John Fine

John FineI am the son of a career Air Force officer and was born at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma. My father, Joseph Calvin Fine, a native Texan, always said I was not born in Oklahoma, but on Federal property. Even so, it took me until 1961 when I was 11 to get to Austin after my father retired from the military.

I grew up in South Austin and still live there with my wife of 20 years, Roberta. I graduated from Univ. of Texas with a degree in Anthropology I History and went to work shortly after in my family business Mason Map Service, Inc, Texas oil and gas consultants. History, both general and personal, have always been of great interest to me. My family on both sides goes back to the beginnings of America. I even have a bit of a native american heritage. My patriot ancestor was Vinette Fine (i as in “mine”, net pronounced as “not”, Some spellings are Vinot, Vinette, Wynette). Vinette was born in 1755 on the Great Wagon Road along the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, Virginia, the son of Thomas Fine and a descendant of late 1600’s immigrants to Long Island, New York (New Amsterdam). Over the next century, the family migrated west and south along the Great Wagon Road where land, opportunity and religious freedom reigned.

In January 1775, even before Lexington and Concord in April that year, Vinette and his family responded to the call of John Tipton (delegate to the Virginia House of Burgesses) and signed the Resolution forming the First Independent Company of Dunmore County Virginia in January 1775. The signatures included Vinette’s father Thomas Fine Sr. and brother Peter Fine. Vinette Fine was also listed in the Dunmore County Militia under Command of Captain Jacob Holeman with his brothers Andrew, John, Peter, and Philip Fine. At least three members of the Fine family are listed on the rolls at Valley Forge and likely participated in the battle of Trenton and beyond.

I am proud to have a close connection to our chapter’s namesake, Patrick Henry. Three months after the formation of the Dunmore County Militia came the Gunpowder Incident (or Gunpowder Affair) a conflict between the Royal Governor Lord Dunmore and the militia led by Patrick Henry. On April 20, 1775, one day after Lexington and Concord (well before news of that event reached Virginia). Lord Dunmore ordered the removal of all gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, VA to a Royal Navy ship. This action sparked local unrest and militia companies began mustering throughout the colony. Patrick Henry led a small militia force towards Williamsburg to force return of the gunpowder to the colony’s control. The matter ws resolved without conflict when a payment of £330 was made to Henry. Dunmore, fearing for his personal safety, later retreated to a naval vessel, ending royal control of the colony.

At the end of the Revolutionary War, Vinette Fine still resided in Shenandoah County with six in family, near his father Thomas and several brothers. About 1785, Vinette, his brothers and their families moved south to what is now Newport, Cocke County, Tennessee where they built new homesteads. The first ford on the Pigeon River was established by his brother Peter Fine.

The settlers in the area shortly began to have problems with indians (killing of livestock etc) who considered these people trespassers. In response, a company of men was formed under Vinette’s brother John Fine to raid the indians over the mountains resulting in a running fight during which Vinette Fine was killed. Since there was no time to stop and dig a grave, his body was placed under the ice of the frozen creek to conceal it from the indians, in expectation of return. But, there was a thaw and his body was washed away and never recovered. This creek in far western North Carolina is now named Fines Creek.