The first time I ever heard the Mansell surname was on the Guion Miller application that my great-grandfather Stephen A. Smith filed on behalf of his children. He claimed that his late wife Fannie’s maiden name was Mansell, that Fannie’s mother was Elizabeth Simmons, and that Elizabeth’s mother’s name was Priscilla Soles. My grandmother had always called her mother-in-law Fannie Cotton, and that was the name that I had used to try to trace Fannie’s family. At the time I thought perhaps I had found a clue that would let me find Fannie’s family through her true surname, but it hasn’t been that easy. One complication is that Mansell can be spelled a hundred ways: Mancil, Mansel, Mansell, Mansfield, Mansild, etc. For the sake of ease, I will spell it Mansell.
It turns out that Elizabeth was married to John Mansell and had the following children with him: William A., born about 1826; Samuel J., born about 1828; Daniel Monrow, born 1833; Simeon C., born about 1835; Benjamin Franklin, born about 1836; John E., born about 1842; and Amos P., born about 1843. The family migrated from Columbus County, North Carolina, to Alabama after the birth of the first three boys. John Mansell died in May 1844 so he can’t be the father of Fannie, who was born 7 June 1849. (Another son, Simeon, was born in 1845 so his parentage is suspect as well.) Elizabeth remarried on 26 August 1863 to William W. Cotton, who could possibly be Fannie’s father, but if so, it seems odd that they waited to marry until 14 years after Fannie’s birth.
In 1850 Elizabeth, head of household and using the surname Mansfield, was enumerated in Pike County with her sons William, Samuel, Daniel, Benjamin, John, Amos and Simeon, and her daughter Frances. In 1860 William, Samuel, Simeon and Frances are still living with their mother, along with 7-year-olds named Pugh and Nancy. It’s never been determined to whom they belong, and they have not been found on subsequent censuses. In 1870 Elizabeth is married to William Cotton and they are both living with her son, William. Between 1870 and 1880 several family members moved from Pike County to Lauderdale County, Alabama. In 1880 Elizabeth and son William are living in Lauderdale County.
Elizabeth was born in 1812 in North Carolina, perhaps the daughter of Luke Russell Simmons, whose wife’s name was Priscilla. Other researchers have shown her father as Benjamin Simmons. She probably married John Mansell in the mid-1820s, based on the birth of William in 1826. She moved to Alabama with about one hundred other residents of Columbus County, North Carolina, in the 1830s. Members of the family in Alabama have been told that Elizabeth is buried in an unmarked grave in Mt. Olive Cemetery, Waterloo, Alabama. Attached to the application for Cherokee citizenship that Fannie Smith made in 1896 is an affidavit by her mother Elizabeth Cotton, taken in 1894 in Cleveland County, Oklahoma Territory. It is possible that Elizabeth came to Oklahoma with the Smith family and then returned to Alabama with other family members, where she died.
|Tree under which it is said that Elizabeth Simmons|
(Granny Cotton) is buried in
Mt. Olive Cemetery, Waterloo, AL