Biography of Howard M. Fanning of Stockton

Howard M. Fanning, well known among the pioneer Californians, is now and has been for many years a resident of Stockton, his home being at 345 East Channel Street. A truly self-made man, and one of the best representatives of that class of Americans, having wrought out his own career since he was fourteen years old, since which time he has made his mark in merchandising, farming, stock-raising and in business and civic affairs in general, Mr. Fanning merits full consideration in a history of his state, since his name would be one of the first to occur to his fellow citizens in speaking of the prominent old-timers.

Mr. Fanning was born in Troy, New York, June 3, 1826, so that he is now well in the shadow of his eightieth year. He was a son of Richard W. and Ann Eliza (Smith) Fanning, his father a native of New York State and his mother of North Carolina. The Fanning family is one of the oldest on American soil. It is said on trustworthy evidence that the original Fanning ancestor came from England in 1620 and settled in Connecticut along the shores of Long Island Sound and there founded the family among whose numerous later descendants is found the subject of this sketch.

The private schools of Troy, such as they were at that time, furnished him his early education, but when fourteen he assumed the mantle of responsibility and entered upon life for himself. From that time for three years, he was in the employ of Mr. Elisha Waters, in his day a well-known druggist of Troy, and during this time he learned the drug business quite thoroughly. Also, during this period he attended three terms of night school, in the last winter session taking a course in mechanical drawing which was of much practical aid to him in his later work. After leaving the employ of Mr. Waters he became connected with the coach and car building industry at Troy. In November 1846, he went to Jersey City, where for a short time he was employed in car building, and subsequently returned and continued the same occupation at Troy. At Brandon, Vermont, he, in company with Mr. Myron J. Gilbert, took the contract to build cars of all descriptions for the Rutland and Burlington Railroad, and they built the first equipment of rolling stock for that road.

Late in 1849 Mr. Fanning started for California, which was henceforth to be the scene of his active and prosperous endeavors. He made the trip by way of New York, the isthmus and San Francisco, being sixty days en route between the extremes of his journey. He arrived in this state early in 1850, and in the same year located in San Joaquin County. Until 1856 he was in the business of contracting and building on his own account, but in that year moved to his ranch about two miles south of Stockton, on the Sharp Road, where, on three hundred and fifty acres of land, he carried on farming and stock-raising for many years. He moved back into Stockton in 1866 and has since been a resident of that city. During this time, he also continued his agricultural operations, and for three years conducted the well-known Pioneer Tannery. For a number of years past he has been in the real estate and insurance business at 535 East Main Street, and he is well known in the business circles of his city.

For two terms, or six years, he served as supervisor, representing the Stockton district. He is active in the affairs of the Republican party, and for two years served as a member of the Stockton city council. He is affiliated with Morning Star Lodge No. 68, F. & A. M. He is a member and ex-president of the San Joaquin Society of California Pioneers. His church connections are with the First Baptist Church of Stockton.

Mr. Fanning was married on Staten Island, New York, October 4, 1848, to Miss Louise Butts. She was born in Delaware County, New York, June 25, 1829, and she accompanied her husband to California in 1850. Of the six children born of this union of more than half a century’s duration, three are still living: Clara F., widow of Frank Bugbee, late of Stockton, and Jennie D. and Harry H., in Stockton.

Source: Leigh H. Irvine; A History of the New California Its Resources and People, 2 Volumes; New York and Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1903.

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