The Search For Fannie Sims Granbury:
Wife of Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury
When it comes to Civil War history and the wives of famous generals, no one has been more elusive than
Fannie Sims Granbury, wife of General Hiram B. Granbury, 7th Texas Infantry. In 1861, Fannie
accompanied her husband to war, traveling to Hopkinsville, Kentucky. After the fall of Fort Donelson in
February of 1862, Granbury was taken prisoner. The odyssey that followed resulted in Fannie's
disappearance, something that has puzzled historians for almost a century and a half.
Other than her marriage to H.B. Granberry/Granbury in 1858, little is known of Fannie's earlier life. She
was born in Alabama in 1838 and migrated to Waco, Texas, where she met the native Mississippian,
Hiram Granberry/Granbury. Hiram had graduated from Oakland College, Rodney, Mississippi, and
moved to Texas in the early 1850s. While in Waco, he studied law and was admitted to the Texas bar,
and served as chief justice of McLennan County. At the time of their marriage, Hiram was 27 years old
and Fannie was 20.1
During the early years of their marriage, nothing was known regarding the personal life of Fannie. After
Hiram B. left Waco to join the 7th Texas in Marshall, Fannie went on the move with him. As the troops
marched for Tennessee and Kentucky, Fannie took up residence in the home of Stephen E. Trice,
Hopkinsville, Kentucky.2 After the capture of many Confederate soldiers at Fort Donelson, Major
Granbury petitioned U. S. Grant to give him time (before going to prison) to situate his wife who was
staying in Clarksville, Tennessee. The petition was granted. For the first month of prison, Granbury was
shuffled from Camp Douglas to Camp Chase. Finally, on March 6, 1862 he was taken to Fort Warren
Prison in Boston Harbor, a prison primarily for Confederate officers. While Granbury was at Warren
Prison, Fannie lived in Hagerstown, Maryland, at the residence of Mrs. Mary MacGill, wife of Hiram's
prison mate, Dr. Charles MacGill. Some historians wrote that she became ill from exposure to the
northern climate and died. This was not true. She became ill with cancer, but lived long enough to return
south to die.3
The truth of Fannie's illness and Granbury's imprisonment can be found in a document from L. Thomas,
Adjutant General, Washington, written to Col. J. Dimick, U. S. Army, Fort Warren, Boston,
Massachusetts. The correspondence dated July 29, 1863, read: "The eight or nine prisoners referred to
and those who have taken the oath of allegiance will not be sent to Fort Monroe. Parole Major Granbury,
of Texas, that he may attend his wife while having a surgical operation performed at Baltimore,â€¦"4 As it
turns out, Fannie never had the surgery at Baltimore Hospital, most likely because her condition, ovarian
cancer, was too advanced.
Adding to the insight on Fannie's condition are the letters that were written between Dr. Charles MacGill
and his wife, Mary MacGill, during the time Fannie was their house guest in Hagerstown These letters
reveal personal insight into Fannie's illness and suffering as she waited at the MacGill home for Hiram to be
released from prison.
Over the course of the years, perhaps stemming as far back as her marriage in 1858, Fannie had begun to
experience health problems. After arriving in Hagerstown, the problems became acute and Dr. Smith, a
renowned surgeon at the hospital in Baltimore, examined her for her condition. Hiram had received early
parole so he was able to meet with her, the first week of August, 1862, to see Dr. Smith. Even though
there are no medical records, it is obvious that Dr. Smith's diagnosis was advanced, inoperable, ovarian
cancer. Fannie, age 24, would only have months to live.5
Hiram returned south with the rest of the 7th Texas where he began recruiting in Texas. Texas remained in
the home of the MacGill family in Hagerstown where she would be loved and cared for. Finally, in
October of 1862, Hiram took a train to Hagerstown and brought Fannie back to her father's home in
Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Fannie lingered as the war raging around her. Finally, on March 20, 1863, eleven
days before her 5th wedding anniversary, she passed away. She was 25 years old at the time of her death.
Her funeral was March 21 from the Providence Infirmary in Mobile but there were few to mourn her
departure. In fact, it's not even clear from Civil War records if Hiram had attended her funeral. Because of
poverty brought about by the war, there was no money for a headstone, so she was buried in an
unmarked grave in Magnolia Cemetery.6
Perhaps, following the war, Hiram had planned to erect a headstone or do something in his wife's memory,
but this did not happen. A year following Fannie's death, Brig. Gen. Hiram B. Granbury became one of six
Confederate generals killed on the battlefield at Franklin, Tennessee. When Granbury died, all memories
of Fannie died with him because they only had each other - no children to perpetuate her memory.
Granbury was buried for a short time in the paupers' section of the battlefield. Later, his body was
exhumed and reinterred in St. John's Cemetery, Ashland, Tennessee. The general's body remained at this
site for 30 years. In 1893, when it became in vogue to honor the heroes killed in the war, Granbury was
removed and reinterred in Granbury, Texas, a town named in his honor. In April, 1904, J. H. Doyle, a
resident of Granbury, recalled the occasion, "General Granbury's remains were disinterred by my brother,
Dr. J. N. Doyle, who was a surgeon in the Army of Northern Virginia, and brought to Granbury by him
and reinterred in November, 1893." A Confederate headstone marks his grave. Unlike her husband,
Fannie's burial site became more and more obscure with every passing year.7
In June, 2001, after studying documents relating to Fannie Sims Granbury, efforts were made to find her
grave. Working with only the fact that she could have died in Columbus (Ohio), Sandusky (Ohio),
Baltimore (Maryland), Waco (Texas), or Mobile (Alabama), the search was begun. In January 2002,
"Mrs. Fannie Granbury" was found to be listed in the 1863 burial records in Mobile Alabama.8
Having located the city of her burial, a search for Fannie was fully engaged and a professional
archivist/genealogist was placed in charge of the research. A death certificate was found in the Sexton
Report of Death Records - giving the cause (ovarian cancer) and age (25) at the time of her death. The
cemetery lot was found to be one in Magnolia Cemetery, where Fannie had been placed in an unmarked
grave 139 years before. The lot had been purchased by someone named Redmond. Presumably, since
Fannie was destitute, a friend offered a burial spot.9
Even though it seemed apparent that Mrs. Fannie Granbury was the wife of Gen. H. B. Granbury, further
proof was needed to document the finding. Only an obituary or death notice would provide the final and
ultimate proof. This was found by researcher, Mary Eddins Johnson, when she began an all-out search for
a March 21, 1863, issue of the Mobile Advertiser and Register. Originally, a copy of this newspaper had
been in the Mobile Archives but for some reason, the copy was missing. Mary Eddins Johnson proceeded
to search in the state of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia for a copy of the paper. A copy was finally
found in the Auburn University Library Archives. The death notice of Mrs. Fannie Granbury was short but
exactly enough to identify her as the young wife of Col. H. B. Granbury. "On yesterday, at 11'oclock A.
M., Mrs. Fannie Granbury, aged 25 years. Wife of Col. H. B. Granbury, 7th Regiment Texas Infantry.
The funeral will take place from the Providence Infirmary, at 3 o'clock P.M. TODAY."10
Copyrighted and courtesy of author:
Rebecca Blackwell Drake
Researched by Rebecca Drake, Mississippi Civil War historian, Mary Eddins Johnson,
professional researcher from Mobile, Alabama, Edward Jordan Lanham, Civil War researcher of Georgia,
Jane Embrose, descendant of the Granberry family of Ohio, and James Drake, researcher, Mississippi.
1 McLennan County, Texas, marriage records, Vol. I (1850-1870) researched by Jane Embrose.
2 Confederate Veteran Magazine, "Mr. Steven E. Trice," Vol. 12, June, 1904. Researched by R. B.
3 Autograph album of Captain John Tower, 8th Georgia, where H. B. Granbury signed his album in July
This was researched by Jane Embrose.
4 Correspondence from Records of the Civil War, Vol. 24, researched by James L. Drake.
5 Diagnosis of ovarian cancer found in Mobile death records, researched by Mary Eddins Johnson,
6 Research of death certificate and burial plot in Mobile, Alabama, Archives by Mary Eddins Johnson.
7 Confederate Veteran Magazine, Vol. 12, April 1904.
8 Researcher Edward Jordan Lanham found the city where Fannie Sims was buried.
9 March 21, 1863 edition of the Mobile Advertiser and Register, researched by Mary Eddins Johnson.
10 Researched by Mary Eddins Johnson.
Regarding the wife of General Granbury. There is absolutely no trace of the Sims family in Tuscaloosa,
either before the war or after the war. The only reference to the fact that Fannie was an Alabaman was in
her Mobile death record when she gave Tuscaloosa as home. Since there were no children, there was
nothing that belonged to either Fannie or Hiram to be perpetuated through the years. When they died,
almost everything was lost.
There has been no success in finding out anything regarding the Redmond family who purchased the
cemetery plot in order to bury Fannie. Fannie Granbury remained the only person buried in the plot until
1900. Today, there is no trace of the original owners and no descendants know of the lot owners. For this
reason, no headstone can be placed on the grave. This is a rule of historic Magnolia Cemetery. No
headstone can be set without permission from the owner of the lot or descendants of the lot owner.
Fannie will probably never have a headstone nor will she be moved to Granbury to be joined with her
Colonel H. B. Granbury, born March 1, 1831 in Copiah County, Mississippi, commanded the 7th Texas
Infantry during the Battle of Raymond. Granbury's service to the Confederate Army began as early as
1861 when he organized the Waco Guards in Waco Texas. Three years later, having achieved the rank of
Brigadier General, he was killed during the Battle of Franklin.
Before the outbreak of the war, Granbury lived in Waco, Texas, where he served as chief justice of
McLennan County. He was a graduate of Mississippi's prestigious Oakland College located near the river
town of Rodney, Mississippi. In the 1850s, after moving to Texas, he was admitted to the Texas Bar. On
March 31, 1858, he married Fannie Sims of Waco; they had no children.
In November of 1861, at Hopkinsville, Kentucky, the Texas Volunteer regiment elected Granbury as
major. On February 15, 1862, he was captured with his command at the Battle of Fort Donelson. Under
Grant's terms of surrender, the Confederates were shipped north and taken as prisoners of war. The
enlisted men were sent to Johnson Island Prison, Lake Erie, while the officers were held at Warren Prison
in Boston Harbor. Other Confederate officers held at Warren Prison along with Major Granbury were: Lt.
Col. Randal MacGavock, 10th Tennessee; Major W. Grace, 10th Tennessee; Col. John Gregg, 7th Texas
Infantry; Col. R. Farquharson, 41st Tennessee; Col. C. A. Sugg, 50th Tennessee and Brig. Gen. L.
Tilghman, C.S.A. While in prison, Major Granbury signed the autograph album of Captain John R. Tower,
8th Georgia Volunteer Infantry. His signature reads, "H. B. Granbury, Maj. Texas Volunteers, Waco,
Texas." All of these officers were paroled in 1862 as a part of an officer's exchange.
In order to be near her husband, Fannie traveled to Boston where they hoped he would be paroled.
Instead, Granbury was taken by boat to Fort Warren Prison, 6 miles out in Boston Harbor, leaving
Fannie behind in a city of strangers. Dr. Charles MacGill, a political prisoner from Maryland and one of
Granburyâ€™s prison mates, made provisions to send Fannie to Hagerstown, Maryland, to live with his
wife and family. During the five months that Granbury was held in Fort Warren Prison, Fannie remained in
the MacGill home.
During this time, Fannie became ill and was scheduled to undergo surgery at a hospital in Baltimore.
Granbury was given an early parole in order to meet his wife in Baltimore and to attend the surgery. The
parole is documented in a dispatch from L. Thomas, Adjutant-General, U. S. A., dated July 29, 1862:
"The eight or nine prisoners referred to and those who have taken the oath of allegiance will not be sent to
Fort Monroe; Parole Major Granbury, of Texas, that he may attend his wife while having a surgical
operation performed at Baltimore." When the Granburyâ€™s visited the doctor in Baltimore, they found
that Fannie was suffering from advanced ovarian cancer and nothing could be done for her condition. She
remained in the MacGill home while Granbury returned South to resume his war efforts.
Following his exchange from prison, Granbury was stationed in northern Mississippi as a part of Maxy's
Brigade and was promoted to the rank of colonel. He was also assigned to Texas on recruiting duty. In
October of 1863, he traveled to Baltimore and brought Fannie home to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where she
remained in the home of her father. Near the end of her illness, she was taken to Providence Infirmary,
Mobile, Alabama, where she passed away on March 20, 1863. Her obituary appeared in the Mobile
Advertiser and Register on March 21; "Died on yesterday, at 11:00 A.M., Mrs. Fannie Granbury, aged
25 years. Wife of Col. H. B. Granbury, 7th Regiment Texas Infantry. The funeral will take place from the
Providence Infirmary, at 3 o'clock P.M. TODAY." No record has been found to confirm that Col.
Granbury left his regiment to attend the funeral. Fannie was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in a plot
donated by a friend. Since there was no headstone, Fannieâ€™s burial site was lost to history.
Col. Granbury resumed his war efforts leaving for Port Hudson, Louisiana, then on to Raymond,
Mississippi. Colonel Granbury had only been widowed two months when he fought in the Battle of
After the Confederate defeat at the Battle of Raymond, he continued as commander of the 7th Texas and
moved on to fight in the Battle of Chickamauga where he was slightly wounded. On Feb. 29, 1864,
following a brilliant performance in the Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign, Granbury was commissioned
brigadier general. Nine months later, while commanding Granbury's Brigade, he was killed at the Battle of
Franklin. Brig. Gen. Granbury was first buried near Franklin, Tennessee, then reinterred in Ashwoodâ€™s
Cemetery belonging to St. Johnâ€™s Episcopal Church. On Nov. 30, 1893, his remains were removed to
Granbury, Texas, a town named in his honor.
Today, having found the burial site of Fannie Granbury, a memorial headstone has been set in her memory
next to her husband in the Granbury Cemetery. The stone reads: â€œWife of Hiram B. Granbury, Fannie
Sims Granbury, Born 1838, Died March 20, 1863, Married 1858, Waco, Tx., Buried in an Unmarked
Grave, Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, Al. Thanks to Rebecca Drake, Historian, Mary E. Johnson,
Researcher, Jane Embrose, Family Descendant, This Memorial Stone Placed by the Hood County
Historical Society, 2003.â€�