Sunday, April 1, 2012

History of the Fann Family in Greene County Tennessee

Early Southern Trans-Appalachian Country
I have created this blog to provide a timeline and history of the Fann family in Eastern Tennessee. Starting with their migration from Virginia into Greene and surrounding counties. Like many families, they came into the area looking to better their situation with a hope of finding a permanent home for future generations.

One of the biggest obstacles that researchers have to over come regarding the Fann history is the spelling of the last name. I am confident based on my research that the family is of German decent. I have collected many documents, including Revolutionary War records, census records, marriage bonds, obituaries, and other documents that will support this. With that the name has been anglicized through phonetic transcription with many different spellings. I have seen the name written as Fann, Finn, Fenn, Faint, Faent, Feint, Fant, Fent and Fint, with some of those different spellings appearing on the same record. There are probably more, but people in the 1700 and 1800s spelled the name how they heard it when writing it onto some document. Many of the families the Fanns married into over several generations during the 1800s were also of German decent. By following census records the families stayed close together in the same community. Census records also show late into 1800s that the Fanns still did not read or write English. I assume this is because of the community being predominately German and the use of the language until English worked its way in as the common tongue.

Now in regards to the Fann timeline most researchers believe the migration started with John Fann who was from the Northern Neck of Virginia, now present day West Virginia. A deed from 1766 was awarded to him for land in Hampshire County , VA. The first mention of his name that appeared in Greene County is on a land deed dated October 21st, 1783. It was located on the south side of the Nolichucky River on the Flag Branch beginning. Now the deed has the name transcibed as John Fin(Fann) but I am confident it is the same person. Later land deeds within the same area for his children were registered, along with other families they married into. He next appeared on the 1783 Tax List in Greene County along with his oldest son Phillip. I have seen the name transcribed as Fann and Fant, but I have never actually seen the original list. Its reported to be available for view at the Nathanael Greene Museum in Greeneville, but I have been told it is not actually there.

Land Deed for John Fann 1783
In 1791 John Fann passed away and his two older sons were left as executors of the estate. It is believed there were several other children and the mystery of who they all belong to is still that, mostly do to lack of information. Many Fanns' appear in the 1790s on court documents, land deeds, and marriage bonds. Phillip later left with the Parrot family of Cocke County to the Ohio Valley. George later left with his second wife and ten children to settle in Illinois. George's first wife and the names of their seven children he had with her according to his Revolutionary War pension have never shown on any document. Both Phillip and George served in the Revolutionary War in the Virginis 8th Regiment, an all German regiment, and during their time saw many adventure. Including surviving a harsh winter at Valley Forge with George Washington's Army to spending 14 months on a prison barge after the fall of Charles Towne. Women who appear to be the daughters of John have married into to other Greene County families by the end of the 18th century. As I add info to this site, I will also add pages for each of the known Fanns' during this time period and demonstrate their relationship within the family. I will add documentation for each member I have.

Onto the facts that we can provide without doubt(for the most part). Solomon Fann Sr is believed to be the youngest son of John. He was born 1772 in Hampshire County, VA. His children and their children are well documented. I will provide stories and documentation on them throughout this site and hopefully help every Fann  born in Greene County understand who their ancestors are. Solomon married Mary Polly Ricker, the daughter of Peter Ricker. He also served in the 4th Regiment of East Tennessee Militia during the War of 1812 along with Frederick Ricker. The Fanns and the Rickers cross paths over several generations through marriage and neighboring land ownings. Solomon is my Great Great Great Great Grandfather. The majority of this site will be in relation to him and his descendants since the documentation is available and it appears the majority of the Fanns that remained in Greene County and the later generations to present are his lineage.

I am also following a lead on John Fann. I believe I may have found we he arrived in the United States and the ship he came in on. I am in contact with three different organizations that hopefully will help me with his arrival and his migration to Virginia. A German genealogy society in Pennsylvania is checking the original passenger manifest to see how accurate the transcription was. Another organization is in the process of translating an passage in a Lutheran Pastor's Memoir that was published I came across. The problem of it being printed in old German in 1780 limits the number of people who can accurately translate the material. Their is a specific passage about the same person I found on the ship's passenger manifest. The third group I am working with and heading there soon is the Virginia State Archives. Hopefully I will find information I need to link all the Fanns prior to Solomon and prior to their arrival in Greene County.