Ira L. was the fourth child of William Manross and Sally Copeland. He born on May 31, 1826, in Allegheny Township, Venango County, Pennsylvania. Like his father, William, and most of the Manross family in the heavily forested regions of Pennsylvania, he was a lumberman and farmer.
In 1847 Ira L. married Mary Magdalene Tubbs in Tionesta, Venango County, where both families were living. They had six children: Sarah 1848, William George 1849, John W. 1851, Henry M. 1854, Dolphus 1856, and Matilda 1860.
Ira L. and Mary were living in Tionesta, Forest County, PA at the time of the 1850 US Census. The census shows Ira L. and Mary along with two children, Sarah and William, who were named for Ira’s parents William and Sally. Sally was a common nickname for Sarah. In 1851 they sold Mary’s inheritance, property from her father, for $45.00. This was land along the Allegheny River, north of Tionesta.
The family then moved to Oil Creek Township in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Ira L. was shown as a lumberman at the time. All six children are listed in the 1860 US Census. The Census showed Ira’s assets to be $400 in land, and $200 in money. Mary died shortly after the 1860 Census and was buried in the Tubbs family cemetery on her brother’s farm.
Ira L. was left with very small children when Mary died and needed a partner to help with the children. Susan Prather became a widow in 1861 and had young children of her own who needed a father. Soon Ira L. and Susan Prather were married. Susan, born in 1811, was fifteen years older than her new husband Ira L. Manross. In the mid 1860’s the newly constituted family moved to LeBoeuf Township, Erie County, PA and lived there for the next fifteen years. An area of LeBoeuf Township came to be known as Manrosstown due to the number of Manross families which had moved to the same area. Several of the Manross families had benefited from the discovery of oil in Pennsylvania and had sold their land to wildcatters and speculators.
In the 1870 US Census Ira L. and Susan are recorded in LeBoeuf Township, Erie County PA with their children. Ira is listed as a farmer and they are shown to have assets of $12,000 in land and $8000 in cash. Susan and William likely benefited from the oil boom that had many speculators buying up property only to find dry wells. Using an inflation calculator, $20,000 in 1870 would be equivalent to $363,000 today. Ira died in 1880 and his funeral was held in the Manross Church, a Methodist Episcopal Church built by his cousin John W. Manross (son of George Washington Manross).
The name Manrosstown was given to a cluster of numerous Manross homes and farms along the French Creek, south of Waterford and west of Mill Village. In the 1870 US Census there were at least fourteen Manross families and 75 family members living in the area. A look at the map shows the high density of Manross families at the time. It was officially a part of LeBoeuf Township, Erie County, PA.
Mary and I visited Manrosstown during our 8,000 mile See America trip with our young sons, John and Dan, in 1973. We visited the Manross residents living there and were given a family photo which includes many Manross families, including Ira L. and his young family. Ira, the great grandfather of our father, John D. Manross, looks like his great grandson whose photo is also shown.
Ira’s cousin John W. Manross, who built the Manross Church, is mentioned in the Genealogical and Personal History of Western Pennsylvania. It states that he worked as a lumberman in the Allegheny region for 15 years, purchased 400 acres, and sold his property for $50,000 when oil was discovered on it. He then moved to the Manrosstown area where he built the church, a mill, a beautiful home and numerous farm buildings. His family still resides in Manrosstown. The D. Neal Manross family of Ohio restored the inside and outside of the Manross Church for his son Deac's wedding in 1975.
Just four miles to the north of Manrosstown was the original French Fort LeBoeuf. The Fort was visited in 1753 by young George Washington representing the Virginia Militia and Governor Dinwiddie. Washington’s mission was to tell the French that this was British territory and they must leave. The French refusal was the spark that triggered the French and Indian War.
Ira L. Manross The road to Manrosstown.