Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Finding Francis: More Breakthrough Discoveries

Will of Nathan Tanner
One of the most challenging and elusive all-time research projects I have been involved in is finding the parents of my fifth-great-grandfather, Francis Tanner.  As I have chronicled in previous posts about Finding Francis, the traditional accounts of his parents are contradictory and simply wrong. Despite having hundreds of thousands of descendants, none of them seemed to have questioned the early published origin of the family. Back in 2017, I published a copy of a will of a William Tanner with a son named Francis who died in 1757. Since that time, I have re-evaluated the will and do not believe that it is the will of my Francis Tanner's father. The Francis Tanner mentioned in the Will was a minor child in 1757 and by 1757, my Francis Tanner had a wife and family.

The Will I found for a William Tanner illustrates the difficulty of doing research during this early time period in Colonial America. Just when you think you have the matter resolved, additional research shows that you are off on the wrong track. This is mainly due to repetitious common names. As I pointed out in a blog post on Genealogy's Star, I now have documented 12 possibly different William Tanners that lived during the applicable time period. See "12 William Tanners? A new record for confusion."

What the consistent documents do show now, it that the father of Francis Tanner had at least three sons: Francis, Nathan and another son named Benjamin. His name was William Tanner and he had a wife named Elizabeth. All of this information has come primarily from Wills and probates. The latest discovery is Nathan Tanner's Will shown above. This will confirms Nathan's wife's name was Mary and that his mother's name was Elizabeth. The will also contains a witness named Francis Tanner who in an additional discovery, is named the Guardian of two of Nathan's underage sons: Nathan and Abel. Another son, David is the Executor of his mother's estate. Apparently, she died a few years after her husband, Nathan Tanner.

We now know that Francis, Nathan, and Benjamin were brothers and all the children of a William Tanner and Elizabeth. We have wills for both Francis and Nathan. The additional existence of a Guardianship established for Nathan's sons with Francis Tanner as the Guardian further supports the existence of the family.

Now, we need a William Tanner, married to a woman named Elizabeth with three sons named Francis, Nathan and Benjamin.

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