Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

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 ancestry.com.  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:
Ancestry.com. 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.



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