George and Henrietta Mankins

George Mankins, circa 1858 – 17 July 1902, likely buried in Evergreen Cemetery Henrietta Willis Mankins, circa 1858 – 8 October 1935, burial in Evergreen Cemetery

It can only be imagined now. The houses are gone. The neighborhood is gone. The people are gone.

But, even so — imagine it is June 1898 in Richmond, Virginia. Talk of raising a volunteer regiment of black men to fight in the Spanish American War had been going around for months. John Mitchell, Jr., the editor of the influential African American newspaper the Richmond Planet, had vociferously opposed the war, not only taking an anti-imperialist stance but also arguing that the financial resources expended in such a war would be better used to help lift black Americans out of poverty and to assist them in their struggle for justice. But it was a product of the times that many African Americans felt that if they could prove themselves “worthy” of the rights and respect that white Americans received without a corresponding need for proof of merit, it would hasten black Americans’ acceptance as equals. By February 1898, when the United States entered hostilities, even Mitchell had acceded that black men, many of them old enough to have been born enslaved, might by serving in the military prove beyond doubt their willingness to take on equal challenges to prove they warranted equal treatment.

In the household of George and Henrietta Mankins, at the northeastern limits of Jackson Ward, it can be imagined that even more personal arguments were being made about service in the war. On the morning of June 27th, a typical hot and muggy day in Richmond, George would have been about to leave to enlist. Though Henrietta may have had some feelings of pride for her husband’s purpose, she also would have been worried for his health and safety, and, as likely, her private concerns would have been overwhelming. The couple had 12 children, ranging in age from about 1 year old to their oldest at 19, all living at home at 1816 Lownes Street. How would Henrietta manage by herself?

Click on the PDF below to learn more.

Following (for search purposes) are names of persons mentioned in the PDF, including their birth and death dates when known, although birth dates are sometimes approximate. All persons are thought to have been born in Richmond or nearby Henrico County unless otherwise noted. Note that some members of the family started using the surname Mankin at different historical points. The name Maukin is also associated with some family members. Patronymic names of women are underlined.

  • George Mankins – b. 1858 (variant August 1853), Loudoun County; d. 17 July 1902
  • Henrietta Willis Mankins – b. 1858 (variant August 1857); d. 8 October 1935
  • Jane Willis – b. 1821
  • John Willis (Sr.) – b. 1844; d. 13 March 1916
  • Frank Willis – b. 1852
  • Judson Willis – b. 1856
  • Jane (AKA Janie) Elizabeth Mankins Scott – b. June 1878; d. 18 May 1928
  • Clotelle L. Mankins Banks- b. February 1880; d. 9 August 1961
  • George Mankins, Jr., – b. March 1881
  • Henrietta Mankins (Copeland) Patterson – b. January 1883; d. 15 July 1928
  • Mary B. Mankins Williams – b. May 1886
  • Judson P. Mankins – b. September 1887; d. 1 May 1919
  • Marthenia V. Mankins Lancaster – b. January 1890
  • John H. Mankins – b. July 1891
  • William W. Mankins – b. September 1892; d. 20 December 1949
  • Edward A. B. Mankins – b. May 1894
  • Rebecca A. Mankins Davis – b. March 1895; d. 12 December 1961
  • Sadie A. Mankins Alston – b. April 1897; d. 29 April 1945
  • John Banks – b. 1874; d. 31 October 1940
  • William E. Jones – b. 1906
  • Estelle Jones – b. 1907
  • Augustus Mankins – b. 1899
  • Charles Ebenezer Copeland – (b. 1883?)
  • Thomas Patterson – (b. 1883?)
  • Gertrude C. Willis Coles – b. 29 January 1881; d. March 1919
  • Teresa B. Lancaster – b. 1912; d. 17 January 1920
  • Judson P. Willis, Jr. – b. 1886; d. 14 February 1934
  • Rebecca Hamm Willis – b. 1866; d. 22 August 1945

Other search terms: Richmond, Virginia, Henrico County, Black history, Spanish American War, John Mitchell, Jr., Richmond Planet, First Market, Jackson Ward, Richmond Water Works, education, segregation, Jim Crow, Colored Sons of Temperance, Gold Rule, Councils of Kadosh, Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 6th Virginia Infantry (colored), colored troops, volunteer militia, Company B, artificer, Camp Corbin, Camp Poland, Knoxville, Tennessee, Camp Haskell, Macon, Georgia, World War I, Richmond Officer of Advisory Board, Independent Order of St. Luke (IOSL), Maggie Walker, Woodland Cemetery

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