Father John Bannister Tabb was born in Amelia County in 1845 at "The Forest", the Tabb family plantation. A member of one of wealthiest families in Virginia, he was carefully schooled by private tutors until the age of 14, when his eyesight became to poor to read. In spite of his poor eyesight, shortly after the Civil War broke out he enlisted in the Confederate Navy and served aboard the blockade runner Robert E. Lee.
Tabb was captured in 1864 and spent nine months in the prison camp at Point Lookout Maryland. In February 1865 he was released in a prisoner exchange and returned home. In April he joined the 59th Virginia Infantry, which was commanded by his brother, Colonel William Barksdale Tabb. On April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House, Private John B. Tabb was paroled and returned home.
In the years following the Civil War, Tabb developed a reputation in American and European literary circles as one of the South's finest poets. Religion and nature were two of his favorite subjects and his verse ranged from frivolous to serious. Five volumes of his poems were published during his lifetime and many appeared in well-known periodicals of the day, such as Harpers, Cosmopolitan and The Atlantic.
After the war, Tabb moved to Baltimore to study music. Unfortunately, financial difficulties soon forced him to abandon his music and take a teaching job. Although he was from an Episcopalian family, the influence of several of his acquaintances in Baltimore resulted in his conversion to Catholicism in 1872. A few years later he entered St. Charles College in Ellicott City, Maryland to prepare for the priesthood. While attending the seminary he was recruited by the faculty to teach English. Following his ordination in 1884, he remained at St. Charles where he taught English grammar until shortly before his death in 1909.