By Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith
Copyright, Jonathan Kennon Thompson Smith, 1995

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When Mattie Fenner died in Jackson, June 21, 1915, Robert H. Cartmell, a local diarist, noted in his diary under that date the fact of her demise and also, "The Fenners were pioneer settlers of this county /Madison/. The oldest one settled at what was then called Madisonville (now Cotton Grove). He raised a no. of boys & girls."

It was Dr. RICHARD FENNER (1758-May 12, 1828) who settled near Cotton Grove. "He was commissioned in the Second Regiment, North Carolina Continental Line, in January 1779, was promoted to lieutenant while a prisoner of war at Charleston, and served until the end of the war when he settled in Halifax with his older brother, Robert /sons of Richard and Ann Coddington Fenner, Anglo-Irish who had immigrated to North Carolina/. In Halifax he studied medicine. . . . In 1788 Fenner married ANN McKINNIE GEDDY. . . . About 1792 both he and his father-in-law /John Geddy/ moved from Halifax to Franklin County, where Fenner practiced medicine for twenty-five years. In 1799 he was elected first president of the North Carolina Medical Society. In 1817 he went to Raleigh and lived there about five years. In 1823, Fenner emigrated with his family, including his daughter, Ann's husband, Thomas Henderson, to Madison County, Tenn., where Fenner bought land near Jackson, the county seat. He died and was buried at Cotton Grove. His widow and various of their children lived on the plantation until she died in 1852 /1851; her will was probated September 1851 /at eighty-five /eighty-two?/ outliving seven of her ten /twelve/ children. (DICTIONARY OF NORTH CAROLINA BIOGRAPHY, edited by William S. Powell. Chapel Hill: University of No. Carolina, 1986, vol. 2, page 186).

Dr. Richard Fenner and wife Ann had children (IBID., page 186;"The Fenners, Fact and Fiction" by Mary Ann Fenner Robbins, 1979, page 12; Madison Co. Will Book 1, Will of Dr. Richard Fenner, executed May 27, 1826; Will Book 5, page 98, Will of Ann Fenner executed Sept. 15, 1842; obit of Robert Fenner, WHIG-TRIBUNE, Jackson, Sept. 19, 1874 and other sources):


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1. MARGARET FENNER, died infancy.

2. ANN McKINNEY FENNER, married Thomas Henderson, Jr. (Mar. 25, 1787-June 22, 1835), May 29, 1811, at her parents' home, The Oaks, Franklin Co., N.C. They moved to Madison County, Tennessee. Their children: Calvin Henderson, b. April 21, 1813; Richard Henderson, b. May 5, 1815;Thomas Henderson, b. June 5, 1819;Corinna Henderson, b. Sept. 9, 1821, married Henry W. McCorry; Samuel Henderson, b. August 6, 1823; Alexander Henderson, b. June 5, 1826;Nathaniel Henderson, b. Feb. 23, 1828. (DICTIONARY OF NORTH CAROLINA BIOGRAPHY, edited by William S. Powell. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1988, vol. 3, page 109.

3. RICHARD H. FENNER, born about 1793; died at Little Rock, Arkansas, Sept. 23, 1823 (RALEIGH REGISTER, N.C., Nov. 21, 1823) Married Sarah Outerbridge, May 28, 1816 and had children: Richard Joseph Fenner, who married Marianne Johnson, March 24, 1841 and had children Mary F., Julie, Kate E. Fenner. He moved to Navarro Co., Texas and died about 1857. Catharine Revels Fenner (Jan. 6, 1821-April 17, 1845) and married Timothy Pickering Jones and had children Octavia, Sarah, Catharine, Stephen Outerbridge Fenner. His widow remarried, to Henry N. Jasper, September 17, 1828.

4. Dr. WILLIAM K. FENNER, born 1795; died from consumption, in Madison Co., July 2, 1824; d. s. p. (RALEIGH REGISTER, N.C., July 27, 1824)

5. ELIZA GEDDY FENNER (Feb. 11, 1799-Sept. 12, 1845); married James Vaulx (1783-1862). Children:Margaret Ann Vaulx, b. Dec. 15, 1827, married James Alexander Boyd; Matilda Fenner Vaulx, b. Aug. 23, 1830, married Charles Gibbs; Catherine Clements Vaulx, b. July 1l, 1832, married Lewis B. Shapard; Mary Elizabeth Vaulx, b. Feb. 8, 1834, married Alexander Robertson; Susan Vaulx, b. Feb. 19, 1835; Julia Jane Vaulx, b. Sept. 23, 1836; James Junius Vaulx, b. Aug. 20, 1838. (THE VAULX ROAD, by James G. Horsfall, 1979)

6. MARTHA MATILDA FENNER, married Dr. Lewis Coorpender, February 23, 1819;several children.

7. MARY FENNER, married John M. Johnson, January 8, 1816 and had several children.

8. ROBERT FENNER (1803-Sept. 13, 1874). He lived on a plantation, Cotton Grove, in Madison Co. until shortly before he sold it in 1833 and moved to Jackson where he ever afterwards lived. Married Ann Maria Jones (died June 12, 1861, aged 49 years), July 23, 1828. Children: Rebecca Ann Fenner, b. 1831, married Etheired Smith, Dec. 17, 1856; Robert Fenner, 1833-1909, 6th Tenn. Inf CSA. Dr. John Sabrieski Fenner (Feb. 25, 1835-Nov. 24, 1888), married Susan Virginia Day (1848-March 21, 1909), Feb. 27, 1867 and had children: Martha Day Fenner, Mattie (Dec. 8, 1867-June 21, 1915), d. s. p. Mabel Virginia Fenner, b. May 1870, married Geo. C. Cummins, June 27, 1899; Robert Fenner, b. 1871;d. young, s. p. On the Fenner lot in Riverside Cemetery, Jackson, on tombstone of Dr. John S. Fenner is inscribed, "Near this shaft which marks the spot where he rests, lie his father, mother, Robert & Anne M. Fenner." Dr. J. S. Fenner served in the 6th Tenn. Inf CSA. Richard Fenner, b. 1837. Walter Fenner, b. 1839; Darwin Fenner, b. 1841; Elizabeth, Lizzie, Fenner, b. 1843; Fannie Florence Fenner, b. 1845; Rosa Matilda Fenner (Nov. 3, 1847-Jan. 7, 1916), never married; Ella Fenner, b. 1849, married Frank Monroe, Nov. 24, 1869; Samuel Fenner, b. 1853, died March 8, 1862; Willie Fenner, b. 1855.

9. Dr. ERASMUS DARWIN FENNER, who moved to Louisiana; married Anne America Collier in 1832 and had several children, including Charles Erasmus Fenner (Feb. 14, 1834-Oct. 24, 1911)

10. JOHN McKINNIE FENNER, died spring of 1847; married 1. Miriam Williams, April 15, 1835. 2. Eunice (Rogers) Hughlett, July 25, 1844. Eunice remarried, to Dr. Alexander Jackson, Oct. 22, 1850. Children, with first wife: Laura B. Fenner, married Joseph Payne about 1858; Junius P. Fenner who moved to Jefferson Co., Ark.

11. JULIANA K. FENNER, married David McKnight, Oct. 15, 1829. Children: David McKnight, Eleanora McKnight; Mary McKnight; Matilda McKnight; John McKnight. She died in Texas about 1857.

12. JUNIUS POBTON /will says Ponton/ FENNER, who died early in 1834. See, Madison Co. Court Minute Book 4, page 93, for mention of his estate.


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