John Stepp/Stapp of Burke Co., NC & Gwinnett Co., GA
It has been some time now trying to find the link to the John Stapp, Sr. line of Gwinnett County, Georgia. But, in looking for his sons, I have discovered a record that takes the family line all the way back to Abraham of Rappahannock County, Virginia. And it puts just a little spin on what was believed previously about the kinship of the family.

 

Part I - Proof that John Stepp of Gwinnett Co., GA was a son of John Stepp Sr. of Burke Co., NC
Harmon Stapp, son of John Stapp, Sr. of Gwinnett County, Georgia was enumerated as being born in Burke County, North Carolina in the 1864 Census for Re-Organizing the Georgia Militia.
(You can view that record here)

This document gives us definite knowledge that our John Sr., (Harmon's father) was in Burke County in around 1820. In his Civil War pension, Harmon state that he was born in North Carolina in 1819, and then he said that he had lived in Georgia "all my life." So that must mean that the family moved from Burke County, NC to Gwinnett County, sometime right around the year of his birth, about 1820.

Note: There is only one John Stapp/Stepp in the 1820 Georgia Census. And that's John Stapp Sr. of a Green County, GA, a whole different clan! I've traced their line all the way back and forth (they originated in Campbell County, Virginia.) And he definitely isn't our line. He and his wife, Martha had 3 sons and a few daughters...they all moved to Morgan and Oglethorpe Counties, Georgia. I have researched this line thoroughly and I know for sure that they aren't ours.

But now if you look back into the 1820 census of North Carolina, there are two John Stepps, and both of them are in none other than BURKE COUNTY! They are a John Sr. and John Jr. pair. And if you look into the Stepp/Stapp Families of America, by Henry P. Scalf, pages 139-144 for Burke, Wilkes, and Caldwell Counties, NC, you will notice that this John Sr. had lived in all these counties (probably because how the counties formed) John Sr. is found in the 1800, 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 censuses for Burke County.

The following is an article is a letter written by Rudolph B. Stepp, taken from page 144:

"The sale of these various tracts must have been just following John Stapp's death and Jesse, his youngest son, sold this land, probably as administrator. (See Burke County notes and census reports) John Stepp or Stapp was born ca 1764. I believe Colby Stepp, born 1805, William born 1802, were the brothers of Jesse born 1810/1811 (See the 1840, 1850, 1860, Buncombe County census.) I believe the oldest son of John was John, Jr. (see 1790 Pendleton County, S.C. census and 1820 Burke County census) It appears from the records that John had four daughters, names not known. At this time I am convinced the above John Stapp was the veteran who was awarded Grant No. 1042 for arrears in pay for military service."
 
Also, if you look on page 61 of the same book:
 
Issue of James Stapp, Sr. and Lucy Gholson
 
7. "John Stapp (Stepp), born ca 1764, died 1849/1851. Married Elizabeth......
John Stapp lived on the Johns River area in present Caldwell County, N.C. (then 1780, on county line between Wilkes and Burke Counties.) A reconstruction of the family shows John, Jr. born ca 1789; William, born ca 1802, married Mary A. Porter, born 1804 who was the daughter of Alexander Porter; Colby, born ca 1805, married Sarah Ingram, born ca 1809, daughter of Robert Ingram; and Jesse Stepp born ca 1810/1811, married Adaline A Porter. These four were enumerated 1840 Buncombe County, NC census in the same district and with households next to each other. The only other family in the area was that of Thomas who only had four sons as previously pointed out."

 
Now if you noticed, Scalf states that all 4 brothers (including John Jr.) were all in the 1840 census of Buncombe County, and that would make it impossible for John Jr. of Burke County, NC to be our John of Gwinnett County, GA.  Remember that our John and his family already in Georgia by 1830. But if you look at the 1840 Buncombe County census, there is no John Stapp!  Scalf had made a mistake because if you look on page 93, he lists the following in the 1840 Buncombe Census:
 
Wm. Stapp (Stopp)
Coleby Stepp
Jesse (?) Stepp
N.R. Stepp page 159
Jo Stapp
 
Now if you remember, Scalf said: "The only other family in the area was that of Thomas who only had four sons as previously pointed out." And one of those sons, was Joseph Stapp, who did live in the Buncombe County area during this time. And it seems more likely for a census taker to call a Joseph "Jo" instead of a John "Jo."
 (You can find more about Joseph here)
 
"136. Joseph Stapp/Stepp. Born Circa 1795/1796. Resided Stayed in NC. Settled in the Swannanoa River Valley area of the present day Buncombe County. He married Rachel Waters, 21 Feb 1818. Born 1795. Died 1 Sep 1876."

Another clue to this mistake is on page 89 in his book (for Buncombe County). Scalf found a land record between “A William sold Joseph Step a tract of land ‘lying on the waters of the Swannanoa” for $100 on Feb. 18, 1843 and another tract of 100 acres to Joseph Stepp on the same day for $250, the land described as on ‘Flat Creek at the mouth of the Bee Tree Branch’.”  So as you can see, there was a Joseph Stepp/Stapp around this area in about 1840, and there isn’t a John Stapp! Joseph has got to be the “Jo Stepp” enumerated in the census there.

So now we know that John Jr. wasn't the same as the "Jo Stepp" listed in the Buncombe Census. And our John was already in Georgia by this time anyways. This explains why he isn't found in Burke County, North Carolina after the 1820 census.

 

Part II - Proof that our John Stepp of Gwinnett Co., GA was NOT a son of Gholson Stapp!
It has been proposed that our John was the son of Gholson Stapp…well that too is impossible. Here is the proof:
 
In Scalf's the Stepp/Stapp Families of America, p. 49-50:
"Golson, following the death of his wife, was imbued with restlessness and looked longingly toward the west. Kentucky was filling with people although it was still a part of the transmontane jurisdiction of Virginia. Counties were being formed with rapidity and Lincoln County, Virginia, now Kentucky, was created by the Virginia legislature in 1780. Its two sister counties, Jefferson and Fayette, were formed the same year from the vast and original Kentucky County. Nine years later we find Golson Step [sic] in Lincoln County for he married Rachel Nelson there, Sept. 17, 1789."
 
And if you read the rest of the information on Gholson, or research him, you will find that he stayed in Kentucky and did not ever go back into Burke County, North Carolina. 

In his will he stated "...to my wife Rachel and my children, to wit, Polly Stapp, John Stapp..."  So it is a fact that Gholson had a son named John and he was in Kentucky in 1802. But in our case that doesn't matter.  As previously mentioned, we know for certain that our John Stapp was in Burke County around 1819-1820, because that's where his son, Harmon was born. And since this is the case, it seems highly unlikely that Gholson's son, John would trek all the way back up to Burke County, North Carolina to have a family, then move all the way down to Georgia.

And since Harmon was born in Burke County, NC in 1819, and in the 1820 census, the only John Stapp/Stepp that was in the county (in the whole entire state for that matter) was John Jr., son of John Sr. of Burke County.  Golson's son, John is not found anywhere in North Carolina.  We know that our John wasn't in Georgia in the 1820 census, because the John Stapp, Sr. listed there in Greene County, Georgia is as I have mentioned above, is a totally different line!
 
If you look back into the censuses of John Sr. of Burke County, NC, you will notice that the age for his oldest child, John Jr. (as pointed out in the above article) matches our John Stapp, in the 1830 and 1840 censuses of Gwinnett County, Georgia.  You can review this chart and see how each census matches follows the age pattern for him.
 
County, State year Age Group Apparent Birth Year(s) How name appears
Burke, NC 1800 Under 10 1790-1800 (eldest son of John Stapp/Stepp Sr. household)
Burke, NC 1810 16-25 1785-1794 (eldest son of John Stapp/Stepp Sr. household)
Burke, NC 1820 26-45 1775-1794 Stapp, John Jr. (self)
         
Gwinnett, GA 1830 30-40 1790-1800 Stepp, John (self)
Gwinnett, GA 1840 40-50 1790-1800 Step, John (self)

 (John must have died sometime between 1840 and 1850 because his wife, Chaney is listed in the 1850 census living with their son, William Stapp in St. Clair County, Alabama.)

So if you look at the ages and birth years group, you can figure out that the birth year for both the Burke and Gwinnett County censuses match. John would have been born around the years 1790-1794.
 
And there you have it! That's proof of our line. Our John Sr. of Gwinnett County, Georgia was actually a Jr. and instead of his father being Gholson Stapp, it was actually Gholson's brother, John Stepp Sr.. But we are still of the same line!

This report was written and prepared by David-Alan Stapp, 25 August 2005.