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TANNEHILL, JESSIE CORNELIUS

TANNEHILL, JESSIE CORNELIUS (1797–1863). Jessie Cornelius Tannehill, early settler, was born in Kentucky on December 30, 1797. He was married to Jane Richardson in 1823 near Nashville, Tennessee. They came to Texas with their two children in 1827 and settled near Caney in Matagorda County. In the latter part of 1828 or early in 1829 they moved to Bastrop County, locating near the Old San Antonio Road at the river crossing. With the pioneer families of Stephen F. Austin's "little colony" they lived for a time in tent structures of pine poles and buffalo skins. After the town of Bastrop was laid out, Jessie Tannehill purchased five acres of land and built one of the first houses there. Little is known of the family from 1829 to 1836. Tannehill acquired the title of "judge," and records show that on November 7, 1831, he was defeated by one vote for the office of síndico procurador by Moses Rousseau. In the early spring of 1836, when invading Mexican forces threatened the settlements along the Colorado, the Tannehills, along with other families, fled in their wagons along the Old San Antonio Road. Afterwards they lived in Huntsville, then moved to La Grange, where they purchased property and lived until 1839. The last of their seven children was born there. Tannehill had secured a headright of 4,428 acres (possibly in the late 1820s) on the Colorado River above Bastrop in what is now Travis County, and in 1836 Capt. Robert M. Coleman built his stockade outpost on the northern part of the survey. The fort was abandoned in 1838, and the next year the Tannehills moved onto their headright and built a two-story home of Bastrop sawmill lumber on a rise overlooking the river valley. They used logs from the fort (see FORT COLORADO) for barns and outbuildings. Although the house was moved 200 feet north and east of the original site, it was still occupied in 1971. Tannehill was active in the land development of Travis County, and with several others he laid out the townsite of Montopolis at about the same time Waterloo was selected as capital of the Republic of Texas. In July 1839 lots were being sold for the new town, and sites were designated for churches, "seminars of learning," and other public buildings. The town did not develop as expected, and the area reverted to farmland. Tannehill sold the east half of his league in the 1840s, and at his wife's death in 1855 he divided his holdings among his children. He probably continued to live in the Fort Prairie settlement outside Austin until his death on March 18, 1863. He was buried in the family cemetery near his home, and he and his wife were reinterred in the State Cemetery in 1965.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Mary Starr Barkley, History of Travis County and Austin, 1839–1899 (Waco: Texian Press, 1963). Bastrop Historical Society, In the Shadow of the Lost Pines: A History of Bastrop County and Its People (Bastrop, Texas: Bastrop Advertiser, 1955). History of Texas, Together with a Biographical History of Milam, Williamson, Bastrop, Travis, Lee and Burleson Counties (Chicago: Lewis, 1893). Vertical Files, Austin History Center. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Jack O. Miller

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Jack O. Miller, "TANNEHILL, JESSIE CORNELIUS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fta08), accessed July 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.