Mansion on a Hill: Mamie Smith

Arrival in America
Excerpts from "One Hundred and Sixty Acres of Paradise"
Mamie Stanley Smith

The "One Hundred and Sixty Acres of Paradise" began years and years ago.  I have gone back to Ireland and brought some of our Peter Warner family into it thinking some of our family would be interested in reading about the old family tree and how its branches have spread out and how many of its branches have gone on and about the ones that still remain.  To me it is very interesting, looking back into the days of long, long ago.

It has been a joy for me to write this story. It is the best I can remember of the words my grandmother, Anna Delilah Warner Stanley  Lasswitz, and my father, Francis Edward Stanley, spoke to me years and years ago.  I remember how as a little girl in pigtails I would sit on their laps and listen to the stories from across the seas that they would tell.  Those stories were about their family across the sea in Ireland.  They would tell about their trip over the ocean to this wonderful country, America, and how a big storm rose up and blew their ship back one hundred miles and how frightened all the people were; and how happy everyone was when they landed in New York City safe and sound in the year of 1866.

Sometime in the late 1840's or early 1850's, the exact date has not yet been determined, great grandfather Peter Warner came to this country from Ireland.  He was born in the year 1798 somewhere  in Ireland and there is a record of his marriage in 1823 in Cork to Anna Jane Daunt.  Great grandfather Peter brought his wife and sons Richard and John and daughters Mollie and Jane with him.  He had six children, but one daughter, Grandmother Anna Delilah, was married and stayed in Ireland with her husband; and Aunt Sallie Strickland, another daughter, had already immigrated with her husband to Australia.  He landed in New York, but it wasn't long until he brought his family to Natchez, Mississippi.  He was first engaged in building the Catholic cathedrals in Vicksburg and Natchez but in 1857 he bought a farm near Holmesville in Pike County and retired to there after suffering an injury while working on St. Mary's Cathedral in Natchez.

Just looking back to those days of long ago, I seem to see a faint picture of a beautiful old-time home nestled somewhere in the back-yonders, on a piece of land far across the sea near a town somewhere in Ireland close to Dublin.  Was that town called Port Alice or maybe Monkstown? Those two names seem to float around with the stories in my memory.  Surrounding this old home I can see beautiful flowers, for grandmother Anna Delilah used to love flowers and she often told how great grandfather Peter Warner brought some pyracantha hedge and camellias, or Japonicas, as they were called back then, to beautify their new home in America, and how the wild turkeys would love to eat the berries.

Grandmother Anna Delilah always carried a large black knit purse with her and after her death in 1921, this purse and all its contents was passed on to her only daughter, Rosa Lasswitz Foote, my father's half-sister.  In the purse were several very old pictures, some on tintype and glass.  One of those pictures was of two women and a girl in long flowing skirts standing before a house with a picket fence.  On the back of this picture there was stamped the name of a photographer's studio in Otago, New Zealand.  Another picture on glass was of a man that I always thought was grandmother's brother, John D. Warner because she always talked of him as being dark and handsome. It could have been her husband for all we know; but anyway those pictures were surely some of her loved ones, very dear to her or she would not have carried them around in her purse all those years. Maybe the picture made in New Zealand was one that Aunt Sallie had sent. Maybe she lived for awhile there or went on vacation from Australia and sent her sister a picture while there. Oh if those old pictures could only have talked!

Many of the stories I was told as a child were about great grandfather Peter Warner. I was told he was a very busy man, always busy at something and that in Ireland he had been an architect a designer and finisher of beautiful buildings. Papa Stanley and grandmother told how great Grandfather Peter built the big cathedrals in Vicksburg and Natchez not long after he came to America. Those were stories I heard many times as a child, but it wasn't until many, many years later that those stories were confirmed when my son found records at Mississippi State Archives in Jackson that told how Peter Warner from New York had been engaged as an architect and supervisor to do the interior finishing work, the woodwork and the plastering on both St. Paul's Cathedral in Vicksburg and St. Mary's in Natchez.  The work in Vicksburg was done in 1857  and the work in Natchez was begun in 1858 and finished in 1859.  My son found a record at the courthouse in Vicksburg where Grandfather Peter Warner applied for naturalization on July 10, 1858. While working on the cathedral in Natchez he fell from a scaffold and was nearly killed. Records from St. Mary's show that he was nursed for four weeks at the residence of the Bishop until his health was recovered. He retired to his farm near Holmesville after that and there is a letter addressed to him there from the Bishop. It was to that farm in the first year after the Civil War, 1866 that grandmother Anna Delilah Stanley came with her young sons after Grandfather Stanley's death in Ireland.

Grandmother Anna Delilah Warner Stanley left Dublin in 1866 with two of her sons, Francis Fredrick, age 12 and Fredrick William age 6· They left Ireland right after grandmother's husband, George Stanley died, and sailed for America.  They landed in New York City and came on down to Holmesville, Mississippi to her father Peter Warner and his family.  Grandmother left her oldest son, Henry Frederick Stanley in Ireland to finish school.  Her family, her father Peter Warner and sisters Jane and Molly and brothers John and Richard were so happy to have her and her two sons at home with them.   We are not sure if her mother was still living at the time.

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