The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002 Page: 454
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
was his uncle, and the colonel was James W. Fannin Jr. At that time 'Jr."
only specified the younger in the family, not necessarily "son of."3
As an adoptee and illegitimate son Fannin's search for identity even
caused his own recollections to be fallible.4 Whether as a child James W.
Jr. knew his father was Isham Saffold Fannin is unknown but he told in
his letters of being at Isham's deathbed at age twelve and he was provided
for in Isham's Morgan County, Georgia, will.5 He also wrote that when he
entered West Point two years later he was known by his maternal grandfa-
ther's name, James W. Walker. However, his application papers clearly
show him using the name James F. Walker.6 The general assumption is
that he was trying out his new Fannin name as a middle one.
The assumption has been logically continued that he subsequently
reversed the two names to become James Walker Fannin, which is now
accepted as fact. This assumption is further enforced by the famous
watch taken from him at Goliad. His grandfather Walker had it
inscribed "Given July 18 x 9 to my grandson, James Walker (Fannin)
Marion, Ga."'7 Since James W. Fannin Jr. ultimately chose his own name
he could have made it anything he wanted, but there seems to be no
documentation from his own time that he signified the W specifically to
be Walker, and there were other possibilities.
If, as he wrote, he used the name James W. Walker in his youth he
would have had a different middle name. While there is no indication
other than his one letter that his grandfather's middle initial actually
was W, there was another Walker in Morgan County by that name of age
to be an uncle.8 The first record of the use of the name James Fannin Jr.
is in association with his uncle James W. Fannin Sr., whose middle name
was Werter.9 Even a matter as simple as his name is not so simple.
Brenda Jean Evans, The New A to Zax (Evansville, Ill.: Evansville Bindery, 199o), 155.
"4 By whom I was raised and adopted," Fannin to Major Belton, Aug. 27, 1835, letter, inJ. W.
Fannin Jr., "Notes and Fragments," The Quarterly of the Texas State Historcal Association, 7 (Apr.,
1904), 318-320; "My illegitimate son," in will of Isham S. Fannin, May 5, 1817, Morgan County,
Georgia, Morgan County Records Archive, Madison, Ga. (photocopy in author's possession).
5 James W. Fannmn to Eliza S. Fannin, letter to half-sister, in Wharton, Remember Golsad, 25;
"one thousand dollars" and "four years of schooling" in will of Isham S. Fannin.
6 "By whom I am known as James W. Walker-my maternal Grand-father's name," in Fannin,
"Notes and Fragments," 320; "U.S. Military Cadet Application Papers, 1805-1866," National
Archives Microfilm Publication 688. This contains the handwritten letters of recommendation
and Fannin's own acceptance letter, all using the name James F. Walker (facsimile copy in
7 Linda Harsdorff, "Fannin's Watch Returns," The Vctora Advocate, Apr. 1o, 1988, p. 1.
8 Joseph T. Maddux, Early Georgia Marriages-Book Four (Irwinton, Ga.: n.p., n.d.), 304. This
includes the 1850 Morgan County census that shows aJames W. Walker born about 1790o.
9 Fred R. and Emilie K. Hartz, Genealogical Abstracts from the Georgia Journal (Milledgeville)
Newspaper, 18o9-84o, Vol. Three (Vidalia, Ga.: Gwendolyn Press, 1994), 405; James Werter
Fannin's tombstone, Fannin Cemetery, offWhitesville Road, La Grange, Georgia. Photographed
by the author, May 1 o, 1999.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 105, July 2001 - April, 2002, periodical, 2001; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101222/m1/498/: accessed April 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.