JAMES CHESTER GANN. The lapse of time and the spending of much energy has accomplished a revolution in the affairs of James C. Gann within the past twenty-five years. Since the year 1881 his efforts as a farmer have brought him form a position of semi-mendicancy to one of absolute independence and it is as a tiller of the Wise county soil that these results have been attained. Industrious and thrifty as a citizen, a sincere and earnest man with Christian thought and practice, his life and achievements are a shaft indicating the way to those seeking guidance in the future.
When Mr. Gann drove into Wise county it was with a pony team and wagon, laden with his few household effects and his family, and about two hundred dollars in cash stood between himself and real necessity. He made a payment on the one hundred acres of land he bought in the woods north of Chico and housed his family in the wagon-box while he was getting his cabin ready for their reception. His pioneer cottage was twelve by fourteen feet with a side room, and built of logs, and it served him, with occasional attempts at repair, until 1893, when the commodious and attractive residence of today was erected and its worthy occupants permanently installed.
Clearing the timber and brush was the first act which led to the opening of a field and the annual planting and sprouting and "stumping" took place until only a spot of forest is here and there visible where once was nature’s wilderness of wood. Although cotton and corn raising has brought him a substantial surplus form year to year, not all of his energy has been saved, for misfortune has occasionally knocked at his door at the sacrifice of a horse or a cow or a swine until hundreds of dollars have probably been thus lost. His surplus prosperity he has invested in additions to his farm and now four hundred and twenty-five acres are listed for taxes instead of the hundred acre homestead as of old.
Cooke county gave James C. Gann as a portion of her quota to Wise county’s settlement. About twenty miles northeast of Gainesville his parents settled in January, 1870, emigrating from Cherokee county, where our subject was born on the 15th of March, 1859. His father, Sampson M. Gann, was born in Washington county, Tennessee, August 11, 1825, and, in 1853, brought his family westward to the Lone Star state and, for a time, resided in Harrison county, then moved to Cherokee and finally to Cooke county. He made a success of his efforts as a farmer, made a good property and divided the bulk of it among his children while he yet lived. During the Civil war he was in the employ of the Confederacy as a hatter, having a shop on his farm and selling the product of his shop to the government as headgear for the southern soldier. In politics he maintained himself a Democrat, served as a justice of the peace in Cherokee county, and is passing his years of rapid decline near the scenes of his late vigorous life.
Sampson M. Gann was a son of Marion Gann, a soldier of the Revolutionary war, a farmer and a man who reared a large family of children by two successive marriages. Many of his children came to Texas and their descendants are scattered about over many counties of the state today. Mary A. Good became the wife of S. M. Gann. Her people were old Tennesseans and her father was Manuel Good. The Ganns were Scotch-Irish in origin while the Goods claim the Dutch blood. In 1895 Mrs. Gann died at seventy years of age, having been the mother of: Margaret P., who married W. H. Rogers and died in Wise county; Sarah J., who married J. S. Wallace and died near Dexter; Mary M., deceased wife of A. J. Odom, of Indian Territory; Melissa C., wife of J. M. Conaway, died in Wise county; Nathan M., of Cooke county; Susan M., wife of J. S. Wallace, of Wise county; Rachel T., wife of Bud West, of Indian Territory; James C., of this notice; Phebe A., wife of J. W. Stadler, of Troop, Texas; Emma C., who married F. P. Blair, of Cooke county and Rebecca, wife of J. M. Conaway, of Cooke county, Texas.
James C. Gann came to maturity largely on the frontier and he joined it again when he took up his residence in Wise county. His education was obtained from the country districts and he made his parents’ home his own until his marriage, September 15, 1881. His wife was Susan E. Coats, a daughter of Needham Coats, who came to Texas from Tennessee before the Civil war. Mr. Coats married Miss M. A. Speer of Smith county, Texas, September 26, 1858. She died and her husband have children: Datus, Lonzo, Bulah A., George and Ola M.
While Mr. Gann has been passing an active and useful life he has not devoted any time to politics but has encouraged and promoted a higher moral sentiment and fostered Christian and pious settlement and fostered Christian and pious sentiments in his household. He is strongly favorable to national prohibition and believes in the doctrine of the Missionary Baptist as promulgated by their organic law.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 394-395.