Monday, January 4, 2016

The Confusing Life of Elspeth Jennings

Elspeth Jennings was born on 31 October 1895 in Norfolk, Virginia, to Edward Winston and Annie M. (Porter) Jennings. Her father worked with sheet metal at the Norfolk Naval Base. She was the second of two children, a granddaughter of Daniel Rose Jennings, who fought in the Civil War, and my third cousin once removed.

On 13 February 1913 Elspeth married Job Palmer Manning, Jr., son of Job Palmer and Ada (Cocke) Manning, Sr. He had been born on 18 June 1897 in Portsmouth, Virginia, and worked as a routing clerk for a railroad. The couple had three children. Elspeth was granted a divorce on 26 June 1920 for desertion. The decree stated there were three minor children. However, I have only been able to find two of them. Mystery No. 1.

The decree listed Job Palmer Manning, Jr., as a non-resident, which meant he no longer lived in Virginia. I have been unable to find a trace of him after the divorce. Mystery No. 2.

Divorce decree between Job Palmer Manning, Jr., and Elspeth Jennings;
courtesy of

Elspeth's father died four months before her divorce was granted. His death certificate indicated he was married at the time of his death but his son was the informant. I have been unable to find a record of Annie (Porter) Jennings' death or any record after 1922, when she was listed in a Norfolk city directory as a widow. Mystery No. 3.

Snippet of Annie (Porter) Jennings' life story; courtesy of

Sometime before 4 September 1930, I assume Elspeth married Alfred "Fred" Brodix Simmons as she had twin daughters in Evanston, Illinois, yet I have been unable to find her in the 1930 census. The person I believe to be her husband, Alfred B. Simmons was enumerated in Los Angeles, California, as living at the Palmer Hotel with a wife named Floy, who was born in Illinois. This Alfred B. Simmons has the correct year of birth, correct birth state, correct birth state for his parents, and a correct occupation. Mystery No. 4.

Snippet of Alfred Brodix Simmons life story; courtesy of

Alfred Brodix Simmons was a interesting man in his own right. He was born on 9 Mar 1895 to Henry "Harry" Taylor and Caroline "Carrie" (Brodix) Simmons in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a mariner employed by China Mail aboard the S/S China. Starting in 1917, he lived in San Francisco and worked for his brothers's import export business. He made several trips to Japan, China, Hong Kong, French Indonesia, and India during that time.

Alfred Brodix Simmons' 1917 and 1920 passport photographs; courtesy of

After Alfred and Elspeth married they moved to Danville, Indiana, where he worked as an organizer in the insurance industry -- whatever that is. Elspeth traveled to Australia in 1939 to help her oldest daughter and two granddaughters move back to the United States after her husband was killed piloting a transport plane. By 1942 Alfred and Elspeth lived in Philadelphia and he worked for Empire Ordnance. They moved to Atlanta, Georgia, by 1950. He was the president of Simmons Pump. Five years later, he worked as a salesman at Ethridge & Vannerman Realty.

Alfred died on 21 August 1967 in Fulton County, Georgia; he was 72 years old. Elspeth (Jennings) Manning Palmer died on 4 February 1973 in Baldwin County, Georgia; she was 77 years old.

So my mysteries for Elspeth are as follows:
  1. What was the name of the third child she had with Job Palmer Manning, Jr.? There is no missing sibling in the obituaries of two of Elspeth's daughters.
  2. What happened to Job Palmer Manning, Jr., after his 1920 divorce? And where was he living at the time of the divorce?
  3. What happened to Elspeth's mother, Annie (Porter) Jennings after 1922? Did she remarry? 
  4. Was Alfred married to a woman named Floy months before he and Elspeth's twins were born? When did Alfred and Elspeth marry?
Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. This is my family! I can’t answer your questions but Elspeth Jennings was aunt to my mother and who she was named after. And then I was named Elspeth after my mother. This has given me much information that I never knew about my family. Edward Jennings died before i was born so I didn’t know much about this side of my family. THANK YOU. And I realize this answer is four years after you wrote this but I had to respond!

    1. Thank you for contacting me. I need to get back to the Jennings family and see if any new record sets are available that may answer some of my questions.