12 February 2017

Fain Family of Fannin County on Both Sides of the Civil War

To be fair and inclusive, the Fain family of which I am discussing is also rooted in Gilmer County, Georgia and the state of North Carolina.  Preliminary research also suggests a good number went West, but that's for another time.

I've only just begun researching the area including and surrounding Fannin County, Georgia.  In this very early stage of studying – to be honest and clear, and maybe show you how easy it is to begin – all I've really done is pay attention to historical markers, street names, cemeteries, and the like.  In doing so, I'm seeing overlaps of family names and such.  This simple observation has pointed me, for one example, in the direction of the Fain family.

100_7627In Blue Ridge (Fannin County), near a magnolia tree in the downtown city park, is a historical marker placed for the 150 year commemoration of the Civil War.  The subject is William Clayton Fain: Georgia Unionist.  The text reads as follows:

One of the leading Unionists in the state during the Civil War, William Clayton Fain was born in Georgia in 1825.  A Fannin County lawyer and state representative, he served in the 1861 Secession Convention, where he opposed Georgia leaving the United States and refused to sign the Ordinance of Secession.  During the Civil War, Fain was an outspoken supporter of the United States and an anti-Confederate leader among the sizeable number of Unionists in Fannin and adjoining counties.  In 1864, the U.S. Army authorized him to raise recruits, which he conducted into Federal lines.  Fain was captured and killed by Confederates near Ducktown, Tennessee, on April 6, 1864.  He was one of many Southerners who opposed the Confederacy, including 400,000 – primarily from the Upper South – who enlisted in the U.S. armed forces.

William Clayton Fain was a son of John Fain (b. abt 1797), who was a son of pioneer and patriot Ebenezer Fain (1762-1842).

The Other Side

Last June, on opening day of farmers market season, I visited the old Blairsville Cemetery in adjoining Union County, Georgia.  Though I wasn't looking for a Fain connection, I found one.


Beloved Wife Of Col.
BORN FEB. 15, 1833
DIED SEPT. 13, 1861
A dear and loving mother gone to rest.

Jane, daughter of March and Sarah Addington, was a wife of Colonel John Simpson Fain.  Col. Fain was born in the Spring of 1818, a son of David and Rebecca Moore Fain.  David (b. 1782) was a brother of William Clayton Fain's father and another son of Ebenezer.

John Simpson Fain was a military man who served in three wars, including the Civil War.  According to an entry by Jeanette Fain Cornelius in the United Daughters of the Confederacy Patriot Ancestor Album (1999, Turner Publishing Co. Paducah, Ky), "In the Civil War he [Col. Fain] organized a company of North GA mountain men in February 1861 and served as captain of Co. G, 1st Regt. GA Regulars.  On May 21, 1862 he was elected lieutenant colonel of 65th GA Inf…" Short of a year later, he was promoted to the rank of colonel.  He served until June of 1863, when he tendered his resignation due to a medical condition.

The common ancestor of William Clayton Fain and John Simpson Fain is their grandfather, Ebenezer Fain.  As I mentioned before, Ebenezer was a pioneer and a patriot.  He was a pioneer of Southern Appalachia from a young age and throughout his full life.  Though born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, when Ebenezer was a young boy, the Fain family moved to southwest Virginia.  Before he was 16, the family moved down into what was then North Carolina.  About 1783, the then married Ebenezer Fain continued the moving tradition of his father by relocating to South Carolina.  Twenty years later, Ebenezer and family returned to what would eventually become Buncombe County, North Carolina.  Finally, about 1819, Ebenezer Fain and family were in north Georgia.  Each move advanced the family to more sparsely populated areas within the Southern Appalachia region.

Prior to his marriage and "settling down" with a family of his own in 1781, Ebenezer served his country in the American Revolution.  He enlisted on five distinct occasions.  One of those included service at the famous Battle of King's Mountain.

Travis H. McDaniel, a descendant of Ebenezer Fain, has written much about his family.  And some of that writing has appeared in the Georgia Backroads magazine.  One such article, "A Man in the True Sense of the Word: Southern Appalachian Pioneer Ebenezer Fain," was published in the Summer 2013 edition.  The following is from that article:

Just a few months later Ebenezer, his father, and several brothers enlisted in the militia at the request of Colonel John Sevier, who would later become Tennessee's first governor.  Sevier's militia, referred to as the Overmountain Men because they came from settlements west of the main crest of the Appalachian Mountains, played a key role in the Battle of King's Mountain, North Carolina, in 1780…This was a turning point in the southern operations during the Revolution.

Ebenezer Fain remained in Georgia until his death in 1842, spending some of his old age in the Hot House area of Fannin County.  Apropos to this posting, is a statement on the passing of Ebenezer attributed to his grandson, John Simpson Fain (also from Mr. McDaniel's article referenced above):

"I was a sort of a favorite child of my grandfather, and he principally raised and educated me, and I learned to love him when quite a child and I can never forget him.  My grandfather was a man in the true sense of the word, physically and mentally and morally.  His death was calm, and without a struggle…"

Ebenezer Fain and his descendants have left a lasting legacy in the mountains of north Georgia.

[Note:  Travis H. McDaniel wrote another article about his Fain family that may be viewed online >>> Clayton Fain's Last RideIn that writing, Mr. McDaniel delves deeper into the death of William Clayton Fain at the hands of the Confederacy.] 

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