Businessman, elected official; political activist. Born– Aug. 25, 1820 in Madison Co., Ala. Parents– Samuel and Margaret Tanner. Married– Susan Owen Wilson, Nov. 26, 1846. Children– Seven. Education– attended school in Athens, Ala. Began his career as a clerk in his father’s store in Athens at the age of thirteen; in cotton business in New Orleans and Shreveport, 1842-1847; banker in Athens, 1847-1852; helped found the  North and South Railroad (later L&N) during the Civil War and worked for the railroad for twenty-five years; U.S. revenue collector, 1866-1867; real estate and immigration agent. Mayor of Athens for five consecutive terms. Member of the  Board of Trustees for Athens Female College, 1842-1892; president of the Board, 1880-1892.  Helped organize the Alabama State Temperance Alliance, 1881; served as its chairman and secretary; vice-president of the National Temperance Society.  Nominated 1886 as Prohibition candidate for governor, and in 1888 for vice president. Died June 15, 1899.


Tanner’s History of Athens….

Elva Bell McLin, Athens State College: A Definitive History, 1821-1991.  Huntsville:  Athens State College Foundation, 1991.

Sellers, James Benson.  The Prohibition Movement in Alabama, 1702 to 1943.  Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1943.


History of Athens, and Incidentally Limestone County, Alabama, 1825-1876. University, Ala.; Confederate Pub. Co., 1978.