A Fortner family in these counties is invisible for over thirty years. William D Fortner (1833-1919) married Matilda J Sisson (1841-1924) in 1857 Lowndes Co, MS. Matilda was the daughter of William Sisson and Jane Moore of Fayette/Sanford/Lamar Co, AL. The William D Fortner family is seen in 1866 Fayette Co, AL, 1870 Sanford Co, AL, and 1880 Lamar Co, AL. Their children were William Thomas (1858-), Mary Jane (1866-1954), Sarah Ella (1869-), John L (1871-1957), and Laura B (1878-). William and Matilda Fortner are in the 1900 Walker Co, AL household of daughter Mary Jane, and are in 1910 Lamar Co, AL. William died 1919 in Walker Co, AL. Matilda is with daughter Mary Jane there in 1920, and died there in 1924.
William Thomas Fortner married Sarah Ann Kemp (1852-) in 1876 Sanford Co, AL. Sarah was the daughter of Starling E Kemp (1824-1903) and Nancy A Howard (1834-bef 1866). They had children: 1) Nancy Elizabeth Fortner (1877-1955) who married second cousin William Perry Smith (1872-1970) in 1902 Lamar Co, AL. They lived their lives in Lamar Co, AL. 2) Jesse B Fortner (1879-1960) married Etta Rickman (1886-1978). They lived in Lamar Co, AL and Lowndes Co, MS. 3) Finous Alexander Fortner (1880-1969) married Cordelia Rickman (1884-1941), sister of Etta. They lived and died in Louisiana.
Mary Jane Fortner married William M Cox (1867–1944) in 1890 Lamar Co, AL, and they lived their lives in Walker Co, AL. They had two daughters.
Sarah Ella Fortner married James P Glover (1871-) in 1892 Bradley Co, AR. They are in 1900 Walker Co, AL and 1910 Winston Co, AL. They had three daughters and a son. Ella is in the household of sister Mary Jane in 1920 Walker Co, AL, and with a daughter in 1940 Jefferson Co, AL.
John L Fortner married Angie Ophelia Deborah (1872-1960) in 1891 Lamar Co, AL. They are in Winston Co, AL in 1900, and migrated to Arkansas where they lived and died. They had many children.
Laura B Fortner was married for a short time to William Robert Snow, and they are seen in 1900 Walker Co, AL. She is back with parents in 1910 Lamar Co, AL.
With one exception, the 1866 Fayette Co, AL enumeration, the family is only seen as Falkner prior to 1890. Starting in 1890, every record for the family states Fortner, or some minor variation, and all subsequent generations are Fortner. Remnants are seen on a few records. Nancy Elizabeth Fortner Smith's death index states father William T Faulkner. She married as Bettie Fortner. The death index for the husband of Mary Jane Fortner identifies his wife as Mary Jane Falkner. Her death certificate identifies father as William Fortner. Matilda Sisson Fortner filed for a Confederate Widow's Pension in 1920 Walker Co, AL. The index card states she is the widow of William D Fortner, and explicitly states William Falkner is an alias. Falkner/Fortner are often seen sporadically on records for given individuals, but there must be a story behind three generations of living individuals changing their surname abruptly and permanently.
An additional problem for descendants of Jesse B Fortner is an index transcription error for his 1930 census that states his father is William H Fortner. The census states William T Fortner. Only the identification of Finous A Fortner is questionable. He is seen as Thomas A Faulkner on the 1880 census. His residence in 1900 Lamar Co, the very accurate indication of age on the 1880 census, and the fact he married a sister of Jesse B Fortner's wife are the present circumstantial evidence. All other individuals are clearly identified in the records.