Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Tannahill Tale...

My mother's maiden name was Tannahill.  It has been an adventure trying to find information on the family.  Mom knew a little and by opening some lines of communication with several of her living family members, we made a start and finding information on the family.  Mom's Dad died when she was six years old (Daddy's Gone)  It wasn't terribly hard to go back two further generations...Mom remembered her grandfather (John Lyons Tannahill) and by census records, we could tell who his parents were.  However, getting further than that...has been a little tricky.

We lost Mom the day after Christmas in 2005, so the search for more Tannahill information became more personal.  Mom and I worked at getting the information filled out on her aunts, uncles and cousins and we did a pretty good job with that part of the story.  Going much further was a little trickier.  So here is Mom's line:


  • Mom
  • Oliver Richard Tannahill m. Capitola Ester Friddle
  • John Lyons Tannahill m. Sarah Rachel Kelley
  • John Lyons Tannahill m. Almira Jones
  • Francis Tannahill m. Mary Fillinger


We were pretty sure of the line this far until we got to Francis Tannahill.  John Lyons Tannahill shows up with his mother and siblings in the census, but not Francis.  The first census that named everyone in the household was the 1850 census.  I could tell from the census record that the children were born in Ohio...so I knew that the family had immigrated from Ohio to Iowa.  Based on a book by James Tannehill on the Tannahill family, I was convinced that Francis Tannahill was the likely parent of John Lyons Tannahill.  While the author had a lot of information and theories, he didn't have a lot of sources for his information.  I suspect that they got information on my line from a the last of John Lyons Tannahill's (Sr)' s siblings, Charlotte Tannahill Bucey.  After a lot of searching and new online data, I was finally able to prove that Francis Tannahill and Mary Fillinger were married and where they came from. A Marriage in Gallia Co., OH - Francis Tannahill

I would love to say that I am comfortable with the rest of the ancestry...but I really haven't found much proof.  Francis was born in 1788 and would have been 52 when John Lyons Tannahill Sr was born (1840) which makes me think that there was another lifetime that had been lived before he ever married Mary Fillinger at the age of 47.  I suspect that I found another earlier marriage to an Elizabeth Loper.  James Tannehill theorized in the book that Francis Tannahill was the son of James Tannehill and Jemima Smith.  The name has been spelled several ways.  On my particular line, I have mostly seen Tannehill or Tannahill, so I use them interchangeably.  (Name Changes)

So, while I still try to look for further information and proof, I have to go with the supposition that James Tannehill b. 1759 and d. aft 1836 is my 4th great grandfather.  I would like it to be true, because I suspect James is an interesting ancestor.  We know that James was born in Maryland to Samuel Tannehill Sr and Sarah Edmonston.  We also know that he served in the Revolutionary War.  Here is a section of a letter that was sent to a Mrs. Bradley that was quoted by James Tannehill in his book.  

James Tannehill enlisted in June, 1776, served in Captain Philip Maroney's company, Colonel Griffith's Maryland Regiment at Flying Camp; was at York Island and White Plains and in several skirmishes at each place and served six months; he enlisted about August, 1777, served two months in Captain John Tarr's Company, Colonel Baker Johnson's Maryland Regiment and was in the battle Germantown. After the Revolution, he lived in Maryland until about 1796; then moved to Somerset County, Pennsylvania, and lived about there about twenty-three years; then moved to Virginia, and in 1824, moved to Daviess County, Kentucky. 

According to other notes, James Tannehill's wife, Jemima Smith died about 1800.   It seems to me that James Tannehill moved quite a bit and distance in his lifetime.  So, going along with the previously mentioned Tannehill genealogy...here is the rest of the line.


  • James Tannehill m. Jemima Smith
  • Samuel Tannehill Sr m. Sarah Edmonston
  • Ninian Tannehill, Sr m. Charlotte Isabella Conn
  • William Tannehill, III m. Euphene Beall
  • William Tannehill, Jr m. Sarah Harris
  • William Tannehill, Sr (Immigrant ancestor) m. Alice
  • Thomas Tannahill


I feel like my "Tannahill Tale" has a lot of holes in it with some tantalizing clues.  I only wish when James Tannehill wrote his book on the Tannehill family that he had included source material.  The book is called "Genealogical History of the Tannahills Tannehills Taneyhills!"  You can find copies at several genealogical libraries as well reprints.  The book was written in the early 1930's and really can be a valuable resource.  I have no idea if I will ever have access to the resources that he used to write his book.  I suspect that a lot of info on my family was partially based on actual primary sources, but likely info based on correspondence with other family members.  It is that last item that leads me to believe what I have.  The timeline fits the possibility that James B Tannehill was able to correspond with someone who really knew the information on the family of Francis Tannehill and Mary Fillinger...their last living daughter, Charlotte Tannehil and possibly her children.

So, right now my tale ends there - but the possibility of additional information shows potential.  I never know when another record will be published online that will allow me to fill in additional details in my Tannahill tale.