A Legacy of Loyalty:
The Atwoods and Manleys
|Isaac Morgan Atwood, president of the Theological
School from 1879 to 1899, was known as a strong leader
and thorough teacher.
Margaret Manley Mangum ’45 could talk for weeks on end
about her family’s legacy at St. Lawrence.
Through marriages, the legacy includes the Atwood, Black, Austen,
Ford, Hyde, Spencer and Reynolds families, totaling over 75
St. Lawrence alumni. This alone makes it an obvious
St. Lawrence legacy, but when you learn the history of the
different parts of the family, you realize how essential
this legacy has been to the Laurentian family.
Isaac Morgan Atwood was the
president of the Theological School from 1879 to 1899 and was
known as a strong leader and thorough teacher. While he was
president, he also served as a trustee and was an active member
of its executive committee. He resigned in 1899 to become the
general superintendent of Universalist Churches.
found his way back to Canton, and when his successor Dr. Henry
Forbes passed away in 1913, Isaac taught the courses Forbes
had been teaching and gave his salary to Mrs. Forbes. John
Murray Atwood, an 1882 graduate and Isaac Morgan’s
son, became the dean of the Theological School in 1914 and
was known as “the dynamic leader” of the school
for nearly 45 years.
Isaac’s daughter Mary Louise married
Williston Manley 1888and began another part of the legacy.
The Manley family had bought the St. Lawrence Plaindealer,
a local newspaper, in 1872. Many members of the family worked
on the Plaindealer;
Williston was editor and publisher for 36 years.
G. Atwood Manley ’16, followed in his father’s
footsteps, but also wanted to do other things. Sentimental
and idealistic, Atwood loved everyone and everything, including
St. Lawrence. After marrying Alice Reynolds ’17
and while continuing his work with the Plaindealer,
Atwood was designated the alumni secretary and was given a
small budget, but did not have an office.
He carried all
necessary documents with him in a file box for years before
he was given an office to put them in, and is now known as
one of the most essential people in the creation of the alumni
office we have today. When he was chosen as the alumni secretary
by the Alumni Council, they had nothing but the highest of
accolades, saying that “he
combines in a rare degree an intense loyalty to St. Lawrence
and an enthusiasm for the work backed by actual experience
as Secretary of the Alumni Association.”
of the Laurentian “family of storytellers,” the
Atwoods and Manleys, gathered in 1944 for the 50th wedding
anniversary of John Murray Atwood 1882, longtime dean
of the Theological School, and Addie Ford Atwood. Most
of the people pictured are or would become St. Lawrence
graduates; among them are G. Atwood Manley ’16
(second from left, back), publisher and editor of the
St. Lawrence Plaindealer and first secretary of the St.
Lawrence Alumni Association, for whom the G. Atwood Manley
Society is named; Williston Manley 1888 (seated, left),
who preceded Atwood at the newspaper; John Murray Atwood
(seated, center); Malcolm S. Black ’16, chairman
of the first Alumni Fund (1928) and of the campaign for
Appleton Arena (1949); and Margaret Manley Mangum ’45
(second from left, third row), writer who kindly provided
Atwood was not
wealthy, but he gave his time outside of his position as alumni
secretary to his volunteer work, as an alumni trustee, and
by participating in other St. Lawrence activities. Everyone
loved him, including the students. He held a dinner for students
every Sunday night at his home, where they sang St. Lawrence
songs. He was made an honorary member of Kixioc. He believed
that St. Lawrence had a mission to make life better, and that
those values needed to continue. He felt that they had been
passed on to him from his family, and by his own example, he
would pass them down to future generations. It was important
for him to support St. Lawrence in any
way he could, and to pass those values on.
When Atwood died,
Canton Unitarian Universalist minister Max Coots said in his
eulogy that “Atwood was the only person
[he] knew who probably believed that when he died he’d
go to St. Lawrence University.” In 1990, less than a
year after he died, St. Lawrence established the
G. Atwood Manley Society in honor of Atwood’s dedication,
love, and commitment to St. Lawrence.
Margaret remembers her
father’s love for and devotion
to St. Lawrence and remembers the examples he provided
for the family to continue that devotion. She reminisces about
her younger years in the North Country and remembers her mother
always correcting Atwood’s work because he was a “horrible
speller.” He wrote books, one with Margaret late in his
life, titled Frederic Remington in the North Country.
She remembers how he lived in harmony with people and
nature, and how modest he was. He was loyal, not only to his
family, but to the community and to St. Lawrence as well.
The “family of storytellers,” as Margaret
calls them, used to come back to St. Lawrence each summer
and talk, laugh and joke about the times their family spent
in the North Country. It is the memories, the stories
and the jokes that help the storytellers of the family continue
to convey their legacy, and keep the values and ideals of all
members of the family alive within the St. Lawrence community.