A Partial Record of the Life of Gaither Clayton Mann
by Gaither Clayton Mann (1963)
G.C. was born on October 25, 1895, in Chatham County, N.C., near what is now the village of Corinth. His parents were Lindsay Sanders Mann and Rebecca Holt Mann. G.C. was the 9th of 16 children: 5 older brothers, 3 older sisters, 1 younger brother, and 1 younger half-brother and 5 younger half-sisters, whose mother was Mattie Irene O’Connell Mann.
When G.C. was 1 year old his parents moved their family into the Cokesbury section of Harnett County, N.C. When he was 4 his mother died, leaving a son only 6 months old. The oldest sister, Roberta, “kept house” and cared for the little ones until the father found and married the blue-eyed daughter of an Irish immigrant, who became one of the finest and most beloved step-mothers any children ever had.
In the Cokesbury community G.C. grew to manhood. He attended the ungraded schools of the area, first a one-room school, then a “consolidated school” of 3 rooms, called Midway because it was about halfway between former one-room schools. At Midway G.C. had a teacher-principal, Mr. John Champion, who perhaps had more influence on G.C.’s educational life than any other person. That fine teacher planted seeds of intellectual curiosity that have grown through all the years since.
In his teens G.C. did a little substitute teaching when the primary teacher was absent. This experience may have been a dominating influence in selection of a later career.
Although school sessions at that time was all of FOUR MONTHS, few boys who lived on the farm as G.C. did, rarely ever attended the first and last weeks—too much land to “break” and too much cotton to pick. That left just 3½ months! Fortunately, however, parents who were financially able joined together to hire a teacher for 6 weeks in the summer for their sons and daughters who wished to attend. These “Subscription Schools” as they were called meant much to G.C. These made possible about 5 months of school per year.
After “completing” his studies at Midway, which offered a little of what might be called high school work, G.C. entered the Preparatory School at Elon College, N.C. in September 1914 at the age of 19! After one year he entered the College Department. This he attended 2 years, 1915-16 and 1916-17, returning home each summer to help on the farm, doing the many necessary things such as plowing a mule, cutting wheat, milking cows etc., etc., etc.
In the meantime World War 1 had begun. G.C. volunteered for Naval Service in June of 1917. He was assigned to the Medical Corps. In this he served for 28 months, in the U.S. on the sea, and in Europe. Upon being discharged on October 10th 1919 he returned to his home and due to an accidental injury and illness of his father he, with the aid of the tenants, operated the farm for one year, 1920. In the fall of 1920 he began his teaching career, serving as principal and seventh grade teacher of the Elementary School in Kipling, N.C. under Superintendent R.G. Fitzgerald.
On the 13th, of September, 1921 G.C. married his sweetheart since teenage days, 22 years old Maggie Frances Abernathy, daughter of Robert Smith Abernathy and Mary E. Dewar Abernathy (a descendant of the Scottish Dewar clan). To a few it was a marriage of Gaither and Maggie, but to themselves and their closest friends it was the “wedding of Jack and Jill” for by that name they were known, and continue to be today. At that time Maggie had also become a teacher and was teaching with G.C.’s old professor Champion at Jack and Jill’s “ole alma mater” Midway.
In the meantime Fitzgerald had accepted the Superintendancy of Pitt County, N.C., and had asked G.C. to come along with him. This he did. With his new bride of a few hours, G.C. journeyed by train to Grimesland and for two years served as principal of the combined Elementary and Jr. High School there. During this time Mrs. Mann taught the second grade. During the summers of 1922 and 1923 G.C. attended summer school at State College, Raleigh, N.C.
Appreciating the need for more college education and a degree, G.C. gave up his teaching job and returned to Elon in the fall of 1923. Mrs. Mann accompanied him, and there on the 22nd of October, 1923, their eldest son Charles O’Hara, was born. Paying some attention to the new baby boy, and “carrying” 21 hours—6 more than normal—of college work, G.C. found 1923-24 to be a rather busy year. Yet, both he and Mrs. Mann thought it was wonderfully good, interesting, and profitable. In May, 1924 came Graduation and an A.B. degree, Cum Laud—having had only 36 months of school beyond the elementary grades.
At that time the college librarian at Elon was Miss Louise Savage, a native of Nansemond County Virginia, and sister of the wife of the then school board member for Cypress, Mrs. A.J. Rountree. Miss Savage told G.C. of the possible vacancy in the principalship in Cypress High School. The county superintendent, Moore Williams, was contacted; the job was offered and accepted. On September 4th, 1924, the Manns came to Cypress. Here for 39 years G.C. served as principal.
The first night at Cypress the Manns spent with Mr. and Mrs. A.J. Rountree and were treated royally. On the next day they went to live with Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Dudley and Mrs. Dudley’s mother, Mrs. Martha Benton. After 3½ happy months there, in January 1925, the Manns rented and moved to the R.E. Brothers old home near the school and lived there for 8 years. In this house 5 children were born and three grew old enough to enter school. The next four years were spent in the school teacherage. Here another child grew old enough to begin school. In August of 1937, from the H.V. Knight Estate, the Manns bought and moved into a little home not far from the school. Here the two youngest began school, and here all six of the children lived when they were graduated from high school. Here the Manns make their home today.
During the 39 years that the Manns have lived at Cypress the summers have been filled with many kinds of jobs to supplement the salary income, for a growing family was ever in need of more and more. Yet G.C., aided by Mrs. Mann, found time to attend summer schools at William and Mary, V.P.I., W&M Norfolk, several extension classes, and yet enough time at the University of Virginia to earn a Masters of Education degree in August of 1952.
G.C.’s interest in education did not stop with himself. He and Mrs. Mann have happily, gratefully, and proudly lived to see all six children graduate from high school and receive one or more college degrees, begin their own homes, and start making what they hope will be worthy and worthwhile contributions to our country’s improvement.
CHARLES O'HARA was graduated from Cypress High School in June of 1940. In the fall of that year he entered Elon College and attended 3 years. In the meantime World War II had begun. Charles joined the United States Army and served about 2 years. He was wounded in Germany, and sent home for recovery. After discharge from the army he entered the University of Virginia Law School from which he was graduated in 1948. On November 10th 1944, Charles married Wilma Bess Berry of Corbin, Kentucky, at that time a University of Kentucky student. They have one daughter (Lisa Berry Mann). From the University of Virginia Charles worked sometime in the oil well business, real estate, and other things, but for some time now he has been promotion representative for the John Birch Society in 5 southwestern states.
ROBERT LINDSAY (BILL) was graduated from Cypress High School in June of 1943. He soon thereafter entered William & Mary, but stayed for only a short time because he desired more manual experience than was offered there. In the fall of that year Bill entered the Jr. College of Santa Barbara, California. And attended for 1 term—half academic half manual. Then successively he worked for an airplane company, joined the United Sates Navy, attended Arizona S.T.C. the University of California, and the University of Illinois. After his Navy discharge Bill returned to the University of Illinois, from which he received his degree in Mechanical engineering in June of 1951. On February 2nd, 1945 Bill married Dorothy Ann Pain of Oak Park, Chicago. Who was at that time a medical student at Northwestern University. They have 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls. Since graduation Bill has had several jobs, but for the last 5 years he has been one of the senior engineers for Western Electric in Columbus, Ohio. Bill and his family live at 110 Blenheim Road, Columbus.
SARA MARGARET was graduated from Cypress High School in June of 1945. In the fall of that year she entered Mary Washington College from which she was graduated in June of 1949. Since that time—before and after marriage—Margaret has taught school in widely separated areas. On June 11, 1950 she married her high school classmate, Clyde Umphlett, who was a student of V.P.I. at Blacksburg. There they lived until Clyde’s graduation. Soon thereafter Clyde joined the United States Army. In about a year Margaret went to Germany to join her army lieutenant husband. After his army discharge Clyde took his family again to V.P.I. where he earned his M.A. degree. Then to Chapel Hill, N.C. where Clyde received his PhD. Degree in 1961. Clyde is now professor of botany in the science department of the University of North Carolina and Margaret teaches at the Chapel Hill Jr. High School. They have 2 boys and live on Milton Avenue, Chapel Hill, N.C.
BETTY ROSE was graduated from Cypress High School in June of 1946. She entered the school of nursing at the University of Virginia in the fall of that year. She completed her course and took the state examinations in 1949. Betty’s first nursing job was in Cincinnati, Ohio. She returned home in time to join with her sister, Margaret, in a double wedding ceremony, June 11, 1950. She married Melvin Bunch, a local boy who was then a student in Defiance College, Defiance, Ohio. Soon thereafter they returned to Defiance where Betty did more nursing while Melvin’s earned his degree. They then returned to Nansemond County to live with Melvin’s parents. For a few years Melvin worked for the American Bank of Suffolk, while Betty did both hospital and private nursing. Melvin is now manager of the Suffolk branch of Atlantic Discount Company. Betty is a homemaker. They have 4 children: 2 boys and 2 girls, and reside on Wilroy Road, Suffolk, Virginia.
MARY REBECCA (BECKY) was graduated from Cypress High school in June of 1948. In the fall of that year she entered Longwood College, from which she was graduated in June of 1952. For eleven years Becky has had some somewhat colorful experiences in the field of teaching; and in traveling. During this time she has taught mathematics on both the jr. and sr. high school level. She has done library work and engaged is student counseling in Eastern Virginia schools. She has traveled in Europe. For one year she has taught and traveled in Japan, learning much about the places, peoples, and customs of that country. Becky is now a math teacher and student counselor in Harry Hunt Jr. High School in Portsmouth, Virginia and resides at 209 Verne Avenue, Portsmouth.
PHILIP ROGERS attended Cypress High School for 3 years. Due to consolidation he entered Whaleyville H.S. and after 1 year was graduated in June of 1950. He entered Elon College in the fall of that year and after 4 years received his B.S. degree. He then attended, on a fellowship, Clemson College of S.C. for one year. Philip entered the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1955, and in 1960 received his M.D. degree. He did his Internship in Memorial Hospital, Roanoke Virginia and his Residency in the hospitals of Charleston, South Carolina completing this work in 1962 he and his family moved to North Carolina. On August 12, 1956 Philip married a college mate, Mary Sue Colclough of Elon College, who was at that time teaching in Elon College, North Carolina. They have 2 children, a boy, (Clayton Philip Mann) and a girl, (Rebecca Sue Mann) and reside at 2435 Hickory Avenue Burlington, N.C. Philip is presently practicing medicine in that area and serving as college physician for Elon.
While at Cypress the Manns have been active members of most of the organizations of the area which are for the guidance and improvement of society in general. In recognition and appreciation of their interest and willingness to work, the Manns have been rewarded in many ways such as:
MR. MANN – president of the Alumni Association of Elon College; president of the Suffolk Area branch of Elon Alumni Association; president of the Eastern Virginia Laymen Fellowship of the Christian Church; chairman of the board of Deacons of Cypress Chapel Christian Church; teacher of the women’s bible class, Men’s bible class, and superintendent of Sunday school, of Cypress Christian Church; president of the Nansemond County Education Association, and District B. VEA; secretary and chairman of different committees of the Cypress Ruritan Club; and secretary-treasurer of the Ruritan Committee which sponsored a boy scout troop. He was the recipient of “OUTSTANDING TEACHER” Nansemond County schools, 1957, awarded by the Chamber of Commerce of Suffolk and Nansemond County.
MRS. MANN – At different times served as president, as secretary, and as treasurer of what is now known as Women’s Fellowship; church treasurer; teacher of the intermediate class of Sunday school, two terms; and a member of the committee which inaugurated home demonstration work in Nansemond County in 1936.
Although from that first Sunday that the Manns were at Cypress in 1924, they have been regular attendants of Cypress Chapel Christian Church, in considerations for their aging parents, they did not become members until August 1931. At that time, following a revival conducted by Jerry McCauley for the pastor R.E. Brittle, they transferred their membership to Cokesbury Methodist Church, Harnett County, North Carolina, to Cypress. Subsequently all six children united with this church at Cypress and became active members of youth organizations of the church, school, and community. This experience and training became a most helpful foundation for the educational, religious, social, and cultural work which they now carry on in their respective communities and organizations.
Transcribed by Susan Colclough Mann, great-granddaughter of G.C. & Maggie Mann