| || Notes for Samuel Stephens:|
Pioneer Beaver Creek Settler Carved Home In Wildernessby Henry PPioneer Beaver Creek Settler Carved Home In Wilderness
by Henry P. Scalf
Submitted by Rich Salisbury
(The following article appeared over several issues of the Floyd
County Times, beginning with April 4, 1963 - Page 2, Sec. 2.)
(This history of the Stephens family was written from a compilation
of data gathered by Henry Stephens, of Prestonsburg, and his son,
Edgar P. Stephens. This article is the first of a series.)
Samuel Stephens, progenitor of the Big Sandy branch of the family,
emerges to history on the Floyd County, Kentucky, records when he
married FlorencePatton, July 26, 1821.Whether he was a child when
Virginia and was brought to Kentucky by his parents or other relatives,
or like many stalwart young men of the time immigrated westward by
his own decision is not known.
There were others of the Stephens name in early Floyd County when
Samuel Stephens and Florence Patton married.On December 11, that
year, Andrew Stephens and Susanna Williams were united in wedlock.
It is presumed Samuel and Andrew were brothers.
It was Jacob Mayo, deputy clerk of the Floyd County Court for many
years, and afterwards clerk himself for years, who issued the
marriage license and accepted the security that authorized the union
of Samuel Stephens and Florence Patton.The license may be found
recorded in marriage book No. 1,page 158, being number 692 in the
county since the records were rehabilitated after the courthouse
burned in 1808.
It reads: "This shall license and permit you to join in marriage
according to the rites and ceremonies of the church to which you
belong Samuel Stephens and Florence Patton and for this shall be
your sufficient warrant.Given under my hand this 21st day of
July, 1821. Jacob Mayo, D.C.F.C.C."
The marriage return was made by Stephen Harper, J.P., who wrote:
"I hereby certify that the within named couple was this day joined
together in marriage as the law directs by me, this 26th day of
July, 1821." Samuel Stephens at the time of his marriage was 20
years old, having been born November 11, 1801, in that part of
Russell County, Virginia, that became Wise county in 1856.His
wife, one year older, was the daughter of James Patton and Florence
Graham Patton, early Beaver Creek settlers.
In the first quarter of the nineteenth century land available for
preemption in early Floyd was plentiful, except for the river
bottoms.The huge John Preston survey of 100,000 acres had encircled
a line around the Big Sandy River bottoms from the mouth of Johns
Creek upstream for many miles but in the main the bottoms of the
larger tributary streams were untouched.Samuel Stephens and
Florence Patton Stephens settled on Stephens Branch, near the present
Alphoretta, gave their family name to the stream.In that almost
unbroken sylvan barony of thousands of acres of land they raised 15
children and a foster daughter.
The Big Sandy valley in 1821 was sparsely settled.Only the year
before Samuel Stephens married did anyone claim and settle on the
bottoms where Martin now stands. Prestonsburg was a struggling little
village of less than 50 persons.Pikeville was unheard of and long
valleys, like the one where Stephens settled, were empty except for
primeval trees and abundant game.
All the children of Samuel and Florence Patton Stephens lived to
adulthood which was unusual indeed for, in the semi-wilderness of
early Floyd County, the hazards of life and the lack of proper
medical care lessened the survival rate.
There were fields to clear of giant timber, long hours of almost
intolerable toil in and outside the house, and epidemics of small
pox that swept the land. Life was hard and back-breaking labor was
Around the Stephens home the virgin timber yielded to cleared fields
and Samuel rapidly added to his original acres by additional patents.
In time the early homesite had grown to mammoth proportions.But
this preoccupation of Samuel with land acquisition was for a laudable
purpose.He was providing for his posterity, left each of his
children several hundred, a few, thousands of acres.
The order of birth of the Stephens children cannot be given.We
know that Jenny, daughter of Florence, was born about 1818, possibly
1819.She was reared by Samuel and Florence, took their name, and
reaching maturity, married John Stone, October 29, 1837.Her
husband, while at work on Turkey Creek, cut his leg with an axe.He
bled to death.Jenny, now a widow with five children, remarried
Andrew J. Canady, bore him four children.Descendants of this later
union now bear the name Kennedy.
Rebecca Stephens, one of the older daughters of Samuel and Florence,
married George W. (Hopkins) Allen,April 28, 1840. They had sixteen
George W. Stephens, one of the older sons, married Margaret
Handshoe, July 24, 1844.He settled on the Caney Fork of Middle
Creek and reared ten children and died about 1900.
William D. Stephens married Rebecca Bradley, November 3, 1857, and
were the parents of eleven children.Reuben Stephens married Nancy
Jane Hicks, April 21, 1859, and continuing the tradition of large
families in the Stephens sept, had twelve children.
It is not known to whom Alexander Stephens was married.He,
contrary to the dominant southern feeling of his kinsmen, joined the
Union army in either Ohio or Illinois, served through the Civil War
as an officer.He came back to Stephens Branch after the war was
over, willing to forget the differences with his people. But his
brothers were a bit embittered by the war, and Alexander left for
the west.It was rumored that he died in the Chicago fire in 1871,
but this fear proved groundless.Decades later a son came back to
Kentucky from Oklahoma to inquire about the division of the estate of
his grandfather but finding no provision had been made for Alexander,
returned to Oklahoma.Knowledge of this family does not exist with
the Big Sandy Stephens descendants.
First to marry after the Civil War from the patriarchal home of
Samuel Stephens was Mary.October 11, 1865, she was married to
David Osborne. To this union were born eight children. Samuel A.
Stephens married an Osborne also, presumably a sister to David.
Samuel A. and Sarah Osborne were united in marriage, October 10,
1866, and to them were born fourteen children.
John Stephens, born 1836, was never married.He was lured
westward by the news of the California gold rush and did not return
until about 1907 or 1908.
Sons of Pioneer Stephens Were Divided In Civil War
(This is the second in a series of articles on the Stephens family
compiled from data gathered by Henry Stephens and his son,
Edgar P. Stephens.)
The years, between 1821 when Samuel Stephens and Florence Patton
were married and the outbreak of the Civil War, was a period of time
that historians designate as the log cabin development period in the
Big Sandy valley.
The pole cabin of the pioneer settlers disappeared and the more
commodious hewed-log home appeared in its place.There were a few
added utilitarian comforts in these homes all produced with great
labor.The Stephens home, typical of those built by the landed
settlers, grew to large proportions to house the 16 children.
Early, though, many of this big family began to marry and left the
paternal hearthstone, but the younger grew and it is a fair
inference that the Stephens Branch home was full for years.There
was talk of war and the young men, some married, chose sides in the
bitter sectional strike, imitating their elders who were vocal on
the questions of the day.
Came 1861 and Col. Andrew Jackson May began recruiting soldiers for
the Confederacy at Prestonsburg.Although George had been married
since 1844 and William had taken a wife four years before they both
enlisted to fight for the South.Alexander didn't share the
prosouthern sympathies of his two older brothers and left home to
cast his lot with the Union.
Tradition, usually unreliable but often indicating the basic truth,
asserts that Alexander was a brilliant man and had acquired
considerable education. He taught school for several years and it is
said that a few years before the Civil War he, George and Reuben went
west. They became separated, according to this tradition, and the
three never saw each other until after the close of the war.
George Stephens had several children before he entered the
Confederate army but we are unsure as to the number.Both George and
and William joined Co. B 13th Calvary Regiment, C.S.A, that Col.
May had formed.The date was October 9, 1862.The next day, the
reason not stated, both men left Co. B, went over to Company F and
remained in that group until the war ended.Alexander, their brother
was out west, in either Ohio or Illinois, and soon joined the Federal
forces.Neither were to see each other until after Lee surrendered
when Alexander came back to Stephens Branch, found his brothers,
perhaps others of the family, cool to his service as a Union soldier.
He left again for the west and only vague rumors came back that he
went to Indian Territory, married an Indian chief's daughter, and
lived out his life on the Oklahoma prairie.
George Stephens, who married Margaret Handshoe, settled on the Caney
Fork of Middle Creek.Little is known about Margaret Handshoe's
family, except that she was from Salt Lick, on Right Beaver Creek.
Her mother was a Prater and one of her sisters married William
Coburn, and another married Alexander Coburn.
Children of the union of George and Margaret Stephens were Alexander,
married Delila Hale, daughter of Samuel Hale and Eda Helton Hale;
Harrison married Rebecca Allen, daughter of James Allen who lived in
the head of the Left Fork of Middle Creek; Martha married Morgan
Baldridge, and settled on Jones Fork, near the present Lackey but
left years later and went to Rowan County; Henry C. married first to
Fannie Hicks and after her death Alice Risner;
Darcus married Daniel Wicker, of Jones Fork where they lived and
died; Florence married James Bradley; Minerva married Alexander
Hamilton and went to housekeeping on the Caney Fork of Middle Creek
where they lived and died; Cynthia married Jefferson Justice, and
upon his death remarried Joe Morgan Thornsberry; Polly Ann married
Hager Ousley, lived and died on Caney Fork; Samuel married first
Catherine Coburn and after her demise married Rachel Bradley.
Jennie, the foster child of Samuel Stephens and daughter of his wife
Florence, married John Stone and to them were born these children:
Cynthia Stone married a Goodman; James married Polly McDaniels;
Sally died not married; Nancy married Henry Patton and after his
death married Jack Howard; and Florence who married Thomas Conley.
After the untimely death of John Stone from an accident on Turkey
Creek she remarried Andrew J. Canady and to them were born four
children; Dave Canady married Florence Stephens, daughter of Thomas
and Nancy Jane Hicks Stephens; Mary Canady married Gobe Compton;
Lige, a great fiddler and variety musician, who was never married;
Rebecca married Jack Hale.
Rebecca Stephens, who married George W. (Hopkins) Allen in 1840, was
the first of the many children of Samuel Stephens to die.She and
George Allen were the parents of 16 children:
Mary married Edward Halley; Louisa married James Halley; William;
James P., born 1859, married Sally May, born 1854, died 1921, Amanda
married B.L.C. May, born November 4, 1859, died January 8, 1952;
John B.; Florence married William Pratt; Susan married Milton Spears;
David; Darcus married John Galloway; Robert; Andrew married Florence
Stephens, daughter of Reuben; Alexander married Elizabeth Stephens,
of the William Stephens line, August 8, 1884; Rebecca married S.P.
(Boge) Ratliff; Reuben died young; and Samuel who also succumbed in
Reuben M. Stephens, who married Nancy Jane Hicks in 1859, resided on
Stephens Branch.Their 12 children were Solomon G., married Martha
Hale; Mary Ann married Wilson Shepherd, December 7, 1882.Cynthia
married Johnnie Patton, March 16, 1889; Francis married Joe Shepherd;
John E. married Mary Hale, sister to Martha Hale who married Solomon
G. Stephens; Florence married Andrew Allen; Rebecca married Jake
Crisp; Darcus married Will Haywood and lived and died on Spurlock
Fork of Middle Creek; G.C.(Cleve) married Catherine Bailey, who died
in 1956; Malcolm married first to Mary Howard, second to Rebecca
Maggard, third to Delilah Moore and fourth to Draxie Vance; Jennie
married George Bailey; and Isabelle who married Lewis Howard,
November 24, 1888. James P. Stephens, born January 25, 1825, died
February 29, 1904, married Cynthia May, who was born June 7, 1835,
died December 9, 1869.Ten children were born to this union before
Cynthia died.James P. and all of his children with the exception of
James A., a babe, left Beaver Creek soon after the mother's death and
moved to Kansas.Jame A. was reared by his uncle and aunt, George
and Mahalia Hagans May and assumed the name of his foster parents.
Sons and daughters of James P. and Cynthia May Stephens were George
J., married Alma Hindee Vaughan, October 23, 1901; Willam H. married
Levisa Jane Stufflebean, April 12, 1883; David married Causetta
Osborne, December 31, 1891; Solomon married Hettie Epley, March 1,
1890; Reuben and John died in infancy; Daniel W. married Martha
Patton, February 8, 1872; Marcus L. married Anne May Constable.
Solomon May and a few members of his immediate family returned to
Kentucky three years ago after an absence of half a century.
William Stephens, who married Rebecca Bradley, was the father of 11
children; Susan married Felix J. May; Samuel married Mary Hale; Isaac
N. married Ann Flannery; Dollie, married Pharis Crisp; Elizabeth
married Alexander Allen; Polly married Jack Patton; Florence married
Hiram Bradley; Eli married Fannie Patton and after her death married
Myrtle Curnutte; Alexander married Angie Harman, and moved west;
Darcus married Starling Gibson; Cynthia married first Wesley Ratliff
and second Ned Ousley.Cynthia died on Caney Fork. John Stephens,
one of the older sons of Samuel Stephens, never married. He went to
California in the Gold Rush but returned to die in the Big Sandy.