Contact Us    Find People    Site Index
page header
 future students linkscurrent students linksfaculty and staff linksalumni linksparents linksvisitors links

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.

I.M. Atwood 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.

Their son, 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.”

Several generations 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 the picture.

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.

St. Lawrence University · 23 Romoda Drive · Canton, NY · 13617 · Copyright · 315-229-5011