George Fenner & Sarah Stephens


[b 2 Sept. 1757; d 4 Aug. 1827] George Fenner married Sarah (or Sally) Stephens [b ca. 1761; d 2 Sept. 1847, age 85]. They were both buried in the Baptist Cemetery of Newport, NY. The military census of 1777 notes a George Fenner in Johnston, RI, aged between 16 and 50, “able to bear arms.” He was a Revolutionary War soldier. The census of 1790 indicates he may have lived in Cranston, but around 1794 settled in Herkimer County NY and remained there. Children are in the order as named in his will.

  1. Elsie [b 1781; d 1852] m Henry Holmes [1785-1838]. They lived in Little Falls, NY.
  2. Seth [b 1783; d 23 Jan. 1827] m Freelove Corey.
  3. Sarah [b 21 Aug. 1784; d 10 Nov. 1859 at Newport, NY] unmarried.
  4. George [b 13 Nov. 1790; d 1 Sept. 1838, age 47] m Abigail.
  5. Jeremiah [b 26 July 1792; d 24 Nov. 1866] m Phosa Rich.
  6. John Anthony [b 20 Aug. 1795; d 19 June 1868] m Betsey Fortune.
  7. Harding H. [b 22 June 1798; d 14 Feb. 1868] m Sophia Barney.
  8. Lydia [b 9 Nov. 1801; d 15 Mar. 1898] m Eli Fortune [b 3 Jan. 1796; d 1875 at Newport, NY], son of Samuel and Betsey Fortune. Lydia and Eli had Mary A. Fortune [b ca. 1841; d aft. 1879].
  9. Job Gorton [b 1804; d 6 Sept. 1875] m Temperance.

1. Some sources spell Sarah’s last name as Stevens.
2. Eva Fenner, Notes, 112. Letter from James Lewis Fenner, 31 Jan. 1957.
3. Eva Fenner, Notes, 232, 235. Letter from Gerald Milo Fenner, 13 Dec. 1958.
4. Eva Fenner, Notes, 895. Letter to Eva Fenner from Lawrence Fenner, 17 Sept. 1962.
5. Jim Fenner, Fenner-Broughton Family History, 34­-39.
6. George's memorial at, no. 14922630
7. Email from Richard Arthur Fenner, 28 Jan. 2009.

The true parentage of George Fenner has long been debated. In some genealogies, he is listed as the son of Thomas Fenner. Thomas would have been thirteen, at the latest, when George was born, and Phebe would’ve been sixteen. These ages are questionable. If these dates are correct, then George would have been the firstborn child. Thomas’s will, however, does not treat George as the firstborn, because he did not receive as much as his brothers William and Thomas, and he was not named as an executor of the will. Thomas did have a son named George, born in a different year. Unfortunately, the historical documents that could settle this debate were all destroyed by fire: a courthouse fire in Herkimer County, and a historical society fire in Newport, NY. George’s true parentage remains unproven.