My search for Stephens answers continues!

Last week, I decided I’d try to see if there was any way for me to determine which Stephens branch Lucy Stephens – wife of Andrew Stephens – belonged to.  I have very little to work with:

1)  According to Lucy’s tombstone (Bernard Cemetery in Russell County, Kentucky) she was born 16 Dec, 1842 and died 14 June 1928.
2)  According to every census record I have found, she was born in Kentucky.
3)  The marriage of Andrew Stephens and Lucy Stephens took place in Ripley Co, Missouri on 25 Apr 1858.
4)  Lucy and Andrew lived with Andrew’s family for the 1860 census in Franklin Co, Alabama along with their 1 yr. old daughter, Nancy E.
5)  In the 1860 census, Nancy’s birthplace is listed as Missouri.  Ripley County seems likely, but birth records for that year don’t seem to exist.  (I have not been to Ripley County to research for myself)
6)  By 1861, the death of 1 year 10 month old Nancy is found in Metcalfe Co, Kentucky on June 9.  Her place of birth is listed as Missouri.
7)  Also in 1861, birth of first son, W.D. (William Dudley) is found in Metcalfe Co, Kentucky on Oct. 13.
8 ) Another birth for Andrew and Lucy is found in Metcalfe Co, Kentucky (although I have no source) in 1864 for Mary Elizabeth in September.
9) I cannot find the 1870 census for this family.
10)  Every other census after this shows the family in Russell County, Kentucky.

I thought I’d try to understand why Andrew and Lucy were married in Ripley County, Missouri.  Because Andrew’s family was not in the area during this time, I thought that might mean that Lucy’s family came from this area.  I did research on all Stephens families in Ripley County during this time and could find no connection.  (I’ll post these findings at a later date.)  Metcalfe Co, Kentucky was formed in 1860, so I turned to the parent counties and did a search for an 1850 census showing a Lucy at about the correct age.  In Adair County, I found 1 likely family.  The head of the home was Mary Stephens age 40.  Three children lived in her home –  Eliz. age 19, Lucy age 8 and A.J. age 3.  Could this be the family I was looking for?  How could I confirm this?

I began by looking at all marriage, birth and death records that I could find for Adair County to see if there was a Stephens married to a Mary around this time frame and I couldn’t find anything.  I then began looking at the tax records for Adair County, since my library has these on microfilm.  Beginning with 1850, I looked for a Mary Stephens who might be paying taxes on land left by a deceased husband.  No Mary was listed through 1858, the last year for the microfilm.

Working backward through the tax records from 1850, I found one person who could potentially be Lucy’s father.  Elijah Stephens appears in the Adair County taxes from 1844 through 1850 and then disappears.  There is no Elijah Stephens in the Adair County census for 1840 or 1850.  I have ordered the Court Orders film for Adair County to see if I can find a clue there.

An 1830 Russell County census for Elijah Stephens shows that he was between 30 and 39 years old and his (probable) wife was between 20 and 29.  They had 5 children at the time.  By 1840 census, he listed his age as between 40-49 and his wife was between 30-39.  This could result in a 40 year old Mary Stephens by 1850.  In 1840, there were 8 children and one of the females was between 5-9 years old, which could be the 19 year old Elizabeth in the 1850 census.  Even if the age of Elizabeth was off in 1850, there is an older female and a younger female in the 1840 census that could still account for a 19 year old Elizabeth in 1850.  Could this be the correct family?

I decided to see if I could find a clue in the Stephens family deeds that I have scanned.  I looked through the cross-reference for Russell County deeds and did find a couple for an Elijah Stephens.  Since I don’t have a collection of Adair County Deeds yet, I thought it would be worth looking at the Russell County deeds because there are only a couple for Elijah.  I only had to look at 2 deeds before I found that I could rule out Elijah as being the husband of Lucy’s mother.  In one deed, Elijah Stephens of Adair County is purchasing land from a Russell County resident.  In the 2nd deed, Elijah and his wife Dicy/Diza (I’ve seen it both ways) were selling land to John Stephens.  Looking at my Adair County tax records, I could see that Dicy Stephens began taking care of the taxes the year after Elijah disappeared from the tax lists.  I’ll still be on the lookout for Elijah Stephens in the Court Order records that I’ve ordered, but I won’t be expecting a connection between him and Lucy’s mother, Mary.

Looking at the surrounding families in the census, I found that Mary and her children lived next to Sherwood Stephens and his family.  I have decided to follow Sherwood to see what I could discover.  More on that next time…