Elvis Ancestry: who were the parents of John Mansell?

+8 votes
In attempting to confirm or debunk the claimed Native American ancestry of the King of Rock'n'Roll, we are focusing on the Mansell (var. spellings) branch.

There is confusion about which William Mansell was the father of this John. See John's mother's profile to see the two different Williams. We are seeking the help of experienced researchers to help us distinguish these two (or more?) Williams, their respective origins and their respective spouses and sets of children. (This thread is focused NOT on Morning White's origins-- that's a separate issue we will address elsewhere.)

Can you please help?
WikiTree profile: John Mansell
in Genealogy Help by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (784k points)
edited by Jillaine Smith
I've written to the compiler of the Presley (et al) family association newsletters to see if s/he can connect me with Carol Hicks and/or her compilation.
There’s a copy at the DAR library.  I can’t get there for at least a week, though, but it’s probably worth a trip since one of the Mansells is supposed to be a Revolutionary War vet.  Some of their documents might reveal that connection.
There's a copy of Carol's work at the LoC?

file 9 in box 3

University of Central Arkansas


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all the newsletters from Carol Hick's Presley Family Assoc


Hi Eddie, I've read every one of those newsletters; it was through them that I learned of her work.

And Eddie, thanks for finding her on FAG. You're a wonder! I'll email her.
I am the X-Treme Kong !!

Found this in one of the newsletter issues: Q. Is it true Elvis Presley"s mother was Italian and his father was Irish? If not, what nationality was Elvis?--Susan Grace, Quakertown, Pa. 

A. Elvis Presley's mother, the former Gladys Smith, told an interviewer she was of English extraction, and her husband, Vernon Presley, said, "The same is true of me." But the most likely truth is that they had no idea from where they came--except that it. was close to Tupelo, Miss. In 1956, Eivis1 father confessed, "I never heard tell of any of my kinfolk coming over from anywhere. I guess it must have been a long way back." Incidentally, the official word out of Graceland, the Presley estate in Memphis, is that Elvis was of Irish descent. The singer himself used to say, "I'm American," and let it go at that. 

-Parade Magazine, Apr. 21, 1991 

Kathie, when you get a chance, could you report on your findings from your trip to the DAR library? I think we can rule out one of the William Mancill's currently attached as Morning White's husband.

And I think we also have enough data to draft something about John's mother.

3 Answers

+2 votes
I have copies of land deeds in Marion County Alabama for William Mansell and for James Jordan Manscill his son.  I also have copies of military records for both.

James Jordan was my Great, Great Grandfather.

William married Jane Elender Egar.  They had six children.  I can find no divorce papers or records.  Both were still living when....

William then was with Morning Dove.  I can find no marriage records.  They had 5 children.
only single names of the landholders are on the grants

there are no "joint" grants and nothing to indicate paternity

there is only proximity

there are no proofs re parentage for any of the children attributed to the William under study here
James, thanks for joining this inquiry.

What sources support the theory that the William Mansell who was supposedly married to Jane Elender Egar was also married to Morning? And what sources support the identity of either woman?

I found a reference to a circa 1900 document where a son of Morning Dizenia Mansell named his grandmother Morning White. No Dove. No Native American reference. Trying to find the origins of this reference.
James, would you be willing to share the military records of William?

The source is a 1904 facebook, “Notable Men of Alabama” Joel DuBose, Vol. 2, which included Alexander Sherman Palmer son of Russell and Dizenia Mansell Palmer. Free to read on Google books. 


above is a census record of daughter Morning.

she existed

Jillaine needs proof she had a brother John who leads to Elvis

Thanks Eddie and Kathie for finding the 1904 bio of Alexander Sherman Palmer, son of Morning D. Mansell Palmer and grandson of Morning White Mansell.

I can't access the profiles right now, but when we can here is the citation to add:

Joel Campbell DuBose, Notable Men of Alabama, Atlanta, GA: Southern Historical Society (1904), volume II, p 381.

+2 votes
Please note that there are several William Mansells in the lineage.  I believe that he Mansells in Covington Alabama are related to the Mansells in Marion County, Alabama.  Notice the names from both groups.

Lots of folks including the Elvis tree genealogist claim that William came from Morning Flowers and Richard Rice Mansell.

My DNA refutes that claim.
It's quite a muddle.  The fact that the various Mansell families lived so far apart strongly suggests they weren't siblings, maybe cousins of some kind.  If the William of Marion County truly died in 1842 he cannot be the William who was the son of the Jackson County TN Richard Mansell.  That William died in Illinois in 1876 (and there is no 'Rice' that's just a bad transcription of Ric'd  - the census taker wrote "Robert" who was listed earlier on the same page, realized his error, crossed it out and squeezed in "Ric'd" instead).  I have pored over pages of War of 1812/ Horseshoe Bend and Flordia Indian Wars service record and found no Mansell with any spelling.  I found a William Mansell from Virginia who served in the Revolution, and I found the records for Moses Purser.  

The census records don't say much about wives.  The 1820 census in Franklin TN shows a wife under 26 and two children, 1840 census in Marion  shows a wife under 40 - who could possibly be the same woman, but could be a younger, second wife - and four young children.  It seems unlikely that a woman who had young children in 1820 would still have young children twenty years later.
James, who is "the Elvis tree genealogist"?
There are also a Thomas White and family living in Franklin County, TN on the 1820 census.  The ages of the parents and their children show that they could be "Morning's" family.  I will try to find more information on them.

Kathie, on the 1880 census, it indicates that the parents of Morning D[isenzia] Mansell Palmer were both born in South (I think) Carolina. See: https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:33SQ-GYB7-1SW?i=5&cc=1417683&personaUrl=%2Fark%3A%2F61903%2F1%3A1%3AM4V9-YNV

This is also repeated in the 1900 census:

"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-691Q-CSP?cc=1325221&wc=9BQT-T3J%3A1031034401%2C1030809801%2C1034286301 : 5 August 2014), Alabama > Marion > ED 58 Precinct 1 Hamilton Hamilton > image 1 of 34; citing NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

This suggests that Morning White and her husband William Mansell [or whoever Dizenia's parents were] were born in South Carolina (assuming they were indeed the parents of Morning Disenzia Mansell Palmer).

The 1790 census for Fairfield, S.C. includes a family headed by John Flowers and three families headed by men named Robert and Richard Mansell. One of the Roberts and Richard both appear with their families in Jackson County, Tennessee on the 1820 census.
+2 votes
Hi jillain!   I had worked through this at one time.   Richard Rice Mansell did have a son named William Lovitt Mansell who died in Hamilton Co., IL.   The Wm. I think you might be talking about also went to a county that was close to Hamilton in IL.   He came through TN and stayed with Richard Rice like they might have known each other from SC but I never could prove that these Mansells/Mancills were related.   They may be way far back somewhere, but I always had a sneaky suspicion that the two Wm. were  cousins.   Richard Rice's wife was Elizabeth Mobley and there were lots of Mobleys in SC.   I've always wondered if your Wm's mother wasn't a Mobley or kin.

There is a wonderful website with lots of proof about this.   To some people this website is difficult to understand, at least to some of the researchers I was working with at the time.   The website is entitled "Pioneers along Southern Trails", subtitle EDWARD MANSELL: An Indian connection for Elvis Presley.  I'm having trouble copying the URL, so maybe you can get it from this.

This blog post has lots of documentation for lots of people, but there is zero documentation for anyone being Native American, just statements that at various times people can’t be found in records for example, "It is an assumption that, at this time as a young man, William knew and associated with Native Americans."  and that somehow that creates an Indian  connection.  These references are all to records from the colonial era, a different William from the "William Mansell" who ended up in Alabama.  

From that blog:

"At age thirteen, William Mansell, the son of William and Katherine Mansell of Boston, Massachusetts, left Boston and arrived in colonial Virginia shortly before 30 May 1678. <5>  When he came to Virginia, William Mansell received a voucher or “headright” for 50 acres of land."

I don't trust that at all. First that a minor-aged male left Boston for Virginia--rare for anyone much less a13-year old. Second that a 13 year old received a head right for 50 acres.  This leads me to be highly suspicious of anything else on this blog.  

Wouldn't it depend on the age of discretion - and whether he lied about his age?

Minors could own land, depending on the circumstances.

There was no such thing as teenage.  It was child, or adult.

Males aged 16 had to serve in the militia.

Adulthood was often determined by puberty.

No idea if this has anything even remotely helpful, but offer it anyway: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centuries_of_Childhood

Melanie, I don't have time at this moment to track down the reference, but my experience working the records is that males were not considered adults until they were 21 in this era/place. I.e., they couldn't own land or qualify for freeman status prior to that time. We also typically don't see males marrying before age 21.

The other problem with the linked blog is the claimed migration from New England to Virginia. Not impossible but exceedingly rare.

Absent independent evidence that the Virginia man originated in New England, this wreaks of same-name syndrome.
Minors in Virginia in the 1600’s and early 1700’s could only own land received by deed of gift or inheritance. They could not buy or sell land or enter into any enforceable contract.  The only exception was that they could indenture or apprentice themselves without parental consent at age 14.

@ Jillaine and Kathie -

That's why I posed it as a question.  The age of majority was not the same thing as the age of discretion - and land could be owned by minors, but not legally sold by/to them, nor legally purchased by/from them.  There were a lot of other things minors could (actually legally could not) do, but if you entered into any contract with them and not their appointed guardian, the contract could be voided by dint of the minor having no legal right to enter into it in the first place and said minor simply walking away from it.

Girls could be married off at age 7 (but I don't remember if it said they could choose such).

Different areas had their own rules/laws, so what a minor might be able to do at the age of discretion (not majority) was determined by the rules/laws of that place.  (I DID research this a little, but not in-depth enough to be certain of exactly what was legal in which place.)  If I recall my reading correctly, Virginia was one of the places that very much had "own laws" about such things.

@ Jillaine: I agree it reeks of same-name syndrome.  (That, or cloning! cheeky)

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