CALAIS / VANN FAMILY
Submitted by Fran Johnston
Posted March 20, 2002 by Myrtle Bridges.
Obituary for Sarah Mitchell Hill Calais (1819 - 1897) as it appeared in the Fayetteville paper:
Note: Sarah was the wife of John Dudley Calais of Fayetteville who, while serving the Confederacy in Company
G 33rd NCST, was killed at Chancellorsville.
Death of Mrs. Calis
Mrs. Sarah Mitchell Calais died yesterday at her home in this city. She was the widow of Mr. John D. Calais,
who was a Lieutenant in the 33 Regiment NCT and she herself had been a consistent member, for many years, of
the Baptist church. She was born on the 7th of June, 1819, and was therefore in her 79th year.
The deceased leaves three children to mourn her loss: Mrs. John C. Vann, of this city, Mr. Harvey Calais, a
leading druggist of Mobile, Alabama, and Mr. Thomas Calais, master machinist at Florence, SC.
The funeral will take place from the Baptist church tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock sharp.
Information on John Chisholm Vann (1850 - 1929):
John Chisholm Vann was a member and leader of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry for many years. The
first of those years were spent insisting to the United States government that the men of the FILI would not
discontinue wearing their grey uniforms!
In 1994, Fran Johnston, Major John Vann's great-granddaughter was presented with the program from the FILI's
200th Anniversary Observance. The Commanding Officer of the FILI, Bruce Daws, wrote: "On behalf of the officers
and men of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, please accept this book in memory of Captain James M.
Vann, an antebellum officer, and his son Major John C. Vann who served as out commanding officer three times
for a total of almost 30 years, and to all the other members of the Vann family who served this venerable
command with distinction and honor. Our members present and future will strive to emulate the virtues of the
men of the Vann Family in order that they may preserve the traditions and integrity of "The Grand Olde Company.""
The following Resolution of Respect was written into the minutes of the FILI upon J. C. Vann's death. "Whereas,
an all-wise providence, in the exercise of its omniscient power, has seen fit to remove from our midst our
beloved comrade and commanding officer, Major J. C. Vann, who, for more than sixty years through his unfaltering
and unswerving loyalty, his calm and kindly firmness, and his unusual and high capacity for leadership,
maintained and preserved and perpetuated the traditions to which the ideals and purposes of the Fayetteville
Independent Light Infantry Company have been dedicated since its inception; and whereas, in his death, the
organization for which he labored so long and zealously, has suffered an irreparable loss, and his courtesy
firmness and courage will be long missed in the councils the organizations; Therefore; Be it resolved, by the
Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Company, in regular meeting assembled this March 4th, 1929, that the
keen sense of our loss, together with our deepest sympathy, to the members of the bereaved family, be expressed
and that a copy of this resolution be transmitted to the members of his family, to the Fayetteville Observer
and be spread upon the minutes of this meeting."
JC Vann's Obituary in the Fayetteville paper
The following appeared in the Fayetteville Observer upon J. C. Vann's death: "Beloved Citizen of Fayetteville
Passes Away Wednesday Night. Fayetteville has lost another one of its beloved and highly esteemed citizens.
Major John C. Vann passed away at his home on Hillsboro Street last night at 8 o'clock in his 79th year
following an illness that had confined him at home for many months.
During his long and useful life in this community, he endeared himself to thousands of people in all walks
of life and perhaps held the friendship and admiration of as many men as any citizen of Fayetteville. He
enjoyed life and loved men in all of their relations but he received his greatest pleasure from his
activities in the military service of his community and country. He was loved by every man who ever wore
the uniform of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, the historic organization in which he was an
active member since boyhood and its commander for about 30 years.
Major Vann was too young to enlist in the service when the Civil war began but he was active in forming a
home guard to protect those who were left behind. He, together with the late Dr. J. W. McNeil, were captured
by federal soldiers when General Sherman invaded Fayetteville and held prisoners for several days.
He served with the FILI during the Spanish American War and at the cessation of hostilities he was made
commander of the company, a post he held almost continually until his health began to fail.
Again, at the outbreak of the World war, Major Vann formed a home guard and kept alive the interest in the
FILI organization while the younger men "carried on" in France as a unit of the national guard. He attended
the celebration of the signing of the Declaration of Independance with the company in Philadelphia in 1876
and was a proud veteran in attendance at the sesquicentennial in June 1926.
The FILI company and the city of Fayetteville have sustained a severe loss in the death of Major Vann and the
community extend to the grief stricken family its sincere sympathy. The company will attend the funeral
services in full dress uniform tomorrow morning at 11 o'clock. The services will be conducted from the
residence on Hillsboro Street.
Major Vann was born on June 16, 1850. He was the eldest son of the late James M. and Mariah Chisholm Vann.
He is survived by six sons: R. H. Vann, Wilmington; W. M. Vann, Fayetteville; James M. Vann, Badin; R. L.
Vann, Wilson; J. C. Vann, Jr and T. C. Vann, Southern Pines; and five daughters: Mrs. T. A. Thornton, Miss
Minnie C. Vann of Fayetteville; Mrs. Robert Holton, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Mrs. S. M. Beasley, Fayetteville;
Mrs. McNeely DuBose, Arvida, Quebec, Canada."
The following was written into the minutes of the FILI: "Major John C. Vann died Feb. 13, 1929. Funeral
February 15, 1929. Attended by 22 members of the FILI who acted as honary ball bearers, salute was fired and
Additional family info on John Chisholm Vann:
There is evidence in family stories that Major Vann was not always as blemishless as the above may make one
think. In fact, some of his children abducted their mother (Martha Davis Calais Vann) and took her to Badin,
North Carolina because they knew that, in spite of physical abuse and his abuse of alcohol, she would not
leave him. She lived happily away from him from that day until her death.
J. C. Vann's death certificate is interesting because it lists him as a widower. His first wife had, indeed,
died; however, Martha Davis Calais Vann was very much alive. His daughter from his marriage to Florence
Cornelia Calais informed the authorities of her father's death. Cause of death is listed as Aortic stenosis -
contributory was "advanced age" His doctor was S. Highsmith.
James Madison Vann (1825 - 1899)
James Madison Vann was a member of the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry. He won the silver cup for
marksmanship prior to the Civil War.
The following was written into the minutes of the FILI upon Mr. Vann's death: "Mr. Chairman, Captain James
M. Vann died in Warrensville, S. C. February 1, 1899 at 3 PM. At one time he was an active member of this
company and ever afterward was an honored veteran member. His soldierly qualities and his integrity of
character won him a captancy - which position he filled like the good citizen and soldier combined that he was.
One of the few who are now left who attended the celebration of the company's 50th anniversary - he was proud
of our record of a century. He loved the company, and its cause was his - their triumphs his - and willingly
he shared their downfalls and troubles. He taught his sons to be good members of the company he loved. As a
citizen he was much esteemed and respected by all - for his quiet unassuming life, was a good example for men
to follow. With muffled drums we have laid him to rest under the shady trees of Cross Creek Cemetery. Over
his grave we have fixed a farewell salute. We have lost a friend. The community has lost a good citizen. An
all wise providence has called him to his rest. To honor his memory, we ask that the Secretary record this
paper and mark a blank page "In memory of Captain James M. Vann - that a copy of this be sent to the town
papers for publication and that the Secretary transmit a copy to the family - assuring them of our heart felt
More interesting facts on the Vanns of Cumberland County:
Daughters of James Madison VANN and Maria Louis CHISHOLM:
Sarah Elizabeth VANN was born 12 JUL 1848 and died 9 JUL 1856
Maria Louisa VANN was born 27 AUG 1852 and died 11 JUL 1856
Sarah Elizabeth Vann and Maria Louisa Vann died two days apart. A slave gave some poisoned food to Sarah and
Sarah shared it with her little sister, Maria. When Maria died, the slave gave herself away when she said: "I
didn't mean for that one to die."
Buried in Cross Creek Cemetery #1. (4 rows in from Ann Street and 3-1/2 rows in from Grove Street.)
Go to Descendants of William and Sarah Vann
March 20, 2002
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