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JOHN WHEELER AND ELIZA HESTER JOHNS STANLEY

John Wheeler Stanley, 15 Apl, 1827, Tuscaloosa Co, was the seventh of the twelve children of War of 1812 veteran, Benjamin Franklin Stanley, 7 Feb 1791, SC - 23 Apr, 1867, son of Lewis and Adah Stanley and Nancy Thomas, 1792, GA - after 1869, daughter of Rebecca Wheeler and Joshua Thomas.  Benjamin and Nancy married 25 Oct, 1814 in Jasper Co, GA.  They and an infant son Benson are the only ones interred in a tiny cemetery in the WSW fourth of S27, T17S, R10W in Tuscaloosa Co, near Sterling.

Eliza Hester Johns, 26 Nov, 1828, Tuscaloosa Co, was the oldest of the eight children of Edward Johns, 1792, NC, and Elizabeth McKinney Boone, about 1805, SC, daughter of Daniel Boone and Elizabeth McKinney.  Edward and Elizabeth married 7 Feb, 1827, Tuscaloosa Co.  They are buried in a family cemetery with four of their children Alfred Jefferson, Sarah, Frances, and Susan Jane (all dsp), and son-in-law, John Wheeler Stanley.  Only those seven are interred in the little cemetery in the  SSW fourth of S23, T17S, R10W in Tuscaloosa Co.

John W. Stanley and Eliza H. Johns married 24 Dec, 1846 in Tuscaloosa Co.  The 1850 and 1860 censuses list them as farmers with a modest estate and growing family. (1) Benjamin Edward, 1848 - before 1930, married Elizabeth C. Appling, both buried Hillsboro, Hill Co., TX, issue: Etta, Lela, Jess E., Will R., Joe T. The next three Stanley children married siblings, children of James Harvey and Lucy Freeman Chappell. (2) Missouri McKinney, 2 Aug, 1849 - dsp 27 Oct, 1927 married John Collier Chappell, both buried Lakeview, Hall Co, TX.;  (3) Thomas Jefferson, 7 Nov 1851 - 29 Mar, 1890, married Lutitia Elizabeth Chappell, he buried Stockdale, TX, she AR, issue: Jesse Mercer, Luther, Rufus Colbert;  (4) Cornelia Josephine, 13 Jan, 1854 - 7 Jul, 1934, married Christopher Colbert Chappell, both buried Lakeview, Hall Co. TX, issue in separate article; (5) Rufus Daniel, 8 Mar 1857 - dsp 20 Jul, 1932, married Mary Belle Hopper, both buried Grandview, Johnston Co, TX;  (6) Sara Catherine, 22 Feb 1859 - 29 June 1946,  married William Reuben Hamner, both buried in Winters, Runnels Co, TX, issue: Thomas Koger, John Henley, Nina Alma, Missouri Adeline, Reuben Calloway, Jessie Caroline, Ethel Etta, and Eliza Juel; and  (7) Jesse Mercer Stanley, 20 Jan 1860 - dsp 30 July 1882, buried Grandview, Johnston Co., TX.

The cause of  John W. Stanley's death in his thirty-fifth year on 26 Sep, 1862, is not known.  By Apr, 1869 his estate was declared insolvent, and recorded in Tuscaloosa Orphan's Court Book 10, page 147.  Nor is it known just when relatives and friends began the migration to Hill and Johnston counties, TX, but a letter written back to AL by Benjamin Edward Stanley in July, 1881, postmarked Hill Co, TX, mentions Rufus Daniel's being with him, and he urges others to join them.  This is the earliest remaining of a number of letters written back and forth from TX to AL by Stanleys, Chappells and allied families. They provide good information on family and neighbors and a delightful picture of life of that day.  They have been transcribed and are included in the Chappell \ Stanley collection mentioned in the Miles and Priscilla Parker Chappell article.
Within the next two years, the other five siblings had followed their brothers to TX.  Missouri and Sara moved briefly back to AL, but later returned permanently to TX.  Jesse's TX sojourn was to be short and sad.  In August, 1883, Cornelia wrote to her mother and  two sisters in AL a long, sad letter detailing young Jesse's untimely death.  Family tradition says he had typhoid and earlier letters mention family members having "the fever."  Jesse was buried in Grandview Cemetery in Johnston Co.  Siblings dug deep into their limited funds to place an ornate metal tombstone at his grave.  The back of it reads "O, Brother, first to leave our band, Life's Song as yet unsung, while gray hairs gather on our brows, thou art forever young."

By Dec, 1883 Eliza had moved to TX to join her children and her only surviving sister Narcissa who was married to Joseph A Stewart.  For the remainder of her life, Eliza made her home with Rufus in his home near Itasca, Hill Co, TX.  Rufus was a resourceful, hard working man, and he soon acquired considerable property.  He did not marry until after the death of his mother.  He was obviously very dedicated to family. An indication of this devotion was an unusual "family portrait" he had produced. He collected individual photographs, had them shaped into little ovals, arranging the maternal grandmother at the top of a circle that included him and all his siblings with their parents in the middle.  It is an odd portrait because of the arrangement and the different ages of the individual pictures.  All of the children except young Jesse appear older than their father, and Rufus, the fifth child, appears older than everyone except his grandmother.  But it is a treasure for succeeding generations.

When Eliza died 21 May, 1886, and was laid to rest beside Jesse, Rufus placed a pretty obelisk at her grave inscribed on the back, "Our father Buryed in Tuskaloosa Co., Ala." Later he returned to Tuscaloosa to have a larger obelisk placed at his father's grave.  It included Eliza's, Jesse's, and Thomas Jefferson's statistics and location of their interments.  He had a cement wall built around the entire cemetery.  Then he had a picture taken of the new wall, mortar still glistening with moisture and the tall monument towering above one corner gleaming in the sunlight for at that time the cemetery was surrounded by a cornfield.  Standing in front of the wall were Rufus, his uncle Squire Albert Johns, his aunt Matilda Johns Appling, two of Squire Albert's sons and two young children.  And most importantly, he, or someone, recorded on the back of one of the photos the fact that Eliza's parents and four siblings are buried there, for their homemade native stone monuments are now in fragments with no inscription remaining.  Rufus Daniel Stanley's photograph is now the only documentation of  the Johns family's burial location.

In 1960 Mrs. John McQueen Guttery wrote Stanley and Kindred Families which contains much good information on many branches of these families.  Unfortunately, it is available in only a very few libraries, but plans are to place it in LDS family history centers soon.