Biography of Capt. Richard J. Fanning
Cuyahoga County, OH Biographies

CAPT. RICHARD J. FANNING. Veteran of three wars, Civil, Spanish American and the Philippine Insurrection, possessed of the fighting blood of his race, Capt. Richard J. Fanning at the age of four score lives quietly retired at his home in Cleveland. Most of his life has been spent in Ohio, and for many years he was a resident of Columbus, though he grew up in Cleveland and enlisted from this city for his service in the Civil war.

All the records show that the Fanning family has always been of the Irish race. The full genealogy of the family is traced from "Brooks History of the Fannings." As nationals of other countries the Fannings have participated in many of the wars against Great Britain. There have been Fannings in America since early days in the Revolution and all subsequent wars. One spelling of the name is Fannin, and one of the martyrs of the Texas Revolution in 1835-36 was a Captain Fanning. An island in the Pacific bears the name and also one of our warships. The Fanning house in Waterford, Ireland, was the gift of a French Colonel Fanning, who left his fortune to the city of his ancestors to build and maintain a home for respectable old people in their declining years. Captain Fanning's grandparents, William Fanning and his wife, Fanny (Poer or Powers), lived there for many years before their deaths. Captain Fanning's parents were natives of Ireland. His mother was educated in the parochial schools of Waterford, her people being of the Wexford family of D'Arcy.

Captain Fanning's father received a college education. Being identified with the "young Ireland party" of that period, he was proscribed and in 1848 fled from Ireland to Liverpool, England, and subsequently with his wife and three children came to America, reaching Cleveland August 15, 1851. Subsequently he engaged in the meat business on Lorain Street, on the West Side, and continued active until his death in 1879. There were seven children: Richard John, William Francis, Catherine, James Ambrose, Ellen Mary, Michael Angelo and Francis Joseph. William and Ellen Mary are deceased. Richard J., James A. and Francis Joseph reside in Cleveland, and Michael and his family live in New York City.

Richard J. Fanning was born July 31, 1844, and was in his sixth year when the family settled in Cleveland in August, 1851, where he attended St. Patrick's school and promptly after passing his sixteenth year, in 1861l, he volunteered, enlisting in the old Payne Building on Superior Street, near old Water Street, in Battery C of the 5th U. S. Artillery, October 5, 1861. He joined the battery at Camp Greble, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, which was soon assigned to the Army of the Potomac. He participated in the seven days' battles in front of Richmond, from Mechanicsville in front of Richmond to Malvern Hill on the James River, his left eye being injured at the battle of Gaines Mill on the second day of the fighting. He was at Centerville, Gainesville and Second Bull Run, at South Mountain and Antietam, Maryland, where he was slightly wounded but did not leave his battery. At Fredericksburg, Virginia, December 13, 1862, he was severely wounded in the left forearm, but during the rest of his service, which was arduous, he escaped injury. In June, 1864, he was honorably discharged on account of his disabilities, returning home a wounded veteran before he was twenty.

In 1866 Captain Fanning entered the Cleveland and Mahoning Railroad service under Maj. Dwight Palmer, continuing under James M. Ferris and Joshua M. Booth, agents in turn of the Atlantic and Great Western railways, and was a railroad man until called to public service. In 1874 he was appointed by Arnold Green, clerk of the Supreme Court, as his deputy. The acceptance of this office caused him to move to Columbus. In 1877 he was elected clerk of the Supreme Court and again in 1880 was renominated by the state convention held in the old Academy of Music on Bank Street, but later met defeat with the rest of the democratic ticket. Then followed a period of service with the Pennsylvania Railroad at Columbus until 1886, when he was appointed chief clerk to the railroad commissioner of Ohio by Governor Joseph B. Foraker. Iii 1888 he resumed his railroad service, and about that time was elected a member of the Columbus City Council, but did not complete his term. In the fall of the same year the Republican party nominated him for the office of probate judge of Franklin County, but he declined the honor.

In 1890 Captain Fanning was elected at the annual convention of the Regular Army and Navy Union at Detroit, Michigan, as adjutantgeneral of the order composed of regulars and ex-regulars of the United States Army and of the Navy, active and retired; an order which still flourishes with garrisons in many parts of the United States, having a garrison or two in Cleveland. This position Captain Fanning held until May 1, 1898, when through the friendship of President McKinley he was commissioned captain and assistant quartermaster in the army for service in the Spanish American war. In August, 1899, President McKinley again commissioned him a captain in the Forty first Infantry, United States Volunteers, and he was ordered to report to the regiment at Camp Meade, Pennsylvania, where he was assigned to duty in Company A of that regiment. Afterwards the regiment left for the Philippines, reaching Manila the latter part of December, 1899. After a few months in the field Captain Fanning was transferred to the position of quartermaster commissary and ordnance officer at Base Hospital, Dagupan, Northern Luzon.

This was a post of arduous duties, involving the feeding and clothing of some 500 sick soldiers, building an addition to the hospital, building of barracks for the Hospital Corps, construction of an ice house and morgue. A recommendation from his superior officers stated that Captain Fanning in these duties was painstaking and efficient, performing them with entire satisfaction to all concerned.

In 1901 Hon. William H. Taft, then governor general of the Islands, while visiting Dagupan offered Captain Fanning 'the position of treasurer of the Province of Tarlac, a post he filled from the latter part of March until August, when Governor Taft promoted him to the Province of Sorsogon, a much larger one in Southern Luzon. While there for a time he was acting governor while the native governor was with other governors of the provinces touring the United States.

Finally, after almost five years of service in the Philippines, becoming homesick and weary, Captain Fanning resigned in November, 1904, and returned home. This service was an experience of which he has been exceedingly proud. After a brief stay at his home in Columbus he moved to Cleveland in 1905, where he now lives.

Captain Fanning served as second and first lieutenant and captain of Battery H of the First Ohio Light Artillery, National Guard, from 1887 to January 8, 1892, resigning December 2, 1891. He was an honorary member of the Cleveland Cadets from 1890 to 1891. From 1878 to 1894 he was a member of McCoy Post, Grand Army of the Republic, Columbus, and was a member of Encampment 78, Union Veteran Legion, from 1894 to 1898, serving as its commander for two years and was appointed A. D. C. and A. A. G. on the staff of the national commander in 1894. In Cleveland he is a member of the Army and Navy Post No. 187, Grand Army. of the Republic, life member of the Army and Navy Union, member of Post No. 84, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Officers Army and Navy Club.

In November, 1877, about the time he was elected clerk of the Ohio Supreme Court, he married Miss Celia Maria Miller, of Columbus, a member of one of the notable families of Ohio. Her father, Thomas W. Miller, held many important positions in public affairs, being sheriff, postmaster, supervisor of Ohio canals, owner of the Ohio Statesman, the leading democratic newspaper of Columbus, and owner of the street car lines of the city. He donated the land for the Ohio State Fair Grounds, now known as Franklin Park. He was a power in democratic politics during his lifetime and an influential citizen.

The Millers were related to James G. Blaine the Shermans and Ewings, the first wife of Thomas W. Miller being a cousin of Mr. Blaine. The marriage of Captain Fanning and wife was blessed with two talented children, Mary Miller Fanning and Cecil Raymond Fanning. The daughter graduated from a select school for girls, and has been engaged in kindergarten work for a number of years at Columbus.

Cecil Fanning, born in 1883, is called the poet singer of Ohio. He has given song recitals in every state in the Union and from end to end of Canada. He made five European tours, and made his debut in grand opera on May 23, 1924, creating the baritone role in the new American opera, libretto by Cecil Fanning and music by Francesco B. De Leone of Akron. Cecil Fanning's book of poems, entitled "The Flower Strewn Threshold," was published by Constable and Company, London, England, and Dutton, New York. His poem, "Spring in Sicily," received the prize at the biennial meeting of the. National Federation of Music Clubs in 1923. Besides having written lyrics for most of the best song writers of the day, Mr. Fanning has written the librettos for the cantata, Sir Ohuf," by Harriet Ware, and "The Foolish Virgins," music by Marshall Kernochan, and the libretto for the Indian Grand Opera, "Algiala," all published by G. Schirmer, Inc., New York. Cecil Fanning resides in Columbus, Ohio.

A History of Cuyahoga County
and the City of Cleveland
By: William R. Coates
The American Historical Society
Chicago and New York, 1924

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