Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

John Stephenson Graveyard in Wood County


Parkersburg was where John Stephenson(b. 1761) settled with his wife Elizabeth Fleming. Their farm was on land now owned by the Standard Oil Company. The Stephenson’s settled there before 1809, raised their family and buried their dead in a small family plot. Thankfully, Standard Oil fenced the small cemetery and kept it up, although by the time they acquired it many of the stones and monuments were lost or eroded by the elements, becoming unreadable.

Of the stones that can be read is one that reads “Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth, wife of John Stephenson, died November 20th, 18–, aged fifty-eight.” This the final resting place of Elizabeth Fleming, daughter of Mathew and Mary Fleming, born 16 September 1763. She was already a resident of Wood County when she conveyed shares in her father’s estate in 1815. John and his wife conveyed a house and lot in Newport to an O’Neale in 1809. John Sr.’s estate was filed on 28 Mar 1836. Although his stone is missing he is probably buried here beside his wife.

One of their children, David Stephenson, rests beneath a stone engraved : “In memory of David Stephenson who departed this life.” The stone is crumbled and nothing else can be made out. He is believed to have died about 1821. His wife’s marker is beside his reads “Jane, consort of D. Stephenson who departed this life September 11th, 1823, aged twenty seven years. Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” David was a veteran of the war of 1812, and Commissioner of Revenue for Wood County in 1821. His wife (b. 1796) was a daughter of Jacob Beeson, Jr. and Elizabeth Smalley and a granddaughter of Jacob and Elizabeth Hedges Beeson. Her father was a member of the Virginia legislature. Her grandfather was one of the founders of Uniontown, Pa. It is likely they had no children since David died very soon after the marriage and Jane survived him only by a few years and never remarried.

John Stephenson, Jr. (b. 10 Mar 1797) was a sheriff and clerk in Wood County. After his wife died, and he had remarried, the “west” bug bit him. Gathering all his living children, except one son who chose to remain, he organized a company and led their wagon train across the plains and the Rocky Mountain passes, settling near Fulton Precinct, Multnomah County, Oregon  in the fall of 1853 after a 7 month journey. He was a prominent resident in the area until his death on 16 October 1871. A school named after him is built on land homesteaded by the family of George Robert (1862-1934) and Anna Mary Roberts Stephenson (12 April 1869-1955, daughter of Ephraim Peter & Myra Holman Roberts).  Their land was cultivated as a hops farm. George was a son of Robert Edelen and Ann Stephenson and grandson of John Stephenson Jr and his first wife. George’s daughter, Elizabeth Myra was born in 1900 in Alto Park, Ore.  Back in Parkersburg in the family plot are stones that read:

“Octavius, daughter of J. and S. Stephenson, died February 17th, 1847, aged twelve years, two months” and   “In memory of David, son of John and Sarah Stephenson, died July 31st, –29, in the third year of his age.”  Sarah, John’s wife, a daughter of Robert and Elizabeth Lewis Edelen, died before 1843, in Wood County, and is likely buried by her children but again, her stone is missing or unreadable as there are many stones unreadable, and many spots missing stones.

John and Sarah married March 4th, 1821 in a ceremony performed by Rev. John McAboy. After she died, John remarried, in winter, December 1843. His new wife, Ann Steger (b. 1803 in Va, daughter of John and Rebekah Harris Steger), made the arduous journey across the continent with her husband.

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15 Comments »

  1. I appreciate the information on the John Stephensons of Parkersburg. I am one of their Oregon descendants and would like to correct an error I have seen in a number of places. John Stephenson Jr, his wife Ann, and John’s children did not live in “Freeland” Oregon – there is and was no such place anywhere in Oregon. They lived in “Fulton” or “Fulton Precinct,” Multnomah County, Oregon, which later became part of Portland, Oregon. This is clearly indicated in the census records, and since my mother showed me where their farms were and there is a road and a school named after them, I can verify that there isn’t even a neighborhood named Freeland. Their homesteads were originally listed in Washington County, part of which was soon changed to Multnomah County, so I am not sure if they moved or the county designation just changed – I suspect the latter. A question – do you have any records demonstrating that John Stephenson’s wife Elizabeth was Elizabeth Fleming, the daughter of Matthew and Mary Fleming of Delaware, or whether they were married in Delaware? Great website – thanks.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | January 31, 2010 | Reply

    • Margaret, thank you for continuing to try to contact me even as I was down convalescing, your information correcting the Freeland error is appreciated! I believe the error has proliferated as a newspaper article about the family included it when the old graveyard was discovered on Standard Oil Property.

      Comment by Grandpockets | November 11, 2011 | Reply

  2. I posted a comment last night but I guess I somehow erased it. I am one of John Stephenson Jr’s Oregon descendants, and want to offer a correction regarding their residence here. I have seen it stated in several places on the web that they settled in “Freeland” Oregon. I had never heard of a town called Freeland in Oregon, and was puzzled because my mother had shown me where they lived, an area of southwest Portland where there is a road and a school named after them. This neighborhood and nothing in this neighborhood is called Freeland. I looked on modern and 19th century maps of Oregon and could not find a “Freeland” anywhere in the state at any time. The early Oregon censuses clearly show them as being in “Fulton” or “Fulton Precinct,” an area that later got absorbed by the city of Portland. I believe that “Freeland” must be a mistranscription of “Fulton” that has been copied and repeated as fact. Anyone who wasn’t from here wouldn’t know this was an error. I am glad to have the opportunity to set this straight and hope it is helpful to someone.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | January 31, 2010 | Reply

  3. John Stephenson, Ann or Anna Steger, and most of his children settled not in “Freeland” Oregon, but in what was first Washington County, Oregon Territory, then Fulton Precinct, Multnomah County, later part of SW Portland, Multnomah County, Oregon. This information is well documented in Oregon Donation Land Claims and multiple Territorial, state and US censuses. I know where the Stephenson homesteads were, because my mother showed me, and Stephenson Elementary School and Stephenson Road are in the area. My mother was a great-granddaughter of John Stephenson Jr, and gave me a family tree researched by a Stephenson relative in Oregon. I have researched current and historical maps of Oregon and have been unable to find a Freeland. I have seen this erroneous place name repeated in a number of sources and family trees online, and would like to correct it for the sake of those who would have no other way of knowing it.

    Comment by Margaret | March 16, 2010 | Reply

  4. p.s. I have been unable to find documentation that John Stephenson Sr’s wife Elizabeth was a Fleming or that he came from Delaware. Do you have any information on this? Thanks.

    Comment by Margaret | March 16, 2010 | Reply

    • My information comes from Marion Franklin Brand’s Book “The William Fleming Family”

      Comment by Grandpockets | November 11, 2011 | Reply

  5. Do you know why John Stephenson married Ann Steger in Madison County,Alabama?

    Comment by Tommy Stephenson | April 24, 2010 | Reply

    • This is a very interesting question. My answer is yes and no. The yes part is that he married her there because she lived there. Her family had been residents of Huntsville since about 1809, so he didn’t know her from Parkersburg. The no part is how the heck did they get together?

      I have a speculation: She was 40 and still single when she married him. John’s first wife, Sarah Edelen, had died 3 years earlier shortly after giving birth to their 10th child, who died about 6 months later. This was the third child he had lost in addition to his wife, and he had 7 children to take care of after Sarah’s death. I speculate that John needed a mother for his children and Ann at 40 didn’t have many prospects for a husband – perhaps a relative/mutual acquaintance in Alabama suggested the match. Or he was visiting and met her there. Perhaps he had business there – Parkersburg on the Ohio and Hunstville on the Tennessee River were both major arteries for steamboat traffic.

      I think if we couId find the answer to that question it open up some really interesting information – maybe relatives or business dealings he had there. There certainly were a lot of Stephensons in the area.

      I did find confirmation of the marriage in Madison County marriage records available online, and in an abstract of marriages taken from local newspapers at the Genealogical Forum of Oregon. There were promising sources such as contemporary newspapers in the website of the Alabama university system, but you have to be an Alabama resident to access them. There are also quite a few Alabama genealogy publications at the GFO that I want to look into when I have a chance.

      By the way, sorry for the slow response – for some reason I just now got notification of your posting. I am curious – am I right to assume you are related to John Stephenson? I would be very interested in learning more of your connection and what you know. If you are a member of ancestry.com you can send me a message there – my user name there is mizmurdock.

      Comment by Margaret Murdock | November 10, 2011 | Reply

      • My John Stephenson settled in what is York Co,SC in 1764. He died in 1773 and his wife Jane or Jean married Alexander Fleming.
        Robert Stephenson,son of John Stephenson and Jane had a son Samuel Stephenson. b. 1796. He lived in Limestone Co,Al in 1822 and may have lived in Madison Co,Al before 1850. In 1860,he was living in Madison Co,Al. Samuel Stephenson’s son George Alexander Stephenson was living in Madison Co,Alabama in 1870. George Alexander Stephenson’s son William Alexander Stephenson is buried in the Liberty Hill Cemetery in Madison Co,Al. I noticed some time ago that John Stephenson married Ann Steger in Madison and I am intested in any Stephenson that was in that County.
        We don’t know where the John Stephenson that settled in York Co,SC, lived before settling in York Co,SC.

        Comment by Tommy Stephenson | July 30, 2012

  6. The Stephensons’ homesteads were in Fulton (precinct) not Freeland, in Multnomah County, Oregon (now part of Portland). There is no Freeland, Oregon.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | July 14, 2010 | Reply

    • I’m correcting myself: the original Stephenson homesteads were not in the Fulton Precinct – they were further south of Portland on the border of what is now Multnomah and Clackamas counties. Fulton Precinct was in what is now southwest Portland, on the west bank of the Willamette River, where the Corbett and John’s Landing neighborhoods are – now carved up by I-5 and other traffic arteries. I did find some documentation regarding “Freeland” which made me think it was the name of someone’s home or property in the Portland area.

      Comment by Margaret Murdock | April 7, 2012 | Reply

  7. My comments don’t seem show up until I submit another one. I really didn’t mean to post this 3 times!

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | July 14, 2010 | Reply

    • Sorry – I wish I had been here to post your interesting replies much more timely!

      Comment by Grandpockets | November 11, 2011 | Reply

  8. I am happy you are well and able.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | November 12, 2011 | Reply

  9. Are aware of this? I just came across Andrew, Boaz, John and Nathan Fleming in a tax list for Springhill Township, Fayette Co PA, in 1789.A number of Flemings and Stephensons are listed in images of land patent indexes and maps for Fayette and Washington Co PA in the PA State Archives collections now available online. Wm Fleming et al purchased a patent in Fayette Co in 1785. John & Edward Stephenson and names they are closely associated with in Wood Co VA such as Neal and Dilts (Dils) are also on this list.

    I am puzzled by the Flemings showing up in Fayette Co PA at this time, as the they are so well documented in Delaware and Monongalia Co (and its subsequent incarnations). bought land as a real estate speculation and not lived there – this was widespread until the PA legislature cracked down on it and effectively eliminated it in 1792 with a homesteading requirement.

    I suppose the Flemings could have been on the tax list in Fayette Co. if they owned land even if they didn’t live there. But is it possible that they did live there for a while? Are there solid records to show that they were in Monongalia County from 1785-1789?

    I know John & Elizabeth Fleming Stephenson lived in Fayette Co before moving to Wood County VA – John Jr was born there in 1798 per his Oregon Donation Land Claim application – but I don’t know when they moved there. I thought that this tax list and the land patent records were a pretty good indication that they were already there in 1789, but seeing the Flemings on this list makes me wonder.

    Comment by Margaret Murdock | April 11, 2012 | Reply


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