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Biography: James Montgomery Lanning born Feb. 6, 1828

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(1828- aft. 1904)

Talladega County, Alabama

James Montgomery Lanning was for more than half a century, a resident of Sylacauga, Alabama. He was born near Morristown, Jefferson County, Tennessee on Feb. 6, 1828, the son of Richard Lanning and Jane Mathews (Myers), both of whom passed their entire lives in the State of Tennessee, where Richard Lanning was one of the earliest teachers and was for many years clerk and master of the chancery court. He was a Whig until after the war when he became a Democrat and remained so until his death, which occurred in 1878. Both he and his wife were active members of the Presbyterian church.

Jane Myers was a daughter of James and Mary (Blackburn) Myers, the former of German and the latter of Scotch descent. Richard Lanning, the paternal great-grandfather of the subject of this sketch, came from England, a younger son of Lord Lanning, who was very rich and influential and noted for his kindness to the poor. John Lanning, the paternal grandfather, married a Miss Williams, whose father lived to be over one hundred and five years old. A short time before his death it was his boast that he could see to read without glasses and walk without the aid of a cane.

James M. Lanning was educated at the East Tennessee University, located in Knoxville. For some time after leaving college, he engaged in teaching. In 1852 he came to Sylacauga, four years later bought a tract of land near Sylacauga and became interested in farming. At the same time, he was then one of the leading merchants of the place. He was in the mercantile business more than forty years. At one time he owned several hundred acres of land in the county.

From 1856 until the commencement of the Civil war he was postmaster at Sylacauga. When the war broke out he enlisted in Company K, Eighteenth Alabama infantry. Soon afterward he obtained a substitute in that company, but he again enlisted in Company K, Twenty-fifth Alabama infantry, in which he served about eighteen months. After the battle of Atlanta, he was in all the battles in which Hood’s army participated. He was wounded at the battle of Bentonville.

Mr. Lanning had four brothers in the Confederate service. John Lanning was killed at the siege of Vicksburg and another brother, O. N. Lanning, was wounded at the battle of. Knoxville. He later served in the government service at Washington, D. C.

Mr. Lanning was well known in Masonic circles, being a Royal Arch Mason, and was secretary of Sylacauga chapter, No. 104, ever since its organization. In 1904, he was the only living charter member of the Blue Lodge, which was organized in Sylacauga in 1853, all the others having been “called from labor to refreshment.” Politically Mr. Lanning was a staunch Democrat, and, although well advanced in years, took an active interest in questions touching the public weal. For many years he has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, though his wife was a Baptist.

On Oct. 23, 1856, he was united in marriage to Emilie R. Oden, a daughter of Joshua and Charlotte Oden, one of the pioneer families of Talladega county. To this marriage were born six children, five of whom were living in 1904, the eldest, Lottie Lanning, was deceased. Those living were; Nettie Montgomery Lanning, Minnie Blanche Lanning, Emilie Oden Lanning, John Knox Lanning and Walter Dempsey Lanning.

Nettie married Leon S. Phillips, a prominent merchant of Sylacauga; had two children: Ernest Lanning Phillips, living, and Herbert Leon Phillips, deceased in 1904. Minnie married W. P. Morrow, of Trussville, Ala., had one child, Eloise Morrow. Odie, the youngest daughter, was at-home-with her father in 1904. Knox, who was in the railroad superintendent’s office in Anniston, Ala., married Cora Phillips, of Sylacauga, had three children: Emilie Marie Lanning, Knoxye Elizabeth Lanning and Will Dempsey Lanning. Dempsey was a chemist in the largest drug house in Birmingham, Alabama, married Emma Wright, of Birmingham, had one child, Emmett Walter Lanning.

Mr. Lanning was one of the best-known men in Talladega County, having lived an active business life and was an honest, upright man. In later life, he turned his attention to truck farming and in his seventy-sixth year, enjoyed personally attending to his farm. The Lannings were remarkable for longevity and for possessing an unimpaired intellect to a great age.


  1. Notable Men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical, Volume 1 edited by Joel Campbell DuBose


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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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