Thursday, July 05, 2007

Jack the Crackpot Genealogist

The late Jack Manahan has been called the "king of … Charlottesville eccentrics." Not surprisingly, he was a genealogist.

Most famous for marrying Anna "Anastasia" Anderson, Manahan allegedly tracked down the origins of Peter Francisco—a boy abandoned on a Virginia waterfront who grew up to be a Revolutionary War hero known as "the Virginia giant" for his immense size, strength and bravery.

"Many years later," [Overton] McGehee wrote, "the old war hero was honored with the post of Sergeant of Arms at the Virginia General Assembly. Still no one knew from whence he came, not even Francisco himself. That knowledge had to wait until Jack Manahan came along.

"[Jack] went to an island in the Azores where many people are unusually large. Sure enough, there was a record of Pietro Francisco, who had vanished at the age of four. Today, buttressed by Jack's research, Portuguese-American communities celebrate Peter Francisco Day, in honor of the first Portuguese-American hero." [Link]
I can't vouch for Manahan's conclusions, especially after reading that he invited Emperor Hirohito and the Pope to his imaginary wedding in 1986.

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