letter excerpt The Dix Family Archive
The Tennilles

Francis Tennille (1747)
William A. Tennille (1792)
Francis T. Tennille (1799)
William A. Tennille (1840)
Mary A. Tennille (1870)
George F. Tennille (1873)
William A. Tennille, Jr. (1877)

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[note: some of the text is indented purposefully in the original text to distinguish among generations of the family; those distinctions are lost in this "text" version of the document:]

Chronicle Of the Tennille Family Of Georgia
With Their Relations
By William Alexander Tennille
August 13, 1902


The Tennilles are supposed to have left France, probably Picardy, at the time of the persecution of the Protestants in that country. One branch going to Holland or Denmark and another, that from which the Georgia family spring, is thought to have emmigrated [sic] either to Scotland or the Isle of Man, removing thence to Ireland from whence at least one member came to Virginia and settled in Prince William County. There has, however, never been any serious attempt made to trace the ancestry of the family and much of the above has no other foundation than vague tradition.


The history of the Georgia family, as it is known to the present writer, begins with Lieut. Col. Francis, one of the early settlers of Washington County. It is not known with certainty at what time he left Virginia and came to Georgia, but as he was a lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Georgia Brigade of the Continental Line, it is inferred that his removal to the latter state antedated the Revolutionary War.

In several histories it is stated that General Howe, while at Cherokee Hill, South Carolina, after his retreat from Georgia, dispatched Lieut. Tennille with orders to Major Joseph Lane, Commanding at Sunbury, and to Lieut. Aaron Smith of the 3rd Regiment of South Carolina, who was in command at Ogeechee Ferry, "to evacuate their posts retreat across the country and rejoin the main army.["] It is recorded as a matter of some importance that Lieut. Tennille successfully accomplished his mission and that "the order was received in ample time."

It is also a matter of record that Captain Francis Tennille and a number of other officers of the Continental Army were voted, by the Georgia House of Assembly, certain grants of land in recognition of their services to the State in that they "voluntarily did duty in common with the privates of the militia under Colonel Elija Clark.["] It may be interesting to mention here the names of the officers who with Captain Tennille received land grants "proportional to the rank of each" "agreeable to the above mentioned ranks in the Continental Army". The list is from the Journal of the House of Assembly, as published in the Georgia Gazette, Thursday, June 9, 1785, and is as follows: Lieut. Col. John McIntosh, Major John Milton, Capt. Lachland McIntosh, Capt. Francis Tennille, Capt. John Morrison, Capt. Cornelius Collins, Lieut. Nathaniel Pearre, Lieut. John Mitchell, Lieut. John Maxwell, Lieut. Robert Howe, Lieut. Henry Allison, Lieut. John Peter Wagnon and Lieut. Christopher Hillary.

After the close of the war, Lieut. Tennille received from the General Government a Commission as Captain by brevet, in recognition of his services in the Continental Army. This Commission was in possession of his son Col. Francis T. Tennille until after the Civil War, when a member of the family hoping to establish a claim sent it, together with a number of other commissions of Colonel Francis, to Washington where it was lost. The writer has often handled this commission of his grandfather. It was signed by General Miflin, Adjutant General of the Army.

The title of Lieut. Colonel which he held is supposed to indicate his rank in the militia, though this is not certain as it is a tradition that he was an officer in the War of 1812. If this is true he probably saw but little service as his death occurred in December of that year.

He was an original or Charter member of the Society of the Cincinnati, as is shown by the records of the Society. He was also a member of the Masonic fraternity as we know from a demit from the Warrenton Lodge found among his papers.

Major Joel Crawford, who was Col. Tennille's attorney or agent and who was with his son William A, in the battle with the Indians at Autossee, Ala. (Pickets History, Alabama), lived to a great age. He told one of the Colonel's grandsons that he "knew the old officer well" that "he was a splendid specimen of a survivor of the old Revolution and had a stately military manner".

Colonel Tennille was twice married, first, it is believed, to a Miss Pollard of Virginia, his second wife was Mary Bacon Dixon, who was born in Virginia in 1773 and died in Washington County, Georgia, at the home of her son Francis T. in the year 1848, thirty-six years after the death of her husband.

The children of the first wife were:

Born 1790 who married Laird W. Harris.

William Augustus
Born 1792 - Died 1864. He first married Priscilla Jordan, daughter of John Jordan, a Revolutionary soldier. Their only child, Winifred Haynie, married Col. Josiah Patterson and left one son, William Tennille Patterson, who was killed at the battle of Chicamauga in the Civil War. He never married.

By his second wife, Lucy Betton Salisbury, Col. William A. had one son William Meigs, who left children of whom I have no record.

Winifred Haynie
Born 1793 - Died ---- Married first General Joseph Blackshear and left no children. Her second marriage was with Dr. Cochran. They lived in Alabama and I gather from an old letter of hers that they had at least two children, Robert and Tennille.

Elizabeth St. Clair
Born 1795 - Died ---- Married Franklin Rutherford. Their children were, Malinda T., Francis Allen, Nancy Haynie, Mary Elizabeth and Winifred Haynie. I think some of their descendants live in Alabama.

John Pollard
Born 1796 - Died ---- Wife's name unknown. Left one daughter who married Mr. M. Womble, and went to Texas. They left one daughter Virginia, who married Richard Hughes of Athens, Georgia. When last heard from they were in Texas.

The children of Col. Tennille's second wife, Mary Bacon Dixon, were as follows:

Francis Tillman
Born 1799 - Died 1877 Married Ann Bell Jordan, the beautiful daughter of Britton Jordan, the eldest son of John Jordan, the Revolutionary soldier.

Their children were:

Caroline Augusta, who first married William P. Ford (a son of General Ford) who died within two or three years, leaving no children. Her second marriage was with Col. Oliver P. Anthony of the 51st Georgia Regiment C.S.A., a son of the well known Methodist preacher Uncle Sam. Anthony. Col. Anthony was a brilliant and highly educated man, president of the Andrew Female College at Cuthbert and a member of the Georgia Senate. There were three children of this marriage - Ann Bell, Mary Elizabeth and Francis T. The oldest and youngest died in early childhood. Mary E. lives unmarried at Hawkinsville, Ga. with Col. G. W. Jordan.
William Alexander, born 1840 Married Clara Tuttle, a daughter of George H. Tuttle, a member of an old and well known Connecticut family, who for many years was in business in Georgia and later in New York City.

Their children are:

Alice Tennille, born in New York City 1870. Married 1900 to William Frederick Dix, an author and now Editor of Town and Country, a New York Weekly Journal.

George Francis, born 1873 in New York City, graduated from the School of Mines, Columbia College, New York, and now lives in Savannah, Ga. He is District Manager and Chief Chemist of the Southern Cotton Oil Company.

William Alexander, Jr., born 1877 in New York took a Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Course at the Stevens Institute of Technology, at Hoboken, New Jersey, and is now (1902) Superintendent of the Wesson Process Company (a branch of the Southern Cotton Oil Company) at Savannah, Ga.

Albert Augustus - Col. Francis T.'s youngest child was born 1843 - died 1879, married Anna Paullin, daughter of Dr. Lewis Paullin of Fort Gaines, Ga. He left two daughters and one son - Ann Bell, the eldest, married Charles Carnes, a son of Capt. W. W. Carnes of the Engineer Corps C.S.A. They live in Memphis, Tenn. and have two daughters.

Estelle and Paullin, an unmarried son and daughter, live in Macon, Georgia, with their mother, Mrs. Anna Paullin Tennille.

Born 1801 - Died ----, married Clarissa A. Shehee; Their children were: Francis Daniel born 1822; Mary born 1824 married Jessie Pound; John, Eliza, William A., Ellafair, Martha and Algernon S.

Born 1804 - Died ----, married Wiley W. Cullens. Their children were: Augusta C., William A. Frederick, Francis T., Elizabeth W., Winifred H. B., Mary Ann Bacon, Wiley W., Frederick W., Lula and Clarence. One of the daughters married R. R. Wimberly, one a Mr. Sinclair and one a Mr. Flournoy. Frederick W. became a physician and lives with his family in Alabama. Capt. Francis T., who died a few years hence, was a lawyer and lived for many years in southwest Georgia. He married Miss Emma Coachman, and their children were Sallie C., James C., Wimberly, Frank, Helen, Frederic and John. They are scattered from Georgia to Texas.

Algernon Sidney
Born 1806 - Died ----, married Louisa Dunbar Roe of Savannah. Their childrenwere: Mary, a beautiful woman, who married Dr. Swan P. Burnett of Clay County and left one child, Swan P. Eliza Wayne married Charles Hammond and had one daughter, Minnie, who died recently in Texas, where her mother lives.

Anna Roe. Married and lives in Troy, Ala. No children.

Dr. Alexander St. Clair, who married Miss Sallie Butler of Florida, has two daughters, Clara and Eloise, living and lost a son in early youth. He went to the war in 1861 in the Ft. Gaines Guards (Co. D. 9th Ga. Regiment) was afterwards Commissary of the Regiment. Is President of a Cotton Oil Company in Montgomery, Ala.

Frances T. married Annie Bowers in Florida, now lives in Ft. Gaines, Georgia -Has a large family of children and grandchildren. He was a fine soldier in the Civil War and has been a fine citizen since. He has the Tennille characteristic of kindliness in his family relations.

Tryphena and Walter, a daughter and son of Algernon S. and Louisa D., died young.
Winifred H. married Thomas Bower, and with her children lives in Troy, Ala.

Algernon Sidney, after he grew up, moved to Texas and little is known of him by the writer.

Augusta Caroline
The youngest daughter of Col. Francis, was born 1809 - died 1819.

Dr. Alexander St. Clair
The youngest child of Col. Francis and his wife Mary Bacon was born in 1812, the year of his father's death, and died unmarried at Pontotoc, Miss. in 1838. He was an intelligent, cultivated and most lovable young man and made friends wherever he went. The Resolutions of the citizens of Pontotoc, Miss. And vicinity, sent after his death to his mother, show how greatly he had endeared himself to that community in the short time he lived there. In the family his memory has always been held sacred. He was a physician, having graduated at the then celebrated Medical School at Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

It will be noticed that the facts given above are quite meager as to some of the descendants of the founder of the Georgia family and comparatively full as to others. This results from the ignorance of the writer from lack of records.

It is requested, by Major Macon Walthen, the President of the Pioneer Society of Washington County, that some account shall be given of the part taken by the Tennilles in any of the several wars in which the country has at any time been engaged[.]

The services of the founder, Col. Frances, so far as imperfect records allow, have been given above. None of his children were of an age to be in the War of 1812. The old Colonel himself is said to have been in it but as has been said, his death occurred in December 1812 and his part in that war must have been small if he was in it at all.

His oldest son, Col. William Augustus, lost his right arm near the shoulder in the campaign of General Floyd (I think) against the Indians in Alabama. His horse was shot at the same time and fell upon him in such a way that with his arm broken he was unable to extricate himself. While in this position he was attacked by a number of Indian boys with bows and arrows. He was hit several times, one arrow piercing his thigh so deeply as to require the services of a surgeon for its removal. With his sword in his left hand he kept the boys at bay until rescued by some comrades. Col. William A. was a fine specimen of physical manhood and his manners were those of a gentleman of the old school; courteous and gentle with women and children, and while dignified in bearing he was easy of approach. In spite of the loss of his right arm, he always insisted upon doing everything possible for himself. I have seen him, when an old man, seat himself, spread his large red silk handkerchief across his lap, hold a piece of tobacco between his knees, get out and open his knife and shave off a sufficient quantity of the tobacco, gather it up, put it in his pipe and if the sun was shining walk out of doors and "light up" with a lens or "burning glass". If there was no sun a little darkey was sent for a coal. This was before the day of (cheap) matches and prepared smoking tobacco. There were plenty of us ready to do all this for him, but it was a matter of pride with him to do everything for himself. He wrote (a back hand) easily, was a fine horseman and fond of the chase. He managed his horse and gun with such skill that it was not uncommon for him to bring down a buck going at full speed.

He was for many years Secretary of State of Georgia and it seemed to me knew and was known by every body in the state. His daughter Winifred Haynie was said to have been the most beautiful woman of her day. I have heard old men forty years after her death grow enthusiastic in praise of her grace and beauty. Her son, William Tennille Patterson, a bright young lawyer, went out in the Columbus Guards, to the Civil War and was mortally wounded, receiving a Minnie ball in the forehead at the battle of Chicamauga. His death a few days later was a terrible blow to his grandfather, whose love for him was peculiarly tender as the only child of his lovely daughter who had died while still young.

Col. Francis T. (Col. Francis T. was a prominent Mason. In 1832 was Senior Grand Deacon and in 1835 and 1836 Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Georgia) third son of Lt. Col. Francis, while never in battle was out in a campaign made in search of hostile Indians, but the command failed of contact with the enemy. I have his commission as Captain and Aid-de-Camp (it is spelled Aidecong in the Commission which is wholy [sic] written not printed as usual). It is signed by John Irwin Brigader (?) General 2nd Division 2nd Brigade Georgia Militia, it is dated 29th of March 1823 and is yellow with age. I also have his Commission signed by William I. W. Wellborn, Sec'y. Ex. Dept., appointing him Aid-de-Camp to the Commander in Chief with the rank of Colonel. This Commission is dated at Milledgeville February 20, 1832, is printed in Old English type on vellum and is in a fine state of preservation, almost as fresh as when issued. With these papers is an order from Gov. Wilson Lumpkin requiring his attendance at Milledgeville on July 23, 1832 to act as "Commissioner of the contemplated Land Lotteries." He was a delegate to theConvention which discovered and nominated Joseph E. Brown, the celebrated war governor of Georgia.

His home in Washington County was a few miles north or northeast of Sandersville; here his children were born and lived, except when off at school, until about 1851 when, both his wife and mother being dead, Col. Tennille sold the old home and removed to southwest Georgia, where his large planting interest was located in what was then Early and now Calhoun County.

His mother who was a charming old lady and greatly beloved by all who lived with her for many years in Washington County. Both she and his beloved wife died during the year 1848. His mother was buried at the Old Homestead of Lt. Col. Francis, which was then owned by Mr. Cullen Murphy. This place was settled by Lt. Col. Francis, who there built the first frame house in the county. This house, I am informed, is still standing. Mrs. Col. Francis T. was buried in the Jordan burying ground, on the place settled in 1804 by her grandfather, John Jordan, near Davisboro.

At the breaking out of the Mexican War Francis Tennille Cullens, then quite a young man, was in Texas, and joining a regiment of Texan Volunteer Cavalry participated in several battles. Buenavista and Monterey among others. He was Captain of a Company in the 1st Georgia Regulars in the Civil War. He was a lawyer by profession and was a man of fine manners and much cultivation, one of the most perfect gentlemen I ever knew.

Capt. William Alexander Tennille, son of Colonel Francis T., who was born 1840, graduated at the University of Georgia 1860, attended the Law School of Judge Joseph Henry Lumpkin, Gen'l. T. R. R. Cobb and Judge Hope Hull one term. Putting aside his law books early in 1861 he got a copy of Scott's Tactics and joined the Fort Gaines Guards (Co. D 9th Ga. Regiment), the first company formed in the town, from which it took its name. He went to Atlanta as 2nd Lieut., his Captain being then elected Lt. Col. of the Regiment, he became 1st Lieut. of his company and with it participated in most of the battles in which the 9th Georgia Regiment Andersons (Tige's) Brigade, Hood Division, Longstreets Corps, Army of North Virginia, was engaged. Among the battles in which he took part he perhaps remembers with greatest distinction, after forty years, the seven day's fight before Richmond, including the fierce battle of Malvern Hill, the disastrous assault on the fort at Knoxville, Tenn., and the bloody fight of the 2nd Manassas and Gettysburg. At Gettysburg he was promoted on the field by General Anderson, to a position on his staff and soon thereafter received his Commission as Captain in the Adjutant General's Department P.A.C.S. with orders to report to Lt. Gen'l. Longstreet for assignment to Inspection duty with General Anderson's Brigade, with rank of Captain of Cavalry. He served with that Brigade until January 1865 when his health having become impaired he was retired from the field and assigned to duty with Maj. Gen'l. Howell Cobb, with headquarters at Macon, Georgia, where the close of the war found him. He is a Royal Arch Mason.

In 1870 he married in New York Clara, a daughter of George H. Tuttle and removed to that city, where he was in business for twenty-five years. He was for many years a member of the New York Cotton Exchange. In 1895 he retired from active business and now lives in East Orange, New Jersey, a pleasant suburb of New York City.

Albert Augustus Tennille, Col. Francis T's younger son, was at the Military School at Marietta, Georgia, when the Civil War broke out. He was only seventeen years old but at once resigned from the school and joined the Fort Gaines Guards, the first company formed in Clay County. He had a Commission as Ensign. After serving some months in Northern Virginia his health failed - he resigned, returned to Georgia, recovered his health and joined the Nelson Rangers, a Cavalry Company recruited at Albany, Georgia. He served with Gen'l. S. D. Lee in the middle west and later with Gen'l. Hood in Georgia.

Both Dr. A. St. Clair and Francis T., sons of Algernon Sidney, served throughout the Civil War. Their services have been previously mentioned.

Major Macon Wharten writes of Robert Tennille's son Algernon Sidney, that he was his school fellow and his comrade in arms during the Civil War, and that a finer soldier never left home for the tented field and that he is a ["]magnificient [sic] specimen of manhood". I have heard that one of his older brothers lost a leg in the war but of this branch of the family Washington County neighbors will know more than I do.


Benjamin Tennille the elder was a brother of Lt. Col. Francis, and was his assistant as Surveyor of the then immense County of Washington. He also held the position of Clerk of the First Superior Court of the County. I am informed that he married Mrs. Deason, nee Rachel Wicker, a very lively and most attractive widow, and not long afterwards removed to Missouri. His home in Georgia was at Wharton.

Benjamin Tennille, the son of the above Benjamin, took part in the battle which gained the independence of the Republic of Texas. I have a letter of his to his cousin, Dr. Alexander St. Clair Tennille, describing the fight. Six hundred saw militia charged, through the open, on twelve hundred (1200) Mexican regulars intrenched in a wood and under command of the celebrated General Santa Ana. Result five hundred (500) Mexicans killed and wounded and two hundred (200) captured, including Santa Ana. Texans eight killed, twenty wounded. Peace and Independence for Texas and revenge for the massacre at the Alamo (fort) of San Antonio. The letter, yellow with age and with broken margins, was written in 1936 [sic; should read "1836"?] but reads wonderfully like a chapter from the late war with Spain.

I have said above that Benjamin Tennille, the elder, early in the 19th Century lived at Warthen. His brother, Col. Francis, established his home a few miles north or northwest of Sandersville. Of the sons of the latter in my early childhood, Col. William A. lived in Milledgeville, but later moved to southwest Georgia. Col. Francis T. until 1851 or 1852 lived a few miles northeast of Sandersville, his nearest neighbor being Littleton Mathis, about a mile northeast, and his brother Robert Tennille about a like distance north.

Algernon Sidney I think lived west of Sandersville, but as he left in the forties for the southwestern part of the state I don't remember just where his Washington County home was - indeed I am not quite sure of any of the above statements as to exact direction and distances as so many years have elapsed and I was quite young when last in the dear old county. I remember "Warthen", then called "Warthens Store", for at about seven years of age I went to school there and boarded with the fine family of Mr. R. L. Warthen from Mondays to Fridays, spending Saturdays and Sundays at home, and riding back and forth horseback with a small darky behind to carry the horse home and bring him for me.

The town Tennille in Washington County was named for the old pioneer, Col. Francis. There is a town Tennille also in Alabama, I think on the Midland R.R. This was named, I believe, by Dr. A. St. Clair Tennille, who now lives in Montgomery.

The name Tennille has been variously spelled where it has appeared in history, indeed no one seems even to spell it correctly, until very familiar with it. It has by our branch always been spelled as above written, but is seen in history Tennill, Tennell, Tennil, and once I think Tennel. I have seen it spelled Tenl. Indeed the pronunciation is about as diverse. It is Ten'l in middle Georgia, Ten-eel' in New York and Savannah and varies between these two extremes.

Sir John Teniel, for forty years illustrator of Punch, whose family is probably of the same derivation, spells it as here written and pronounces it Ten'-yell. His family formerly wrote it Tennielle he thinks.

The connection of the Tennille's and the Dixon and Bacon families is through the second wife of Lt. Col. Francis; Mary Bacon Dixon. I add a record showing her descent.

The children of ---- Dixon of Virginia were:

1. Mary
2. Aurelia
3. Henry of Virginia
4. Rev. John
5. Robert
Children of Henry Dixon and Elizabeth Abernathy of Wales -
1. Col. Henry of Kentucky
2. Elizabeth who married a Lewis
3. Susannah who married Joseph Turner
4. Capt. David of North Carolina, the grandfather of Rev. Thomas Dixon, the author of "The Leopards Spots"
5. Robert who was in the Commissary Department of the Revolutionary Army. He came from Virginia to Augusta, Ga. in 1763, married Ann Bacon who was born 1745.

Children of my great grandfather and grandmother, Robert Dixon and Ann Bacon, his wife, were:

1. John Lyddell
2. Tillman
3. Nancy who married first - Gardiner and second Estes
4. Sarah
5. Mary Bacon who married Col. Francis Tennille
6. Mrs. McDonald whose daughter was Mrs. McMurray
7. Caroline who married Raleigh Holt
8. Henry


General Nathaniel (the Rebel against Gov. Berkeley of Virginia) born in England 1647 came to Virginia 1676 married Elizabeth Duke

John Nathaniel son of Nathaniel
Capt. George Lyddell son of John
Ann Bacon, daughter of Capt. George L. the wife of Robert Dixon and mother of Mary Bacon Dixon who married Col. Francis Tennille

The Jordan family, of whom Col. George W. Jordan has, I believe, given an account, were related to the Tennilles through the marriage of Col. William A. (1792-1864) with Priscilla, a daughter of John Jordan and of Col. Francis T. (1799-1877) with Ann Bell, daughter of Britton a son of John Jordan.




Copyright 2002 Gabriel Brooke, (website). Transcription and editing: John Thomas, (website). Design and production: Marc Kundmann, (website).