Early History of the Stevenson Family

"The History of the Stevenson Family"
by Rev. S. A. McPherson.

Certificate of Service in the Revolution


This is to certify that this is an accurate copy from records in the official custody of the North Carolina Historical Commission. The United States of America to the State of North Carolina. For sundries furnished the Military of North Carolina, as allowed by Cathey and Harris, auditors, Salisbury District as per their report No. 37.

 To Capt. Jas. Stevenson, for services of himself and Company P payroll 6401 Pounds: 482.14.2

(Report No. 37 is undated. Report 32 is dated June 1781. Report No. 40 is dated Sept. 1781.)

This is to certify that this is an accurate copy from records in the official custody of the North Carolina Historical Commission. The United States of America to the State of North Carolina. For sundries furnished the Military of North Carolina, as allowed by Cathey and Harris, auditors, Salisbury District as per their report No. 37.

From: Accounts of United States with North Carolina, War of Revolution, Book A, page 184.

Raleigh, July 30, 1924.

(Signed) R. B. House, Archivist

The above is a copy of the official records furnished me by Mr. House.

My mother frequently told brother John and myself about her grandfather whom she remembers distinctly; having lived in the house with him, and having been about 10 years old when he died. She told us that he had served in the Revolutionary War, and was an elder in Poplar Tent Church.

She also told us of a Gen. Stevenson, who was a distant relative, but not a ---(I've forgotten what). But since I've found out that there were two James Stevensons, soldiers from the same county, I feel sure that she told us why her grandfather signed his name as he did.

According to Kennedy Stevenson, there were three Stevenson brothers who lived in Pennsylvania. Two remained there, while the other one came to North Carolina and became our ancestors. It Seems that this one was Kennedy's grandfather, the one here called Capt. Jas. Stevenson. If so he must have come to North Carolina about the beginning of the Revolution. Pay Roll 6401 was manifestly for service in the Gates and Green Campaigns in 1780 & 1781.

I have gotten the marriage bonds of my grandfather John Stevenson to Elizabeth Cockran, and of his younger sister Deborah to William Hauck. But I have not succeeded in finding the marriage bond of my Great-grandfather Stevenson.

My mother remembers lighting her grandmother's pipe, so she must have died in the later 20's. Her grandfather seems to have died in the early part of 1832. The plantation was willed to my grandfather, John Stevenson, who sold it out to different parties and started to Missouri on October 1, 1832, taking his three single sisters with him.

There were many families of Stevensons in North Carolina before the Revolution and doubtless Great-grandfather was related to some of them. I mention one of them: William Stevenson came to Pennsylvania in 1748 and to North Carolina in 1784. He was quite a noted character, and very prominent in church work. From his powerful prayers, he was familiarly known as "Little Gabriel". Our ancestors were probably a relative of his.

Stevenson, Steven's son, is a very common name and has always been familiar in Presbyterian circles. In 1860, there were 27 ministers of that name in Presbyterian churches throughout the world. In 1926, there were 22 in the U.S.A. Presbyterian Church, some of them descendants of "Little Gabriel".

In the census of 1790, there were two James Stevenson's in Mecklenburg County as follows:

1. James Stevenson, males over 16, 1; males under 16, 4; females, 4.
2. Jas. Stevenson, males over 16, 1; males under 16, 2; Females, 5.

Our family records show only two sons; James born 1781, & John born 1786, and they give us the names of only three daughters born before 1790, on of whom, Sarah, was born Feb. 8. 1790. There were no twins, and their birth records would be as follows:

a. James, b. 6/30/81
b. Margaret, b. 1783
c. John, b. 1/11/86
d. Jane, b. 1788
e. Sarah, b. 2/3/90
f. Debora, b. 1793.
If there were four daughters in 1790, one of them must have been born before 1781. Another reason for thinking this was the case is that Mother speaks in her Journal of receiving a letter from "cousin John Nesbit". But I have not been able to find a marriage bond.

Capt. James Stevenson owned a farm in the neighborhood of Poplar Tent, large enough to be called a plantation. He was an elder in that church for many years before his death in 1832. His son James Stevenson and Jane Fleming were married in Cabarrus County where Poplar Tent is located. But John Stevenson and Mrs. Elizabeth Cochrane were married in Rowan County. Probably James Stevenson may have lived in Rowan before moving to Missouri in 1819; as Elizabeth, born in 1819 is said to have been born in Rowan County.

My knowledge of the home life of Poplar Tent family is derived from my mother, who often talked to us children about it. She was ten years old when her grandfather died, and she remembered him distinctly. She also remembered her grandmother. The two families lived together, probably in adjoining houses; the grandfather and the grandmother with the three maiden aunts in one house, and the father and mother with the six children in the other. Aunt Deborah and William Hauch were married before Mother was a year old. It was a delightful home as remembered by Mother.

But James and family had moved to Missouri a dozen years before and many neighbors were going. Mother's half-sister and brother had gone. The Missouri craze was on, but the grandfather was too old to think of going. So he willed his farm to his son John, probably with the understanding that after his death, John would sell out and take his single sisters to Missouri.

About this time Congress granted a pension to the State Militia soldiers who had served in the Revolution. But his discharge was lost so he filed to get a pension His hand shook so he could not write his name, and his hand had to be held to make his mark. It seems he died in the first part of 1832. The recorder of the county wrote me that my grandfather, John Stevenson, had sold the land in different tracts.

Wagons and teams were provided, and on October 1, 1832, they started for Missouri. It was beautiful weather, and they had a delightful trip. On the first Sunday out they did not leave camp. Some acquaintances passed who were also going to Missouri, and they quyed them about lying up on Sunday. The answer was, when you get there, tell them we're coming, but they were passed at the crossing of the Ohio River, and the Sunday travelers got in several days late with poor and fagged teams.

They must have visited with their brother James in Cape Girardeau County and with their children David and Eleanor Luckey, and Robert N. Cochran in Perry County before buying a home. But at last they found a 80 acre tract of vacant land joining David Luckey's place on the S.E. which he entered and built a temporary house. A good log house was built later, either by grandfather, or Uncle Bell.

A bunch of Presbyterians had settled on Long Branch; a school house was built on the land of Mr. Campbell, an elder of the church, about a half mile west of Grandfather's home. A church had been built some distance west but had burned down by this time. But they preached in an arbor on old Mr. Cline's place. Rev. John F. Cowan had charge of Brazeau and Apple Creek Churches. So the family joined the church in May, 1834.

One of the sisters, Margaret I think, married Mitch Fleming Jr. and moved to his place near Apple Creek Church. In May, grandfather and grandmother visited them, and while there, grandfather and grandmother and Aunt Margaret took violently ill, and all three died within a week. It was supposed that they were poisoned by the water that seeped into the Spring from a nearby graveyard. It is my understanding that Jane (the single sister) married Mitchell Fleming after the death of Margaret.

Shortly after the death of her parents, the oldest daughter Mary married --- Bell, and they obtained the 80 acres. Uncle David Luckey opened his house and home to the orphaned family. In a few years Elizabeth married James Hope, an elder of the Apple Creek Church. Adaline married Joseph McLane. James went to friends near Reno, IL. He made his home with a man named Douglas, I think. One of Mr. Douglas' sons became a prominent S. S. worker and minister. James died while still a young man. John died in Louisiana in 1854. I think he was engaged in buying horses in Illinois and Missouri and driving them to Louisiana. He died among strangers.

Mother made her home for some time with her sister Lizzie Hope, and went to the Shawnee School, a kind of High School conducted by a Mr. Morris. She thus fitted herself for teaching, and taught for some time before she married Father in March 1846.

From the earliest times the Stevensons have been Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. But in later times some of them have become Methodists. Amos K., a son of Kennedy is a local Methodist minister, and his son Carl is in the itinerancy. I think Amos' twin brother, Theodore, and his family are Methodists. Two of the sons of Mitchell Fleming Stevenson have been elders in the Presbyterian Church. His daughter, Mrs. Alice Gibbens is in the Congregational Church. So far as I know all of the descendants of Captain Jas. Stevenson are upright, law abiding citizens with the confidence and esteem of their neighbors.

Of those who remained in North Carolina, the Hauchs and the Nesbits, I know nothing. There may be none remaining in the old home, or there may be scores of them. But a glance at their genealogy shows them scattered all over Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Texas, Dakota, and California. Everywhere they form a nucleus of a high type of Christian civilization.

-from "The History of the Stevenson Family" by Rev. S. A. McPherson.

Written in 1927.