Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Family Tree Continues ~ The Grand Finale

Yesterday, I shared the life and times of my 3rd great-grandfather, Dr. Abner Elkin Fant, a beloved physician in his day. I shared about his Civil War experience as a surgeon and how his 19-year-old son, James, became a prisoner of war following the Battle of Mobile Bay. James died a few months later, while imprisoned in Elmira, New  York.

There is more to tell about my 3rd great-grandfather, and I promised you a surprise ending, but first I want to share a little about my 2nd great-grandfather, Quitman Davis Fant. (I love his name.)

Quitman was the son who followed his father into the field of medicine. Dr. Quitman Davis Fant was the maternal grandfather of my maternal grandfather and what a handsome man he was, as you can see below.

Tragically, Quitman came to an early death, dying from injuries received after a neighbor became angry over something having to do with cattle and a fence. Quitman's death came four years after his father passed away. He was only 36 at the time of his death. One of his daughters, Kate, was four years-old. 

Kate would grow up to become the mother of my maternal grandfather, pictured with him above, and in a better photo in my previous Family Tree post

My mother declares that Kate was perhaps the sweetest woman she ever knew, who just happened to be her beloved grandmother.

Here is Kate in the later years of her life. I am blessed to be the recipient of a quilt she made around 1923. You can see it and read about it in this post here.

And now—drum-roll pleaselet me pick up the cliff-hanger from yesterday. I'm so delighted that I'm not the only one interested. :) 

As I stated in yesterday's post, while reading about my 3rd great-grandfather, I kept looking for something to make me feel linked to him, in a personal way.

And I found it! On Page 77, something leaped off the page and smacked me in the face. It was there that I came upon a quote from a book entitled, Editors I Have Known Since the Civil War, published in 1922, written by R. H. Henry, the owner and editor of the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi for 50 years. In his book, Henry wrote this about my 3rd great-grandfather:

Dr. A. E. Fant was leading stockholder in the West Point Citizen and became its editor while enjoying a large and lucrative practice, not that he cared for the work but because of necessity. He wrote well, and his reconstruction editorials were among the best to appear during the days that really tried men's souls.

Suddenly, I let out a little whoop. It appeared that Grandpa Fant was not only a respected physician, but also a newspaper owner and an editorial writer, although a reluctant one it seems. Finally—a common thread! Grandpa Fant was a writer! If you've read my profile, you will know why I instantly felt a kinship in my spirit.

This discovery led me to wonder how possible, or impossible, it would be to locate a copy of R. H. Henry’s book. I rated it right up there with turning water into wine.

Thus began my long search. The Internet was in play in the early 90's, but it wasn't the first place you considered looking. A lot had yet to be done to make it the beast it is today, so at every opportunity, I wandered through antique shops and used book stores, looking for the book, Editors I Have Known Since the Civil War, by R. H. Henry. I soon discovered it was an impossible dream, at best. I solicited the help of family members. I called rare book dealers. None held out much hope.

In time, my zeal to find the book petered out. After all, 1922 was a very long time ago. Finding it would be like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.

So, imagine my absolute astonishment when, a year later, I opened a birthday present from my twin sister and discovered a green hardcover book entitled Editors I Have Known, by R. H. Henry.

Stunned, I looked again at the book’s title. And then I looked at Gayle. She was smiling. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. “Where on earth did you find this book?” I asked. “Where? And how?” For some reason, my voice shook and tears sprang to my eyes.

“Believe it or not,” she said, “I found a rare book dealer on the Internet, put in a request for this title and a copy turned up—God only knows where or how. I paid for it, and they mailed it to me. Can you believe it? Happy Birthday!”

For the longest, I sat hugging the book to my chest. It felt like a long-lost relative had been found, and I had to admit, the whole thing was pretty amazing. Who would have ever imagined that the technology of today would provide a bridge to an unknown literary work of 1922? I have a feeling Grandpa Fant would be impressed.

Since that time, we've been able to procure additional copies of this special book. My two copies share a prominent place in my home and remind me of those who came before me, and all it took to get here.

Until next time, dear friends, who do you think you are? It just might surprise you what you discover. Thanks for hanging with me. I hope to hear your ancestry stories soon.



  1. That is just so neat. Your sister is a gem!

    1. Now this is the reason why a poor memory is a good thing...I enjoyed this all over again today! Not only that, I made plans to brew a pot of tea and return for some leisurely reading. I also made a note that my third-great-grandfather was also a Civil War soldier so there are some time parallels between us. Your ancestor a doctor AND a writer and mine a humble Gloucester fisherman from Massachusetts.

  2. I just read your three posts about family history. It has sparked an interest to maybe do some of my own research.
    What a wonderful gift from your sister!

  3. I just learned on another blogger's page (that) today is Ancestor Appreciation Day!

  4. I read all three of your family tree posts, and found them fascinating! I can't believe how far back you've traced. I think I would have a hard time tracking down ancestors because many of them changed their names when they came to this country. Worth a try, though! You've inspired me, Dayle!


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