William Parks Fanning

 Educator and Civic Leader

Born:July 24, 1889, Paint Rock Valley, Alabama
Died:September 7, 1976, Huntsville, Alabama
Buried:Maple Hill Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama


•  Son of Stephen Quinton Fanning (1871-1934) and Mary EElizabeth Langston (1871-1956). No spouse or children are listed for him in Ancestry.com - Ancestry.com

•  Married Cora Anna Tipps June 14, 1911 in Madison County, Alabama. She was born on September 1, 1890 in Franklin, Tennessee and died on August 27, 1985. - Ancestry.com

•  "William Parks Fanning was the first of five children born to Stephen Quinton Fanning and Mary Langston Fanning. His siblings were Ernest W., Harvey H., Boyd D. and Zelma. His grandfather, William Henry Fanning, lived in Madison County, near New Market, above the well known Water Cress Mill. He died there in 1933.
     Some of the Fannings moved to Texas, settled there and dropped the "g" from their name.
     Times were hard and William worked at several jobs to help his father. One was delivering mail on horseback from Paint Rock to Princeton and Huntland, a difficult job for a teenager especially in freezing weather.
     As family debts grew, his father decided to move the family to Huntsville to get work in the textile mills. At the time of the move, William was 17 years of age with a 4th grade education.
     His goal in life was to get a good education. However, as his father still needed him to help out, he worked for two years in Lowe Mill Textile Plant. At the age of 19, with the help of Miss Jessie House, Director of Social Activities at the Virginia McCormack Center, Professor S.R. Butler, Superintendent of Education, Madison County, and daughters of Cyrus McCormack, (inventor of the McCormack Reaper) who maintained a winter home called Kildare in N.E. Huntsville, he attended the Butler Preparatory School and in 3 years completed 6 years work.      While working part time at the Virginia McCormack Center, he met Cora Anna Tipps and they were married on June 14, 1911.
     He became certified to teach and began his teaching career in one room schools in Big Cove and Mountain Fork.
     His classes consisted of beginners through the 8th grade.
     Later, he was appointed Principal of West Huntsville School. He supplemented his income by continuing his part time work as Physical Director at the Virginia McCormack Center.
     Around 1919, he served as Principal of Dallas School, later named Rison, in Dallas Village.
     In 1920 he was offered the position of Secretary of the Dallas Y.M.C.A. where he remained until 1935. Under his leadership, the "Y" became the focal point in the community. Mr. Fanning taught night school classes, Bible classes, sports and brought movies to the Dallas Village people. He encouraged the young men to stay in school and study for a better future in life than the textile mill could offer them.
     After 1935, he became Diversified Occupation Coordinator at Joe Bradley School and later at Butler High School.
     He continued in this work for the next 20 years when he had reached retirement age. However, Evangel School, a private one, asked him to teach there, which he did for several years.
     Mr. Fanning was a member, teacher and elder in First Presbyterian Church and a Gideon Society member.
     William and Cora Fanning had seven children, Orville Butler, William Howard, Joy, Elizabeth, Marquerite, Lorinne and Corinne. He died in Huntsville in 1976." - Heritage

•  W. P. Fanning got the VFW Favorite Teacher Award in 1963. - Record

•  Article about West Huntsville YMCA. While he was never on the staff Mr. William P. Fanning was very helpful in the organization of the "Y" program, securing of funds for building and coordination of the program with the school program, with which he was associated as principal at the time. Mr. Fanning has been Secretary and Treasurer of the Board of Directors for a number of years. - Sesquicentennial

•  Officer in The West Huntsville Men's Club - Sesquicentennial

•  Member of The First Presbyterian Church, leadership - The First Presbyterian Church

•  "A short distance from the Merrimack Mill was another mill village, or rather, a cluster of three villages known collectively as West Huntsville. Three small textile mills provided the livelihood for the residents of these villages. None of the mills was willing to undertake the responsibility for providing a school for its children. However, through the efforts of a Presbyterian missionary, Jessie House, and a young teacher, William P. Fanning, the mills were persuaded to donate a dwelling house for the first school. When this building was outgrown, a small amount of money was raised among the parents; the rest - $3,000 - was given by philanthropist Virginia McCormick to build an eight room wooden building. This structure sufficed until the county built a more substantial schoolhouse at 3001 Ninth Avenue, the site of the original wooden building." Mr. Fanning planted three trees for the comfort of the mill children. - HHQ

Related Links:

•  Ancestry.com - Page owned by Tom Wilson and can be viewed only through an Ancestry.com paid membership. (Originally found at http://trees.ancestry.com/tree/2634992/person/6775690282.)

•  Heritage - Information Submitted by Joy Fanning Daniel (Mrs. Comon T.) for an article titled "Stories and Tapes by My Father" published in the Heritage of Madison County, Alabama, by The Madison County Heritage Book Committee, John P. Rankin, Chairman, Printed 1998, pages 183 & 184.

•  HHQ - The Historic Huntsville Quarterly of Local Architecture and Preservation was published by The Historic Huntsville Foundation, Spring/Summer 1986 - XII:3&4, Micky Maroney, Editor, The Mill Schools of Huntsville by Aida Reinbolt, pages 27, 28 & 31.

•  Record - A Dream Come True: The Story of Madison County and Incidentally of Alabama and the United States, Volume 2, by James Record, printed in 1978, page 155

•  Sesquicentennial - Commemorative Album, Celebrating our City's Sesquicentennial of Progress, Huntsville, Alabama, by James E. Taylor, General Chairman, printed in 1955, pages 115 & 208.

•  The First Presbyterian Church - "The First Presbyterian Church, Huntsville, Alabama, Sesquicentennial 1818-1968" by Charlotte Forgey Shenk and Donald Hugh Shenk printed in 1968.

The Following Pages Link to this Page:
•  HHQ
•  Record
•  Sesquicentennial