Much of what we know about Daniel Stephens comes from an 1889 autobiographical sketch of his youngest son Jeremiah Ellis Stephens:
“…Daniel Stephens, his father, was born in South Carolina in 1793, and was reared and married there. He moved to Tennessee in 1808, volunteered in the War of 1812, and was at the battle of New Orleans. An old comrade of Davy Crockett, he was one of the scouting party that was out six days and nights without food or water, seeking the whereabouts of the combined British and Indian forces, mention of which is found in the history of the War of 1812, in which he was a volunteer from Franklin County, Tennessee. Acquitting himself with credit in this war he was a volunteer also in the Florida Indian Wars, through which he served. After the removal of the Indians from Georgia and Alabama, Daniel Stephens settled in Alabama, making his home in what was afterward Jackson County. There he died September 17, 1853. The following children were born to the union of Daniel and Edith Stephens: Kizzie, Solomon, Josiah, Sarah M., John W., Rebecca, and Jeremiah E… His wife, Edith, was a daughter of Solomon Murphy of South Carolina…born in old Pendleton District, South Carolina and there married. Coming to Texas in 1856 to live with her son Jeremiah E., she died in Wood County three years later, being in her seventy-third year…” 1
There are some inconsistencies in this statement. The 1793 birth date matches his age (57) as given in the 1850 census. But that census shows his birth state as North Carolina rather than South Carolina. The only one of his children to live long enough to appear in the 1880 census (the first census to ask about parental birthplaces) was the author of the above statement, who listed his father’s birth state as South Carolina in the 1880 census.
There is also some question as to when he moved to Tennessee. Since Daniel Stephens would only have been fifteen years old in 1808, it doesn’t seem likely that he would have moved to Tennessee without his parents. And if he did, he must have returned to South Carolina to marry. After Daniel Stephens’ death, his widow’s military bounty land claim included an affidavit stated that they had married on 11 January 1811 in Pendleton District, South Carolina.2 he marriage is curious for two reasons. First, Daniel was apparently only about 17 or 18 at the time, while Edith was a few days short of her 25th birthday. Second, it is not clear what household Edith was living in at the time of the 1810 census. 3
It is likely that Daniel and Edith Stephens migrated into Franklin County, Tennessee at about the same time as their Murphree and Stephens siblings, who were later joined by Solomon Murphree. No direct record of them there has been uncovered, beyond his war record. Neither Daniel Stephens nor his father is on any of the surviving 1812 Tennessee tax lists (though Daniel himself, who was under 21, would not have been taxed.)
War of 1812 service
His son’s comments about the War of 1812 appear to be somewhat embellished. Although Daniel Stephens may have known Davy Crockett, he was not mentioned in Crockett’s autobiography. Davy Crockett, who lived in western Franklin (now Moore) County from 1811 until 1817, served in the War of 1812 but was not present for the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. The “scouting party” story may refer to another incident; for Crockett did not mention anything like it in his 1834 autobiography nor did he mention anyone named Stephens.4 The “Florida Indian Wars” evidently refers to what we now call the First Seminole War of 1817-18. An autobiographical account of James Solomon Stephens, the son of an older brother of Jeremiah Ellis Stephens, makes a similar but less detailed claim: “His grandfather was in the War of 1812 at the battle of New Orleans and helped cut the Jackson Military Road from New Orleans to Nashville.”5 This period of Daniel’s life is covered in more detail in a separate document.
Daniel Stephens evidently lived in Franklin County, Tennessee for a few years after the war. The first three children, born between March 1812 and February 1816, consistently gave their birthplaces as Tennessee in later censuses. He was not among the taxables in the surviving 1812 tax list.
He settles in Jackson County, Alabama
During the period when Daniel Stephens lived there, Franklin County was bordered on the south by the part of Mississippi Territory that became Alabama Territory in 1817 and the State of Alabama in 1819. By 1819 the lands Immediately south of Franklin County had become Jackson County, Alabama. Daniel Stephens had moved across the border by 1820, for he does not appear in the 1820 census for Tennessee and the Alabama 1820 census is missing.
Indeed, Daniel’s son Jeremiah Ellis Stephens claimed that he was born in Coosa County, Alabama on 19 February 1826. (This is suspect for Coosa County, which was considerably south of Jackson County, did not exist until 1832. It was still a part of the Indian territorial lands in 1826 when Jeremiah was born.)
In the 1830 census Daniel Stephens, along with his presumed father and siblings, were enumerated in the Maynard’s Cove area of Jackson County, Alabama. He is shown with four male and three female children, exactly the number listed by his son in the statement above.6 In 1840 he was enumerated in the same area of Maynard’s Cove next door to his son-in-law John W. Bynum, and within half a dozen names of his father and brothers. Only three children were still in the household.7 In 1850 he was listed as a farmer, age 57 and born in NC (sic) with Eady, age 65 and born in NC, their youngest child Jeremiah, age 25, Daniel’s presumed mother Barbary, age 75 and born in NC, and Eliza Baget (age 27, born AL), whose identity is unknown.
Daniel Stephens died in Jackson County on 17 September 1853 according to his son’s statement and his widow’s affidavit. Unfortunately, Jackson County’s probate records prior to 1856 are essentially nonexistent. He may have been buried in the Stephens cemetery in Maynard’s Cove, but there is no surviving record of it.
His wife Edith Murphree
Daniel Stephens married Edith Murphree, daughter of Solomon Murphree. The family Bible of her older brother Daniel Murphree, which lists the birth dates of “the children of my parents”, lists Edith Murphree as the fourth child, born on 8 February 1786.8 Solomon Murphree wrote his will on 23 November 1852 in Benton County, Alabama, directing that his estate be divided equally among his heirs.9 When the executors petitioned for probate on 2 October 1854, they produced a list of the heirs that included “Eady” Stephens of Jackson County, Alabama.10 An estate sale dated 1 January 1855 showed that Eady Stephens bought a negro boy for $800 and a mare for $24.11 By the time the final accounting was filed on 2 March 1857, Eady Stephens was listed as a resident of Texas, receiving a full share amounting to $693.80.12 According to the Jeremiah Ellis Stephens biography, she had moved to Texas with her son in 1856 and died three years later.
Jeremiah Ellis Stephens evidently named his brothers and sisters in their order of birth, judging by those whose birth dates that we know . His 1889 biographical statement states: “The following children were born to the union of Daniel and Edith Stephens: Kizzie, Solomon, Josiah, Sarah M., John W., Rebecca, and Jeremiah E…” All but Jeremiah were dead by 1889, when the biographical statement mentioned that he “is the only one of this family now living.”
Note that this family appears to have named several of their children after close relatives. THe oldest sons, Solomon and Josiah, were evidently named after their grandparents. The oldest daughters, Keziah and Sarah may have been named for their grandmothers — we are not certain that Solomon Murphree’s wife was named Sarah and we do not know the name of Daniel’s mother. 13
Unfortunately, nearly all of Jackson County’s marriage records prior to 1851 were destroyed, so we do not know who two of the three daughters married.
- Keziah Stephens (6 March 1812 – 12 September 1880) She married John Wesley Bynum about 1830 and moved to Titus County, Texas about 1856. Her birth and death dates appear in the family Bible of her eldest child, Daniel W. Bynum.14 Her headstone is in the Concord cemetery. (See the Bynum pages.)
Solomon Stephens (c1814 – 1862) Solomon Stephens must have been the male aged 15-20 in his father’s 1830 household, and was likely the adult male living in his father’s household in 1840. He married Elizabeth J. Roden in adjoining Marshall County, Alabama on 22 April 1849.15 His wife Elizabeth was identified as a daughter of Jeremiah and Margaret Roden in estate records. 16 Solomon Stephens, a physician, and Elizabeth were enumerated in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Jackson County, his birthplace given as Tennessee and his age given, respectively, as 35 and 46. There were no children listed in 1850 but two were listed by their initials in 1860: a daughter M. J. (9) and a son J. S. (1).
A 1935 Jackson County history states that “Dr. Solomon S. Stephens was killed in the Civil War.”17 Confederate records show that he enlisted on 20 June 1861 in Woodville, Jackson County, for a term of twelve months as a private in Captain Bibb’s Company of Sharpshooters (which almost immediately became Company G of the 12th Regiment of Alabama Volunteer Infantry.) A muster roll taken at Richmond Virginia reported that he was “promoted to commissary” of the 9th Alabama Regiment on 13 July 1861. He was appointed a quartermaster Captain in that regiment in 1861 and is believed to have been killed in an artillery exchange near Yorktown on the Warwick River line about April 16, 1862.18 His widow Elizabeth Stephens was still living in Jackson County when she applied for a widow’s pension on 26 May 1892 based on his death in service. She was enumerated as E. G. Stevens in the 1880 census.
Josiah Stephens (26 February 1816 – 12 February 1879) He was one of the two males aged 10-15 in his father’s 1830 household. By 1840 he was enumerated a few households away from his father, aged 20-30 and apparently recently married.19 He was not found in the Alabama census of 1850, for he was the same Josiah Stephens who migrated into Itawamba County, Mississippi in the early 1840s. A published Stephens genealogy, which mistakenly identified him as the son of Josiah Stephens Sr. and Nancy Vann, states that “Josiah Stephens Jr. grew up and before 1840 had married Nancy Midlock Mitchell who was born in Alabama in 1820… and between 1840-1843, according to his descendants, still living in Itawamba County, migrated with his wife by covered wagon through the Moulton Valley in North Alabama to Marion County, Alabama settling in Itawamba County [Mississippi] at Van Buren near Bean’s Ferry. It was here that his four children, Martha J., Daniel M., Mary C., and James Solomon Stephens were born…”20
This account identifies him as the son of Josiah Stephens Sr. of Jackson County, but he was actually the son of Daniel Stephens. Josiah’s own son James Solomon Stephens, in a biographical statement on the occasion of his election to the State Senate in 1911, declared that his parents were Josiah Stephens and Nancy Medlock Mitchell (1820-1892), and that his grandparents were Daniel Stephens and “Miss Murphy.”21 We can reach the same conclusion independently as well. We know that Daniel Stephens had a son named Josiah, thanks to the biographical record left by Josiah’s brother. We also know that Daniel Stephens’ son Josiah must have been one of the two sons aged 10-15 in the 1830 census household, which clearly fits with a birth in 1816. Josiah Stephens Sr., on the other hand, had only one male in his 1830 household, and he was aged 20-30. Furthermore, James Solomon Stephens also declared in the same 1911 statement that “Jerry Stephens, uncle” was a county court judge in Texas — clearly referring to Jeremiah Ellis Stephens.22
- Sarah M. Stephens (c1818? – ?) She was apparently the female aged 10-15 in her father’s 1830 household. She evidently either married or died prior to the 1840 census, for she is not in the 1840 household.
- John W. Stephens (c1820? – ?) He was surely one of the two males aged 10-15 in his father’s 1830 household. He may have been dead or out of the area by 1840, for the only males in his father’s 1840 household appear to have been Jeremiah and Solomon. (It was his uncle John W. Stephens who was head of his own household one line away from Daniel Stephens in 1840.) There is a John Stephens in the 1850 Jackson County census a few miles south of Maynard’s Cove and on the opposite side of the river. Whether he is this son or not is anyone’s guess. His age is given as 29, a bit young to be this son, with a wife Mary and a son James, aged 8 months. He was not located in 1860 or thereafter.
- Rebecca Stephens (c1825 – ?) She was apparently the female aged 5-10 in her father’s 1830 household, and 15-20 in his 1840 household. She evidently either married or died prior to the 1850 census, but nothing further is known of her.
Jeremiah Ellis Stephens (19 February 1826 – 18 April 1899) He was still in his parents’ household in 1850, his birthplace given as Alabama. He married Mary Jane Wilson (16 March 1830 – 22 April 1873), daughter of Thomas Wilson, in Jackson County on 11 November 1852. By 1860 he and his wife and four children were enumerated in Wood County, Texas. He served as a county court judge in both Wood County and in Rockwall County, where he was enumerated in 1880 with four additional children. Jeremiah and his first wife are buried in a small family cemetery on his land in Rockwall County, along with their oldest daughter Laura and son-in-law Henry Wade. According to the 1889 biographical statement mentioned above, and censuses, his children, all by his first wife, were Julia Ann Stephens (wife of J. A. Cobb), Laura J. Stephens (wife of Henry Wade), Elizabeth Stephens (wife of Thomas Nee Smith), Thomas J. Stephens, Fannie Stephens, Mary Stephens, and Maud Stephens. Another son named George W. Stephens was in the 1860 household but apparently died young.
Daniel Bynum, in a letter written to his mother Keziah Stephens Bynum during the Civil War in March 1864 that “uncle J. E. Stephens belongs to a regiment that is dismounted on the Galveston Island.” Two months earlier he had written that his Stephens uncle was serving in Stone’s Regiment. Both references evidently apply to the CSA unit more commonly known as the Second Texas Partisan Rangers, which fought in Louisiana in 1863 and camped at Galveston in early 1864.
- Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and Many Early Settled Families., (F.A. Battey Company,1889), p790. [↩]
- Courtesy of Pat Finnell, of Denver Colorado in a letter to me in 1981. [↩]
- The only Solomon Murphree in the area was enumerated in the 1810 Greenville District census, p525: Solomon Murphy (sic) 10001-20001. It is not clear that this was actually Solomon Murphree, for he owned no land in Greenville and the rest of his family was in adjacent Pendleton District in 1810. If it was him, Edith was clearly not living at home. [↩]
- A Narrative of the life of David Crockett of the State of Tennessee, Davy Crockett (E.L. Carey and A. Hart., 1834) makes no mention of anyone named Stevens or Stephens. [↩]
- The Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi, Dunbar Rowland (Brandon Printing Co., 1908). [↩]
- 1830 census, Jackson County — Daniel Stephens: 1 male under 5, 2 males 10-15, 1 male 15-20, 1 male 30-40, 1 female 5-10, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 15-20, and 1 female 30-40. [↩]
- 1840 census, Jackson County — Daniel Stephens: 1 male 10-15, 1 male 20-30, 1 male 40-50, 1 female 15-20, 1 female 50-60. [↩]
- Daniel Murphree’s Bible was in the possession of the late Paul Murphree of Oneonta, Alabama when Paul provided a transcript to me in 1980. [↩]
- Old Records of Estates and Administrations: Benton (now Calhoun) County, Alabama, Catharine Cleek Mann (Northeast Alabama Genealogical Society, 1976). [↩]
- Benton County Will Book K, pp326. [↩]
- Benton County Will Book K, pp190. [↩]
- Benton County Will Book M, pp411. [↩]
- Although Josiah Stephen’s widow was named Barbary we do not know that she was his wife when Daniel was born. [↩]
- Daniel W. Bynum’s Bible was in the In the possession of Daniel E. Bynum of Bogota, Texas as of 1979, when he forwarded a transcript to me. Mr. Bynum was the son of Daniel Edward Bynum Sr., the youngest child of Daniel W. Bynum. [↩]
- Marshall County Marriage Records (film). The license was dated the preceding day. [↩]
- Jones & Gandrud’s Alabama Records has some records of the estates of her parents and of her brother John A. Roden both before and after her marriage to Solomon Stephens. [↩]
- History of Jackson County, John Robert Kennamer (Southern Printing and Publishing Co., 1935), p160. [↩]
- Internet posting by Alan J. Pitts. [↩]
- 1840 Jackson County census: Josiah Stephens, himself aged 20-30, a female aged 15-20, and a female under 5. [↩]
- Various Descendants of Josiah Stephens and Other Heterogeneous Groups, Stephens Hampton Bryant and Joe Keeton Stephens (Privately published, undated), pages 16-17. [↩]
- The biographical statement is courtesy of Sandra Stephens, who obtained it from the Itawamba County Historical Society. It was evidently produced on the occasion of J. S. Stephens’ election to the State senate in 1912. [↩]
- This also according to Sandra Stephens’ research in Itawanba County. [↩]