The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905 Page: 259

John R. Fenn.


In a history of Fort Bend County recently published by J. A.
Sowell are recorded many interesting incidents in the life of John
R. Penn, one of the old settlers of that county, and a grandson of
one of the oldest settlers in the State of Texas.
The Fenn family on both sides were from Savannah, Georgia, but
John R. Fenn was born in Lawrence County, Mississippi,
on October 11, 1824. David Fitzgerald, his maternal grand-
father, came to Texas in 1822, when the country was
an unbroken wilderness, and the place settled by him and
his son, John Fitzgerald, three miles below the present
town of Richmond, on the Brazos River, was one of the
first to be opened in Austin's Colony. In 1832 Eli Fenn, who had
married Sarah, the daughter of David Fitzgerald, visited Texas, and
being well pleased with the country, returned the next year, bring-
ing with him his family, whom he had left in Madison County,
Mississippi. They first settled on the Fitzgerald place, where crops.
were raised in 1834 and 1835. The one planted in 1836 was lost on
account of the Mexican invasion.
At the time of this event, John R. Penn, the son of Eli Fenn,
was between eleven and twelve years old, and the account of his
capture by the invading Mexican army is most interesting.
His recollection of the stirring events of his boyhood, in many
of which he participated, and of the adventures of older members
of his family with the Karankawa and Bedil Indians, reveal strik-
ing pictures of frontier life in Texas.
His father, Eli Fenn, served in the army of the Texas revolution
in Captain Wiley Martin's company, and when, in 1842, a force
was organized under Gen. Alexander Somerville for the invasion of
Mexico, John R. Fenn, although not yet of age, joined the company
1In Spanish manuscripts probably the most usual spelling of this name
is Vidais, though it is spelled in various other ways, as Beedi, Bedais,
Vedais, etc.

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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 8, July 1904 - April, 1905, periodical, 1905; Austin, Texas. ( accessed January 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.