ALPHARETTA – Five generations of the Manning family gathered Thursday, March 4, at home of the matriarch of the family, great-great grandmother Sarah Payne Manning, 97 years young, at her home on Cumming Street where the Mannings have lived for more than 100 years.
Joining her this day are Ann Manning White, 72, Suzanne White Bennett, 52, Jessica Dinsmore Fields and Levi Wyatt Fields 9 weeks. It is an important affair when five generations of the Manning family get together. Ten weeks ago, they could not have done it.
Sarah Manning married Sim Manning in 1932 (he would later serve one term as mayor of Alpharetta, 1948-49). She came from Duluth to make her home in Alpharetta and has never left.
“Sim was the editor of the local paper here, the North Fulton Progress,” said Sarah. “We rented two rooms in the Brock house, but Sim said if worst came to worst we could move into Uncle Tommy’s home on Cumming Street. The worst did come six months later so we moved in.”
Sim ran the paper for two years, no mean feat during the Great Depression. Sarah recalled he would call Etta Broadwell, the local telegraph operator, to see who was visiting and what the other town news was.
As mayor, Sim helped get the health center built and the gymnasium which today is called Eagle Gym.
His daughter, Ann, remembers “walking through the woods to go to practice” at the gym.
Sim also got the first traffic light put in at Main Street and Academy Street. Yes, the Mannings have left their footprints all over Alpharetta. Just up the street is Manning Oaks Elementary School near Manning Street.
Ann recalls her backyard was spilled out into acres of farm land her family plowed. Her two uncles, Tommy and Howell Manning and their sister all lived in the Manning House.
“Another brother got married and had six kids. They lived over on Academy Street. It was like having a second set of parents. We would just walk by Talmadge Burgess’s sawmill to their house,” Ann said.
Sarah remembered the story of how the family came to buy the Manning House from Col. Tom Lewis, a local attorney.
“Col. Lewis built the house in 1895. But my uncle told me the folks on the corner across the street [facing Main Street] built a privy in their backyard. Col. Lewis’s wife didn’t like watching people coming and going from her front porch, so she said they had to move.
“That’s how my Uncle Tom came to buy the house for $5,000,” Sarah said.
So the roots run deep in the Manning family. They have grown up in Alpharetta, raised families and still the abide here. Sarah “moved across” from Duluth, as she put it. Suzanne White Bennett moved “back across” to Duluth for a spell, but she came back in 1996. Her daughter Jessica has moved on to Winder, a small break.
But mostly they and their cousins, aunts and uncles are here. Like they say, Manning roots grow deep in Alpharetta.