John Lanning as a Soldier

J ohn Lanning was born in Bordentown, Burlington County, NJ, on February 27, 1757. He was the son of Joseph Lanning (1731–1800) and Marcy Mary Lownsbury, who moved to Rowan (now Davidson) County, NC, in the early 1770s.

The Revolutionary War broke out soon after they moved, and Joseph was drafted to fight. John volunteered to enter as a substitute for his father, and this was accepted by the military. He was placed under the command of General Rutherford. He served 28 days and was discharged. He did not fight in any battle or receive any pay.

John re-entered military service, again as a substitute for his father, in September 1776 in Salisbury, Rowan County, NC. He was again assigned to General Rutherford, whose troops were ordered to attack the Cherokee villages at Valleytown. (The town of Andrews is now located at the former village location.) Rutherford’s sole mission was to burn the villages.

John was discharged from service in December 1776. He again received no pay or discharge papers. His father met him at Sherrill’s Ford on the Catawba River in Lincoln County, NC. Joseph brought his son a horse to ride the rest of the way home.

John’s unit re-entered military service in Salisbury on March 20, 1779. This time, he saw action under Lieutenant Richard Graham. Graham’s unit marched into South Carolina and crossed the Savannah River into Georgia, just above the city of Augusta. They traveled down the river, recrossed it, and moved toward Charleston, SC. They crossed the Ashley River near Charleston on May 10, 1779.

They engaged in frequent skirmishes with the British army at Stono River and the Stono Ferry southwest of Charleston. The unit then returned to Salisbury.

John re-entered the military again in 1780. He served this time in Captain John Lopp’s Cavalry Rangers. He had to provide his own horse. He served for two months, and this appears to have been the last time he was in the military.

John Lanning married Sarah Whitaker (October 7, 1768–May 26, 1848) in October 1783 in Rowan County, NC. Sarah was the daughter of Joshua Whitaker, Sr. (1735–1798) and Mary Reed (1748–1832).

A large group of people in Rowan County moved to Fairview in the late 1790s. They included Peter Whitaker Sr. and his wife Mariam F. Kent; Jane Whitaker Reed and her husband Eldad Reed; and Mary Reed Whitaker (Sarah’s mother), her brother William Whitaker Sr., and most of her McCrary cousins. Other families making the move included the Tranthams, Merrills and Garrens. John and Sarah Lanning moved to Fairview around 1795.

On October 9, 1798, John Lanning bought 50 acres on Gap Creek in Fairview that was listed as joining land that Lanning already owned. On June 6, 1799, he bought 22 more acres on Gap Creek.

John Lanning is listed on the Buncombe County census from 1810 through 1830. On October 20, 1832, he applied in the Buncombe County court for a Revolutionary War pension. It was approved on March 4, 1833 for $31.33 a year, retroactive to March 4, 1831.

After John died in Fairview on August 10, 1839, Sarah applied for a widow’s pension on September 25, 1843. Hannah Trantham signed a deposition saying she was present and witnessed the marriage of John and Sarah, and Sarah received John’s pension at the same rate until her death on May 26, 1848.

Both John Lanning and Sarah Whitaker Trantham are buried in Cane Creek Cemetery in Fairview.

Bruce Whitaker documents Fairview-area genealogy. To get in touch with him, contact the Crier at [email protected] or
828-771-6983 (call/text).

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