Alexander Fancher & the Black Hawk War

During the Mountain Meadows Massacre, the Fancher wagon train was led by Capt. Alexander Fancher. Alexander and almost all of the others in the wagon train were killed 11 Sep 1857. This Alexander Fancher is widely assumed to have been a son of Isaac Fancher, who is said to have been born in 1788 in Stokes County, North Carolina and to have died 13 Nov 1840 in Coles County, Illinois.

The general assumption appears to be, further, that he is the same Alexander Fancher who served in the Black Hawk War, and that he served with his father Isaac. If this is the case, however, then why was a land patent issued in 1859 to the Alexander Fancher who served in the Black Hawk War? If the assumption was correct, he would have died a couple years earlier.

Further, the Alexander Fancher who led the wagon train was known as Captain Fancher. The Alexander Fancher who served in the Black Hawk War was Corporal Fancher. Perhaps he could have achieved a higher military rank somewhere else, later, going from corporal to captain, but if so, how and where? Land patents refer to him simply as corporal. Have genealogists assumed that these are the same individual when they are not?

Corporal (not Captain) Alexander Fancher can be found in published Black Hawk War records. There he is listed as 3rd Corporal on a muster roll for Captain Samuel Houston’s Company (originally Captain William L.D. Ewing’s Company), Spy Battalion of the 3rd Brigade of Illinois Mounted Volunteers.

He is listed as being from Fayette County, Illinois, with the notation that he “Lost his horse on the 7th of august.” He is listed three lines down from Isaac Fancher, who was 4th Sergeant and who also “Lost his horse on the 7th of august.”

This would clearly appear to be the same Corporal Alexander Fancher who then received a land patent on 10 May 1859, around a year and a half or so after the Mountain Meadows Massacre, for 120 acres in Bates County, Missouri.

This patent was given to, as the document states, “Alexander Fancher Corporal Captain Houstons Company Illinois Militia Black Hawk War.” The document further notes that “the said Warrant having been assigned by the said Alexander Fancher to Moss Prewitt and James H. Parker in whose favor said tract has been located.”

Earlier, on 10 Apr 1854, he had received 40 acres in Carroll County, Arkansas for his service in the Black Hawk War. In that case, the land patent refers to him as having been a corporal in “Captain Houston’s Company, Militia of Illinois.”

As already noted, Alexander had served as a corporal in the Black Hawk War under Houston. The patent’s grantee is referred to as “Alexander Fancher Corporal in Captain Houston’s Company, Militia of Illinois Black Hawk War.”

Clearly, the man in both of these patents is the same man who served in the Black Hawk War with Isaac Fancher. If he was killed in 1857 in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, why would he then received a land patent in 1859? The patent makes no reference to heirs or to reassignment except to reassignment by Alexander Fancher himself.

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