Notes and Documents
Identity Crisis:Just Who Did James W Fannin Jr.
Think He Was?
ROBERT A. BURNS*
COL. JAMES W. FANNIN JR. WAS A PERFECT FIT FOR AN EMERGING
Texas. They were both flamboyant, brashly self-assured, and con-
stantly re-inventing themselves. Fannin's erudition, his enthusiasm for
the new republic, his recruiting abilities, and his apparent military
knowledge led him quickly to the top of the Texas army.' His subse-
quent disagreements with Sam Houston and his military actions leading
up to the death of himself and his troops at Goliad have been the fodder
of argument ever since.
Despite his immediate elevation to the rank of hero due to his death,
an in-depth biography of the man had never been ventured until recent-
ly.' Even that author, however, relied upon the re-interpretation of previ-
ously known and/or published information with little new research, par-
ticularly with regard to Fannin's early life. Through the years erroneous
assumptions from as far back as his first cousin's have been allowed to
become fact and rampant speculation has been accepted as truth. The
limited attempt here is an orderly look at only his formative years and
family background in order to correct persistent misinformation.
The repetition of the name James through the four Fannin genera-
tions to be dealt with has caused much confusion in the past. It is impor-
tant to note the designations by relationship to Colonel Fannin. James
Sr. was his great-grandfather, James Jr. was his grandfather, James W. Sr.
* Robert A. Burns is a filmmaker and actor now living in Seguin. He created the widely used
training video, "Out of Your Tree! Crazy about Genealogy." His great-great-great-grandmother
was Ceney Fannin, first cousin to James W. Fannin Jr.
' Clarence Wharton, Remember Golhad (Gloneta, N.M.: The Rio Grande Press, 1968), 21-28.
2 Gary Brown, Hesitant Martyr in the Texas Revolution: James Walker Fannin (Plano Republic of
Texas Press, 2ooo).
VOL. CV, No. 3 SOUTHWESTERN HISTORICAL QUARTERLY JANUARY, 2002
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/. Accessed January 27, 2015.