Hillsborough County, Florida


1838 - 1913

John W. Tanner was born to Simon B. and Winnie (Vickers) Tanner, June 19, 1838 in Pike County, Alabama. His father died May 17, 1843, and later that year he and his mother moved to Florida. In his affidavit for his Confederate pension, he stated that they came to Suwannee County.

On April 20, 1845, his mother, Winne (Vickers) Tanner married John L. McClelland at Blount's Ferry on Suwannee River in Columbia County, Florida. John was born in 1820 Tattnall County, Georgia to Silas and Penelope (Anderson) McClelland.

The John L. McClellands resided in north Florida about one year and then moved to Hichepucksassa Settlement, Hillsborough County, Florida about 1846. In the 1850 census they are listed as living in Hillsborough County with neighbors Silas McClelland, Mose McClelland, John Thomas, William Wiggins and Isham Crews. John Tanner grew up in Hillsborough County.

On February 18, 1856 at the age of seventeen years he was mustered into Captain Simon Sparkman's Independent Company, Florida Mounted Volunteers, Third Seminole Indian War. His records show he was mustered in at Brown's Store, Hichepucksassa. During this enlistment he was on detached service at Fort Deynaud (Hendry County), Fort Simon Drum (Okeechobee County), Florida and was stationed at Camp Gibson. His horse was valued at $145. He reenlisted February 17, 1857 in the same company. His next enlistment at Fort Meade, Florida was in Captain Edward T. Kendrick's Independent Company, Florida Mounted Volunteers. At the time of his enlistment he was five feet, five inches in height, with blue eyes, brown hair, and light complexion. During his last service he was stationed at 16 Mile Camp Northeast, Tampa, Fort Gardner (on Lake Kissimmee), Fort Kissimmee (Highlands County), and Big Cypress.

After leaving the service John W. Tanner married fourteen year old Sarah Jane Downing. Reverend J. M. Hayman performed the marriage in Hillsborough County on October 13, 1859. She was born August 19, 1845 in Georgia, but her parents are not known. John W. and Sarah Jane (Downing) Tanner had four children:

1. Mary Missouri Tanner, born 1865; married _____________ Blue.

2. Frances Dora Tanner, born 1870; married 1st ___________ Westmoreland; married 2nd _____________ Richardson.

3. John Washington Tanner, born 1873; married 1st Sylvia Crely; married 2nd Minnie J. Weeks, September 14, 1903, Hillsborough County, Florida.

4. Sarah V. "Nettie" Tanner, born 1878; married _________ Hillard.

They are living in Hichepucksassa Settlement as listed in 1860 census and living nearby are his mother and stepfather, John L. and Winnie McClelland. Other neighbors were S. F. Hollingsworth, Jesse McClelland, Berrien Platt, and Silas McClelland.

John and Sarah were members of Salem Primitive Baptist Church located south of Plant City, Florida. She joined September 7, 1862. He was a delegate from Salem to the South Florida Baptist Association meeting October 2, 1868 in Bartow, Florida.

On January 1, 1862 he enlisted in Company K, First Florida Cavalry, CSA as a sergeant with occupation specialty of blacksmith, at Hichepucksassa, Florida. His military records show he deserted August 12, 1863. However, in his application for a pension he stated:

Was taken sick February 1, 1863 with a congestive chill and it turned into typhoid pneumonia and I was in hospital at Mossey Creek, Tennessee for four months and eighteen days, and left me with severe lung, liver and kidney trouble. They offered me a discharge which I refused and they then gave me a furlough as my health was so poor. I was never able to rejoin the Army.

In 1870 census he was listed as living in Polk County in that part which was cut out of Hillsborough County in 1861. Later he moved to DeSoto County and was residing in Arcadia in 1894. A few years later he moved again, this time to Hillsborough County and was living at Mango in 1899.

After his mother's death on September 21, 1895, he and his four half-brothers and his four half-sisters sold her homestead in Polk County, on August 18, 1896.

On September 29, 1899 he applied for a pension to the State of Florida based on his service in the Civil War. Two doctors, Hiram J. Hampton and D. F. Saxton, stated he had a ninety percent disability. The State awarded him a pension of $72 per year on certificate no. 72, dated September 30, 1899. On certificate no. 1199 his pension was raised to $120 per year, July 1, 1909.

On November 11, 1902 he applied to the U. S. Government for a pension based on his service in the Indian War. William J. Miley of Plant City, Florida made an affidavit, May 29, 1903, in which he stated he knew John W. Tanner prior to the Indian War and served with him in the same war. He was awarded a pension of $8 per month June 27, 1902, on certificate no. 5182. On November 2, 1902 he furnished the following personal information to the Department of Interior: height 5 feet and 11 inches, weight 142 pounds, gray eyes, gray hair, and fair complexion. Also, he stated that he had a scar on his throat by burn as infant.

John W. Tanner died March 20, 1913 and buried in Salem Primitive Baptist Church cemetery, south of Plant City.

SOURCES: John W. Tanner's Indian War pension application, National Archives, Washington, D. C.; Winnie (Tanner) McClelland's widow's pension application, National Archives; U. S. Census: 1850 & 1860 Hillsborough County, Florida, 1870 Polk County, Florida; John W. Tanner's Civil War pension application and military service record, Florida Archives, Tallahassee, Florida; Sarah J. Tanner's widow's pension application, Florida Archives; Sarah J. Tanner's widow's pension application, Indian War veteran, National Archives; Salem Primitive Baptist Church, Plant City, Florida; Baptist Historical Society, Stetson University, DeLand, Florida; South Florida Pioneers, page 41, Issue #17/18, July/October 1878.

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