Lannius, By Tom Hymer, Chairman, Fannin County Historical Commission
In 1836, William Onstott, born in Tennessee in 1777, settled on his league and labor of land west of present day Lannius to become the area’s first citizen. He died in 1857 and was buried in Hilger Cemetery. His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1857 and was buried in the Onstott and Stewart Cemetery.
Two brothers from Tennesee, Reece and John Stewart, settled in the vicinity of the Onstott family in 1851. Reece’s wife was Mary Duke Stewart. Their daughter, Sarah, married Isham Beasley, an early-day prominent citizen of Lannius and Dodd City. Their son, Frank D. Stewart, married Mary Dodd, daughter of Major E. H. Dodd, founder of Dodd City.
John Stewart and his wife, Eliza, had six children, Sarah, Hugh, Mary, Felix, Larkin and John.
George Stephens, who came to the area from Jackson, Missouri, in 1845, was the actual founder of Lannius. The town was first called Stephensville. In the late 1890s the name of the town was changed to Lannius in honor of William Lannius who was married to Farilee Stephens, granddaughter of George Stephens.
Richard Overton, according to courthouse records, was the first owner of the land where the community is now located. However, there are no records that show he ever lived in the area.
Two Fitzgerald brothers, Garrett and Jabez, came to Fannin County with the Dr. Daniel Rowlett party in 1836. They settled on Red River north of Bonham where Garrett operated a ferry across Red River. They later moved to the Stephenville area. Jabez Fitzgerald received a league and labor of land for loaning a mule to another man to ride to join the Republic of Texas army. He died in 1843.
Three brothers, John, James and Henry Sadler arrived in Fannin County, from Tennessee, a few years before the Civil War. They settled in what was to be the Lannius community. John and his wife, Nancy, reared a family of six children. He served as a Confederate soldier in Captain Nicholson’s Company. John Sadler and his second wife, Bell McGee Sadler, had five children.
James Sadler and his wife, Melinda, had five children. Henry Sadler was married to Mary Stevens and they had six children.
Isham Beaslev. a pioneer from Tennessee, settled near Lannius in the 1880s. He provided money to build the first Church of Christ in Lannius at the request of his wife, Lottie, whom he brought from Tennessee after the death of his first wife, Sarah Stewart. The church was still standing in 1967.
Among the doctors to serve the Lannius community were J. A. Donaldson, T. J. Caldwell, Charles W. Watson, G. W. Thurmond and doctors Reed, Wolf, Black and Gamble.
In 1845, court was often held at the John Lee home on Bullards Creek. Reece Lee was an outstanding Christian Church preacher in the county.
The Burnett family was well known to Lannius residents years ago. The Burnetts operated a boarding school. An earlier college was the J. J. Corbett’s Female Institute which was active in the 1860s.
Merchants names recalled by old timers include: Sam Heame, Abe and Berry Howell, M. O. Amlin, Marion Watson, John Daughtery, George Newsome, Huey Lee, and Wilson, Groom and Gay.
In 1888. the Bonham News wrote that Lannius (then Stephenville), located eight miles east of Bonham, was “densely populated with intelligent, industrious, moral and prosperous people..Land is rich and very productive and well-improved..Land is worth $40 to $50 per acre.
Lannius Was First Called Stephenville
By Pam Crigler
[date of newspaper article unknown]
In the early 1800’s, the first settlers of Lannius, Texas were brothers Frank and Hue Stephens and Fielder Daughtery who moved here from Kentucky. The Stephens brothers bought up much of the land. As other people came to this spot of our country to settle, it was known as Stephenville, Texas.
Somewhere between the years of 1815 to 1825, Dr. John Lannius, general practitioner, moved into the town area of Stephenville to set up his medical practice where he made house calls by horse and buggy.
Around the early 1850’s, the government came in and built the town's first post office. During the time the post office was being built the townspeople called a town meeting. During the meeting the town's name was changed from Stephenville to Lannius.
As progress boomed into the early 1900s, the business town of Lannius consisted of five churches, three blacksmith shops, three general stores and two cotton gins. The town also had a barber shop, post office, drug store, restaurant and Dr. Lannius’ office.
For education in the early 1900’s to 1910, one of our great citizens, Sam Rayburn of Fannin County, taught at his second school in a two-story building known as Lannius School. There on the second floor, Rayburn taught the eighth and ninth grades all general subjects.
Progress was into step. The town came a long way from being horse and buggy’s into automobiles. In the late 1950’s Lannius had its own water plant. In 1964 Lannius received its first fire department truck.
As time has gone by, the town of Lannius has gone, but for some it still remains vivid in mind and soul. Lannius still has its own water plant where every year in January the community calls a meeting and elects the water board for the following year.
There is magic in Lannius from their first settlers to their children and their children of today. A community that unites as one, as once their town did, filled with pride, caring and giving. A community that stands by its own.