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Our Stevens Ancestry

Eight Generations of

Tobacco Farmers

Joyce Stevens Turel

August 2002

Revised January 2003


    This report would not have been possible without some very generous sharing. Family members shared their memories and their photographs, and several amateur and professional genealogists shared their careful research. The only original research here centers around James Stevens, Jr and John MB Stevens. All other information has been gathered from others. Since this report is intended for family members, I've skipped footnoting. I have tried to credit the photographs. And if I actually quoted, I've tried to mention my source. Otherwise, please refer to the Bibliography of Sources toward the back where I attempt to give some credit, at least, to those who so richly deserve it. So, thank you all for your contributions, and please forgive me for crediting you in such a casual fashion.


     There are genealogy books that trace Stevens ancestors as far back as the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Airard Stevens from Normandy was the nobleman in charge of the ship Mora which carried William the Conqueror across the English Channel for that fateful battle. Some say the name Stevens originated in eastern Europe before spreading to Normandy and England. Unfortunately, we can't research our European roots. We've not yet succeeded in connecting to a Stevens ancestor in the old country.

    The earliest Stevens ancestor we can claim is a man named John Stevens who lived in Gloucester County, Virginia in 1662. We found him by tracing the generations backwards from child to parent, through church, court, and census records. We don't know who John's parents were. We may never know who John's parents were. He's our "brick wall."

    Here's what we do know: Few records were kept in colonial Virginia between 1607 and 1635. History has preserved the names of governors and dashing leaders, but for lessor folk there's only the 1623 Jamestown census. There was a John Stevens among the 1,033 residents listed there. But how could it be our John Stevens? We know that our John Stevens had a wife born around 1645, and five sons born between 1662 and 1681. If he had immigrated prior to 1623, he would have been too old for such a family. We also know that after 1635 ships captains were required to keep passenger lists. These lists show several Stevens immigrants from England between 1635 and 1662, but none of them connects to our John Stevens who married Mary Munford and lived in Gloucester with his five sons. They all married other people, lived other places, and had other children.

    So, it seems that our John Stevens either was born in Virginia or immigrated with his parents (probably from England) during the twelve-year interval between 1623 and 1635. If he was born in Virginia, his father may have been the John Stevens of the 1623 census - another brick wall as nothing is known of his birth. Maybe someday new information will surface, and we'll make a connection to the old country. In the meantime, our ancestry report begins in Virginia.

Eight Generations of

Tobacco Farmers

Caroline County Generations

John Stevens ( ? - before 1704) Page 11
Edward Stevens (1662 - 1735) Page 17
James Stevens (1695 - 1744) Page 19

Nelson County Generations

James Stevens, Sr (1735 - 1813) Page 23
James Stevens, Jr (1764 - 1818) Page 31

Campbell County Generations

John MB Stevens (1805 - 1882) Page 41
James William Stevens (1843 - 1928) Page 53
James William Stevens, Jr (1877 - 1954) Page 95

Caroline County

John Stevens

Born ? - Died before 1704

    Our earliest known Stevens ancestor was John Stevens who, fortunately for us, was a member of the congregation of the Abingdon Episcopal Church in Gloucester County, Virginia. This is fortunate because, while the official Gloucester County records for that era were lost in a fire, the church records have survived and are today in the Swem Library at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. John's wife was Mary Munford. We don't have an exact date for John and Mary's marriage, but it's probably safe to assume that they were married around 1660. Mary was born around 1645, so she would have been about fifteen years old in 1660. Her father was Edward Munford who immigrated to Virginia from England on the Thomas and John in June of 1635 at the age of twenty, and settled in Gloucester County. Through the church records we know that John and Mary Stevens had five sons baptized in Gloucester County.

    The next record that helps us is a deed dated June 9, 1671 conveying to John Stevens, of Gloucester County, six hundred acres on the south side of the Rappahannock River on a creek flowing into the river at the tidewater line between Snow Creek and Ware Creek. This was a considerable land holding - the equivalent of twelve "head rights." (The king granted fifty acres of land per head right to encourage people to recruit other immigrants.) We don't know if John Stevens purchased his six hundred acres with cash, with head rights, or by providing some other service to the king.

    From the baptismal records of his youngest son, we know that John was still alive in 1681. In 1704 Quit Rent Rolls were drawn up of real estate owners. "Quit Rent" was a tax assessment of one shilling for every fifty acres. (The tax was payable in tobacco at the rate of a penny per pound.) According to the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls, John's six-hundred-acre farm appears to have been divided among his sons. Based on this, we're assuming that John died before 1704.

    John Stevens was the first of eight generations of tobacco planters in our Stevens ancestry.

From Gloucester County

to Caroline County

The baptismal records for John Stevens's children were kept at the Abingdon Episcopal Church which is located between Gloucester and Gloucester Point at the lower right of the map.

The six hundred acres John Stevens bought in 1671 is located just north of Fort A.P. Hill at the upper left of the map. At that time John's land was in Gloucester County. Between 1691 and 1727 the county lines moved several times as King and Queen, Essex, King William, Spotsylvania and Caroline Counties were created. Which county John's land was in depended on which year it was. Since 1727 John's land has been in Caroline County.

The children of John Stevens and Mary Munford were:

Abingdon Episcopal Church

Gloucester County, Virginia

Abingdon Church

The Abingdon Episcopal Church is located on Route 17 almost midway between the towns of Gloucester and Gloucester Point. It's a lovely, brick, cross-shaped (cruciform) building with walls two feet thick. Unfortunately, while our ancestors attended services at this site, they didn't attend services in this building which was built in 1755 on the site of the original church.

    It should be noted that some records show Mary's name spelled Munford, and other records show it spelled Mumford. This is a name with a great many spellings - Monfort, Mountford, etc. The Mumford girls who married Charles were probably relatives of Charles's mother. As you read further, you'll find many instances of multiple marriages between families. People seemed to marry their in-law's relatives quite often. There were several marriages between second cousins. There were even a few marriages between first cousins. Some people explain this by pointing out that "The horses got tired." In other words, it was a lot easier to court the daughter of a relative who came to visit your home, than to ride your horse to and fro to court a young lady who lived across the county.

John Stevens's 600 Acre Farm

According to the deed recorded June 9, 1671, the six hundred acre parcel conveyed to John Stevens was on the south side of the Rappahannock River on a creek flowing into the river at the tidewater line between Snow Creek and Ware Creek. On the above map, Dick's Creek seems to match that description. Six hundred acres is a little less than a square mile.

Edward Stevens

Born about 1662 - Died 1735

    Edward Stevens was baptized in 1662 in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia and died in January 1735. Around 1683 he married Martha Elizabeth Lane, daughter of Valentine Lane. She was born about 1666 and died after 1703. The Lane family descends from Adam de la Lone of France, another Norman who accompanied William the Conqueror to Britain. Over the centuries, the name de la Lone became Lane. According to the 1704 Quit Rent Rolls, Edward owned 80 acres in Gloucester County which he had inherited. Ten years later, Edward owned quite a bit more real estate. It appears to have been the custom for a father to give land to his sons as wedding gifts. In some cases there was a deed at the time, in others the land was willed to the son and deeded as settlement of the estate. Often the father constructed a house for the son and his new family.

    Edward Stevens and Martha Lane had the following children:

"To all Christian people to whom these presents shall come, I, Edward Stevens Junior send greetings; Know ye that I, Edward Stevens Junior, for and in consideration of the love, good will and affection which I have and do bear towards my loving brother, James Stevens, of the county of Essex and parish of St. Mary's have given and granted . . . to the said James Stevens . . . all and singular my lands, houses, tenements of what kind so ever . . . lying and being in the above said parish of St. Mary's and county of Essex, as well as . . . tenement the said James Stevens now lives in ye aforesaid parish and county . . . houses, all other appurtenances of what kind so ever belonging . . . this 4th day of November 1717."

James Stevens

Born 1695 - Died 1744

    James Stevens was born about 1695 in Abingdon Parish, Gloucester County, Virginia and died before April 13, 1744 in St. Mary's Parish, Caroline County, Virginia. In late 1717 or early 1718, James married Elizabeth Thomas, the daughter of John Thomas and Katherine Harrison. The Thomas family were neighbors with 1,650 acres on Ware Creek. Elizabeth was born about 1698 and was a cousin of James's Griffin relatives. On March 14, 1718, shortly after his wedding, James's father, Edward Stevens, deeded to him 118 acres on condition of James "yielding and paying thereof the rent of one ear of Indian corn at ye feast of St. Michael's ye Arch Angel only if the same be lawfully demanded."

    I think we can assume that these were prosperous times, for James was able to reassemble and add to his grandfather's six hundred acres. For a time, a James Stevens was the overseer of the road from Ware Creek to Snow Creek. There's a court entry dated March 14, 1735 fining James fifteen shillings for not keeping the road in repair. James petitioned the court to assign the job to someone else which the court did on May 9, 1735. This may have been some other James Stevens, but we know ours lived there, so we're assuming it was our James Stevens.

    James died in late March or early April of 1744 at the age of forty-nine leaving three minor children. Evidently, James's wife Elizabeth passed away also, for each minor child had a court-approved guardian. James's estate was tied up in probate until 1756 when his youngest son, our next ancestor, reached the age of twenty-one.

The children of James Stevens and Elizabeth Thomas were:

Nelson County

James Stevens, Sr

Born 1735 - Died 1813

    James Stevens, Sr was born in 1735 in St Mary's Parish, Caroline County, Virginia. He was only about nine years old when he was orphaned. Thomas Merry, the husband of his oldest sister Elizabeth, was appointed his guardian. We're probably safe in assuming that Elizabeth and Thomas raised James Sr.

    James Sr married Bethethland "Madame" Taliaferro around 1758 in Caroline County, Virginia. Bethethland was born August 20, 1738 in Caroline County, Virginia and died in 1828 in Nelson County, Virginia. Her mother was Rose Berryman whose ancestors immigrated to Virginia from England in the mid 1600's. Her father was Richard Taliaferro (pronounced "tolliver") whose distinguished ancestors can be traced from Italy to England to Jamestown. Early Taliaferro immigrants were very wealthy social leaders. They were known for having a fine, aristocratic appearance, and there were many lawyers, judges, and politicians among them. A Taliaferro was one of the architects for the Governors Palace in Williamsburg. Bethethland's unusual name honored her ancestor, Robert Beheathland, a gentleman who accompanied Captain John Smith to Virginia in 1607. Robert Beheathland had no male heirs, but his name has been kept alive by his female descendants for almost 400 years. There were several variations in the spelling, as you can imagine.

    About 1769 James Sr and his wife Madame moved from Caroline County to Nelson County (then Amherst County) along with their friend John Loving whose immigrant ancestor was Sir Thomas Loving, born in 1610, Surveyor General of Virginia, and member of the House of Burgesses. James acquired the Nassaw Tract, almost two thousand acres on Lomax Creek, a branch of Rucker's Run, for two hundred and twenty-five pounds sterling.

According to "The Stevens Family of Nelson County" by Blanche Stevens Hamner:

"Some time before the Revolution the King of England granted to James Stevens and John Loving a large tract of land in what was then Amherst County--now Nelson, which was formed by taking parts of Amherst and Albemarle. The story, which has been handed down in the family, goes that when the two friends reached a high point of land 'they viewed the landscape o'er' and agreed that one would take as far as he could see on the right side of the road, and the other the left. Whether strictly correct or not, it is a fact that most of the Stevens lands lie to the west of the old stage coach road [Route 29]. The Lovings settled on their side and the name of Lovingston was given to the county seat."

    In June 1771 there was an interesting law suit in Caroline County involving the family. A slave named Henry Ralls sued Mary Whiting Stevens, widow of John Stevens (1703-1753), for his freedom. The parties agreed that Henry Ralls was indentured as a slave to age thirty-one. They disagreed as to the year of Henry's birth. Mary Whiting Stevens was elderly and in ill health (she died later that same year), so her son Edward asked to join in the suit on her behalf. A slave named Meriah Mullin testified that Henry was born the same year as her son, and she had proof of the birth date of her son. Meriah said that Henry was "the whitest child she had ever saw to have so dark a mother, and . . . sure it was a white man's child." Edward called his cousin, James Sr, to testify as to the date that Henry was born. By deposition, James Sr testified that Henry was born around the time of his (James Sr's) father's death (1744), which would mean that Henry was twenty-seven years old not thirty-one. The court found in favor of Henry Ralls and set him free. Perhaps the court didn't credit James Sr's memory of something that happened when he was only nine years old.

The Nassaw Tract

    This old map shows the Nassaw Tract when it was in Albemarle County which means this map dates between 1744 (when Albemarle County was created) and 1761 (when Amherst County was created). Nelson County didn't exist until 1807.  The large river near the bottom of the map is the James River which was not fully navigable above Richmond until canals were built. Until then the tobacco had to be carried around the waterfalls and rapids.

    James Stevens, Sr died in November of 1813 in Nelson County, Virginia. According to his will, he owned more than 1,400 acres at the time of his death. With the help of his attorney, Spotswood Garland, James wrote a complex will in October of 1796 with two later codicils in order to leave his estate to his grandchildren, giving his widow and two sons a life estate only. James made handsome bequests to his loved ones, providing land, slaves, and a feather bed to each. Why did James Sr go to so much trouble to control his legacy after his death? My theory is that it was because his younger son, John Griffin Stevens, had just fathered a child out of wedlock. I offer the following as evidence:

    In James Sr's will written October 1796, he said:

"Farther my will and desire is, in case my son John Griffin Stevens shall die without leaving any issue lawfully begotten, at his decease, that then the tract of land and Slaves . . . ."

     In the November 7, 1813 codicil to his will, James Sr said:

"The land devised to my son John G. Stevens, I wish to be held and enjoyed by him and his wife during their lifetime and after their death my will and desire is that the lands so devised to him shall descend to his children lawfully begotten in equal proportions to them and their respective heirs forever."

     In a March 7, 1820 Indenture by John Griffin's eldest son, all seven of John Griffin's children are listed by name:

". . . they being all that were entitled according to the construction which the aforesaid parties hereby declare shall be given to the said will . . . ."

     In a March 7, 1820 Indenture by James Sr's widow:

" . . . this said John G. Stevens for and during the lives of the said John and his wife and to be equally divided among the children of the said John lawfully begotten . . . ."

    Great care is used when referring to John Griffin's heirs. For everyone else, it's just "his heirs." In John Griffin's own will written in 1842, he listed by name all his lawfully begotten children and grandchildren, and then said:

"To the rest of my children and grandchildren I make no gift or devise."

    Who are the "rest of my children and grandchildren"? I'm assuming he's referring to his unlawfully begotten children and grandchildren. Hopefully, someday we'll be reunited with these cousins.

    The children of James Stevens, Sr and Bethethland Taliaferro were:

The Stevens Corner Cupboard


Photo courtesy of Ann Stevens Delk

Tobacco Batteau

    In 1775, Anthony Rucker introduced a flat-bottomed boat called a Batteau. The Batteau's long, shallow design made it easier to transport tobacco down the James River from Lynchburg to Richmond. The Batteau was an instant success. Thomas Jefferson was at the Batteau's first launching April 19, 1775. He noted in his diary: "Rucker's battoe is 50 f. long 4 f. wide in the bottom & 6 f. wide at the top. She carries eleven hhds. (hogsheads) . . . ." In 1821, Jefferson's notes helped Anthony Rucker's heirs patent the Batteau design.

James Stevens, Jr

Born 1764 - Died 1818

    James Stevens, Jr was born about 1764 in Caroline County before his family relocated to Amherst County, Virginia (later to become Nelson County). He married Elizabeth Turner on November 25, 1785 in Amherst County. She was born in 1768 in Amherst County, Virginia, the daughter of Stephen Turner and Sarah Spencer. The Turner home is still standing and is still owned by a Turner descendant.

    James Stevens, Jr was one of the founders of the new county seat at Lovingston. In 1809 he was the first purchaser of Lot 4 of the new town. He paid twelve "pounds" for this lot which is across the street from the courthouse. The deed required him to build a house with a brick or stone chimney on the lot within five years. In 1811 James Jr obtained a license to operate an "ordinary" (an inn) there. James Jr promised to provide:

"good, wholesome and cleanly lodging and diet for travellers and stablage fodder and provinder as the season may require for their horses."

His license was granted under the condition that he:

". . . shall not suffer and permit unlawful gaming in his said house nor on the Sabbath day suffer any person to tipple . . . more than is necessary."

    James Jr and his family appear in the 1810 Nelson County census with nineteen slaves. On January 26, 1818, Elizabeth filed a guardian bond for her children, "orphans of James Stevens, Jr," so James Jr must have died shortly before that date. Their middle son Samuel became the head of the household, his older brother having earlier moved to Lynchburg. James Jr's wife Elizabeth appears with Samuel's family in the 1820 census and in the 1830 census. There was no will recorded for Elizabeth, but she probably died between 1830 and 1840 since she's not present in the 1840 census.

Home of James Stevens, Jr

    James Stevens, Sr built this home on his plantation for his son, James Stevens, Jr. We don't know when it was built, but it has a Federal style. James, Jr married in 1785. Possibly the house was built around that time. In 1962 the house burned down and was replaced by a modern residence. The property is located in Stevens Cove and has been passed down the Stevens family since James Sr purchased the Nassaw Tract in 1769.

Photo courtesy of the Nelson County Historical Society

The Stevens House

Lovingston, VA

    We know that James Stevens Jr was granted a license in 1811 to operate an "ordinary" or inn on this site. We don't know if it looked like this! The Stevens House has been remodeled numerous times. The brick section is believed to have been built by George Varnum who was the original town planner, architect, and builder of the courthouse across the street. Today the Stevens House is a three-and-a-half-story, brick and frame structure with huge log beams held together by wooden pegs. There are sixteen rooms, six fireplaces and six porches. The Stevens House was renovated in early 2002 for use as a group home for the disabled.

The children of James Stevens, Jr and Elizabeth Turner were:

Side Porch at Red Hill

    Here's a photo taken before 1901 of Charles Henry Stevens and his wife sitting on a side porch at Red Hill. The two women standing are assumed to be the two youngest daughters, one of whom married a Goodwin and lived at Oakland, the nearby, federal-style, brick mansion. The man sitting on the steps is believed to be Charles Henry's brother, Robert Fletcher Stevens. When this picture was taken, Charles Henry's two sons had already married our great-aunts, their Stevens cousins from Campbell County. On the next page we have recent photos of Red Hill.

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Bowling Giles

Red Hill

Nelson County Sites

The Stevens House is in the town of Lovingston directly across the street from the courthouse.

Red Hill is on Route 653 one half mile west of Route 29. Route 653 is between Colleen and Lovingston.

Oakland is easily visible from the highway and makes a good landmark when looking for Red Hill.

Stevens Cove is at the intersection of Route 718 and Route 751.

Campbell County

John MB Stevens

Born 1805 - Died 1882

    John MB Stevens was born in 1805 in Nelson County, Virginia. Some say the initial M is for Merry and the B is for Brown. The Merry/Stevens connection was a strong one that spanned several generations. To date, no Brown/Stevens connection is evident. We have no proof of what John's initials stood for, because he signed his name "John MB Stevens" on all the documents we've found. In subsequent generations the name Merry seems to have evolved into Murray.

    John MB was about twelve years old when his father died and his brother, Samuel, became head of the household. On August 14, 1826, John MB received his inheritance that his brother, Samuel, had held in trust for him - one thousand dollars. August 14, 1826 was probably his twenty-first birthday or close to it. John MB decided to seek his fortune in the Lynchburg or Campbell County area with his older brother, James T. Stevens.

    During this period Lynchburg became one of the wealthiest cities per capita in the nation because of its tobacco trade. Before 1826 Thomas Jefferson wrote, "Lynchburg is growing more rapidly than any [town] I have ever known in any country." The wonderful mansions on the hills by the river were built by the tobacco millionaires living in Lynchburg. Construction of the James River canal and rail service to Lynchburg contributed to Lynchburg's booming economy. Some unusual phenomena occurred in Lynchburg in the 1830's and added to the excitement. There was an earthquake, an all-night meteor storm, a hailstorm that broke almost every window in the town, and a rare auroral display in the northern sky.

    On the next page there are three photos of Lynchburg during John MB's day. The top photo is Lynchburg's first tobacco warehouse. The middle photo is a very familiar landmark - the Quaker Church, then called the South River Meeting House. The bottom photo is the Old Market House where John MB may have traded. We can't really connect John MB to any of these places.

Lynchburg's First Tobacco Warehouse

Built 1791 - Demolished 1978

The South River Meeting House

Built 1798 - Abandoned 1829

The Old Market House

Built 1814 - Demolished 1873

Photos courtesy of Lynchburg Online

    John MB married Caroline Perrow on December 7, 1835 in Campbell County. Caroline was born in 1812 in Campbell County, Virginia. She was the daughter of Stephen Perrow, descended from Charles Perrault who immigrated from France in the late 1600's, and Dorethea Cox, descended from William Coxe who immigrated from England in 1610 on the ship Godspeed. The Perrows were large land owners in the eastern district of Campbell County which was called "Castle Craig" in the census.

    The 1840 census states that John MB Stevens owned sixteen male slaves, twelve female slaves, and five slave children. There were thirty-three slaves with a total of ten people employed in agriculture. There's a deed dated May 15, 1856 stating that John MB paid the Glass family eight hundred dollars for a one-acre parcel with improvements "about three fourths of a mile below Lynchburg in Sandy Hook between the Turnpike Road and the canal . . . to contain about sixty-three feet front . . . . " There's another deed dated January 4, 1859 whereby John MB paid two thousand sixty-one dollars and fifty cents for two hundred ninety-four and a half acres crossing three branches of Beaver Creek, crossing Opossum Creek, and including land on both sides of the Turnpike Road. No improvements are mentioned in this deed. According to data in the 1860 census, the value of his real estate was $4,500 and the value of his personal estate was $17,885. This was a considerable estate at that time.

    Some financial disaster happened to John MB after the Civil War. Could it have been the effects of the war and the abolition of slavery? Could it have been an ill-fated venture into railroad construction as some say? Or, perhaps there was a crash in real estate values. All we know for sure at this time is that a bankruptcy and a series of confusing real estate transactions ensued after the Civil War. On January 1, 1869, John MB sold the Glass parcel, mentioned above, to William C. Perrow, his brother-in-law, for five hundred dollars, which was less than he had paid for it. In 1871 John MB bought a property on Daniel Hill with frontage on Blackwater Creek. Through a series of mishaps, John MB didn't record this deed until 1881. On April 17, 1874, John MB took bankruptcy, and a parcel of one hundred and seventy-five acres on Beaver Creek was put up for public auction. John MB's daughter, Bettie T. Lindsay, bought the parcel from the bankruptcy trustees at the auction May 25, 1874 for seven hundred dollars, although for some reason, settlement was not made until June 20, 1883 after John MB's death.

Lynch's Ferry

    John MB Stevens died in October of 1882 in Lynchburg, Virginia. In his will dated July 8, 1882, he left the Daniel Hill property to his wife Caroline "for her lifetime" and after her death to their daughters or their daughters' children, if deceased. He mentioned in his will that his son-in-law, Mike Moorman, held a lien on the Daniel Hill property. The property was to be rented until the lien was paid off. There's no mention in his will of the farm in Campbell County.

    Caroline died on November 14, 1898. In her will dated May 2, 1894, Caroline divided the farm between her younger son Claude and her grandson Nicholas J. Hunter, directing that the acres be divided equally between them, but that Claude was to get all the improvements. She said Claude had been very good to her after the death of her husband. There's no mention of the number of acres she owned, but she said that Claude was to get the land next to the Turnpike and that Nicholas was to get the west side, adjoining the lands of both Alice Merry and the late J.C. Glass, and along both sides of the railroad. (Caroline had sold the railroad a right-of-way through the plantation in 1887.) Caroline said she owned the plantation by a deed from her departed husband:

". . . this plantation being the homestead of my husband and myself for about fifty years, and lying on the west side of the Lynchburg and Campbell Courthouse Turnpike, the L. and D railroad running through said plantation."

We learn a couple of things from Caroline's will. First, evidently John MB and Caroline didn't lose their home in the bankruptcy. Perhaps their daughter Bettie rescued their home at the auction. Bettie's deed from the bankruptcy trustees says the land adjoined "the lands of William C. Perrow and others." But the deed doesn't mention any improvements which seems unusual considering that The Mansion must have been a substantial improvement. Perhaps the parcel in question was east of the Turnpike, or perhaps The Mansion wasn't there anymore. We know that The Mansion burned to the ground in a disastrous fire on a Christmas Eve. We don't know what year the fire happened. We do know that somehow the part of the plantation east of the Turnpike ended up in the hands of John MB's oldest son, James William Stevens. There are still mysteries here to be solved.

    The second thing we learn from Caroline's will is: if the farm was John MB and Caroline's home for about fifty years as she said, then they must not have lived at the Daniel Hill property.

John MB's Property on Daniel Hill

    Daniel Hill is located between Blackwater Creek and the James River. In the 1800's the tobacco millionaires built mansions on the hilltop. Today Daniel Hill is part of Lynchburg's historic district, and the mansions are being restored from a century of being tenements. But the property John MB bought wasn't in the affluent residential neighborhood on the high ground.

    John MB's property was located down a steep grade right on Blackwater Creek. According to the deed, his property was three-fourths of an acre, fronted on both Blackwater Creek and Blackwater Street, and adjoined the Hancock property. Thanks to Jones Memorial Library, we have an old photo of some waterfront buildings a little downstream on Blackwater Creek. It appears to have been an industrial area. The 1877 map shows railroad tracks running right along the banks of Blackwater Creek. If John MB did venture into the railroad business, perhaps this property was part of the venture. We know the railroads were a thrilling innovation at the time. We can only speculate about John MB's reasons for buying the Daniel Hill property, but it seems quite likely that it was an investment venture of some kind.

    It's believed that John MB and Caroline Stevens are both buried in the family cemetery that was next to The Mansion. There are seven or eight family graves still there, although hard to find. Most of the tombstones are turned over and badly deteriorated. The only tombstone that's legible is that of their daughter, Victoria Stevens Hunter.

The children of John MB Stevens and Caroline Perrow were:


Photos courtesy of Mary E. Stewart

Olivia's Family

    From the left: Olivia Stevens born 1842, Mildred C. Merry born 1870, Gillespie Blaine Rucker born 1884, Edward Perrow Rucker born 1842. If Gillespie is around five years old in this photo, then the photo must have been taken around 1889.

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Rudolph

Carrie Belle Merry

Born May 28, 1868

Photo courtesy of Carolyn Rudolph

Campbell County 1870

This is a section of the "Township Map of the County of Campbell" by Charles A. Pugh, Campbell Court House, Virginia. The map is dated 1870. It was entered into the Library of Congress in 1872. At the time of the 1870 census, the county had a total population of 16,364. Lynchburg had a population of 12,020.

James William Stevens

Born 1843 - Died 1928

    James William "Mansy" Stevens was born June 20, 1843 in Campbell County, Virginia and died there on February 05, 1928. He entered the Confederate Army when he was about 18 years old, and was mustered into service as a private in Lynchburg on May 11, 1861 in a company called the Beauregard Rifles. He's listed on that first roster as J.W. Stephens, although on subsequent rosters the spelling is corrected. There's an interesting account in a book, Lynchburg and It's People by W. Asbury Christian:

"About eight o'clock the Rifle Grays were drawn up in front of their armory on Main St., the Home Guard at theirs on Eighth St., and the Artillery on Clay St. The first two companies mustered about one hundred each, and the last about eighty-five, some of their men not being ready. The companies marched to their place of meeting on Church St., between Eighth and Tenth, and were formed into a column by Colonel D.A. Langhorne. They marched through the crowded streets to Eleventh St., then to Main St., then to Bridge St. and to the Virginia and Tennessee depot, where they halted to listen to an address by Rev. J.D. Mitchell. The speaker, burning with patriotism, said he had two sons in one of the companies-sons of a Charleston, S.C. mother, and if he had fifty they would be given up into the service of the State in such a contest. He wanted the soldiers to show themselves men, and in the day of battle put their trust in God and never turn their backs upon the enemy. He alluded to the war now being made upon our cherished institutions, appointed by Heaven for the development and happiness of the thousands of that inferior race committed to the guardianship of the South, and felicitated him that they would find brave and efficient defenders in the gallant young men who had taken up arms in vindication of our rights . . . the troops marched onto the place of embarkation, amid the tears and congratulations of the multitude of noble women and brave men who had come to bid them Godsend. It was a solemn scene, and one that thrilled every heart."

    If you look carefully at the old postcard on the next page, you'll see that in those days Ninth Street seems to a have had a row of hitching posts on one side and seems to have been level between Church and Main Streets (if you know Lynchburg, you'll know what a change that is).

Lynchburg during the Civil War

View down Ninth Street Towards the River

Railway Station and "The Roanoke"

Photos courtesy of Lynchburg Online

    Confederate payroll records show that Mansy was wounded at the Battle of Balls Bluff on October 21, 1861. Balls Bluff Battlefield Park is located just east of Leesburg, Virginia on the Virginia/Maryland line. The battle was fought on the steep banks of the Potomac River. It's said that Mansy served there under "The Grey Ghost," Colonel John Singleton Mosby, a famous hero of the Civil War. Records show Mansy still absent on March 15, 1862 recovering from his wound. He was a fine storyteller and entertained many with his rousing tales of his adventures during the Civil War. Rucker Mator Stevens, who's been known to spin a few yarns himself, remembers Mansy's telling him many times the following story, paraphrased here:

Grandpa was assigned as a scout to ride out at night to check on the enemy. On one of his missions, he spotted a flock of sheep sleeping huddled in a corner. On his way back to camp, he rode back by the sleeping sheep, leaned down, grabbed a lamb, threw it over his horse's shoulders, and slit its throat. The soldiers enjoyed their dinner that night.

    Rucker also shared with us another story that Mansy told him once when Rucker, then a child, complained at the dinner table about being served a little too much cabbage for his liking. It seems that:

Grandpa was with the cavalry in the Civil War. The Yankees had them trapped in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the soldiers took turns riding behind the Yankee lines to the different farms looking for food. Seems the Yankees had the food line cut off. All they had was bags of parched corn meant for the horses. Once, when they couldn't find any food for themselves, Grandpa said that to keep from starving they had to cook up the horses' parched corn and eat that. Grandpa said I should never complain about having too much of any food.

James William Stevens

Jennie Belle Williams Stevens

In this picture Jennie Belle is sitting in the famous rocking chair which has since passed into the care of Robert Samuel Stevens, Jr.

    James William Stevens married Jennie Belle Williams on April 19, 1864. She was born on June 7, 1845, the daughter of David R. Williams and Martha Anne Sallee. Some say the Williams immigrant ancestor was John Williams, a tailor by trade, born 1731 in Caernarvoshire, Wales. The story is told that after John Williams's mother died, he didn't get along with his stepmother, so he and his brother went to London, then to Nova Scotia, then to New York City, and finally to Schellsburg in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

    Jennie Belle's mother's ancestry can be traced back to Isaac De Sailly born about 1500 in France. Her immigrant ancestor was Marcus Abraham Sallee who came to New York City from St. Martin, Isle de Rhe, Aunis Province, France around 1700, and settled in Henrico County, Virginia. Subsequent Sallee generations spread into neighboring Virginia counties, and Kentucky, where Jennie Belle's mother was born.

    Jennie Belle's father, David, was the first in his line to relocate from Pennsylvania to Kentucky. He married Martha Anne Sallee in Augusta, Bracken County, Kentucky. The census says Jennie Belle was born in Illinois, so the family must have moved around before settling in the town of Covington on the northeastern Kentucky border. Although Covington is in Kentucky, it's essentially a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio. A total of seven children are listed including four brothers (George, David, Judson and Bush) and two younger sisters (Blandelia and Lucy). Jennie Belle's father's occupation is listed in the 1860 census as "Master Builder."

    How Mansy and Jennie Belle met is a mystery. Is this another example of the Stevens/Merry connection? Three of Mansy's sisters married Merry cousins from Hart County, Kentucky. The problem with this theory is that Hart County, Kentucky is in the middle of the state, and Covington, Kentucky is on the northeast border of the state. But other Merry cousins had built a grand estate in Covington called "The Landmark." We can only guess how James and Jennie Belle met. It's said that Jennie Belle came to Virginia to marry James with one suitcase and a rocking chair.

Reunion or Funeral?

    This picture was taken in the side yard of Mansy and Jennie Belle's home, the converted barn. Judging by the ages of the children, this picture probably was taken between 1898 and 1899. Mansy's mother, Caroline Perrow Stevens, passed away in November 1898. Could this picture have been taken at her funeral? Family photos seem to have been a funeral custom in that era. At that time of loss, family members traveled great distances to be together. Everyone was dressed up, looking their best, and feeling their mortality. On the other hand, the corsages, James William Jr's tie, and the children's bare feet suggest a reunion in a warmer month - possibly Easter? It's impossible to say for sure.

    On the left: daughter Annie Belle is seated. Her husband William Henry Stevens is standing to her right. Their five children are around Annie Belle.

    In the middle: Jennie Belle Williams Stevens and James William "Mansy" Stevens are seated. Their two youngest sons, James William, Jr and Robert Samuel, age twenty-two and eighteen, are standing behind them. (Oldest son, David Murray, is away fighting the Spanish American War.) Charles William Stevens, orphan of deceased daughter Lula Carrie is seated at Jennie Belle's feet.

    On the right: daughter Blandelia Mabel "Sis" is seated, and her husband, Milton Taylor Barker, is standing behind her. Those pretty toddlers in dresses and ringlets are boys.

Jennie Belle Williams Stevens

In the Chicken Yard

Photo courtesy of Anne Stevens Thaxton

Jennie Belle's Sister - Lucy

Born About 1852


Courtesy of Anne Stevens Thaxton

    Jennie Belle Williams Stevens died on September 22, 1914. Here's her obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Death of Mrs. Stevens

"Mrs. J.W. Stevens died yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o'clock at her home, near Providence Church, Campbell County at the age of 68 years. She was the grandmother of Mr. William Murray Stevens and Miss Mattie Stevens of Lynchburg. She is survived by three sons as follows: Mr. David Murray Stevens of Sheridan, Wyoming, Mr. James William Stevens, Jr. of Campbell County, Mr. Robert Samuel Stevens of Campbell County and one daughter, Mrs. Milton Taylor Barker, of High Point, NC. The funeral services will be conducted from the residence this morning at 11:00 o'clock. Interment in the family burying grounds. Friends and relatives of the family are invited to attend."

    On the opposing page are some snapshots of Mansy and other family members. It's possible that these photos were taken by a photographer around the time of Jennie Belle's funeral in lieu of the traditional funeral group photo.

    The first photo shows the two brothers, James Jr, age thirty-seven, and Robert Samuel, age thirty-three, with their fine, riding horses. It's an amazing photo because of the fine resolution of the details even in the distance. There's a third horse, a buckboard wagon, and a dog on the right, in addition to the two men, two horses and buggy in the foreground.

    In the second snapshot, Mansy is playing cards with an unknown friend in front of the converted barn. Could the unknown card player be Sis's husband, Milton Taylor Barker? In 1914, he would have been sixty-six years old (only five years younger than Mansy). In the funeral/reunion photo of 1898/1899, he was about fifty years old. A little later we'll get to a photo of Sis's family in which there's a young man who bears a striking resemblance to this card player/hunter.

    Notice the house's unusual floor plan. There were two interior staircases - one on each side of the house. If you were on the first floor and wanted to go to the other side of the first floor, you had to either climb a staircase and go across and down, or you had to walk outside through what we might call today, the breeze way.

The Family in 1914?

James William Stevens, Jr and Robert Samuel Stevens with horses

James William "Mansy" Stevens and friend at the converted barn

    On the opposing page we have two more snapshots which may have been taken around the time of Jennie Belle's funeral:

    The first photo shows four children on a rock pile. If this photo was taken in 1914, then these could be Sis's four youngest children: David age thirteen, Mabel age 9, Allen age 5, and Lula age 3. Rucker Mator Stevens remembers a similar rock pile years later at "Uncle Robert's farm." If you look carefully, you'll see a woman in the background on the right. The second photo shows two other women and a dog on the rock pile.

    Unfortunately it's not possible to identify the three women in the two photos. Jennie Belle's obituary only mentions two women, Mattie Stevens (Annie Belle's youngest), who would have been around eighteen years old, and Blandelia Mabel "Sis" Stevens Barker, who would have been around forty-three years old. We know that James William Jr had married in December of 1913 and that the newly-weds were living at Mansy's farm. So Nettie Virginia Rucker Stevens, age twenty-one, would have been there as well if 1914 is the correct date. Other possible family members are: Annie Belle's daughters Nellie age twenty-eight, Mabelle Baylor age twenty-four, and Annie Louise age twenty. Although we can't see the women's faces, the style of their clothing is appropriate for around 1914 according to Dating Old Photographs 1840 - 1929 by Halvor Moorshead. The features of the ladies' clothing that date them are: long, narrow skirts, three-quarter sleeves that are not puffy, tight corseted waists, puffy bodices, and open collars.

Rock Pile Photos

September 1914?

Could these be Sis's four youngest children?

These dress styles are appropriate for 1914.

    On the opposing page are more family pictures that may have been taken around the time of Jennie Belle's death. Here's proof that there really was such a thing as possum hunting. The question remains: Was there really such a thing as a possum tart? With all the leg-pulling that's gone on, it's hard to know what to believe!

    In 1916 Mansy sold the farm to his son, Robert Samuel Stevens, and moved into a little cottage that was on the other side of the present Highway 501 close to the Providence School. In August of 1917 he was awarded a pension of $50.00 under the Confederate Pension Act of 1916. A few years later Mansy's grandchildren, the children of James William Stevens, Jr, walked from their farm to attend the school. On their way home, they often stopped to visit their grandfather and get a nickel to buy candy at the little country store on the corner. Mansy spent his days sitting on his front porch, chewing tobacco, and reminiscing with his Civil War buddies who passed by.

    Every year the city of Lynchburg had a dinner at the Armory for the Civil War veterans. Before the dinner, all the veterans would walk in a parade up Main Street and down Church Street to the Armory. Robert and James would drive their father to town for the event. It's said that Mansy would leave his cane in the buggy to walk proudly in the parade.

Possum Hunting


unknown friend with rifle

James William "Mansy" Stevens

Robert Samuel Stevens

and two hunting dogs


James William Stevens, Jr with hunting horn, dog, and possum.

    James William "Mansy" Stevens died February 5, 1928. Here's his obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper. It gives an interesting picture of funeral pageantry at the time. Quite a few of the people mentioned are pictured in the Stevens Funeral/Reunion photo.

"James W. Stevens

"James William Stevens, aged 85 years, died Sunday morning at his home on the Rustburg road where he had spent his entire life. His death was caused by pneumonia. He is survived by four children: Mrs. Milton Taylor Barker [Blandelia Mabel Stevens] of High Point, NC, David Murray Stevens of Sheridan, Wyoming, Robert Samuel Stevens and James William Stevens, Jr. of Campbell County.

"Funeral services for Mr. Stevens were held yesterday afternoon at his home. Rev. P. F. Arthur and Rev. Clark Wood officiating. Several hymns were sung by a quartet, and flower bearers were Miss Mabel Barker [granddaughter], Nellie Stevens [granddaughter] and Sarah Stevens [step-granddaughter], Annie Laurie Carson [son's fiancé], and Lula Barker [granddaughter] and Mrs. J. N. Perrow [cousin], Mrs. S.M. Hopkins [cousin], Mrs. Willie Stevens [grandson's wife] and Mrs. David P. Barker [grandson's wife].

"Honorary pallbearers were J.W. Barker [grandson], Thomas Franklin Carson [a neighbor and Annie Laurie's father], Milton Taylor Barker [son-in-law], William Henry Stevens [son-in-law], N. N. Gallier, R. L. Perrow [cousin], T. J. Perrow [cousin], and W. T. Lindsay [nephew].

"Active Pallbearers were: Charles William Stevens, Milton Taylor Barker, [Jr?], David P. Barker, Allen A. Barker, William Murray Stevens, and Louis Henry Stevens [all grandsons and one step-grandson]."

    It sounds like a beautifully orchestrated funeral, and the obituary is unusually well done. It's unfortunate that we don't know who arranged this fine funeral.

James William "Mansy" Stevens

Campbell County Sites

    The Mansion burned down long ago. Tombstones can still be found from the family cemetery that was on the west side of the highway near The Mansion. Mansy's cottage and the Providence School have been torn down. The barn that was converted into a house was replaced in 1936 by the current residence at Glenacre Farm. The wrought iron fence which enclosed the family cemetery on the east side of the highway is still there, although all the graves there were moved to Spring Hill Cemetery. The Little House and the New House at James W. Stevens Jr's farm are still standing, although the farm is no longer owned by the Stevens family. When last seen in 2001, the New House looked better than ever. The Providence Church is still an active Methodist church.

    The children of James William Stevens and Jennie Belle Williams were:

Photo courtesy of R. D. Stevens

David Murray "Ray" Stevens

Alice Myrtle Barker


   Blandelia Mabel Stevens Barker, Ray's sister, encouraged her young niece, Alice Myrtle Barker, to write to Ray, a lonesome soldier far from home. On April 9, 1911, Ray and Alice were married in Washington, D.C. (possibly from her sister's home there). Alice was born May 17, 1887 in Randolph County, North Carolina. When they married, he was forty-six years old, and she was twenty-four.

Photo of Alice Myrtle Barker courtesy of R. D. Stevens

Sheridan, Wyoming

    Ray resigned from the military, and they opened a café in Sheridan. Notice the prices for the meals on the window in the photo. The many soldiers in town were hungry for some good home-cooking. The story is told that Ray and Alice kept a wash bowl and razor in the back so the soldiers could clean up a bit while waiting for their meals. Bob and Rosemary Stevens recently visited Sheridan and describe Sheridan as "a lovely, clean town at the base of the Big Horn Mountains."

Wyoming Sites

    Ray was stationed at Fort Mackenzie in Sheridan, Wyoming. In 1916, Ray and Alice filed for a homestead in Johnson County, Wyoming. The government gave them three hundred and twenty acres with the understanding that after they built improvements, the government would give them another three hundred and twenty acres. They bought an adjoining forty acre parcel for $20.00 (fifty cents an acre), and by the end of 1916, they had a six-hundred-eighty-acre cattle ranch. Unfortunately, the land was so rough that thousands of acres were necessary to support a family. Ray soon moved the family back to Sheridan, leased the land, and turned to hauling coal for a living. The ranch is still owned by a Stevens descendant and is currently leased for grazing.

Ray, Alice, Jennie, and Bud

Approximately 1917

    When word came in 1928 that David Murray Stevens was on his deathbed, his brothers, James William, Jr and Robert Samuel, headed to Wyoming on the train. Ray died while his brothers were in route, so they turned around and came home before reaching Wyoming. Ray died on July 3, 1928 in Sheridan, Wyoming, just five months after his father's death.

The children of David Murray Stevens and Alice Myrtle Barker are:

David Clinton "Bud" Stevens

Wyoming about 1930

Annie Belle's Five Children

William Murray Stevens

"Mama would always prepare Christmas dinner for the family, and I remember one of the last times she cooked for us. We looked out of the window and saw a strange person standing in the yard. It was Jack Purvis. On Christmas he had no family or place to go. But he remembered that he was always welcome at Cousin Louise's table, and he came to her on Christmas Day. As I recall, we always shared Christmas with someone less fortunate than we were, and to this day, we feel that we must find someone to give Christmas dinner to in Mama's memory."

        The children of Annie Louise Stevens and Harry Randolph Bowling are:

Annie Louise Stevens and

Harry Randolph Bowling

on Their Wedding Day February 14, 1913

Lula Carrie Stevens

About December 1889

Photo courtesy of Dorothy Lee Bowling Giles

The children of Blandelia Mabel "Sis" Stevens and Milton Taylor Barker were:

Barker Reunion

High Point, North Carolina about 1933

    On the left we recognize Robert Samuel Stevens and Annie Laurie Carson Stevens, with Robert Samuel, Jr. On the right we recognize James William Stevens, Jr and his four children. Blandelia Mabel "Sis" Stevens Barker is seated towards the center. We recently received a letter from the widow of Allen Barker identifying him as the man to the left of James William Stevens III. The three remaining men are probably Sis's other three sons. Two of Sis's sons were already married, so perhaps the four women are her two daughters and two daughters-in-law. The girl seated on the grass on the left looks young and could possibly be a grandchild. According to the Social Security database, Milton Taylor Barker III was born in 1924, so that may be him in the chair next to his grandmother.

Robert Samuel Stevens

About 1895

Rucker Mator Stevens has fond memories of his uncle:

"Uncle Robert lived in a house that used to be beside the current brick home at Glenacre Farm. Grandpa lived across the highway (Rte. 501). Cousin Nellie (oldest daughter of Robert's sister Annie Belle) kept house for Uncle Robert. Uncle Robert left farming tobacco and worked as a salesman for the Willis Knight Car dealership. He was so successful that when the Oldsmobile dealership became available, he bought the building, restored it and sold Whippets, then Oldsmobiles. Uncle Robert would go to the Carson farm next door to us to court Annie Laurie Carson. Then he would come to our house for supper."

    Robert married Annie Laurie Carson on November 28, 1928. Annie Laurie was born on June 9, 1905 in Appomattox County, the daughter of Thomas Carson and Laura Carroll. At the time of their wedding, Robert was forty-seven and Annie Laurie was twenty-three. Robert and Annie Laurie were members of the Providence United Methodist Church.

Robert Samuel Stevens

Annie Laurie Carson

Married November 28, 1928

    In 1936 Robert tore down the barn that had been converted into a residence and built a new brick home. His brother, James William Stevens, Jr, was his contractor. After Robert retired from the automobile dealership in 1942, he raised Aberdeen Angus cattle. He had a pedigreed bull with a complicated name, long ago forgotten, but called "Glen" for short. Robert and Annie Laurie named their home "Glenacre Farm" after Glen, the bull.

    Robert died February 26, 1952 in Campbell County, Virginia and was buried in the family "burying ground" at Glenacre Farm. In 1955, all the graves there were moved to the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg. Here's Robert's obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper. (I've corrected typographical errors in dates):

"Robert S. Stevens

"Robert Samuel Stevens, 70, of RFD 2, Lynchburg, died suddenly at 2:25 P.M. yesterday at Memorial Hospital. Born in Campbell County April 19, 1881, he was the son of James William and Jennie Bell Williams Stevens. From 1929 to Jan 1, 1942, he was president of Stevens Motor Company. At the time of his death he was owner of Glenacre Farm in Campbell County. Mr. Stevens was a member of Providence Methodist Church and served on the board of trustees of the church.

"He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Annie Laurie Carson Stevens; one son, Robert S. Stevens Jr., and one daughter, Phyllis Anne Stevens, both of RFD 2; one brother, James W. Stevens Jr., RFD 2, and two grandchildren.

"Funeral services will be held at Diuguid Memorial Chapel tomorrow afternoon at 2 o'clock. Interment will be in the family cemetery in Campbell County."

Glenacre Farm

    A few years later, Annie Laurie met Victor Joseph "Vic" Duplin, Jr through the minister of her church. Vic was born on December 3, 1904 in Stoneham, Massachusetts and was an engineer for a large firm in New Jersey. After his first wife died, he wanted a change of scene and requested a transfer. When he came to Lynchburg, he initially rented a room in the home of the minister of the Providence Methodist Church. The minister introduced him to Annie Laurie. Annie Laurie and Vic were married on November 26, 1958 in a Catholic ceremony with the Methodist minister who introduced them as best man. Vic died April 3, 1989 in Lynchburg, Virginia and was buried in Stoneham, Massachusetts. Annie Laurie died on October 3, 1990 in Lynchburg, Virginia, and was buried October 6, 1990 at the Spring Hill Cemetery. Here's her obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Annie Laurie Stevens Duplin

"Annie Laurie Stevens Duplin of Glenacre Farm, Lynchburg, died Wednesday, Oct 3, 1990 in Lynchburg General Hospital. Twice married, she was the wife of the late Robert Samuel Stevens and the late Victor Joseph Duplin, Jr.

"Born in Appomattox County, she was a daughter of the late Thomas Franklin Carson and Laura Carroll Carson. She was a member of the Providence United Methodist Church.

"She is survived by a son, Robert S. Stevens, Jr, Duluth, Ga; a daughter, Mrs. Charles E. (Anne) Thaxton, Lynchburg; a brother, Allen W. Carson, Lynchburg; a sister, Kathleen Carson Miller: and five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"She was preceded in death by two brothers, T. Adrian Carson and Leslie D. Carson, and a sister, Virginia I. Carson.

"A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Saturday in Whitten Park Avenue Chapel by the Rev. Stephen Hay. Interment will be in Spring Hill cemetery.

"The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Friday and at other times at the residence of her daughter, 3101 Cranehill Drive.

"Memorial contributions may be made to the Providence United Methodist Church, c/o Mrs. L.T. Brown, Jr., Route 5, Box 348, Lynchburg VA 24501."

Annie Laurie Carson Stevens

Victor Duplin

    The children of Robert Samuel Stevens and Annie Laurie Carson are:

    Bob worked the farm for his father and served on the Virginia Board of Agriculture. Bob married Rosemary Naff on July 28, 1956 at Boones Mill, Virginia. Rosemary was born in Callaway, Virginia. Bob and Rosemary met through her father who served on the Board with Bob. The child of Bob and Rosemary is:

Robert Samuel Stevens, Sr and Jr

Phyllis Anne Stevens

Charles Easley Thaxton

Married June 18, 1955

Providence Methodist Church

Established 1839

This structure built in 1912 and remodeled in the 1950's

James William Stevens, Jr

Born 1877 - Died 1954

    James William "Jimmie" Stevens, Jr was born on June 26, 1877 in Campbell County, Virginia. As a young man, he worked for the railroad company directing twenty or so teams of work horses and dump carts excavating for the rail lines being laid through West Virginia.

    He married Nettie Virginia Rucker on December 24, 1913 in the Centenary Methodist Church then on Clay St. in Lynchburg, Virginia. We have their original wedding certificate which was witnessed by Mr. and Mrs. John Hamner Rucker, Nettie's first cousin and his wife. At the time of their wedding, James was thirty-six years old and Nettie was twenty years old.

    Nettie Virginia Rucker was born on April 2, 1893 in Sherwill, Campbell County, Virginia. She was probably named for her maternal grandmother, Jeanette Fields Hunter, who was called "Nettie". Her father was Milton Mattaugh "Toy" Rucker whose Huguenot ancestors immigrated from Germany to Jamestown around 1700 seeking religious freedom. Her mother was Evie Katherine "Kate" Flagg whose ancestors can be traced back 900 years from Wales through Lexington, Massachusetts where they were foot soldiers who were targets for "the shot heard 'round the world."

    Nettie attended the New London Academy in Bedford County, Virginia and the State Female Normal School in Farmville, Virginia, now known as Longwood College. After college she was employed as the teacher at the Providence School in Rustburg, Virginia, a one-room school where six grades were taught simultaneously. In order to live near the school, she boarded with the Lindsay family, descendants of Elizabeth Ann Townes Stevens who married James Lindsay in 1857. The Lindsay farm was next door to the Stevens farm, and it was there that she met her future husband, whom she once described to me as a "gentleman farmer."

Nettie Virginia Rucker

James William Stevens, Jr

Nettie Virginia Rucker

Married December 24, 1913

    James and Nettie lived upstairs at Mansy's home from their marriage until after the birth of their second child, Rucker Mator Stevens. They bought more than 200 acres of wooded land nearby. James cleared the fields for planting, set up a sawmill to make lumber, and built the home they called the Little House. Rucker was told that when they moved from Mansy's house to the Little House, his parents carried him in a wicker basket.

    Rucker recently told this amusing tale of their domestic life, paraphrased here:

When I was a little boy, Mother sold the cream and the extra eggs for a little extra income. One day I stole a dollar from the top of the icebox in the kitchen where she kept the cream and egg money. I bought some candy and gave some to Melvin. Later, Melvin mentioned to Mother how nice I was for sharing my candy with him. Mother asked me where I got the money to buy candy. I said I got it from on top of the icebox. Mother told me that this was such a bad thing that Daddy would have to deal with me when he got home. Mother prepared a switch, and we waited for Daddy.

When Daddy got home, he took the switch and led me into the kitchen and closed the door. He said in a loud voice, 'Now, don't you ever do that again. I hope this teaches you a lesson," and more of the same. Meanwhile, he struck the switch against the kitchen table.

I said, "Daddy, you're missing me. You're missing me." I stuck my hand out, and the switch accidently caught me on the finger. Daddy took my hand and started rubbing my finger to make it better, all the while hitting the table over and over until the switch broke to pieces.

    On the opposing page there are some family snapshots. The photo of the four children was taken around 1924 at Robert's house. The photo of James William Stevens, Jr mowing hay behind a team of mules must have been taken after they bought an automobile, because only then did he have mules. Prior to that time, he always had horses. There's also a photo of the Little House which was probably taken in the 1940's. In March 2001, the Little House looked exactly the same as it does in this photo except for the tree.

Life at the Little House

    The New House was built between 1932 and 1936 during "The Great Depression." James and Nettie were able to build a new home up on the hill when times were very tough for most people. Men put out of work by the depression were grateful to have jobs helping James build the house.

    LaVerne Stevens Garren recalls the basis for their design: Being a thrifty couple, James and Nettie designed the floor plan to allow limited heating of the many rooms. They copied a home on Campbell Avenue that Nettie became acquainted with while selling their excess eggs and cream. The formal rooms on the first floor could be closed off so that only the kitchen was heated by the wood range, and there was a door from the kitchen to the stairs allowing for a quick dash to the bedrooms. In the dining room there was a fancy wood stove covered with tan enamel tiles. It was called something like a "Heatrolla." French doors led from the dining room to the parlor which was furnished with carved furniture upholstered with mohair fabric - very desirable - and outrageously expensive today. In fact, they furnished almost the entire house with brand new furniture. Two of the bedroom suites as well as the living room suite mentioned above are still in the family. Beyond the parlor was the music room where family concerts were sometimes held. Nettie Virginia Rucker was a very enthusiastic pianist who added her own creative touch to her music - even her hymns weren't staid! James William Stevens, Jr and Rucker Mator Stevens played the fiddle. James William Stevens, III played the guitar, and Melvin Linwood Stevens played the mandolin. Evelyn LaVerne Stevens was apprentice pianist.

The New House

Built in the 1930's

    Nettie Virginia Rucker is shown here in the front yard. The New House had two stories plus a cellar and full attic. At one time a servant lived in an attic room. The little room behind the side porch was a wash room where James William Stevens, Jr would clean up after working the fields. The back porch extended the width of the house. All three porches had swings. The outbuilding barely visible on the left was the garage.

    In 1936, after completing the New House, James acted as general contractor for his brother, Robert, who tore down the converted barn and built a new brick home.

    James William Stevens, Jr died September 11, 1954 at age 77 in Rustburg, Virginia and was buried September 13, 1954 in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Here's his obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"James W. Stevens, Jr.

"Funeral services for James William Stevens, Jr, 77, who died at his home on Rt 2, Lynchburg, yesterday morning at 6 o'clock after a short illness, will be conducted from Diuguid Memorial Chapel Monday at 11 a.m. Burial will be in Spring Hill Cemetery. The body will be at Diuguid's until 10 a.m. today when it will be taken to the home.

"He was born in Campbell County, June 26, 1877, the son of James William and Jennie Belle Williams Stevens. He was a member of the Providence Methodist Church. He is survived by his wife, Nettie Rucker Stevens, Rt 2; three sons, James J. Stevens, Lynchburg, and Rucker M. and Melvin L. Stevens, Washington; a daughter, Mrs. A.S. Garren, Roanoke, and nine grandchildren.

"Funeral services for James W. Stevens were conducted from Diuguid Memorial Chapel yesterday morning at 11 o'clock by Dr. Charles L. DeLong and Dr. James W. Martin. Organ music was furnished by Mrs. Marshall Mauney.

"Burial was in Spring Hill Cemetery. Active pallbearers were James J. Stevens, Rucker M. Stevens, Melvin L. Stevens, Albert S. Garren, Robert S. Stevens, Jr. and William Merry Stevens."

     Nettie Virginia Rucker died January 26, 1982 at age 88 in Salem, Virginia and was buried January 29, 1982 in Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Here's her obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Mrs. James W. Stevens

"Nettie Rucker Stevens, 88, died Tuesday in the McVitty Nursing Home in Salem.

"She was born in Sherwill, a daughter of the late Milton Rucker and Evie Katherine Flagg Rucker. She was the widow of James William Stevens, a former teacher at Providence School and a member of Providence United Methodist Church.

"She is survived by three sons, James W. Stevens, Jr., Evington, Rucker M. Stevens, Fort Defiance, and Melvin L. Stevens, Ormond Beach, Florida; one daughter, Mrs. LaVerne Garren, Roanoke; two sisters, Mrs. Jessie Wheeler, Lynchburg, and Mrs. Lucy Greenfield, California.

"Funeral services will be conducted Friday at 11:00 a.m. in Diuguid Memorial Chapel by the Rev. U. F. Bailey, with burial in Spring Hill Cemetery.

"The family will receive friends at the funeral home today and Thursday from 7 to 8:30 p.m."

James William Stevens, Jr

Nettie Virginia Rucker Stevens

James William Stevens, III

The children of James William Stevens, Jr and Nettie Virginia Rucker are:

James William Stevens, III

Willie Louise Vaughan

Married April 29, 1939

    James died December 1, 2000 in Lynchburg, Virginia and is buried at Spring Hill Cemetery. Here's his obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"James J. Stevens

"James J. Stevens, died Friday, Dec. 1, 2000 in Drinkard Health Center at Westminster Canterbury at the age of 85.

"Born in Campbell County, Oct. 19, 1915, Mr. Stevens lived in the Lynchburg area most of his life. He was the eldest son of James and Nettie Stevens. Mr. Stevens owned and operated Stevens Home Furnishing Company on Wards Road for over 20 years. He was manager of the bookstore at Central Virginia Community College from 1970 to 1975. After 1975, he was an independent real estate developer and founded several developments including Viewmont in Evington and Clearview in Campbell County.

"Mr. Stevens was a life member of the Elks Club and a member of the Evington Ruritan Club, the Odd Fellows, the Lions Club and the Lynchburg Chapter for the Society for Preservation of Barbershop Singing in America. He was a member of West Lynchburg Baptist church and sang in the choir for many years.

"He was preceded in death by his parents, James and Nettie Stevens, and his brother, Melvin Stevens. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Louise Vaughan Stevens, who resides at Westminster Canterbury in Lynchburg; his brother, Rucker Stevens of Fla; his sister LaVerne Garren of Roanoke; his daughter, Joyce Stevens Turel of Oak Hill; his son, James William Stevens, IV of South Berwick, Maine; his younger daughter, June Stevens of Chapel Hill, N.C.; grandchildren, Steven Boldt of Atlanta, Ga., John Boldt of Falls Church, Alexis Stevens at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine, Victoria Stevens and James W. Stevens, V, of South Berwick, Maine, Virginia Sheppa and Charles Sheppa of Chapel Hill, N.C.; and great-grandchild, James Parker Boldt.

"A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec 6, 2000 in Woodall-Tharp Chapel with the Rev. Herb Maynard officiating. Interment will follow in Spring Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends at the funeral home Tuesday, Dec 5, from 7-8:30p.m. After the service on Wednesday, there will be a reception for family and friends at Westminster Canterbury, 501 V.E.S. Road.

"Floral memorials accepted, or contributions may be made to West Lynchburg Baptist Church, 3031 Memorial Avenue, Lynchburg, Va. 24502. Woodall-Tharp Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. 237-9424."

Rucker Mator Stevens

Born March 15, 1918

Photo courtesy of Janice Alane Stevens

Rucker Mator Stevens

Dorothy Victoria Fitzherbert
Married April 19, 1948

Photos courtesy of Margaret Miller Stevens

     Dorothy Fitzherbert Stevens died March 8, 1991 in Harrisonburg, Virginia and was buried at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Here's her obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Dorothy Fitzherbert Stevens

"Dorothy Fitzherbert Stevens, 66, of Harrisonburg, died Friday, March 8, 1991 in Camelot Hall Nursing Home in Harrisonburg, following a long illness. She was the wife of Rucker Mator Stevens.

"Born in Morristown, N.J., she was a daughter of the late Richard Gardner Fitzherbert and Lilian Haward Fitzherbert. She was a member of St. John's United Methodist Church in Staunton and a retired senior accountant for the State of Virginia.

"In addition to her husband, she is survived by one son, Major Charles T. Stevens of Fort Campbell, Ky.; two daughters, Karen S. Mohr of Grand Forks, N.D. and Janice A. Stevens of Herndon; two brothers, Ernest Fitzherbert of Milford, Del., and John Fitzherbert of Ledgewood, N.J.; and seven grandchildren.

"A funeral service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Monday at Whitten Park Avenue Chapel by the Rev. Stephen Hay. Burial will be in Spring Hill Cemetery.

"The family will receive friends at the funeral home from 7 to 9 p.m. today.

"Memorial contributions may be made to Providence United Methodist Church."

Melvin Linwood Stevens

Born October 9, 1919

Photo courtesy of Margaret Miller Stevens

Melvin Linwood Stevens

Margaret Elizabeth Miller

Married April 14, 1957

Photo courtesy of Margaret Miller Stevens

    Melvin Linwood Stevens died August 19, 1997. Here's his obituary from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Melvin L. Stevens, Sr.

"Melvin L. Stevens, Sr., 77, of 299 Torpoint Gate Trail, Longwood, Fla., died Tuesday Aug. 19, 1997 at Princeton Hospital, Orlando, Fla. He was the husband of Margaret M. Stevens.

"Mr. Stevens was born in Lynchburg, Oct 9, 1919 to the late James W. Stevens and the late Nettie Rucker Stevens. He was a veteran of the US Navy during World War II and a member of American Legion Post #16.

"In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Melvin (Chip) L. Stevens Jr. of Longwood, Fla.; two brothers, James W. Stevens of Chapel Hill, N.C., Rucker M. Stevens of Fairfax, and a sister, LaVerne Garren of Roanoke.

"A funeral service will be conducted 11 a.m. Saturday at Woodall-Tharp Chapel with the Rev. Ronald Davidson officiating. Interment will follow in Spring Hill Cemetery with military honors provided by American Legion Post #16.

"The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service.

"Memorial contributions may be made to Providence United Methodist Church.

"Woodall-Tharp Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. 237-9424."

Evelyn LaVerne Stevens

Born August 25, 1921

Evelyn LaVerne Stevens

Albert Stuart Hadden Garren

Married June 10, 1940

    After the war ended, LaVerne and Don lived in Roanoke, Virginia. As a hobby, Don operated the Ledon Kennel and specialized in Weimaraners, German hunting dogs with a silver coat and pale blue eyes.

    Albert Stuart Hadden "Don" Garren died May 21, 1960 in Roanoke, Virginia, and was buried May 23, 1960 at the Spring Hill Cemetery in Lynchburg, Virginia. Here's his funeral notice from the Lynchburg newspaper:

"Albert S. Garren

    "James J. Stevens of 5621 Edgewood Ave., has been notified of the death of his brother-in-law, Albert S. (Don) Garren in Roanoke Saturday. He was a former resident of Lynchburg and the son of Mrs. E.M. Garren, Sr. of Baltimore. Survivors are his wife, LaVerne Stevens Garren; three daughters, Misses Evelyn, Donna, and Nancy Garren, all of Roanoke; one brother, E.M. Garren, Jr. and one sister, Miss Violet Garren, both of Baltimore. Funeral services will be conducted at 1 p.m. Monday in Oakey's Funeral Chapel, Roanoke. Burial will be at 3 p.m. in Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg."

    Here's a tribute to Don that appeared in the Roanoke newspaper Sunday June 5, 1960. It was written by one of Don's students:

"On May 21, Roanoke lost one of its finest sportsmen and fellow men in the person of A.S. "Don" Garren. A resident of Roanoke since 1945, Don was known and loved by many. He radiated the essence of having been a fine father and an excellent family man. Don was a gregarious person and made many friends with his mild, warm, friendly disposition.

" Having trained dogs for more than twenty years, Don came to our town well equipped to begin Roanoke's own obedience training classes. While in the Coast Guard he trained war dogs at Front Royal where some 1,500 dogs were kept for training. Before joining the Coast Guard he resided in Lynchburg where he bred Irish Setters. When he came to Roanoke, he began breeding Weimaraners and did much to further the breed in Southwest Virginia. One of his Weimaraners, trained by his oldest daughter Evelyn, recently received the highest obedience degree any dog can attain - Utility. Don's principal interest with dogs was obedience. One of his dreams was to erect a building in Roanoke for the training of dogs. His theory being that dogs, like humans, are happiest when they know what is expected of them. In the beginning Don trained dogs in his yard on Melrose Avenue, but interest grew to such an extent that it was necessary to find larger quarters and additional help. Through the generosity of M.F. Ring, Jr., the Roanoke Obedience Training Classes were held every Tuesday night at Roanoke City Mills. Fortunately for dog lovers in Roanoke, Don had the foresight to pick from his classes two very capable young men to help as his classes grew. Thus, obedience will not die but through the efforts of the Roanoke Kennel Club, Mr. Ring and instructors Bob Whiteside and Neb White, the regular classes will continue. It was through the efforts of Mr. Garren that the Roanoke Kennel Club was able to sponsor its first Obedience Trial in connection with the Annual All Breed Dog Show in 1956, and every year since, this has been a part of the show.

"Don not only trained obedience dogs but also companion dogs. he could get a dog to do almost anything he asked. For example, he was once asked to teach a Poodle to wife its feet before entering the house, which he promptly did. On another occasion he rented a wheel chair in order to train a German Shepherd as a companion to a woman who was to be confined to a wheel chair for life. He was fondly known by some as Roanoke's dog psychiatrist and helped many people make fine pets of a problem dog.

"Don served as president of the Roanoke Kennel Club in 1952 and 1953 as well as 1957 and 1958. He was the founder of obedience in Roanoke. He was assistant manager of Roanoke Loan Society, past commissioner of the Boy Scouts and at one time was active in the SPCA. He was a member of Tabernacle Baptist Church where he taught Sunday school.

"Throughout Don's life he never met a stranger and to all those who were fortunate enough to know him, no matter how short a time, he was a symbol of kindness and friendship. Full of compassion and understanding, he will be sorely missed by many."


        When you start a research project like this, it's a little like opening Pandora's box. You have no idea where your research will take you - or what scandals await you. Adding a little spice to our findings were: slavery, a murder, a bankruptcy, and a disastrous house fire. But the main finding was an amazing three hundred years of very respectable, very industrious tobacco farming.

     James William Stevens, Jr was the eighth and last generation of tobacco farmers in our Stevens ancestry. Starting with him, we traced back in time to seven previous generations of tobacco farmers. The earliest generation of Stevens tobacco farmer lived in Virginia in the 1600's. Before that, we're at an impasse for now. We don't know the name of our Stevens ancestor who immigrated to the New World.

    Although we haven't been able to identify our Stevens immigrant ancestor by name, we can identify him by type. In the New World it was possible to make a fortune farming tobacco for export. Our Stevens immigrant ancestor was an ambitious farmer who recognized the economic opportunity the New World offered and had the courage to seize that opportunity.

     This Stevens project has been lots of fun for me. Perhaps part of the enjoyment has come from finding that we can be proud of our Stevens ancestors.


        This project was inspired by some wonderful old family photos of people and places that I couldn't identify. In seeking to solve the mysteries of the old photos, I've met relatives I didn't know and become better acquainted with those I already knew. Thanks to their kind and generous assistance, many questions have been answered. In fact, more information has turned up than I ever dreamed possible. On the next page you'll find a photo that remains a mystery. Hopefully, someday we'll know who these lovely ladies were, and how we're related to them. It's the never-ending nature of this hobby, that makes it so much fun. So please don't hesitate to send additional information and corrections. With luck, perhaps more old photos will be found.

Joyce Stevens Turel

1015 Hidden Bluff

Clermont, FL 34711-5987


Mystery Photo

        Dorothy Bowling Giles of Nelson County sent us this picture in hopes that we could identify the lovely ladies. At this point, all that can be said is that the photo was probably taken at a funeral!

Bibliography of Sources

1623/24 Census of Jamestown

1704 Quit Rent Rolls

Amherst County Will Book

Broderbund software, Family Tree Maker

Butler, Margaret Ann, Taylor-Mumford-Holland : Pioneers of Georgia, Florida, Louisiana & Texas

Campbell County, Virginia: Marriage Book, Deed Book, and Will Book

Christian, W. Asbury, Lynchburg and Its People

Corley, Connie, correspondence

Cox Connections Home Page

Cox Cousins Home Page

Delk, Ann Stevens, correspondence and photographs

Dierking, Patrick, correspondence

Dunn, Eleanor, correspondence

Eggleston, Marjorie, correspondence

Garren, LaVerne Stevens, correspondence and documents

Giles, Dorothy Bowling, Celebrate Heritage, correspondence and photographs

Hamner, Blanche Stevens, The Stevens Family of Nelson County, Virginia

Holland, Barbara H., correspondence

Lawler, Judy, correspondence, photographs, and documents

Lindsays in Campbell County - 1849 to the Present, author unknown

Lynchburg Online

Moorshead, Halvor, Dating Old Photographs 1840-1929

Nelson County Virginia Courthouse: Marriage Book, Deed Book, and Will Book

News and Daily Advance, obituaries

Noel, Mary Roberts and Jenny Noel Weeks, Emigrant Cornelius Noel from Holland to Virginia

Oakes, Jane, correspondence and documents

Perrow, William Charlie, Report on Descendants of Charles Perrault

Register of Abingdon Parish, 1677-1761, Swem Library, College of William and Mary

Rogers, T.D., The Stevens Family

Rucker, Lucy Katherine, Flagg-Rucker Genealogy

Rudolph, Carolyn, correspondence, photographs, and Our Kentucky Roots : Doctors, Lawyers, Merchants, Chiefs

Social Security Death Index Online

Sparacio, Ruth and Sam, Pamunkey Neighbors of Orange County, Virginia

Spotsylvania County Records Online

Spring Hill Cemetery Records

Stevens, Clarence Perry, Stevens - Stephens Genealogy and Family History

Stevens Family Bible

Stevens Family - Genealogy

Stevens, Janice Alane, photograph

Stevens, Margaret Miller, interview and photographs

Stevens, Patrick, The Stevens and Allied Families in America from the 1600s

Stevens, Richard W., Descendants of John Stevens

Stevens, Robert Dolan, interview and photographs

Stevens, Robert Samuel, Jr, correspondence and photographs

Stevens, Rucker Mator, interview

Stevens, William, Descendants of John Stevens

Stevens, William Louis, Genealogy of a Stevens Family of Virginia

Stewart, Mary E., correspondence, documents, and photographs

Strickland, Queens of England, Vol I, p 116

Thaxton, Anne Stevens, correspondence and photographs

Tombstone Reading at Stevens Cemetery, Nelson County, Virginia

Turel, Stan, for proofreading and patiently listening to my endless ramblings about "dead people."

Virginia Census Indices Online

Virginia GenWeb Online

Wheeler, Jessie Leonard Jr, inspiration

Yates, John, correspondence