Jeremiah Ellis Stephens Biography

Text of Jeremiah Ellis Stephens’ entry in Biographical Souvenir of the State of Texas: Containing Biographical Sketches of the Representative Public, and Many Early Settled Families, (F.A. Battey Company,1889), page 790:

JUDGE J. E. STEPHENS, a farmer, and an early settler of Texas, is of old South Carolina stock and is of English and Scotch-Irish extraction.  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.  His wife, Edith, was a daughter of Solomon Murphy, of South Carolina, of Scotch-Irish descent, he being a native, however, of South Carolina.  Mrs. Edith Stephens was 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.   The following children were born to the union of Daniel and Edith Stephens:  Kizzie, Solomon, Josiah, Sarah M., John W., Rebecca, and Jeremiah E., whose name heads this sketch.

Jeremiah E. Stephens is the only one of this family now living.  He was born in Coosa county, Alabama, February 19, 1826, was reared mainly in Jackson county, cane to Texas first in 1849, and went back to Alabama and returned to Texas again in 1856 and settled in Wood County.  He was a successful farmer of that county and was elected county judge of Wood county and served two terms.  He enlisted in the Confederate army in 1862, Company A, Colonel B. Warren Stone’s Second regiment, and served in Louisiana, Arkansas and Texas.  When the war was over he settled in Kaufman (since Rockwall) county, whither his family had already moved, broken up by the war.  He began farming and has continued at it since, and has served Rockwall county as justice and county commissioner, discharging his official duties with patience, care and efficiency, and he is to-day as highly respected a citizen as Rockwall county has.

The judge was first married in November 1852, to Mary J., the daughter of Major Thomas Wilson, an old citizen of Jackson county, Alabama, and a man who bore the distinction of having served longer in the State legislature than any man in Alabama, and is still living and will be ninety years old on the 25th day of December 1889.  Mrs. Stephens was born and reared in Jackson County, Alabama, and she died in Rockwall County, Texas in 1872, April 22.  The judge married a second time shortly thereafter, his second wife being Mrs. Mariah Lloyd, a widow whose maiden name was Moore, a native also of Alabama.  Judge Stephens has no children by his last marriage.  By his former marriage he has seven, namely – Julia A., wife of J. A. Cobb;  Laura, wife of Henry Wade;  Elizabeth, wife of Thomas Nee Smith;  Thomas J., Fannie, Mary, and Maud.   Judge Stephens has been a member of the Methodist church forty-two years.

Comments on the accuracy of this statement:

This statement, as it regards his parents, is generally accurate.  However, a few details  are suspect:

He states that his parents married in Pendleton District, and that his father Daniel moved to Tennessee in 1808.   However, his mother Edith declared in her bounty land application that they married on 11 January 1811 in Pendleton, and we know from other records that her father, Solomon Murphree, was still in Pendleton as late as 1812.   Thus Daniel Stephens must have still been living in Pendleton as late as 1811.

Daniel Stephens clearly lived in South Carolina, but it isn’t so clear, as Judge Stephens states, that he was born there.  The 1850 census lists his birthplace as North Carolina.

Judge Stephens gives his own place of birth in 1826 as Coosa County, Alabama rather than Jackson County where we find his parents in the 1830 census.   Coosa County did not exist until 1832 and was still Creek Indian land in 1826.  (Coosa County was created after the Creeks conceded their lands east of the Mississippi in the 1832 Treaty of Cusseta.)  While it is possible that Jeremiah Stephens was born there it seems unlikely.