Moses Stepp, of Orange County, Virginia native, and resident of Pike County, Kentucky when he died was soldier, Indian fighter, hunter explorer and backwoods settler of five states. he became a legend long before he succumbed to great age, so old his descendants said that when he died he attained the age of 120 years. If his headstone dates are true on his grave beside the road on the Pigeon Roost Fork of Wolf Creek in the present Martin County, Kentucky, he was the oldest man to ever live in Kentucky.
He joined the revolutionary forces when he was a mere youth, fought Indians and Tories, helping to hang many of the latter. He was a hunter of renown who approached famous marksmen and hunters who weaned pages in history but Stepp imprinted himself upon no history and left only legends and the meager data of official records. Between his tours of service in the Revolutionary Armies he probed the unexplored niches of the Appalachian in the five states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia. He was on the Tugaloo in South Carolina when it was Indian country, in the heart of the Blue Ridge when all his surroundings were implacable and pristine, in Southwestern Virginia when the deer and bear roamed the hills that overlooked his cabin on Grassy Creek. He left Virginia because settlers built cabins within a few miles of him and wandered into the headwaters of the Licking River in Kentucky. For a few years he thought that he would settle down on the Meadows of Licking but here too settlers came and soon the game was gone. Like Boone who left the more settled communities of Central Kentucky and sought refuge in the Kanawha Valley, Stepp turned east in his search for room and game. He found what he wanted in Wolf Creek Valley, a tributary of the Tug River that now separates Kentucky and West Virginia. In his old age he continued to hunt and many a lonely safari took him deep into the mountains of Southern West Virginia, then Virginia.
He was blonde, read headed and tall. His physique was such that men never forgot the expansive and hairy chest, the bulging biceps or the big hands and great feet to match. Living as he did in a period when men of strength and aggressiveness were won to display their prowess in rude combat, Stepp had few challengers. It is said that he roundly thrashed two or three, sometimes as many as four challengers who came to vote on election day but remained to drink and fight. He was of such strength that he could double back the arm of any opponent and dislocate a should with a swift thrust. Men learned to give him a circumspect glance and back away.
It was his torn disfigured ears that lent fierceness to his physiognomy. The Cherokee had captured him while he was on a lonely hunt in Northwestern South Carolina, tied him to a tree by inserting deer thongs through his ears and prepared to torture him. Before the ordeal began, he suddenly wrenched loose and escaped. For the remainder of his life those torn appendages made him a marked man for legends and folk stories. When they buried him on the Pigeon Roost Fork of Wolf Creek, mothers held their children up so they could gaze and were enjoined at the time to remember the man in the coffin. They remembered, many of them for four score years.
He lived to be old, so old that no one could correctly calculate his age for there were no written records. The folk will have their say. They said he was the oldest man who ever lived in Kentucky and when he was interred the inscribed on a rude stone, "born in 1735, died 1855." The last date is certainly not correct for War Department records note he died in 1856 but if the stone dates of birth and death had been true he would have been 120 years old at death.
He became a legendary figure long before he died, and he remains a legend today, 116 years after his demise. Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia Stepps, all his descendants, talk of him as if he lived but yesterday.
Part II of this book is the story of Moses Stepp and his descendants. The researchers and author trust it will earn an affectionate niche in the hears of the thousands who claim Moses Stepp as an ancestor.
(This biography of Moses Stepp was taken from William Wayne Stepp's, The Stepp Family Chronicles, pages 397-403 and a summary of pages 207-208 from Henry P. Scalf's, The Stepp/Stapp Families of America, by permission.
Milton Stapp, fifth child of Achillis and Margaret Vawter Stapp, was born in Scott, County, Kentucky, July 14, 1792. His father, a native of Orange County, Virginia, had pioneered the Bluegrass State in the late 1780's, several years before the establishment of Kentucky.
We are indebted to the memoirs of Milton Stapp for detail on the rudimentary elementary education he received: I started to school at 6 years of age, was taught by Benjamin Quin 9 months, was then kept from school until I was 9 years old, was then taught by ... Chariow (?) 6 months and by Thomas Alsop 9 months and a man by the name of Gorden 3 months. This constituted the sum total of my education. "However, despite his short period of formal studies, he was a student all his life and in the prime of life was a very literate man.
When he was eleven years old his father put him to the plow. Until he was twenty he plowed, cultivated, harvested the pioneer crops of the area, one took him into partnership on the proceeds of the farm. At the age of sixteen he became interested in the militia and served as a musician. Soon he was Captain of a company of boys. He was deeply moved by the Calvinistic preaching of the period and at the age of nine years first felt the urge to pray which he continued all his life.
April 1813, Milton enlisted in a company headed by Capt. James Stecker. Congress had authorized Col. Richard M. Johnson to raise a regiment for service in the Northwest against Great Britain and the war fever was rising in Kentucky. Achillis Stapp, Revolutionary War Veteran chided his son for enlisting but when Milton indicated he would like to withdraw his enlistment his father urged him to serve. The enlistees assembled at Great Crossing, Scott County, May 20, 1813, took up their line of march to join with the army of Gen. William Henry Harrison. Crossing the Ohio River at North Bend, they proceeded to Fort Way, later Elkhart. He saw service on the River Raisin but he was not in the battle there when the Americans suffered such a decisive defeat. He returned to Fort Meigs, then to Fort Stephenson on the lower Sandusky. In August Col Johnson allowed them to go home on leave. At the end of their leave they again assembled at Great Crossing and marched to Fort Meigs. Following long marches, battles and skirmishes, he was wounded during the pursuit of the British General Proctor, but not seriously. His company was disbandoned in November 1813. He had served six months.
Back from the war, Milton went to courting Elizabeth Branham, and proposed marriage which she rejected until he would have a farm and home to take her. Soon he purchased a farm in Franklin County, erected a cabin and Miss Branham agreed to occupy it. They were married March 16, 1814. The next year he began to hear much of the rich lands of Indian and in February 1814, with his brother-in-law, Robert Branham, moved to the village of Madison. He invested money unwisely, lost it all, and had to find an occupation. He became successively Constable, then Deputy Sheriff. He read Blackstone and continued his interest in the militia, was finally commissioned, in 1820, as a colonel. He was now 28 years of age. Receiving his license to practice law in 1822, he was elected to the Indiana legislature. January 2, 1822, he was commissioned a brigadier general and in 1823 was elected and commissioned a major-general over the counties of Jefferson, Scott, Jennings, Riley, Switzerland, and Dearborn Counties.
In December 1823, Milton was elected to the Indiana State Senate. It was a time of great controversy in regard to internal improvements, a program in which Stapp was much interested. Too, agitation was at its height to move the state capital from Corydon to Indianapolis. Stapp favored the latter. We learn from his memoirs the turbulent political questions racking the state.
While the Senate sat at Corydon Lieutenant-Governor Boon became a candidate for Congress and resigned as Lieutenant-Governor," Milton wrote. "James B. Ray, then a Senator, was elected President. The first winter at Indianapolis he was still president of the Senate at which William Hendricks the then Governor was elected to the United States Senate. When James B. Ray, the last night of the session took upon himself the government of the state, there being neither Governor or Lieutenant-Governor and we adjourned without elected a president of the Senate. The time of James B. Ray as a senator expired on the first Monday in August and another man elected in his place. The question then arose whether James B. Ray, after the first Monday in August could administer the government, he not being a senator and of course not President of the Senate. He continued to administer the government until the meeting of the Legislature when I was elected president of the Senate the question arose which Governor, him or I. It was settled by the Legislature that he was the Governor."
Milton's term as Senator expired in 1826 and the Governor appointed him Prosecuting Attorney in the Second Indiana Circuit. Construction of a proposed Wabash and Erie Canal brought Stapp back to the lower house in the legislature in 1827 as a representative from Jefferson County. Party lines were becoming confused, some of the leaders being called Adams men, others Jackson men. Their adherents kept the troubled political waters boiling. After much political maneuvering and realignments, James B. Ray was elected Governor and Stapp Lieutenant-Governor, the three-year term expiring December 1831. In the year in which his term was expiring he became a candidate for Governor but was defeated by Noah Noble. Stapp retired from politics.
In 1835 and 1839 Stapp ran successfully for the legislature but by 1838 but by 1838 certain questions relative to the railway system being resolved he again campaigned for the U.S. Senate. He was defeated. Milton termed 1840 the "excitable" year. Banks became insolvent, business stagnated and an economic daudrum descended upon the state. Milton lost considerable money. He came under attack from Gov. Noah Noble but was enabled to present his record in such and adroit manner that the attack failed.
In 1848 the Whig party convention met at Philadelphia. Milton was a delegate and voted for Gen. Zachary Taylor, the only vote he received from Indiana. There was a move made to make Stapp governor of Minnesota Territory but "the Secretary of the Treasury had gone over to Philadelphia the Friday previous and while there found Ramsay and another of their friends quarreling about the custom house of the city. In setting the dispute Ramsey told Meredith the secretary that if he could get to be the governor of Minnesota he would yield his pretensions to the customs house." The deal was made and Stapp returned to Indiana, very much disappointed. "It was my luck," he commented in his memoirs. He tried for a foreign appointment, but here too he failed. Following his failure to secure a foreign appointment, he tried to secure other appointments. "I at one time," he wrote, had assurances of the Governorship of Eutaw (sic), at another time Oregon, but failed in both and gave up trying.
Deeply disillusioned now with the state and national politics, Milton returned to Madison, planned to lead a quiet life and practice law. However, the people importuned him to become a candidate for mayor and he was elected. He went to work to develop a system of free schools. He visited schools in Chillicothe, Columbus, Cincinnati, and other Ohio cities, learning that he might take ideas back to Madison. Result of his studies and hard work was the establishment of a school system that would compare favorably with any today. However, the schools came under attack from the heavy German and Catholic elements in the city and chaos resulted. Milton resigned.
In early 1852 a Whig convention met a Indianapolis and Milton was named a delegate to the national convention at Baltimore. Milton was for Fillmore for President but Gen. Winfield Scott, Mexican War hero, was nominated. Scott promised him that if he would make a speaking tour of Indiana in the interest of his candidacy he would be appointed Governor of Kansas. Scott, being defeated, "the old Whig party was disbanded and I then determined to have nothing more to do with politics."
Milton Stapp, the old Whig warrior, makes few comments in his memoirs from 1852 to 1856. Of that four-year period he wrote:
"Time has rolled on through the years 1853, 54, 55, and it is now 1856. I am poor, having quit the practice of law and have nothing to do. The broken-down Whig party have in a great degree coalesced with the Abolitionist and Free Soil parties and are about to hold a convention in Indianapolis. My old friends insist on my going out, but I decline. They assure me that to beat the Democrats, that done they will return to their old principals but I fear to do evil that good may come. I still refused. They met, form the Republican Party, send forth their platform. It is abolition and Free-soil. I am sick of politics. Freemont is nominated by the Republicans, Fillmore by the Knownothings and Buckhannon by the Democrats. Although I am not and never have been a Knownothing Fillmore is my choice but I say, hands off. I am done."
However, he was not done. He was induced by a friend to sump against the surging rise of the Republican party. His speech at Shelbyville in 1856 on slavery and the divisive forces that were threatening the Union was probably the greatest he ever delivered. Sectional parties "may lead to sectional feelings, strife and altercations that will be hard to readicate...and in the end destroy this democratic government which is the hope of the world." At one point in his speech he was pithy and forthright in his position: "I would believe with you that slavery is a curse to our country, but I have no right to impose my beliefs upon those who believe differently from me and force them to sacrifice their property to my opinions of their interest. The Constitution does not prohibit slavery in the sovereign states that wish to hold the slaves in bondage; it is with them to hold them in bondage; it is with them to hold or free slaves; and it is non of our business. Whenever they ask me to aid them in freeing their slaves I am ready to assist them but I will not tender my services unasked. Let us, my friends, attend our business in the North...and not interfere with the business of our neighbors and all will go well."
In March 1856 Milton was elected to the office of Assessor of the city of Madison, an office he had not sought. It was a minor office, offering little compensation and he pondered on it in his memoirs: "I do not know that other men in my position would have regarded this elections as very honorable but I have always regarded the vote of the people in the smallest offices as honorable, particularly when given as in this case without my asking for it."
In the summer of the next year he made up his mind to settle on a farm in either Missouri or Kansas. He did go to Missouri but there he concluded that both Missouri and Kansas were too unsettled and divided and went to Texas instead. Letters from Texas has assured him that he could obtain a railroad charter and his friends at Madison agreed to back him financially. In the meantime, he went to Indianapolis and visited with a nephew, Darwin M. Stapp. From there, September 29, 1857, he left for Texas. He arrived in Austin, failed to procure a charter.
"On the first day of January 1858, William and James, my two sons arrived at a piece of land that I had purchased on the Manhuila creek in Goliad County...I had not Jone a stroke of work for over thirty years but with energy and determination we set to build our cabins, fenced and ploud (sic) our ground & got our crop in late."
Being encouraged to develop another proposed railroad, he went to New York, met nothing but failure. He went to Cleveland and Cincinnati. Again he met with rebuffs. Financial leaders at Madison offered help on certain terms and he returned to Texas. Finding no assistance form his friends in Texas, he faced the future with discouragement. He had lost approximately $40,000.
Coming under attack in Goliad, charged with being a Northerner and abolitionist, he defended himself in a speech there. He said that he had defended the South while living in Indiana. "I am here now to defend the North against man erroneous charges made against them by Southern papers and speakers...I am a conservative man, opposed to radicalism on the one hand and the fire eaters on the other hand. In a word, I shall use my utmost power to prevent destructive collision between the North and the South brought about by false charges and misrepresentations made against each other by demagogues, ambitious and selfish men. I lost my standing in Indiana on account of my independence in defending your rights. I do not expect to gain a standing here because that same independence here induces me to defend the rights of the North. In Indiana I was called a proslavery man and perhaps here I will be called an abolitionist. Be it so. I would not exchange the truth and my independence for all the favors that could be bestowed upon me by the North or the South."
Milton finally made up his mind to leave Texas, and go to Missouri. He obtained the necessary passes through Texas and August 15, 1862, he left Goliad, traveling with a light two-horse wagon, a saddle horse and led packhorse. He left his wife, a daughter, four granddaughters and two grandsons in his Goliad residence. He memoirs are obscure as to the composition of his party. They passed through Texas without question but when he attempted to enter Missouri he met many difficulties. The section was completely overrun with thieves and murderers but they arrived unharmed at Forsyth, Mo. The town was completely abandoned, "not a human being in town, doors all open & hogs and cattle occupying houses."
Finding his Louisiana bank notes of no value in Missouri, he and his party were reduced to near starvation but by the kindness of the residents and military officers succeeding making progress on their journey. Exchanging his Texas farm for a well-developed Missouri farm, he and several others who attached themselves to this party, moved back toward Texas. There were no difficulties thrown in their way until they came to Cassville, Mo. There at first stopped by Federal soldiers, he was permitted to pass southward by a Union officer who knew of Milton's Indiana career. He arrived back at Goliad Feb 7, 1863.
June 9, Milton and his family left Texas again, after disposing of his business as quickly as possible. In the party were his wife, his daughter Margaret Carpenter, her son Milton Hendricks and three daughters, Elizabeth Hendricks and Nancy Hendricks, and a grandson, Joseph Peyton Stapp. Knowing that confederate money would not be accepted in Missouri, he took along eleven head of horses, three yoke of oxen and three wagons. They traveled ten or twelve miles per day. They were warned that passage through the Indian Nation was impossible. Everywhere they met families from Missouri and Arkansas fleeing south. They arrived in Fort Smith, got a pass to Fayetteville, thence on to Van Buren. Being told that a journey through the Boston Mountains was impossible due to the fact that a guerrilla band was robbing everyone, they found an abandoned farm with plenty of fruit, potatoes, and truck patches. Six of the party of eight became seriously ill. Mrs. Carpenter died, August 26, 1863.
Arriving in Sedalia, Mo. Sept 29, 1863, the party broke up. The granddaughters Elizabeth and Nancy, had been taken to St. Louis under the care of an Army officer and finally reached Madison. Milton sent his wife, Drusie Hendricks and young Milton Hendricks to St. Louis. Oct 2, [young] Milton died. The two women took his body to Madison by rail. While at Sedalia he awaited letters from inquires in Northwestern Missouri that never came. He did learn, however, that it would be impossible to reside in either Johnson or Jackson counties because conditions were so unsettled. He decided to return to Madison, arriving there Nov 8, 1863. While at Madison he engaged in correspondence with Northern leaders, particularly Senator Henry S. Lane, of Kansas, suggesting the gradual emancipation of slaves.
It was while residing at Madison that he again came under attack for his independent view but in a speech, August 30, 1864, at Madison, he bluntly threw out his position. He was a defender of free speech he said, if it was not disloyal.
"I am by some called a Copperhead, a Butternut, not a Union man, because I cannot and will not abuse the Democrats & sustain president Lincoln in all his measures, his acts...," he said. "All I have to say to such is that I have defended Mr. Lincoln and the Republican Party where they dare not show their heads. I boldly defended then when the halter was held up to my view while they pointed to a live oak tree as an indication of what I might expect if I did not cease to defend a man and his party that was then despised. I defended them where the click of the six-shooter through the audience was distinctly heard indicating what might be the consequence if I proceeded." This speech did much to allay the suspicions of the residents of Madison entertained as to Stapp's views.
Milton's memoirs, now deposited in the Indiana Historical Society Archives, ended with his speech at Madison. The Civil War, that he had so long predicted in policies of misunderstanding and division followed, had at last ended. The South was pulling itself out of the devastation of the struggle, with Texas leading in the revival of agriculture and industry. Milton returned to Texas but this time he went to Galveston. We do not know whether he planned to engage in farming or railroad building but are inclined to believe the latter. he died there, August 2, 1869. The body was returned to Madison and interred in the Springdale Cemetery. June 26, 1879, Elizabeth Branham Stapp, appeared before the Circuit County Clerk of Jefferson County, Indiana, and field a declaration as to the services of her husband in the War of 1812. Milton, she stated, had never asked for a pension but had at one time procured a land bounty warrant. From other sources we learn Milton had been awarded 80 acres, under date of Feb 11, 1851. Mrs. Stapp's application for a pension describes her husband at the time of his enlistment "Height about 5 feet 9 inches, light hair, blue eyes, complexion florid, and large dimple in chin."
In her senile years the widow resided at the home of a daughter in Madison and died there October 29, 1884.
(This biography of Major-General Milton Stapp was taken from Henry P. Scalf's, The Stepp/Stapp Families of America, pages 396-401 by permission.)
Golson Stapp, unlike the majority of the Stapps-Stepps, remained loyal to the British government in the Revolutionary War. His continued allegiance to the King of England may have bee influenced by the considerable Tory sentiment of his section of Central North Carolina, but it was a weak loyalty, easily wrenched away by the circumstances of war.
He appears as a Tory prisoner of the patriot General, William Davidson in 180. Stapp, a recruit and partisan of the infamous North Carolina leader, Col. David Fanning, proved a prized catch of the Americans for they were hard-pressed for intelligence of the British intentions in North Carolina and Stapp, who seemed to know, informed of threatening British and Tory intentions. This Tory connection did not seem to be a fatal liability of Golson's and his neck was save, we are sure, by his cooperation with Gen. Davidson in the matter of intelligence and he went on to become a prominent Central Kentuckian.
Golson Stapp, Stepp or Step (the name variously spelled) (38) was a native of Virginia, either of Orange or Culpepper County. His father, James Stapp, I, Sr., was a son of John Stapp, I, Sr., of Culpepper who died in 151 and left five orphans for whom Joshua Stapp, Sr., their grandfather was appointed guardian. Joshua, as noted in the first part of this chapter, was one of the middle sons of Abraham Stapp, Sr., first of the line, as far as is known, in America. James Stapp, Sr., who died in Kentucky in 1794, married Lucie Golston, daughter of Anthony Golson (the name variously spelled) of Orange County, Va., a descendant of Theodore Gholson of Essex County. This accounts for Golson's unusual name.
Golson Stapp was probably an adult or in his late adolescence when he left Virginia, probably Culpepper or Orange County, and moved south to North Carolina.
Middle North Carolina was so beset with Tory and patriot activity in the latter half of the 1770-1780 decade that the region bordered on anarchy. Col. David Fanning, upon whom the British relied to gather and utilize recruits, was ruthless and savage, hanging and otherwise murdering patriot adherents as he marched back and forth in North Carolina. In retaliation the patriot troops hanged many Tories at Hillsboro and Salisbury. Fanning, bold and daring, succeeded in capturing Governor Burke of North Carolina and carrying him into the British lines. His ruthless activity so enraged and embitter North Carolinians that long after the Revolution ended and a spirit of forgiveness began to grow between the former antagonist in the struggle Fanning remained proscribed by the state government. he died in 1825 in Nova Scotia where he had fled to save his neck. (39)
We are indebted to the pension application statement of Captain Henry Connelly, North Carolina patriot soldier and later an early settler in the present Johnson County, Kentucky, for a concise account of the Tory-Whirtnral North Carolina, a war in which Golson Stapp participated.
"I was directed by Governor Burke and Colonel Davie to keep down Fanning in Guilford and Rowan," Connelly said in the interrogatory. "This the applicant did with one hundred men, a horse company. He served in 1777 in this capacity, likewise in 1778 and until the fall of 1779. He then joined General Davidson and was with him at the battle of Colson's Mills, where he got wounded. This was in May or June 1780. He was at the battle of Hillsboro and had nineteen of his horsemen killed on the field and seven died the next day of their wound." (40)
By 1780 the Tory-Whig confrontation and the advance of the British regulars northward through North Carolina threw the American military into great anxiety. General William Lee Davidson sent out patrols day after day with orders to seize prisoners. In early October he was rewarded with a British regular and three Tories. One of the Tories was Golson Stepp.
It was the men of Col. William Richardson Dave who captured Stepp for this intrepid partisan was keeping the British General Cornwallis bottled up in Charlotte. We are indebted to PIEDMONT PARTISAN - The Life and Times of Major-General William Lee Davidson, by Chalmers G. Davidson, page 83, for the incident in which Golson Stepp was captured. "During the first week in October a large packet of dispatches was captured on its way to Camden, 50 horses were sought from the Tories at Colonel Polk's plantation and over twenty-five kegs of powder were filched from within four miles of Charlotte. The bushwhacking proclivities of the backwoodsmen were beating down the morale of the conquerors." This had to be the occasion on which Stepp was captured for no other raid occurred prior to the seventh of October and Gen. Davidson specifically stated the Tory Stepp was captured October 6. That, as Davison's biographer said, the British and Tory morale was low, and evidenced by Golson Stepp's willingness to impart intelligence to the partisan general.
Davidson wrote Gen. Jethro Sumner, from Camp Rocky River, October 8, 1780: (41) "You have my thanks for yours of the 7th instant. I am now N.E. of Charlotte 134 miles. By the Beareer I send you on British prisoner taken some days since and 3 Tories taken the 6th instant. Golson Step, a Tory, on examination gave the following particulars: That the enemy brought to Charlotte 100 waggons [sic], 1,100 infantry in uniform, 550 Light Dragoons, 800 Militia & 2 field pieces; that they received lately a small reinforcement of 100 or 150 men from the Waxhaws & yesterday the drew two days provisions to be had in readiness to march." Davidson's letter concluded with instruction to Gen. Sumner to seize rifles from the inhabitants and "a considerable Quantity of Leather belonging to the Estate of Montgomery in Salisbury & cloth belonging to Chambers in the same place." (42)
Since Golson Stapp was not charged with crimes against the inhabitants of North Carolina and he had cooperated wholeheartedly with General Davidson in the matter of intelligence he went free. His loyalty to the King's cause must have been weak and tenuous judging from the readiness with which he gave information. it is inferred from a subsequent record that he took the oath of allegiance but if he did there is no known record of it.
Nearly two years before Golson was captured by Gen. Davidson, March 29, 1779, he had appeared as a bondsman in Wilkes County, when Thomas Wisdom married Catherine Stapp. She was probably a sister. We deduce from this first record on Golson that he was an adult in 1779 so was probably born in the late 1750's. July 23, 1782, Golson Stapp married Ailes Peninton (Alice Pennington) in Wilkes County. Bondsman and witness were Abraham Demoss and G. Wheatley.(43) Mrs. Stapp lived only a few years. Definite record of children of this union does not exist but there are considerable inferences that there were several.
Golson Stapp was most probably residing in Wilkes County, N.C. during the Revolutionary War. However, we find Land Grant No. 1340 in Burke County in his name. The grant was for 100 acres "lying on the Gunpowder Creek, a tributary of the Catawba River, beginning at large white oak tree about half a mile below Ingles line and running up both sides of the creek and including the improvements that John Connor lives on...." Date of the entry was Feb. 21, 1779. Five years later, 1784, Golson and his brother John Stapp, the name now spelled Stepp, appear on the tax list in Capt. Keese's District in Wilkes County. Each had 100 acres on King's Creek. Golson had one tithable and John had three. Wilkes County, although huge and sprawling in 1784, was thinly populated. it had only 1071 taxpayers in 1784.
The village of Kings Creek is sited now in Caldwell County which is sandwiched between Burke and Wilkes. Kings Creek is a tributary of the Yadkin River.
The 1782 tax list for Wilkes County in informative on the Stepps, as the name there was spelled. Moses Stepp, Revolutionary War soldier and eastern Kentucky settler, is listed in Capt. Wm. Sloan's district. Evidently he had just establish a farm and home for he was entered on the rolls as having 100 acres of land, a horse and cow for a total value of 32 pounds. James Jackson, a brother of Sally Jackson Stepp, wife of Moses, was listed next to Moses but without property. Thomas Stepp, John Stepp, James Stepp Sr., and James Jr., were listed int he nearby district of Capt. Keese's. The first named three were well-to-farmers, owning slave and considerable livestock for the time and place. The Stepp households were not far apart. Residing in the area with the Stepps were family heads with names of Triplett, Henderson, Howard, Jones, Spencer, Wilson, Robinson, Hall, Perkins, Rice, Francis, Brown, Webb, Castle, Pinson, Adams, Reed, Carter, all familiar names in eastern Kentucky and indicative of the huge settler pool from which they were drawn in the next quarter century.
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 the 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.
Within a few years Golson began a long series of land transactions that are recorded in present day Adair, Jessamine, Lincoln, Garrard, Fayette, Madison, Green and Christian counties. Only a few of them were original patents and only a few were for great acreages but the total was impress although in many instances the acreage is impossible to determine due to the absence of specified size. in 1792, Golson received a military grant from Virginia for 1,200 acres (amount awarded to junior officers) on the Cumberland River, then in Lincoln, later in Green, finally in Cumberland County. This acquisition of a military land warrant from Virginia is one of the historical inferences that leads us to believe Golson Stapp adhered to the Revolutionary cause after 1780 and performed some service (intelligence) that gave him a right to land in southern Kentucky, reserved for veterans of the Revolution. (44)
The Cumberland country was sparsely settled in 1792 when Golson Stapp claimed 1, 200 acres of river bottom. Only two years earlier Indians had rampaged through the area. Striking at a white stockage three miles from the present Columbia, Adair County, the redskins killed Rev. John Tucker, first Methodist minister of the area, at his home after they were repulsed by the fierce resistance of the fort. At the environs of the stockage the Indians captured a small white girl and some booty, treated to the falls of Little Remox Creek. There the whites under Col. William Casey overtook them. All of the Indians were slain and the little girl rescued. (45)
Garrard County was created in 1796 from Lincoln, Mercer and Madison counties and this new unit of governmental jurisdiction claimed Golson Stapp for the rest of his life. It is presumed, with some evidence, that he resided either in Lancaster or nearby. His purchases and sales of land broadened out by 1799 to adjacent counties, his chief area of interest in Garrard. Between 1799 and 1802 he purchase 980 acres on the Cumberland River from Joseph Utman, 287 acres from Joseph Bledsoe. These deeds are typical of his acquisitions in Garrard. however, they are only indicative. He acquired much more as deeds show. The General Index to Deeds in Jessamine County, Ky., shows that Golson Stapp purchase of Joseph Crockett (brother of David Crockett, one of Old Tennessee Hunters) 666 2/3 acres in Green County, Ky., (Book A, page 70, in the year 1799). Between 1799 and 1802, when he was probably adjusting his estate by selling vast acreages in anticipation of his demise, he sold a total of approximately 11,000 acres. All of the land was on the Cumberland River or tributaries and in Green, Pulaski, Garrard and Adair counties. Five thousand acres were sold sand recorded in Adair County between 1801 and 1803, some of the deed s remaining unrecorded until after his death. The Adair lands were on the creeks of Wolf, Reynolds, Greasy and Russell. There is no indication, resulting from a casual examination of the record, of the disposition of 2,555 acres Golson had bought from William Roberts, of Shelby County. Since the land "was lying and being in Green County on Wolf Creek, a branch of the Cumberland" the smaller parts sold on Wolf Creek may account for all or most of it.
Golson Stapp executed his will, Dec. 7, 182, leaving his "personal estate to my wife Rachel and my children, to wit, Polly Stapp, John Stapp, Patsy (Alice?) Stapp, William Stapp, Sally Stap, Rachal Stapp, and James Stapp." The estate was to be equally divided and "my executor shall have the Direction of the Education of my children...and that he shall have power to give them such learning as he may in his discretion thinks best suits their Situation and capabilities." The Negro slaves, the number omitted, were to be divided between the widow and children. john Jones, of Garrard County, was named executor.(46) Golson died between the date of the will and August next year when Rachel Stapp is named as his widow in a deed. The instrument mentioned here was a conveyance of 1,000 acres to the Stapp estate by James moody, an attorney in fact. Grantees in the deed were sons and daughters John, Rachel, Alice, James, Polly, William, and Sally. (47)
Rachel Nelson Stapp, his second wife whom he married in Lincoln County, Ky., July 17, 1789, did not long survive her husband. December 12, 1804, she executed her will. She provided that the eighth part of her late husband's real estate to be equally divided "between my four children, to wit, William Stapp, Sally Stapp, Rachel Stapp, and James Stapp." The two best beds were to be given to daughters Sally and Rachel. The Negro slave, Liley, and her child, were given to two daughters "until they attain the age of twenty one years old or get married." She also named John Johnes as executor. No probate records were checked but since deeds or other legal instruments were found bearing her name afterward it is deduced she died immediately after executing the will or the next year.
Issue of Golson Stapp
1. Polly Stapp, born ca 1783, married Henry Jenkins, Dec. 10, 1791, Woodford County, Kentucky. She was born in North Carolina.
2. John Stapp, born ca 1784, North Carolina.
3. Alice (Patsy) Stapp, born 1787, either North Carolina or Tennessee.
4. William (Devil Bill) Stapp, born ca 1790, Kentucky, died 1878, was twice married. The first union was with Nancy May in 1806, (born ca 1791, died ca 1811); secondly, he was married in 1811, to Elizabeth Swope, born ca 1792.
5. Sally Stapp, born ca 1791.
6.Rachel Stapp, born ca 1793, married Alexander R. Letcher, 1812.
7. James Stapp, born ca 178, possibly as late as 1800. James removed to Indiana. (See chapter Mid-western Stapps) and died there.
(This biography of Gholson Stapp was taken from Henry P. Scalf's, The Stepp/Stapp Family of America, pages 47-51 by permission.)
Elijah Stapp, Virginia native, Kentucky and Missouri resident, and Texas Patriot, was born in Virginia, October 16, 1783, a son of Achillis Stapp and Margaret Vawter Stapp. He was about six years old when his parents moved to what is now Scott County, Kentucky. He married Nancy Shannon, of Kentucky the date is not known but it must have been around the period of 1810-1820. Central Kentucky was War Hawk country preceding the War of 1812 and when Richard M. Johnson, native Scott Countian and afterward Vice-Presidents of the United States, organized the Third Regiment Kentucky Riflemen for a campaign against the British, Elijah joined immediately after the regiment was organized Sep. 1, 1812. Richard M. Johnson was elected colonel of the regiment; James John son was named Captain of the Fifth Company, Joseph Boyd and James Suggett were elected lieutenant; Elijah Stapp became the ensign.
Stapp’s life was one of long continued adventure from the migration when he was a mere child until less than a decade of his death in Texas. He grew up in Kentucky, his teen-age years filled with Indian alarms. He remembered distinctly in his adult years that his parents often warned him not to stray in the cane brake bottoms of Elkhorn Creek fro the savage Indians were marauding in Central Kentucky. Missouri was still a near-frontier state when he settled there in the 1820’s. Texas was still a strife-torn land, repressed by Mexicans, subjected to fierce Comanche raids and infested with outlaws when he visited there in 1826 to look for land.
Green C. DeWitt, Texas colonizer, and Elijah Stapp met in the winter of 1825-26 and the former related his plans to move a group of settlers to the Mexican province. DeWitt knew Stephen F. Austin, who had grandiose planes of Texas colonization. Stapp became interested at once and had DeWitt write him a letter of introduction to Austin. Came the spring of 1826 and Stapp rode south to Texas. He found Austin, gloomy and worried that all his talk of independence from Mexico would endanger his vast Mexican holdings. Stapp rode far and wide, exploring the country, looking at the new land. He went back to Missouri, determined to return as soon as it was feasible.
For four years Stapp pondered on his plans to move to Texas, the delay in migrating due to stories of Indian incursions and outlawry. He had a rapidly increasing family by this time and he hesitated to subject them to the uncertainties of life on the raw Texas frontier. However, by 1831 he had made up his mind and he began preparations for the hegira. Arriving in Texas, he sought out DeWitt and procured a title, July 16, 1831 to a league of land in the present Victoria County.
Four years after Stapp removed to Texas the American settlers revolted but many were massacred at the Alamo, March 6, 1836. Gen. Sam Houston led an army across Texas, eluding the Mexican Army until he found a good defensive position at San Jacinto. There, April 21, 1836, the settlers defeated the Mexicans. Independence was won and Texas declared itself a Republic.
Stapp was serving as second judge of the municipality of Jackson when the settlers revolted and at the time of the Alamo tragedy. He voiced his adherence to the cause of independence but continued to serve as judge, a position to which he had been named by the General Council of the provisional government, December 6, 1835. He was the lone representative to the municipality of Jackson to Washtington-on-the-Brazoe convention in 1836 that voted for independence. Stapp signed the declaration, thus endearing himself as on of the founding fathers of the new republic.
He became postmaster at La Baca, Jackson County, in 1840, his term as judge having expired. Dying August 21, 1842, he thus deceased three years prior to the admission of Texas to the United States. The death date given is from family archives but the Handbook of Texas, Volume II, page 659, states he died March 1843. He was buried in what is now called the Russell Ward Cemetery, five miles northeast of Edna, Texas. The Texas Centennial Commission erected a monument at his grave in 1936.
(This biography of Elijah Stapp was taken from Henry P. Scalf's, The Stepp/Stapp Families of America, pages 410-411 by permission.)
Larry C. Kennedy was the great grandson of Wellington Stepp, eldest son of John Silas Step, Jr. and clan leader of the Stepp migration to east Tennessee in 1855. Larry, in his life, established the fact that all heroes and super achievers are not "from somewhere else" - - some are from "home." Larry grew up as a farm boy in Atchison County, Missouri and attended school in the rural district called Irish Grove. He was a super athlete and four year letterman of on e of the best basketball teams of his time. As a youth and young man, his teachers and classmates rated him as a warm, gentle and somewhat mischievous person, usually of smiling good nature. His was a loving and close family and he exhibited the positive effects of this throughout his life.
World War II found Larry (a graduate of Tarkio College in Tarkio, Missouri by then) employed in Minnesota. He wanted to be a flyer and he set out to be just that. Late in his training, he flew his bomber over his hometown of Fairfax, Missouri (while enroute from his southern base to Omaha, Nebraska.) He had announced his intention to do so before hand to family and friends. The word leaked out of his intentions and of the date and time and needless to say, there was a large audience waiting to see the "hometown boy" fly over the Fairfax, Missouri area. later, in Europe, Larry and his crew were shot down during one of the many bombing missions assigned them. They became prisoners of war of the Germans for the duration. Larry's Navigator, David Westheimer (who had saved Larry's life at the time of their plane crash) later wrote the book "Von Ryan's Express", a story of prisoners of war in an escape attempt. A movie was made of his story starring Frank Sinatra. The fly leaf of the book dedicates the story to his pilot, Larry C. Kennedy.
After the war, Larry expanded his education and began to teach in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area, becoming a long time Principal of Lafayette School (1948-1978). Larry retired in 1978. Larry died in Mary of 1980 and his services were conducted by his Bomber Navigator of long ago, David Westheimer. The flag of his country that he had served so well was presented to his school by his widow, Beth. It flies there yet today (1984).
But the above was not to be his last honor. In march of 1981, school officials voted to change the name of his school from the Lafayette school to the Larry C. Kennedy school. Readers who may visit that area will see his name on his school , as a living memorial to an American patriot and educator. Truly he had followed the path of his great grandfather, Wellington Stepp of Virginia.
There is more to be added on this item and in the 2nd Edition of The Chronicles. Since David Westheimer authored "Von Ryan's Express" he has written many more books, including "Sitting It out", his very latest book. "Sitting It Out" is a true story of their actual years in prison in war time WWII. It's a story of their B24 Liberator named "The Natchez to Mobile, Memphis to St. Joe", their 28th and fateful last bombing run (mission) of WWII and their life in war time prisons in Italy and Germany. The two main characters in the book are Captain Kennedy, the pilot and David Westheimer, his navigator (and the author). "Sitting It Out" is Westheimer's greatest book. Every Stepp should read it. Captain Kennedy's mother was Iva Dell Stepp.
As mentioned above, in his eulogy for his pilot, Westheimer once again guided his pilot on his last flight - that one destined by hi Maker and that one reuniting him with his loved ones and with those of his war time crew who had passed on before him. You can almost hear the roar of the giant bomber on its last run...
(This biography of Capt. Lawrence Clair Kennedy was taken from William Wayne Stepp's, The Stepp Family Chronicles, page 317 by permission.)
The Rev. Allen C. Stepp was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, May 6, 1832. In his early youth, his parents moved to Greenville County, South Carolina and settled near Middle Creek Baptist Church. There at the age of 16, he was baptized into that church's fellowship by the Rev. L. Parnell. He entered Mossy Creek College in Tennessee in 1853 where he graduated four years later.
After his graduation, he returned to his home in Greenville County and was ordained to the ministry at the Middle Creek Church, the presbytery consisting of the following ministers: L. Parnell, J.W. Runion, C.W. Phillips, and D. Blythe. Soon thereafter, he was called to the pastorate of the Columbia Baptist Church in Greenville County and upon the resignation of the Rev. William P. Martin at Poplar Springs, 1868, this church called him. Here he remained for 27 years.
In 1859 he married Mrs. Ann R. McCullough Johnson, daughter of the late Colonial Joseph and Mary McCullough. He settled on a farm near Columbia Church where he lived for the most of his life.
Besides his pastorate at Poplar Springs, he was pastor at different times at Washington, Sandy Springs, Columbia, and Grove Shoals, Greenville County, Warrior Creek, Harmony, Duban's and Ruban's in Laurens County and Honea path in Anderson county. He was the leading spirit in the constitution of Honea Path Church. He was pastor at Honea Path and poplar Springs when he died. on August 22, 1895, while preaching in a series of revival meetings a Poplar Springs, he was suddenly stricken. He was taken to the home of his friend, J. Y. Pitts, where he passed to his eternal and heavenly home.
His beloved wife had died some 18 months before. He left two sons and one daughter, Mr. J.B. Stepp, M.D. of Switzer, South Carolina, Mrs. Joseph A. McCullough, Esq. of Greenville, South Carolina, and Mrs. Lafayett Martin, wife of Dr. Lafayett Martin of Princeton, South Carolina.
Rev. Stepp was a man of extensive information and while he was not disposed to seek society, he was of genial and social disposition, conversing readily and well on a great variety of subjects. His mind was strong, clear, and energetic. He was an original thinker and a man of decided convictions. He reached his own conclusion and defended his position with indomitable courage. As a minister of the Gospel, Rev. Stepp was immanently successful. The secret of his great success lay in his great decisions of character, in the unwearied diligence with which he discharge his ministerial duties, and the marked practical character of his preaching. His congregations were always large. The sunshine of cheerfulness and love was always on his face, the eloquence of the cordiality in the grip of his right hand.
The Rev. Allen C. Stepp was the grandfather of "Dr. Jim" and great grandfather of "Dr. Jim's" daughter, Mollie Stepp Wilson, team researcher.
(This biography of Rev. Allen C. Stepp was taken from William Wayne Stepp's, The Stepp Family Chronicles, page 309 by permission.)