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
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
Also, if you look on page 61 of the same book:
Issue of James Stapp, Sr. and
7. "John Stapp (Stepp), born ca 1764, died 1849/1851.
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)
Jesse (?) Stepp
N.R. Stepp page 159
Now if you remember, Scalf said:
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
"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
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.
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.
Apparent Birth Year(s)
How name appears
(eldest son of John Stapp/Stepp Sr. household)
(eldest son of John Stapp/Stepp Sr. household)
Stapp, John Jr. (self)
Stepp, John (self)
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,
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
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
25 August 2005.