Ten years ago at Christmas 1996, my niece Julie Ann Vaughan Fisher thoughtfully gave me the Family Tree Maker program. That same day, I started to collate and expand upon the family notes my four grandparents had given me between 1956 and about 1968. Without those notes, I would be forever floundering at this enterprise. With them, I was off to a great start, but after a gap of some 30 years, during which some excellent sources-- and great Americans-- passed on.
The report I have compiled over these past years is a part of the results of that ongoing work. It is a collection of notes and should be read as that-- it is not an interwoven tale, although the people noted are all related through their family ties over time. These families were by and large a part of the wave of immigrants arriving on the coast of America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Most came to the southern colonies of Virginia and Maryland and in time moved inland to settle lands acquired through inheritance, grant or indenture. Most eventually settled in the Piedmont, that land above the fall line of the rivers, which they contested for several decades with the Native Americans already there. These new arrivals were British-- English, Welsh, Scot, and, later, Irish. Most were farmers; almost all were temporary soldiers of the various militias when a need arose; many were active in politics, some in law, a few in medicine. Many were merchants, as most of their forebears in Britain had been. Some lost their lives on the frontier to the Natives, with whom relations were a mixed affair for some 200 years after the Jamestown settlement. All were a part of the new experiment, America, and those of us who owe our past to them stand in their shadow-- the best of it and the worst of it.
The best of it was the idea that men could be free and govern their affairs by law and the consent of the governed. The worst of it was the enslavement of others, a practice condoned for over two centuries in America by many in these pages. That now is past, and while I can never completely understand how they came to live with it, I report it here as I find it.
There is adventure here. These are the people who cut farms and towns from the forest. Many die at the hand of Indians in the two and a half centuries after 1620-- in Virginia and Kentucky and Georgia and Texas. Most, however, live alongside them peacefully. Among these people, one introduced tobacco to Virginia and, after losing his bride in Bermuda, married another in Jamestown. Another here is a farmer and soldier of the Revolution who returns home to find his land destroyed by Lord Cornwallis's Army, which camped there in the South Carolina campaign. Another is a privateer captain, sailing from Virginia, captured and imprisoned in England. Escaping to France, he meets Franklin, and Marie Antoinette aids his return to Virginia-- years later his descendant is given an old French plaque of Franklin to say thanks for American help in the First World War. One here rises to a captaincy in the Revolutionary Virginia forces, is captured and escapes to be captured again. One dies on the Lewis and Clark expedition to the west, never reaching the Far West, but is remembered as the first American soldier to die west of the Mississippi. One-- a bright and youthful heir of a great fortune-- leads his company of the 8th Georgians against the Union only to be killed at Second Manassas; another harasses Sherman's troops as they march through Georgia. Several settle in Texas in the days of the Republic. Some make great fortunes driving cattle across the Red River and later find oil. Others live in penury after the Civil War, recalling lost dreams. One watched the atomic bomb tested in the Pacific and earlier saw the first captured German V2 Rocket fired over the White Sands Proving Grounds in Texas.
Many serve in the wars of the past four centuries-- against the Indians in Virginia in the 1600s, against the French a hundred years later, against the British in the 1770s and 80s, against the British again in 1814 and 1815, against Mexico, against the North, against the South, against the Spanish and the Moros, the Germans and the North Koreans and the North Vietnamese. And against Iraq.And, at this writing, to help Iraq. Privates, sergeants, officers, each saluting the flags of this New World. Most were soldiers -- I have found very few seamen -- and most served only for the crisis of the day.
Some served in politics-- many in state government, some in the US Congress, several as governors of Virginia, one of Mississippi, another of Arkansas. One sat in the Georgia Convention to determine whether to secede from the Union; he almost certainly voted against it, but then served his state as a cavalry officer.
They are Anglicans, Catholics, Quakers, Puritans, Baptists, and Methodists. At least a few were native Americans with their own belief in the land and the spirits around them.
There is romance and there is myth, and the story will never be fully known. Among these families, there are two -- the Floyds and the Stewarts-- about which stories of descent from Pocahontas's sister (in the first case) and the royal Stewarts (in the latter), have prevailed for generations. It is probably more fancy than fact in the Stewart case, while in the other I believe family lore may bear some truth. But the details are elusive, somewhere there in Virginia's past, and the proof may never be found.
I am delighted to share research results. Much of what I have lacks full proof, and I try to say so when it does. To me, it is an outline for further research. I am happy to furnish references if I have them. I welcome comments on my notes, and have no pride of creation, as I am reporting what I have found or been told by others.
Lastly, I have many to thank. Their numbers continue to grow as the family net reties its kinship and weaves its strands afield.
My own information came originally from my grandfather Pat M Stevens Jr., my father Pat M Stevens III, and from my grandmothers, Hattie Mitchell Stevens of Georgia and Lillian Washington Marshall of Texas. But in the years since 1956, when I first began making notes and collecting data, I have found many others who have generously provided much more than I ever thought I would have. These friends and cousins include Ruth Nagel McConigly of Georgia, Ollie E. Reed of Missouri, who did much Stevens work in the early 50s, and Clay Long, who labored in the late 40s on the Washingtons, and whose work is now supplemented by Margaret Thompson of Alabama and Edward Walt of Texas. Also enormously helpful have been Carolyn Getting of Texas and Sue Meinhart of California. Another early researcher of the Mitchells, before Sue, was George Clower of Georgia. Recently I have been working with Terry Honan of Georgia, a Stewart and Floyd descendant, and others in Terry's circle of our cousins. Karen Groce of Mississippi has helped greatly with the Hillhouses. Toward the end of 1998, I found a lead to the Hills and the Meadors of Texas, and for that thank the tremendously helpful Bill Lay, Betty Terrell Owens, and "A Texas Source," all of Texas, for their data and encouragement. In early 1999, I reestablished contact with the Koontzes of Utah and California, and they-- in particular my cousin Jerry and his brother David's daughter- in- law Teresa, have been of great assistance.
And then there is the indefatigable Alexandra Luken of Kentucky, whose inquiries into the Floyds of Virginia and Kentucky are endless and now threaten to far surpass Anna Cartlidge's earlier work. Thanks again, Alex!
And thanks too so much to Larry Reno, a Floyd cousin, who set me right on who really were Sergeant Charles Floyd's parents. This has been an issue with the US Park Service as the 200th anniversary of the Lewis and Clark journey arrives. I now believe the sergeant's father was RobertClark Floyd and not Charles. It is in these notes, and widely accepted.
Every week has provided new friends-- many of them cousins-- and new surprises and names of those long past. These are the "hallelujahs" that make all this so much fun and so rewarding. But much remains hidden under the veil of time, waiting. Some may never be known.
Much of the new information I have has come via the new "instant communications" provided by the electronic web. Efforts by RootsWeb (http://www.rootsweb.com/) and others to make free data available are critical to all, and I encourage those able and inclined to financially support their efforts.
I am appalled at the size this work has become and how to preserve it. In digital pages on the webit is over 1000 pages; printed it exceeds five volumes and approaches 3000 pages. I have a printed version, but it is three years old and far from what I now have. I also have the GEDCOM data on disks, as well as a pdf version.More work is needed....
This year 2007 marks the 400th since those early adventurers came first to Virginia's coast. This work is in their honor.
To all these friends and cousins and so many others-- my thanks! To others yet unfound, I hope we can meet and share the great fun of preserving the memories of those now gone. After all, this is a work of preservation-- a memory and a memorial to those who have passed before, whose shades inhabit my dreams and thoughts, whose whisperings I heard as a child in the still summer nights of Georgia and Texas long ago. Perhaps others, too, will better hear them now.
Pat M Stevens IV
Note: this compilation of notes is not copyrighted, and I welcome readers using what is here with proper reference to this work.