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Museum receives Fancher history
February 24, 2008
Harley Fancher of Omaha holds a copy of The Salt Lake Tribune which proclaims an apology by the Mormon Church for the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre
Harley Fancher of Omaha holds a copy of The Salt Lake Tribune which proclaims an apology by the Mormon Church for the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre. Fancher was in Utah for a memorial ceremony observing the 150th anniversary of the event which took the lives of 121 immigrants from Arkansas. Fancher is a descendant of Capt. Alexander Fancher, one of the leaders of the ill-fated party. (Staff Photo/David Holsted)
By David Holstead, Times Staff
It's not everyone who can say their family name is on a world landmark such as the Arc de Triomphe.
Harley Fancher just laughed as he pointed to a picture of the Paris monument.
"I'm a saint," he said. "This proves I'm a good ol' boy."
Fancher's name is not actually on the Arc de Triomphe, but those of two other good ol' boys, or rather "bons garçons," are. Marie Francois Etienne Cesar Faucher and his twin brother, Pierre Marie Constantin Faucher, were generals serving under Napoleon Bonaparte. Their names are inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe, which commemorates the heroes of France. They are also ancestors of Fancher's.
The tale of the twin generals is just one of the many Faucher-nating stories told in "Touch of Fancher History," a family history recently presented to the Boone County Heritage Museum by Fancher.
"The Fancher family has been so good to us," said museum day director Marilyn Breece in accepting the history. "They've given us so much information, particularly about Mountain Meadows."
The history was written by Fancher's kinsman, Burr Fancher, who grew up in Carroll County but has lived in Albany, Oregon, since 1958. Burr Fancher holds PhD's in education and vocational education.
The Fancher name is now well-known not only in Arkansas, but throughout the country because of the Mountain Meadows Massacre that took place in Utah in 1857. A total of 120 members of the Fancher-Baker wagon train were murdered by Mormons. Burr Fancher has written, in his book "Captain Alexander Fancher," about that episode.
In "Touch of Fancher History," Burr Fancher goes into detail about the family's history as Protestant Huguenots in Catholic France.
"I said to him 'Sit down and write this down,'" Harley Fancher said. "Somebody needs to write this down."
In a phone interview from his Oregon home, Burr Fancher said some have believed that the family has an English history. However, his research has indicated that French is the actual national background.
"I'm going to stick with that," he said.
His research involved such methods as oral interviews, document searches, questionnaire surveys and direct observation.
Very important was a questionnaire sent to 484 Faucher families in the Limoges, France, area. Of those, 180 responded with information on the family origin. He went to France in 1998 to do research, and 20 of the families who had responded invited him to stay in their homes.
"I'm a great believer in oral interviews and questionnaires," Burr Fancher said.
Many of the Huguenot records were destroyed by Louis XIV, and the ones that remained were written in Aquitaine, an ancient dialect of French. A trained genealogist was hired to check the old records.
According to Burr Fancher's research, David and Martha des Fontaines Faucher left Bergerac, France, in 1682 after the Protestant temple was burned by Catholics. The Fauchers were smuggled aboard a Dutch ship.
The Faucher twins were born in 1760, and one was an ancestor of former French president Francois Mitterand. The Fauchers fought with distinction in the French Revolution and they became devoted followers of Napoleon.
An excerpt from Napoleon's memoirs described the Faucher twins as "clever, well-educated men and exceedingly pleasant company."
When Napoleon escaped from exile and attempted a return to power, the Fauchers started an insurrection in La Reole, their birthplace. They were tried and shot on Sept. 27, 1815, in Bordeaux, France.
According to Burr Fancher, there has been a fondness in the family for Napoleon because of the Faucher twins and the kindness that he showed toward the Huguenots. Several members of the Fancher family have been named for Napoleon. One, Napoleon Bonaparte (Pone) Fancher was born in Boone County in 1857. Another, Dallas Napoleon Fancher was born in 1884 and was known as Polee.
Burr Fancher has yet another connection to Napoleon hanging in the living room of his home. A French tapestry, woven sometime in the 19th Century, shows Napoleon and his generals with their ladies in a courtyard. The Faucher twins are pictured on each end of the tapestry.
The tapestry is in remarkably good shape, Burr Fancher said, and is a valuable piece of French, as well as Fancher, history.
"The likeness is almost photo quality," he said. "It's amazing how they could do it."
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