Fannin, on U.S. Highway 59 ten miles from Goliad in eastern Goliad County, is named for James W. Fannin, Jr., the controversial commander of Fort Defiance (La Bahía) at Goliad in the Texas Revolution. The settlement, on Perdido Creek near the site of Fannin's defeat in 1836 in the battle of Coleto, was established sometime before 1852. The first post office, which operated from 1852 to 1856, was called Fanning's Defeat, "Fanning" being the common corruption of the commander's name. The town's name had been changed to Perdido, Spanish for "lost," by the time the second post office was established in 1873. Benson Goff, whose general store provided the community's focus, was postmaster. A combination steam gin and gristmill was built as cotton became important, and a school, a church, and daily stages to Victoria and Goliad served the fifty residents listed in 1884.
Although Perdido was on the Victoria-Goliad road, the Gulf, Western Texas and Pacific Railway was routed a mile to the south in 1889. The new depot was called Fannin. Cattle pens were built, and Perdido residents began moving to the railhead. Among them was Goff, whose new store housed Fannin's post office, established in 1890. The Goliad-Victoria road was rerouted through the new site as well. The town grew quickly, to 100 people in 1896, 200 in 1914, and 300 by 1925. A cotton gin, a flour mill, two saloons, a hotel, a dance hall, a jail, a blacksmith's shop, and a number of other businesses served the community, which in the early 1900s was an important livestock shipping center. A Methodist church was established in 1903; Catholic and Black Baptist churches followed.
During a feud in which Taylor Drake and Ed Calliet opposed Frank Hall in 1911, a stray bullet punctured an oil cookstove in the saloon, thus igniting a fire that destroyed most of the town. Rebuilding was minimal. By 1933 the population had declined to about 100, a figure that remained constant for the next fifty years. The Fannin school closed in 1944, and students were bused to Goliad. The railroad stock pens were removed, as ranchers shipped by truck, and the cotton gin was torn down in the 1930s or 1940s. The Hanley Hotel operated continuously from 1890 to 1950, though in its later years it was known primarily for its restaurant. In 1986 the post office, located in the town's single store, served ninety-four residents. Fannin Battlefield State Park is located less than a mile south of town. In 1990 the population of Fannin was 105, and by 2000 it had grown to 359.