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Letter - A. C. Fanning on Fanning Family
Township: Springfield Township, Bradford County PA
Transcribed  by Debbie Hansen
Year: 1930
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Found the following letter, written by A. C. Fanning, in my great-grandfather’s Bible and thought it may be of interest to the site members. A. C. Fanning was the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Amanda Fanning Leonard. I also have a note, from A. C. Fanning, on letterhead from the Bradford County Historical Society, of which he was president, stating that he was preparing a genealogical record of the Leonard Family. Unfortunately, last time I contacted BCHS, they could find no such genealogical record.

Debbie Hansen

Towanda, Pa., January 18, 1930

My dear Niece:

You desired to know something of our family, and take pleasure in giving you a few facts. Am glad to know you and others, descendants of those who left the old home years ago are interested. In the near future will give you a more complete record.

Your great grandmother, Amanda Fanning Leonard had brothers and sisters as follows:

MELVINA, who married N. Wilson Smith, they being the father and mother of the Smith Boys, Cord M., Burdell F., Frank I., and Fern. N. Wilson Smith was a blacksmith by occupation, and a member of Co. C. 7th Pennsylvania Cavalry. He was a brother of Judson Smith who was also a soldier in the same regiment and is buried at Little Nebraska.

IRA S. FANNING, a farmer and soldier of the Civil War, and a member of Co. C. 7th, Pennsylvania Cavalry. When returning to the front after a furlough home, and before reaching his regiment while aiding in the transportation of artillery, was wounded and later placed on the operating table to have his arm amputated by a young surgeon, when an older and more experienced one stepped in, said the operation was unnecessary and saved his arm.

MELVIN D. FANNING, also your great grandmother’s and my brother had four children, Florence, now Florence DeWitt, for whom you were named, a teacher and residing at Troy, Pa.

David J. Fanning, son of Melvin D. Fanning, a lawyer of marked ability and with an extensive practice, for two terms District Attorney of Bradford County, and residing at Troy, Pa.

Another son of Melvin D. Fanning is Lloyd Melvin, a successful farmer residing on the old "Homestead".

He has been twice married; his first wife had consumption and died in New Mexico where he took her for treatment. She was the mother of two children, Edmund and Leland.

My brother Melvin D. Fanning married a second time, his first wife being deceased, and had another son, Cecil Earl Fanning, a most wonderful student, graduating from college with honors, possessor of the Phi Beta Kappa key and another won in the inter collegiate debating contests. Taught for some time in the Naval Academy at Anapolis, and later in other institutions, and now a Professor in a Philadelphia institution. At the age of thirteen he was the winner in a spelling contest, participated in by all the schools in the county.

ADELBERT CANEDY FANNING, also a brother of your great grandmother Leonard. I do not like to speak of myself, but as you have expressed a desire to know something of the family, will not let modesty interfere and give you just an outline. I was educated at the Mansfield State Normal School, (Pennsylvania), graduating from there in 1872, and from the Law Department of the University of Michigan in 1874, receiving the degree of LL.B., and the honorary degree of LL.D. from the Syracuse University, N. Y. Admitted to the Supreme Court of Michigan in 1874, and to the Bradford County, Pennsylvania Bar the same year, and later to the Supreme Court of the State and later to the United States District Court. Was District Attorney of Bradford County for three years from January 1st, 1881, and President Judge of the 42nd Judicial District of Pennsylvania for twelve years. Am now Register and Recorder. For fifty years, have been a political and public speaker. For fifty-seven years have given considerable time and attention to Masonic work. Last saw A. C. or Dell Leonard when I attended the Supreme Council (33 degree) at Chicago some years ago.

I married Jennie Eugenia Loomis. We had two children, Pauline Frances, who died at the age of three years, and Carl. You inquired about Carl. Will tell you something about him.

Carl was educated at Syracuse, N. Y., at Manlius St. John’s Military School and at Mansfield Pennsylvania. He was for several years County Detective here, and later entered the State Highway Department. Was Chief inspector for some time on portions of what are now known as the "Sullivan Trail" and the "Roosevelt Highways", also in Lycoming County with the Engineer Corp and later in our county. Following this he was employed by the state in construction work in Bradford County having charge of a force of men, in connection with which he had a large amount of blasting through rock cuts became necessary, and the last year of his employment by the state, he was engaged in blasting rock from quarries to keep crushers at work for stone used in road building. He became an expert in the use of dynamite, a dangerous business, but never had an accident. Two years ago and over he was chosen as Secretary and Treasurer of the Bradford County National Farm Loan Association to which was added special representative of the Federal Land Bank of Baltimore, Md. His present duties are not only looking after these interests in Bradford County, where the Land Bank has loans aggregating more than one million one hundred thousand dollars, but has in addition been given work for the bank covering the entire eastern portion of Pennsylvania extending from the New York State line on the north, to Philadelphia on the south, and thence eastward to the New Jersey line. He looks after the various interests of the Federal Land Bank, his work being of a varied nature. His business frequently calls him to Baltimore. Since commencing this letter, he called me from that city stating that he is well and getting along nicely. You can judge something of his activities from the fact that during the past thirty days, his automobile registered two thousand one hundred and thirteen miles.

Carl enlisted in the World War, saw service at Fort Slocum, N. Y., Philadelphia, Camp Hancock, Ga., Camp Shelby, Miss., came home from Mississippi to bid us good bye, but the order was countermanded and he was assigned to important work at the Picatinny Arsenal, Dover, New Jersey. He was First Sergeant and at the time of his discharge, Second Lieutenant. While in the service, he was married to Helen Peer of Dover, N. J. As an officer, he was popular with his men, who presented him a silver service of many pieces. He still holds his commission in the engineer corps as Second Lieutenant and is subject to call at any time when needed. His wife Helen is my first deputy in the Register and Recorder’s office. She is a charming girl. They make their home with us. Their baby died and they now have no children. At the St. John Military School, Carl won a sharpshooter’s badge.

My brother, Melvin D. Fanning was a member of Co. C. Seventh Pennsylvania Cavalry. The 4th Mich. And Seventh Cavalry were operating together when Jefferson Davis was captured. The 4th Michigan actually made the capture, but the Seventh was close by and my brother saw Davis a few minutes after he was taken into custody.

David J. Fanning, my brother Melvin’s son, has four daughters, one a teacher at Waverly, N. Y., graduate of the Elmira Female College, another a student in the same college, a third at Oberlin, Ohio College and the youngest in the Troy High School. My brother Ira had two children, Belle Fanning Campbell, of Troy, Pa., and Hugh J. Fanning of Geneva, N. Y.

Lloyd M. Fanning, son of my brother Melvin D. Fanning, now residing on the old "Homestead", has two sons, Edmund, a farmer, and Leland, employed by the state in testing cattle for tubercular trouble.

My father, David Grace Fanning was born February 15, 1811 and came from Springfield, Mass., in 1812 when a year old to Springfield, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. He married Antis Brown Canedy. Was a Methodist class leader for more than fifty years, a man of influence and loved by all. He commenced life in the wilderness the morning he was twenty-one, having only an axe, and build his log cabin. On this farm, he lived until his death in his ninety-third year. He was an untiring worker. Owing to failure of title paid for a portion of his farm twice. He was known far and wide as a peacemaker. On this old "Homestead" were born your great grandmother, Amanda Fanning Leonard and her sister, mother of the Smith boys and her brothers, Melvin D. and Ira S. and the writer. My oldest sister, Betsey died when she was three years old. The Fanning home was located in Pleasant Valley, the name being later changed to Wetona, Springfield Township, Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Springfield Township was the home of the Leonards, they residing near Big Pond, Bradford County, Pa.

I am the only one of the old stock living. All the others have passed to that "Bourne from which no traveler ever returns." I have written you thus in detail that you and the others interested may know something of the "Old Home" and friends back east. I am now in my seventy ninth year, the oldest number of the Bradford County Bar, and know full well that the sunset of life and the "Crossing of the Bar" cannot be many years distant. Have been blest with good health in a very active career, having had only a short illness during my term as judge, about two weeks in a hospital at New London, Conn., result of an automobile accident when returning from Boston, and a more serious illness commencing last February and continuing for about four months, and from which I am slowly recovering my strength. Have reason to be very thankful. Am glad you requested me to give you some facts as to the family for I know of no one who would be as interested in giving you and my other western friends and relatives the information herein given. It is only an outline. Will later supplement this with the record in short form of the Fanning Family reaching back several hundred years; also something of our Revolutionary history. You and other descendants may at some time desire to join the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Would like again to visit Nebraska, but as many are gone, I once knew and loved all would seem so changed. Yet I would enjoy seeing those who are left and note the transformation, which has taken place since I first was there. My father set out a tree by your great grandmother’s home (not the place where she died) and which I was informed by some one, was a few years ago still standing. I remember well the "Lone Tree" which is the only one I call to mind when I first visited Holt County. The last time I went to California, passed through Omaha. Have been sorry ever since that I did not stop off and spend a few days with my friends, but thought at the time I might return that way, but instead came by the Northern Pacific route.

Remember well a fishing trip to Goose Lake, later to Willow Lake and an interesting journey to Valentine with Cord M. Smith. We went out to Fort Niobrara. Valentine was then the end of the railroad and hundreds were waiting in tents for the land office to open. It was a tough place at that time and we had quite an exciting experience. The last time I was in Holt County, I went for Carl, who with his cousin Harry Leonard, was visiting there. They were little youngsters then. At that time, George D. Leonard insisted that I address a public meeting at Chambers. He went on horseback through the community, notifying the people, and as a result, there was quite a large gathering considering the brief notice. I met Mr. Rye, who gave an account of the meeting in the paper published there; think it was "The Bugle."

You inquired about Fern D. Smith. He became a Methodist minister, had several charges, but later severed his connection with that denomination and is now a Baptist and preaching at Harrisville, N. Y. One of his daughters is married, and perhaps another one. Will send the information desired in the near future. Frank Smith lives in Elmira, N. Y. He carried the mail for twenty-five years, but is now retired and pensioned by the government. Perhaps other members of the family may desire some of the information contained in this letter, and you may send a copy to Fanning, Harry and Delos.

Try and secure A. C. Leonard’s address in Chicago. Did he work for Swift or Armour? A letter in care of his employer would doubtless reach him.

Years ago we had family gatherings at which your great grandmother’s family and her brothers and sister and their families were present, a goodly number and such heart-warming times. These gatherings were usually at the "Old Home" on Christmas and my father’s birthday, February 15th, but occasionally at the home of some of the others. Nearly all have passed away, and the others are scattered and reside in different parts of our republic. These gatherings are now precious memories.

Will be glad to have the remaining family dates and records and will then put same together. They will be valuable in coming years to every member of the family.


A. C. Fanning

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
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