three are living. Douglas, and Roberta, who married Roy Jones, live in Taney County. James Reginald lives in Portland Oregon.
Who was Charles Preston Mahnkey and who was Mary Elizabeth Prather.
The first Mahnkey we have any account of came to St. Louis County, Missouri from Germany when he was only eighteen years oldprobably in the 1840 period. We know nothing of the family he left in the old world. He married in St. Louis County, but lived only a short time. He had one son, Charles Mahnkey. Charles Mahnkey married Mattie J. Rudder in St. Louis County and while a young man moved to Taney County and settled South of Kirbyville (on the farm now owned by John Strahan, Jr.) Mattie Rudder came from old St. Louis stock. Her mother was a Tesson. The Tesson name is a part of early St. Louis history and is French. Some of you may recall the Tesson Ferry and the Tesson Road in the Western part of St. Louis County, the ferry on the Merrimac River. The family lived near the Merrimac River.
Charles Mahnkey and Mattie had a large family. Tommy; Charles Preston; Emma who married Sol Wheeler; Anna, who was the late Jim Wheelers first wife and who died shortly after the marriage~ Cecilia who married Sam Swartz and lived for a while at Omaha, Arkansas; Henry; George who married Bessie Russell at Kirbyville; Andrew who married Cordie Cobb at Kirbyville; William O., who married Elsie Casey of Kirbyville; Mattie, who married Roy House. Two of the children of Charles and Mattie Mahnkey are still living. William O. lives at Harris, California, and Mattie House lives at Medford, Oregon. The widow of Charles Augustus Mahnkey married Mr. Pogue and they have several children. I noted in the old family Bible that the spelling of the family name was MAHNKHE. I have searched telephone books in many large cities of this country and never found that name.
Charles Preston and Mary Elizabeth lived out their lives in Taney County. Most of the married life they were engaged in operating a country store and post office, both at Mincy Valley and Oasis. Mary Eizabeth was well known for her writing and had a book of poems published, "Ozark Lyrics". C. P. was noted for being a good merchant, honest and fair in his dealings, and one who could make the best corn meal in the whole country round. At Oasis the mill was operated by water power from a mill dam on Long Creek.
The Mahnkey Family, except for Douglas and Roberta, all live in the West, Washington, Oregon and California.
The Prather Family had its origin in England. Basil Prather came to Baltimore, Maryland, in the year 1732 and was an Episcopal Minister. He was later stationed at Rockville, Maryland. He had three sons, Basil, John, and William Prather. The Taney County Prathers descended from the son, Basil Prather. Basil Prather was an officer in the Continental Army. He served with the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment, commanded by Col. D. Brodhead. Prather was a First Lieutenant. I have records from the Published Archives of the State of Pennsylvania, Fifth Series, Volume III. Page 313 which read: "General Return of the Eighth Pennsylvania Regt, Commanded by Col. 0. Brodhead, Commissioned and Staff Officers present: Lieutenant Basil Prather, signed James Ross, Lieutenant Col. 8th Penn Rgt, Mt. Pleasant, (Penn) June 9th, 1777." Page 336 of the same volume reads: "We The Subscribers do certify that we received no more clothing in the year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy Eight than That Which Is Set Opposite Our Name. Captain Basil Prather, 1 Coat, 1 Waistcoat, 1 breeches, 4 Shirts, 4 stocks, Resigned."
This Basil Prather had a son, William Prather, born August 17th, 1766. William was married to Lettice McCarrell, and they had thirteen children. Among these children was Hiram Prather, born October 13th, 1809. He married Mary A. Huckleberry. Hiram and Mary had fifteen children, and their fourth child was Alonzo Smith Prather (my grandfather). Alonzo S. Prather was married to Mirah McMillan and they had nine children:
Grace, Mary Elizabeth (my mother) Adelia, Benjamin, Robert (who married Gertrude Kinney, daughter of the famous Captain Kinney of the Bald Knobbers) Frank, Richard, Joseph, and Maggie.
My great-grandfather, Basil Prather, along with his six sons, all volunteered for Abe Lincolns Army the day Fort Sumter Fell. I have heard my grandfather tell of that day. They were all at the depot and telegraph station in North Vernon, Indiana, and the news was coming on the wires of the bombardment of the fort. Finally, the ticker spelled out "Fort Sumter has fallen". With that old Hiram took a piece of writing paper and in a firm hand wrote, "We the undersigned volunteer our services to the Government of the United States for so long as needed." Every man and boy in the crowd signed, including the telegraph operator.
The Prathers served through the war in the 6th Regiment of Indiana Volunteers. Basil, due to his age, was discharged, and Johnny, only 15 became too ill to last out the long war. The others went the whole distance. Grandfather fought at Shilo, and was wounded at Chickamauga, recovered and marched with Sherman to the sea.
After the war of the Rebellion, Alonzo Prather was sent to Arkansas during the reconstruction days. He was appointed Prosecuting Attorney of Madison County, Arkansas, and lived at Huntsville. He raised the Stars and Stripes over the Court House in Huntsville on the 4th of July, a few years after the war ended, and this was the first time Old Glory had flown from that courthouse since before the war. I have heard Grandmother tell of his plans to fly the flag on the 4th. He took his old army pistol and double barrelled shot gun with him to the Court House early the morning of the 4th and hoisted the old flag. He sat on the Court House steps all day long, guarding the flag from the threats of some of the die-hards. Grandmother carried a basket lunch to the Court House at noon and they sat on the steps and ate together. At sundown he pulled the flag down and every day from then on the flag was displayed with no trouble. I failed to mention that Alonzo was leiutenant in the Union army. However, he was always known as The Colonel.
After serving a while as Prosecutor for Madison County, Alonzo Prather was appointed Supt. of Public Instruction of the 4th Judical District of Arkansas, and this district included, the best I can determine, the counties of Madison, Wahington, Carrol, Benton, Marion, Searcy, Newton, Boone and Van Buren. During this service he helped to
establish the Industrial and Agriculture College (I believe it was first called) at Fayetteville, Arkansas and this is now the great University of Arkansas. Grandfathers name is in the official records.
He then went to Harrison, Arkansas, as Receiver for the Land Office and it was here that my mother, Mary Elizabeth was born. The little daughter, Grace, died and is buried in a cemetery at Harrison. We have visited the little grave.
Later, Alonzo with his two older sons, Ben and Frank, attempted to go into the Oklahoma Territory, looking for a place to move the family. They traveled by covered wagon and were arrested by the Federal Troops and taken to Fort Gibson, Okla., for violation of the laws in respect to going into that part of the Indian Country. The Colonel had friends in Washington, and being a soldier not so long before, soon got out of this scrape. He then moved the family to Kansas near a town known then as Mulverd.
In 1880 he moved his family to Taney County and settled in what was then known as the Oak Grove Country, in McKinney Bend on White River. The Long Beach Road runs near the place where the family lived. The near neighbors were the Kinney family. They all attended church at Oak Grove.
Mr. Prather practiced law in Taney County and served a number of terms in the Missouri Legislature. The Court house burned (or was burned) during that time, and Representative Prather pushed a $5,000.00 appropiation bill through the General Assembly for the construction of a new court house at Forsyth. This was probably the first help of this kind to a county in the history of the state. In the debate on the bill, Prather told how badly the court house was needed and said, "Taney County raises more Hell and less corn than any county in the State." Col. Prather, along with about a dozen other men, in January, 1885, organized the Committee for Law and Order, at Forsyth. This organization grew and became a strong force in the history of the county. Later the common name given the committee was "Bald Knobbers". We shall not dwell on this sad part of our county history, leaving that to some one who has less feeling about it, and whose views are not so pro-Bald Knobber, as those of this writer.
The brothers of Alonzo S. Prather all distinguished themselves as public men, serving as lawyers, judges and teachers. So far as we know, all of them migrated to the West. Alonzo Prather died in Branson, Mo in 1909 and is buried in the Van Zant cemetery at Kirbyville, Mo.
We keep in touch with one cousin, Lucy Prather Nance. Lucy and Ruby were daughters of my uncle Ben Prather, and Janie Ray. Janie was the daughter of J.N. Ray. J.N. Ray was a Southern soldier, but he and Col. Prather were fast friends. Lucy lives in Puyallup, Washington, and Ruby lives in Oklahoma.
My sister, Roberta Jones, and I are the only members of the Manhkey-Prather union or of either family that chose to make Taney County our homes.
Roberta has two children: Reginald Leon and Winnie Bee.
I was married to Merle Walker of Bradleyville, Missouri on June 13, 1928 and we have three children: Charles Patrick; Mary Jo; and William Donald. Pat is single and lives in Mexico City. Mary Jo is married to Richard Kirkey and has two children, Julia and Matthew. William D. was married to Angelita Rivera in Fajardo, Puerto Rico on January 23rd, 1971 and they will be living at Forsyth.
Merles family came from Tennessee in the early days and her grandfather was Leonard Lafaette Walker who was a soldier in the Union Army, serving with Company C of the 8th Missouri Cavalry Regiment under Captain Albert Demuthis. We have his Union Army Discharge framed and hung on our wall. We are very proud of this bit of history, yellow with age and in the firm penmenship of one Julius Schlaich, of the 27th Wis. Vol. Inf. This officer was in command at Little Rock, Arkansas, where Mr. Walker was discharged on July 20th, 1865.
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