Stephens migrated to Pike in early 1830s

Published 3:05 am Saturday, October 8, 2016

In an earlier column in 2015 the Stephens family, which had connections with Covington County, Ala., was introduced. The focal character was Joshua Stephens, a gospel minister who was born in 1800 in Johnston, N.C. He was married to Delila Petty, and they reared nine children among which was a son named Jospeh H. Stephens who was also a minister. The writing basically followed his descendants. It is probably significant that this Stephens family as well as the one being discussed today both settled eventually in Pike County, Ala.

There is some confusion over two different ancestors named John Stephens who were born about the same time in North Carolina. Also, they were both married to wives with the name Jane. One John was the son of an Indian mother named Many Colors “Rainbow” who was of the Cherokee nation. The relationship of that John Stephens to the one being featured in today’s writing has not yet been determined.

The story today will feature the family and some of the descendants of John Stephens who was born circa 1788 in Columbus, N.C. The names of his parents have not been identified yet by those researching this Stephens line. It is possible that John rendered service during the War of 1812. If so, he would most likely have received a land bounty for his service, which may account for his migrating from North Carolina to Alabama. He was married circa 1806 to Jane, but her surname has not been identified to date. Their first seven children were born in North Carolina, but their younger three were born in Henry County, Ala., beginning in 1824, which means they migrated south circa 1823 and settled in that county for a time. However, during the early 1830s the family moved into Pike County, Ala., where they located in the Little Oak community a little southwest of Troy. John Stephens died there in 1841.

John and Jane Stephens reared the following 10 children: Cedena, b. ca 1808, m. John J. Blair Sr.; Kitty “Kitsey” Ann, b. 1810, d. 1874, m. ca 1830 John J. Blair Sr.; Julia Ann, b. ca 1816, m. 1836 Etheldred D. Sellers; John W., b. ca 1817, d. 1880, m. 1838 Elizabeth M. Carr; Anna Jane, b. 1819, m. ca 1841 John Daniel Morrison; James E., b. 1820, d. 1875, m. 1843 Ninar Matilda Wingard; Sarah Jane, b. 1822, d. 1894, m. 1836 John H. Walters (1814-1891); Needham, b. 1824, d. 1870, m. 1848 Eleanor Ellen Wingard; Mary Jane, b. 1827, d. 1880, m. (1) 1841 John W. Stanley (2) 1849 Cannon Everett Swann (3) John J. Blair Sr.; and Samuel, b. 1829, d. 1894, m. 1858 Sarah Elizabeth Hooks (1842-1893).

The oldest daughter, Cedena Stephens, gave birth to one son before her untimely death circa 1829. She and her husband, John J. Blair Sr. had William Solomon born to them before she was killed by a black bear. Her sister next in line, Kitty “Kitsey” Ann, then married John J. Blair Sr. She adopted Cedena’s son, her own nephew, which she helped rear along with her other children yet to be born. It is also noteworthy that a younger sister, Mary Jane Stephens, was married to John J. Blair Sr. in her later years as her third husband.

The youngest son, Samuel Stephens, is the line to be followed in this writing. He was born in 1829 and was married in 1858 in Pike County to Sarah Elizabeth Hooks (1842-1893), daughter of Thomas J. Hooks (1813-1879) and Orpha Elliott Mayo (1820-1908). He had moved as an infant with his family from Henry to Pike County in the very early 1830s. About the time of his marriage in 1858 Samuel purchased 80.33 acres of land in Pike County (R 20E 9NT Sec 27), which was near Live Oak, Ala., and where his brothers also owned property.

Within a few years Samuel enlisted to serve in the Confederate Army during the War of Northern Aggression. He enlisted at Troy, Ala., along with his brothers, Needham and James E., into Captain Love’s 4th Battalion Alabama Cavalry, Company “A” (Jefferson Davis Legion) as Confederate soldiers. “The Fourth Alabama Cavalry Battalion (Love’s) was made up of three companies, “A”, “B”, and “C”, organized from Alabama between August and September 1863, which went to Virginia in 1864. They were consolidated with the Phillips’ (Georgia) Legion, Wade Hampton’s Cavalry Battalion (May to 11 Jul 1864). Then they merged into the Jeff Davis (Mississippi) Cavalry Legion. The 4th Alabama Cavalry were involved in some hard fighting at The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna, 2nd Cold Harbor, Trevilian Station and the Petersburg Siege.”

When the 1866 Alabama Census was recorded, he and his family with two young daughters were residing in Pike County. By 1880 they were living in the Patsburg community of Crenshaw County where Samuel died in 1894. He was buried in the Darien Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery of that town. Many of his descendants and relatives would later be buried in this cemetery.

Samuel and Sarah Elizabeth Stephens reared the following eight children: Mary Jane, b. 1860, m. ? Caswell; Susan Matilda, b. 1862, d. 1937, m. George Washington Owens (1884-1941); Sarah Elizabeth “Sallie,” b. 1867, d. 1928; Rebecca Arbelle, b. 1869, d. 1927, m. 1885 Zora Jesse Turner (1862-1940); William T., b. 1871, d. 1881; Emma Victoria, b. 1873, d. 1934, m. Wiley Jefferson Bradley (1853-1940); Pearl Elliott, b. 1882, d. 1944, m. 1905 John Marion Wilson (1875-1959); and (twin) John Walter, b. 1882, d. 1918, m. 1904 Minnie Dell Stroud (1885-1944).

Very little is known at this time about the oldest daughter, Mary Jane Stephens, who may have married a Caswell. However, the second daughter, Susan Matilda Stephens, was married to George Washington Owens, and they reared the following children: George Leon, b. 1884 d. 1963, m. (1) Lulu Melissa Scott (1889-1920) (2) Lena Mae Scott (sister to Lulu); Abbie, b. 1886, d. 1959, m. Herbert Henry Mills (1881-1948); Francis Cleveland, b. 1888, d. 1889; Lonnie, b. 1890, d. 1908; Lummey, b. 1892, d. 1896; Ora, b. 1894, d. 1896; Ruby, b. 1897, d. 1985, m. George Herman Jeffcoat (1889-1955); (twin) Ruthy, b.&d. 1897; and Annie, b. 1898, d. 1919.

There is considerable genealogy available on the other children of Samuel Stephens, so the coverage will end here for today’s column, but it will be continued in next week’s writing.

The source for this story was the genealogical records of Gregory Charles Stephens, a descendant in this family. Appreciation is expressed to Gregory for his extensive research on his family’s heritage and his graciously sharing it with others.


Anyone who might find any error in the above is requested to contact this writer, Curtis Thomasson, at 20357 Blake Pruitt Road, Andalusia, AL 36420; 334-804-1442; or Email: