Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fenner Family of New Bern NC - The Search Continues

Last week, I ran across the name of a book about the Fenner Family, The Fenner Forebears.  Privately published in 1987 by Ruth Leslie Barrett, the book is currently out of print. So on a whim, I called the New Bern Historical Society in New Bern, North Carolina to see if the organization might have a reference copy.  A helpful person who answered the historical society's phone quickly referred me to the Kellenberger Room of the New Bern-Craven County Public Library.  Although the library has a well-organized web site that includes includes online access to reference materials in the Kellenberger Room, I decided to phone the library rather than research online.  Not only did I want to locate an actual copy of the book, I wanted to ask a researcher some direct and specific questions about Richard John Fenner and his wife Anne Coddington Fenner, since I strongly believe these early residents are my Irish-immigrant ancestors. 

My phone call to the Kellenberger Room was promptly answered by a pleasant male voice identifying himself as "Victor Jones."  (According to the website, Victor T. Jones, Jr. is the Department Head.)  Not only did Mr. Jones  confirm that a copy of the Fenner book mentioned earlier in this post is located in the reference room, he volunteered to photocopy pertinent pages of the book and provide me with the copies. Also, Mr. Jones promised to contact me by email within a few days to provide me with answers to the questions I asked, including the actual street address of the old Fenner house (allegedly Lot 89 of the Town of New Bern) and the burial locations for Richard John Fenner and Anne Coddington Fenner.  

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Digital Photo Collection 2009-2011
Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finding the Fenners

Sometimes we stumble upon something simply by chance.  As it has been said so many, many times that one often finds romantic love when one least expects it, maybe finding the name of a previously unknown ancestor falls into this same category of happenstance.  My recent discovery was actually the result of searching for Joseph Fenner, whom I had deemed to be the oldest of three Fenner males enumerated on early census records for Wilkinson County, Mississippi. Joseph Fenner, Sr., an early settler of Wilkinson County, died on August 30, 1840 and left a widow, Rachel, and eight children, most adults. One of these children, William Fenner, through his daughter Rachel Fenner, most likely named for her grandmother, is my maternal fourth great-grandfather.

What I found in my search for Joseph Fenner was really quite unexpected.  I found Fenner surnames in a place that I had not previously searched - Providence, Rhode Island.  My discovery came about while I was reading through references to Fenner surnames in early Rhode Island records, including the Annals of the town of Providence: from its first settlement to the organization of the city government in June, 1832.  An imaged version of this publication, printed in 1843, is available for reading on  In that publication,  I found that Arthur Fenner served as one of the first four representatives to the Providence General Assembly in 1664. The list of representatives also included the names of two other Fenner men, Thomas and Richard, whose relationships to Arthur and to each other are unclear to me at this time. According to the Annals, Arthur Fenner also served as the Town Treasurer in 1662. As I continued to research the Fenner family of Providence, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Rhode Island's fourth governor was Captain Arthur Fenner, a descendant of Arthur Fenner the assemblyman.  

Although finding the Fenner family members in Providence (Rhode Island) was an unexpected and quite unique experience, I now have more unanswered questions than when I began the search. Are Joseph Fenner, Sr., Joseph Fenner, and William Fenner descended from the Fenners who were involved in early Rhode Island politics?  And if so, how are these individuals related to my ancestors who lived in early Wilkinson County, Mississippi?  

Watch for more here as the search continues.

Source: Annals of the town of Providence : from its first settlement to the organization of the city government in June, 1832 [database on-line]. Provo, UT: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.  Original data:  Staples, William R., Annals of the town of Providence : from its first settlement to the organization of the city government in June, 1832. Providence: Printed by Knowles and Vose, 1843.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Madison County Courthouse Canton, Mississippi

Source:  Digital Photography Collection - 2009-2011
Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Madison County Courthouse
Canton, Mississippi
Built in Late 1850's

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Digital Photography Collection (2009 - 2011)
 Privately Owned by J. Tracy

Felix Claims New Chair

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fenner Family of Mississippi - Beginning at the End

I now know that my great-great-great-grandmother, Rachel Fenner, is descended from the Fenner family that lived in the early-mid 1700's in Bertie and Craven Counties in North Carolina.  It appears that Rachel's family followed in the footsteps and wagon trails of so many others who left that area searching for new lands and a better way of life in places west and south.  From all accounts, Rachel was born after the family left North Carolina.  Some researchers believe Rachel was born in Tennessee, where some of the Fenner family eventually settled, while others believe she was born in Georgia, as her family traveled further south.  Most researchers, however, agree that Rachel Fenner married William Neatherlin in Georgia, and several of their children were born there before the family moved to the Mississippi Territory after 1790.  Since the family eventually included several more children, it seems likely the younger ones were born after Rachel and William arrived in the territory. The presence of both Fenner and Netherland families in the Mississippi Territory in the early 1800s is validated by territorial census information that shows William Netherland, Joseph Fenner, Sr., Joseph Fenner, and William Fenner enumerated as heads of households in Wilkinson and Lawrence Counties.

Source: Mississippi State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Mississippi State and Territorial Censuses, 1792-1866. Microfilm V229. 3 rolls. Heritage Quest.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fenner Family of New Bern, NC

Source:  Digital Photography Collection (2009 - 2011)
Privately owned by J. Tracy

Fireworks Over Harbor in New Bern, North Carolina

Recently, we were fortunate to be able to visit with some dear friends who moved out of state a few months ago.  Spending some time with them and watching our nation's birthday celebrated with fireworks has become a tradition for our families, one that we immensely enjoy.  But this year's Fourth of July celebration was even more spectacular than ever, since we watched the enormous fireworks display with our friends as we sat beside the beautiful harbor of New Bern, North Carolina. Not only does my best friend now live in this quaint and historic town that is the cradle of North Carolina's colonial and early government, but it is also the town in which one of my maternal ancestors settled. During the next few weeks, watch here for photos of New Bern and posts about the Fenner family of North Carolina and its early American beginnings.