Michael Fanning of Boynton & Delavan Tazewell Illinois, brother of William “Big Bill” Fanning

Michael Fanning born Tipperary 1810 died 1900 in Boynton Tazwell Illinois US. Married to Bridget Feehan 1852 Illinois. Buried in St Marys Cemetery Delavan Illinois. He was the father of Edward Fanning who settled in Paterson New Jersey.

Michael Fanning born Co Tipperary Ireland 1810 and died 1900 in Tazewell Illinois was the brother of my gggrandfather William Patrick Fanning of Thurles Co Tipperary Ireland and Bulla Victoria Australia.

Given my recent Ancestry DNA match with Timothy Brophy a descendant of Edward Fanning the son of Michael Fanning and Catherine Keyes I have decided that Michael Fanning of Tazewell was definitely the brother of mygrgrgrandfather, William Patrick Fanning. I was 99% sure before but this DNA result has clinched it for me.

A few years ago I was contacted by a fellow family historian about Michael Fanning and possible connections with her Keyes ancestors who lived in Paterson, Passaic County,  New Jersey, USA but originally came from Co Tipperary and Co Leix in Ireland.

She told me that a Michael Fanning had married Catherine “Kitty” Keyes in Co Tipperary about 1833. They lived in Dromard (Dromard More or Dromard Beg) civil parish of Killavinoge (Templemore), Co Tipperary  It is said the Fanning family lived in Dromard around this time. A Michael Fanning was sponsor to Ellen Keyes 6 Mar 1835 at Graffin (Knockgraffin?) and may have been Edward’s father.

They had two children. Edward was baptised at Clonmore in the Catholic parish of Templemore on Dec 28 1833. The baptismal sponsors for Edward were Steven Mackey and Ellen Kavanagh. John the second child was baptised 22 May 1836 (sponsor- Judith Keyes). He is said to have died young in Ireland. His mother Catherine “Kitty” Keyes also died young. On the Baptism record for the second child “Joanna” is clearly written and the priest did not use Latin for his entries.

Edward emigrated to the US sometime before the age of 21. He settled in Paterson, Passaic County, New Jersey where many of his mother’s Keyes extended family were. His father Michael was already in the US. Edward later lived in Paterson New Jersey and served in the Civil War in Co. G, 7th Regt. NJ Vols.


Edward Fanning 1833-1900


Edward Fanning’s second wife was Sarah Tracey. Edward died in Mar 8, 1900 in Paterson New Jersey. Below is an obit for Edward in the local paper:

FANNING – In this city on Thursday March 8 1900 Edward, beloved husband of Sarah Fanning, aged 66 years. Relatives and friends of the family are invited to attend the funeral on Monday, March 12, 1900 from his late residence, 138 Jersey street, at 9 o’clock a. m. and from St. John’s R. C. church at 9:30 o’clock a. m. Interment at Holy Sepulchre. 
Paterson Evening News 
Friday 9 Mar 1900″

Recently I was contacted by members of the Brophy family and they sent me what they know about Edward Fanning. Timothy Brophy, a great grandson of Edward, has researched his family history and published a book,The Brophy Lane Chronicle, which he kindly sent me. Below are three pages from this book which relate to this Edward. I have also included a photo of Edward’s son, also Edward.

Edward Fanning Paterson 1834-1900 Obit st

Edward Fanning 1834-1900 Tipperary to Paterson NJ
Obituary of Edward Fanning of Patterson 1834-1900 son of Catherine Keys and Michael Fanning

Edward Fanning, born 1862 was the grandson of Michael Fanning and Kitty Keyes. He was an excellent carpenter and contractor. He designed and built the very intricate and beautiful altar woodwork in Paterson’s Saint John’s Cathedral.

Corner of Main and Congress Streets Paterson New Jersey

Edward Fanning 1862-1896
A later photo of Edward Fanning 1862-1896

From  Brian Brophy a direct descendant of Edward Fanning came information that Michael’s parents in Co Tipperary were an Edward Fanning and that his mother’s surname was Darmody. Walter F Brooks who wrote The History of the Fanning Family sent Fanning a letter and a survey to fill out about his family:

Walter Brooks Letter 1899 keep_0001

Letter sent to William Fanning by Walter Brooks who was researching Fanning family history for his book.

Walter Brooks survey cr
Survey completed by William Fanning for Walter Brooks

This letter was sent to William T. Fanning  (1875-1925) in 1899, he was Edward’s son and Michael’s grandson. . This was one year prior to the death of  William’s father Edward Fanning (1833-1900) so we can assume the father and son  talked about completing this document  together. It lists Michael Fanning and Catherine Keyes  as  Edward’s parents and Ed Fanning and ? Darmidy  as his grandparents. The place of birth is listed as the Parish of Clonmore, Tipperary, Ire. Dec. 24, 1834. Clonmore is an alternative name for Killovinoge. Templemore is the more well known name for this parish.

In the past I commissioned research with Tipperary Family History Research into Edward Fanning and Johanna (Judy or Judith) Darmody and there were only two Fanning Darmody marriages in Thurles Parish. One was Ed Fanning and Johanna in 1808 and then Patrick Darmody married a Catherine Fanning in 1840.

I think this pretty much proves that the Edward Fanning living in Paterson New Jersey was the son of Michael Fanning my gggrandfather’s nephew. But whether the Michael Fanning from Tazewell is his brother is a little harder to prove at this stage.

Recently I was sent a newspaper clipping by Brain Brophy a descendant of Edward fanning of New Jersey. It proves that the Michael Fanning in Delavan Tazewell County in Illinois was the father of Edward Fanning of New Jersey and hence the son of Edward Fanning and Judy Darmody.

The Morning Call 24 July 1886

I also asked for any marriages of a Michael Fanning that might be relevant. None of the marriages that TFHR came up which seemed likely. However, they also didn’t not come up with the marriage of Michael and Kitty Keyes, which is odd. I have since found their marriage record through Rootsireland.ie.

Michael Fanning and Catherine Keys Marriage 1833
Marriage record of Michael Fanning and Catherine Keyes of Dromard 1833 Co Tipperary

They were married in the RC parish of Templemore on 14 Feb 1833. Catherine’s address is given as Dromard. Unfortunately there are no fathers’names or an address or occupation for Michael. Very Frustrating. Witnesses were James MacGrath and Thomas Ryan.

They had two children, Edward and John.

Edward Fanning son of Michael and Catherine Keys Baptism 1833
Edward Fanning son of Michael Fanning and Kitty Keys born 1833 Dromard Co Tipperary

Edward ended up in America and lived in Paterson New Jersey.which is about 900 miles east of Delavan Tazewell Illinois.

Johanna or John Fanning birth son of Kitty Keys and Michael Fanning 1836
John Fanning son of Michael fanning and Kitty Keyes 1836

I checked the microfilm and the entry looks very much like Joanna so maybe the story of their being a younger brother John is inaccurate.

Another source stated that Edward’s father married again to Bridget Phean (Feehan) and lived in Delavan, Tazwell Co Illinois.

Michael Fanning applied to become a US citizen on April 9, 1844 in Tazewell Co Illinois. This document which is very hard to read lists his birthday as November 9, 1806 and that he left Dublin Ireland on March 11, 1836 and landed in New York on or about May 1, 1836.

Michael Fanning Declaration of Intention April 9 1844 cr p1

Michael Fanning Declaration of Intention April 9 1844cr page 2
Michael Fanning Declaration of Intention to become a US citizen April 9 1844

“Michael Fanning an alien born free white person of the age of thirty two years and upwards and presented to the said court a written declaration of his intention to make application to be admitted as a naturalized citizen of the United States in conformity with the …… acts of Congress hereto passed on that subject, with the desire that the same might be accepted, registered, and certified accordingly which said declaration was —– by the same Michael Fanning sworn to in open Court before the Clerk thereof and is in the words and figures following to wit: …………I, Michael Fanning, an alien born free white person of the age of thirty three years and upwards………that I was born in the County of Tipperary the ninth day of November 1801 (? could be 1811) and that I am near thirty four years of age……… that I migrated from the port of Dublin….on the eleventh day of March 1836 and landed at the city of New York………on the first day of May or thereabouts 1836……………..”

Michael could not write and made his mark on the document.


Michael Fanning (Fannan) and Bridget Feehan (Fahan) were married on 22 Feb 1852 in Tazewell county. They had seven children. He was a farmer with 280 acres in Delavan.

The History of Tazewell county Illinois published by Chas C Chapman has the following entry on Michael Fanning:

Michael Fanning, farmer and stock raiser, sec. 16 ; P. O. Boynton.
Michael Fanning, as the name implies, is a native Irishman, 
and ranks among the more generous agriculturalists of this town- 
ship. He was born in the County of Tipperary, Ireland, about 
1815. Growing to manhood in Ireland, he acquired a good com- 
mon-school education at such odd times as the duties of the farm 
would permit. While still a young man he crossed the Atlantic for 
the New World, landing in New York City during the Spring of 
1835, and for sometime worked in the Metropolitan City at 50 cents 
per day. From thence he went to Savannah, Georgia, where he 
hired as a steamboat hand, thence to New York and Pittsburgh, 
from whence he took passage on the Wisconsin, the only steamboat 
then plying the Illinois River, for Pekin, then but a small place, 
that Mr. Fanning describes in the following manner : Landing from the 
boat I discovered but few dwellings, mostly log cabins, on what is 
now the main street. The village probably contained, at this time 
about 25 inhabitants, mostly Frenchmen and Southerners. Mr. 
F. afterward made the acquaintance of Mr. Tharp, Wm. Mosley, and 
others, many of whom have passed the dark river. In 1851 Mr. 
F. joined an expedition enroute for California. After some months 
of weary travel he reached the golden coast, where he remained 
some 13 months and became quite successful as a miner. Return- 
ing to Tazewell Co., he again worked as a farm hand for a time. 
In 1852 he was married to Miss Bridget Ann Phean, of Ireland. 
During this year Mr, F. leased property until enabled to purchase. 
He is now the owner of 280 acres, and one of the most generous of 
men. Of this marriage eight children were born, seven of whom 
are living — James, Thomas, William, Mary, Sarah, Ellen and 

The History of Tazewell county vol 2  in genealogy trails has the following entry:

Fanning Michael Ireland, Boynton 1837 1900

1837 being the year he arrived in Tazewell county.

The History of the Webster Family by Charles William Webster page 3 which relates to Michael Fanning:

The History of the Webster Family page 3


Michael Fanning Tazewell 1870 US Census
1870 US Census for Tazewell Illinois Michael Fanning & family
1880 Illinois Census Boynton
1880 Illinois Census Boynton
Fanning Land Holdings in 1891 from the Plat Book of tazewell
Fanning Land Holdings in Boynton from the Plat Book of Tazewell 1891

Children of Michael Fanning and Bridget Ann Feehan:

James F Fanning born 25 Nov 1851 Delavan, married Mary Mack, died Peoria Illinois 16 Mar 1925.

Bloomington Pantagraph 17 Mar 1925


Mary A. Fanning  married Charles Byron Webster 1 Mar 1881 in Boynton Tazwell Ill. She died in Rantoul Illinois 3 Nov 1888.

Elizabeth Fanning died 16 Feb 1932 in Chicago Cook County.

John F Fanning who was born 6 April 1856 died 21 June 1868.

Sarah C Fanning born 10 June 1860 died 13 Mar 1903.

Thomas Fanning born 13 Feb 1859 died 20 Oct 1898.

William born 31 Aug 1854 died 1 Nov 1885.

With the exception of Elizabeth they are all buried in St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Delavan.

Brian Brophy has kindly sent me a copy of the probate papers for Michael Fanning. So far a death certificate for Michael has not been found.

Michael Fanning tazewell Probate and Will page 1 cr
Page One of the probate papers for Michael Fanning of Tazewell

Brian Brophy believes that the Edward fanning who was sent a notification of the probate is his gggrandfather.


Michael Fanning Tazewell Probate and Will page 2 cr
Michael Fanning Tazewell Probate and Will page 2


Michael Fanning born 29 Sept 1810 died Tazwell Illinois 1900
Michael Fanning born 29 Sept 1810 died Tazewell Illinois 1900. St Mary’s Cemetery Delavan Illinois.


My gggrandfather’s brother was a Michael Fanning born in Thurles Parish to Edward Fanning and Judy Darmody on Sept 23 1810 whereas the above gravestone has 29 Sept. This record was from a typed book transcribed from the original parish registers at some stage. The 23 could easily be a 29. I have asked Tipperary Family History Research to check the microfilm if one exists. TFHR got back to me after checking the microfilm entry and it is clearly 23 of Sept.

Michael Fanning of Tazewell US Obituary cr
Obituary of Michael Fanning of Tazewell March 3 1900
Obituary Michael Fanning of Delavan Weekly Pantagraph 9 Mar 1900


Author: Kathleen

I have done an Ancestry DNA test and also have uploaded my test results to GedMatch. My GedMatch kit numbers are A029138 and T470174. Please contact me if we are a match. kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom

6 thoughts on “Michael Fanning of Boynton & Delavan Tazewell Illinois, brother of William “Big Bill” Fanning”

  1. I am looking for any information about my great grandfather William Fanning, He was born in 1842 or 1843 8b Ireland and came to the U.S to avoid the British draft. He settled in Colon, Nebraska. He died in 1930. I mainly want to know who his parents were and the town he was from in Ireland, Many Blessings , Linda

    1. Hi Linda,
      It is going to be difficult to find out much about your great grandfather until you know where he came from in Ireland which county. Perhaps his death certificate, tombstone or marriage record may have some clues. If you look at Irish records you will find many many William Fannings born c1842.

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    I was searching the web and came across your Fanning website. What a wonderful tribute to the Fanning family ! Edward Fanning (1833-1900) is my gggrandfather. I have been working on the Fanning genealogy on and off for many years and probably have some information you would like to have. The death certificate of Edward Fanning lists his parents as Michael Fanning and Catherine Fanning. (Later found out her maiden name was Keyes.)
    My grandmother, Marguerite Fanning, had a newspaper clipping of Michael Fanning’s March 3, 1900 death notice which linked me to the Michael Fanning of Delavan, IL. I always wondered if Edward Fanning had heard of Michael’s death since he died 5 days later on March 8, 1900 in Paterson, NJ.

    1. Hi Brian,
      Very exciting to hear from you. Strangely enough I have been thinking about Michael Fanning of Tazwell and started digging around. It is strange as I haven’t done any family history for months apart from replying to comments.
      I have added what I have found out, which isn’t a great deal, to the post on Michael Fanning. I am interested in anything you can tell me about this family and especially would love to see the newspaper clipping which links your Edward to Michael in Delavan.But we still have to prove that Michael from Tazwell was the son of Edward Fanning and Judy Darmody!!!It may just be a coincidence but Michael did name his first son Edward which is usually after the husband’s father. Edward Fanning and Judy Darmody lived in Grange. In Griffith’s Valuation there is an Edward Fanning living at Grange and I wonder if he is the son of Edward and Judy,born 1824 as Edmond. Look forward to hearing from you. regards Kathleen

  3. Hello Kathleen,
    My name is Debra Brophy and I was born in Paterson NJ USA. My great great grandfather was Edward Fanning 1833-1900 and did indeed serve in the Civil War in Company G, 7th regimen NJ Vols from Paterson NJ USA. I have a picture of Edward Fanning and Civil War documentation that My brother Brian and I both have. My father asked to have your direct email address to allow us and my brother Brian to share documentation and pictures that we have with you. I absolutely loved your website and can truly appreciate the time and effort that went into it. Thank you, Debra

    1. Thank you for your kind words Debra and I am glad you enjoyed reading my blog.
      I would love to have more info on your gggrandfather Edward and see any photos.

      One burning question I have is: Is your gggrandfather, Edward the son of the Michael Fanning who lived and died in Tazewell? From hearing that your Edward’s father was a Michael and that his father’s name was Edward and mother’s surname Darmody I feel fairly sure that you are related to me and my gggrandfather Big Bill. The only photo we have of him is the one of him sitting outside his house. This photo is on the banner on most posts.
      The birth date of the Michael Fanning in Tazewell is so close to that of my gggrandfather’s brother Michael, from memory one is 23 Sept and the other 28 Sept!!and this Michael was also from Tipperary. So if your ggggrandfather is this Michael in Tazewell then your ancestors come from Lissaroon near Thurles in Co Tipperary.

      I would be interested to see the photo of Edward to see if there is any resemblance to my family. Fannings here in Australia tend to be fair and blue eyed,thin and very tall??? Hence my gggrandfather was called Big Bill. I am rambling on a bit here. My disguised email address is kathleenmfanningAThotmailDOTcom I think I also have it on my about page.I’ll send you a quick email too. Looking forward to hearing from you.Kathleen

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