Descendants of Capt. Arthur Fenner

James L. Fenner & Betsy Perry

[b 21 May 1777 in RI; d 16 Jan. 1851 at Lysander, NY] James m Betsy Perry [b 18 June 1780 at Dighton, MA; d 16 Mar. 1849], a relative of Commodore Perry of naval fame, on 22 Feb. 1801. His ancestors were probably English settlers in Long Island, NY.

[James] was at one time engaged in the coast trade, going by vessel from Rhode Island to North Carolina. One time he with another man went up the Connecticut River 100 miles beyond any settlement or dwelling, and there built a rude log house. They passed the winter in felling government timber which they made into shingles. With the return of spring and the opening of navigation, they built a raft and floated them down the river and sold them.

… Their only means of transporting food was a skiff, and in this they carried flour for bread, and beans. Years after, when his oldest grandchild, Stephen F. Washburn, used to say he did not like bean soup, his grandfather would tell him of his winter in the woods, with its monotonous bill of fare in which bean soup invariably formed a part. [Lucinda Fenner, History of the Fenner Family (1908), p. 8.]

After marrying Betsy, James and his family moved to Manlius, NY, where he worked as a millwright. James also owned land in Pompey, and lived there prior to 1818. In 1818, he sold his land in Pompey and moved to Lysander, NY. James went first with his older sons and his oldest daughter, Betsy. Betsy, who was 14 at the time, was the caretaker of the house until it was finished and the mother and younger children could come to live permanently. “We can imagine that added to the hard work which fell to her lot in those days there must have been some lonely hours to this young girl away from the wise and kindly counsel of her mother, with no companions of her age, and we can but admire her courage and ability.” In Lysander, James owned a large tract of land; he built saw mills and grist mills, established orchards, and erected other buildings; this time his sons were old enough to help.

1. Betsy [b 25 July 1803; d 20 Mar. 1847] m Luther Washburn.
2. James, Jr. [b 14 Sept. 1805; d 11 May 1856] m Mary M. Fuller.
3. John L. [b 1 Dec. 1807 at Pompey, NY] m Zilpha H. Washburn.
4. Darius P. [b 12 Oct. 1809 at Pompey, NY] m Candace A. Whitman.
5. Frederick W. [b 11 Sept. 1811; d 24 Feb. 1876] m Eleanor S. Schenck.
6. Russel B. [b 9 Feb. 1814 at Pompey, NY] m Hannah V. Schenck. 
7. Harriet J. [b 21 Sept. 1816 at Pompey, NY] m Reuben H. Gifford.
8. Luther W. [b 14 May 1820 at Lysander, NY] m Elizabeth Fink.
9. Ethelannah [b 21 July 1822 at Lysander, NY] m Wells Blackman. 

Lineage (disputed):
[ Arthur | Thomas | Joseph | Asahel ] : James


  1. James’ lineage has been a matter of some debate, owing partly to G.P. Root’s dating of Joseph Fenner’s will as 1774. James could potentially be the son of Antram Fenner & Hannah Bull, but this requires more research.

  2. Lucinda Fenner, History of the Fenner Family (1908).

  3. Email from Richard Arthur Fenner to Chris Fenner, 5 March 2008, which includes data from History of Allegan and Barry Counties, Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of their Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: D. W. Ensign & Co. 1880. Press of J. B. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia. 

  4. See also the biographical sketch at, no. 27076366

  5. G.P. Root, Genealogy of the Fenner Family (Rhode Island, 1887), p. 36: