STEPHENS. The Stephens family resident for several generations in southern Indiana county was founded there about the beginning of the last century by Samuel Stephens, grandfather of George M. Stephens, who is a resident of Dilltown, in Buffing- ton township, and of Judge Marlin. B. Stephens, John H. Stephens. Esq., Mary J. Stephens and Mrs. Olive F. (Stephens) Mayer, all of the city of Johnstown, Pa. The family has been established in America since before the Revolutionary war.
Benjamin Stephens, the pioneer of this family in America, was born about the year 1735, and embarked from Plymouth, England, at the age of twenty-one, to seek his fortune in the “land of the free.” His ship was wrecked off the coast of Maryland. In his struggle for life he found the small boats filled to overflowing, and when he tried to hold on with one hand and swim with the other, there were cries of ‘‘Cut him off,’’ but a voice said, “No, I’ll balance him,” and the owner of the voice got to the other side of the boat. The distance to the shore was about three miles, and by the time it was reached Benjamin was very much exhausted. He had a sum of money in his belt, and with that he began life in the new world. In 1758 he married a Miss Caldwell, in Somerset county, Md., and the children of this union were born as follows: Thomas, 1759; Benjamin. Jr., 1761; William, 1763; Richard, 1765; Rebecca, 1767 (married Joseph Pitman); Samuel, February, 1769; and John, 1771.
Benjamin Stephens emigrated to America about the year 1756, and was a soldier in the French and Indian war, serving in the campaign against the French posts on the Canadian border, and was present at the capitulation of Montreal on the 8th day of September, A. D. 1760. He died in 1814 at his home in Bedford county, Pennsylvania.
“During the Revolutionary war Benjamin Stephens and two of his sons served loyally in the struggle for American independence; father and two sons, Thomas and Benjamin, Jr., being at one time members of the same company.” Benjamin Stephens served as one of the Rangers on the frontier from 1778 to 1783 (Pa. Archives, Vol. XXIII. 3d Series, page 236).
Some of the original family located in Maryland and some in Missouri. William and Richard went to the State of Indiana, and Benjamin, Jr., pushed on to the State of Illinois. Thomas lost one arm in the Revolutionary war; he was never married.
Samuel Stephens was married to Miss Miriam Pitman, in 1793. near Morrisons Cove, then in Bedford county, Pa. She was the daughter of Joseph Pitman, who fought in the Revolution as one of the frontier rangers from Bedford county. The Pitman family came from New Jersey some time before this. She was the grandmother of George M. Stephens, Marlin B. Stephens, John H. Stephens, Mary J. Stephens, and Mrs. Olive F. (Stephens) Mayer. Samuel and his young wife, sixteen years of age, came over the mountains on horseback, accompanied by Samuel’s two brothers, Thomas and John. In a recent historical publication of Cambria county, Pa., we find the following: “Samuel Stephens, shortly after the close of the Revolutionary war, was imbued, like many of that period, with the spirit of adventure, and having learned of the productive soil in the valleys of the western slope of the Alleghenies and the abundance of game on its vast mountain ranges, set out to seek a home for himself in the wilds of western Pennsylvania. He was familiar with the country, although but a boy in years, having accompanied his older brothers, who traveled through the same on one of the military expeditions during the Revolutionary period to the headwaters of the Allegheny river and the Great Lakes. Samuel Stephens was accompanied to his new home by his brothers, John and Thomas, bringing with them their cattle and such household goods as were necessary and in common use at that time in the new country, and finally located” (1798) “in what is noir Brushvalley township. Indiana county, Pa., near the present site of Mechanicsburg. John and Thomas remained with their brother Samuel for some time, assisting him to clear some land and erect his cabin house, when they re turned to their homes. Thomas had lost an arm as a result of a gunshot wound in the Revolutionary war.”
Samuel Stephens located on the present site of Mechanicsburg, where he resided for a number of years, nine of his children being born on that tract, all now deceased, namely: (1 Rebecca married John Graham, and had nine children, all now deceased, viz.: Samuel, who married Elizabeth Brown; James, who married Nancy Gibson, and (second) Orma Lyda; John; Joseph; Benjamin; Ann, married to Robert Woodside, and (second) to John Saddler; Rebecca, married to Mark McFeaters; Miriam, married to Hugh Cameron; and Jane, deceased, married to James Dick. Samuel’s children were: Mary Magdalene. married, deceased; Rebecca, married to William Sides; Amos L., married to Marinda Dick; James Benson, married to Lizzie Gibson; Susan, deceased, married to J. T. Griffith; and Watson, married. Amos L. and James Benson were both in the Civil war. James is living on the old homestead, and has quite a large family. Amos is living in Johnstown. Pa. (2) Nancy married Jacob Stephens of Ohio. (3) Samuel S. married Rebecca Elkins, and removed to Arkansas. (4) Sarah married Evan Griffith, and had twelve children, two of whom reside in Indiana, Pa., namely, Mrs. Mary (Griffith) Thomas and Stephen Griffith. (5) John, who made his home in Ohio, married Eliza Williams, and had ten children, one of whom is still living, Mrs. Mary Gleason, residing in Morrow county, Ohio. (6) Benjamin married Elizabeth Ginter, who lived and died in Clearfield county, Pa., and had seven children, one of whom is still living and resides at Ramey, Clearfield Co., Pa. (7) Abednego, who lived at Tyrone, Pa., married Rebecca Elder and left to survive him five children, three of whom are now living. (8) William S., father of the subjects of this sketch, is mentioned below. (9) Joseph married Mary Stevens, and had three children, namely; Meshac, who died in the West, left to survive him three children; Samson married Elvira Conrad, and had seven children, four of whom are now living; Elias, who married Melissa Spires and is still living, had five children, two of whom are living, Joseph and Leon, who reside on the old home stead of their grandfather, Joseph Stephens, in East Wheatfield township, Indiana Co., Pennsylvania.
Samuel Stephens’s wife died when Joseph, the youngest child, was but two hours old, in December, 1809. She was buried on a part of the Brushvalley farm on which the village of Mechanicsburg now stands, and a stone marks the spot to this day. After the death of his wife Samuel became discontented, and sold his farm in Brushvalley, buying another on Blacklick creek, from Adam Richey, in Buffington township, about one mile northwest of Dilltown, in June, 1810. This farm is now owned by Frank G. Conrad. Here Samuel Stephens laid out the road that leads to Croft, and thence to McCartney’s, where he courted and married Catherine, daughter of Joseph and Catherine (Galbreath) McCartney, in 1811. To them were born the following children: Miriam, born in 1812, married George Mattern, both now deceased; Thomas, born in 1814. is deceased; Nicholas is deceased; Martha, born in 1816, married Samuel Wilson, both now deceased; Estep married, died, and left to survive him •two daughters; Samson is deceased; Jane married William Wilson, both deceased, and to this union eight children were born, three of whom are now living; James is deceased; and two children died in infancy. Samuel Stephens’s second wife died in May, 1825, and was interred in the McCartney burying ground. In February, 1826, Samuel Stephens made his third matrimonial venture, marrying Frances Thompson. To this union were born in Pennsylvania the following children, all now deceased: Mary, David and Jonathan, twins, who grew to man hood, fought and died in the city of Mexico in the Mexican war; and Richard, who died in infancy.
In 1830 Samuel Stephens determined to go farther west. Hearing from his brothers of the fertile and well-watered land in the State of Indiana, he sold his farm and all the personal property he could spare, and started on the first day of April, 1830, with his third family and household goods, driving to Pitts burg by way of the old stone pike, thence by boat to Cincinnati. His son Estep was the only one of the other two families of children to go with his father. They hauled the lumber to build the raft upon which to float down the Ohio river. Of that hazardous trip we know nothing. He finally located in Rushville, Rush Co., Ind., where he took up two or more farms, and his family was further increased by several children, namely: James, born in 1832, married, and died while serving in the Civil war, after the battle of Pittsburg Landing; Maria, born in 1834, married Mr. Gibson; Ruth Ann, born in 1836, married Samuel Joliffe; Lucinda, born in 1838, married Mr. Roberts; Margaret, born in 1840, married Mr. Knierehn; and Jehu was born in May, 1843, two months after his father’s death, which occurred March 23, 1843. All of those are now deceased. Jehu married Esther Roberts, and three children were born to this union, namely: Mary, married, deceased; John D., and Dr. William Estep Stephens, of Kansas City. Jehu married (second) Mrs. Kate Smith, deceased, and one son, Charles Stephens, of Bluff ton, Indiana, was born to this union. There were three other children born as a result of Samuel Stephens’s third union who died in early infancy, and to whom no names were given, making a family of thirty-two. The third wife died March 12, 1886, at the age of eighty-four years. Samuel Stephens is buried on the farm of which he died seized, about one mile from Rushville. A stone now marks his grave. His will is re corded in Rushville, the county seat of Rush county, Ind. He was a soldier in the war of 1812.
William S. Stephens, born Nov. 29, 1808, on his father’s homestead farm, on the present site of the village of 1V was the next to the youngest son by the first wife. He went east of the mountains with his brothers, Abednego and Joseph, when he was not yet sixteen years of age, to work in the charcoal furnaces, where William was soon promoted to being a foreman and general overseer. In 1832 he married Mary Mattern. and resided in the vicinity of Warriors Mark, Hunting- don Co., Pa. There were four children born to them as a result of this union in Hunting- don county: Samuel Shadrach, who married Mary Myers (both deceased); Jacob Meshach, who died young; Mary Jane; and Miriam Catherina, who also died in infancy. In 1839 be returned to Indiana county and bought the old farm which had formerly been owned by his father, above Dilltown, the same farm which his father had sold nine years before to Thomas E. Thomas. Cynthia Ellen and William Asbury were born at this place. In 1840 he purchased the homestead in Dill- town, with its mill sites, which was a dream of his boyhood, and was realized in manhood. The sawmill was put up that year, and he walked from his sawmill to the farm he had purchased more than one mile each morning and evening until he had his house on the present homestead at Dilltown completed far enough to live in. James Wilson had a cabin built near, and operated the mill, furnishing lumber for the entire community. The new homestead was completed in 1843, and the gristmill was begun the same year by Jacob Gamble. It still stands, in good condition, and is owned and operated by his son George M. Stephens, who was born in 1844. William S. Stephens engaged in farming, lumbering and milling here until his death, Feb. 28, 1888. Gilbert Lloyd, the next child in the family of William S. Stephens, was born in 1847; he served in the Civil war with his two brothers, William Asbury and George M., and was reading medicine with the late Dr. L. T. Beam, of Johnstown, Pa., at the time of his death, Feb. 10, 1873. William S. Stephens’s first wife died in 1853, and in February, 1857, be married Sarah Ann Skiles, who was born in East Wheatfield township, Indiana county, Feb. 2, 1825. To this union were born: James Estep, who died in 1860; Marlin Bingham; Olive Frances; John Harris; and Annie, who died in June, 1873.
William S. Stephens was an energetic and progressive man, always keeping well abreast of the times. He was among the first in every movement which tended to the public good, and took an active interest in every project looking to the abolition of human slavery. Upon the breaking out of the Civil war, being then advanced in years, he could not take an active interest in the field, but he nevertheless gave every support within his power to the cause of freedom, four of his sons serving faithfully in defense of the Union. During his long and active life he always found time to listen with keen sympathy to the appeals of the less fortunate, and many of those upon whom the burdens of life were most heavy have shared in his generosity; and throughout the community in which he was so well and favorably known his neighbors were wont to speak of him as “Uncle Billy.” Many of the young men who have gone out from that little community and have taken their places among men of affairs, in business, education and the church, remember most kindly the many words of encouragement they received from him, as well as such substantial assistance as he was able to give them in their preparation for life’s duties.
Dr. John Harris, president of Bucknell University, at Lewisburg, Pa., writes the following tribute:
“My earliest recollections as a boy and man include prominently the personality of William S. Stephens. He was always interested in the school which we attended and was a frequent visitor. He was in sympathy with the young alike in their studies, their work and their sports. As the schoolhouse was on his land, we made entirely free with his pasture land for ball games and other sports. But we kept off his grain fields, not because ordered to, but because no one would trespass on or injure our ‘Uncle William’s’ growing crops.
“He originated the Sunday school in the place, which has since grown into a church. Entirely free from personal ambition or de sire for notice, he usually kept himself in the background, and let others hold the offices and receive the honors. In that way he became tine arbiter in all disturbing questions which are wont to arise in a rural community, and earned the blessedness that comes to the peace maker.
“For myself personally I owe him much. Left an orphan at the age of six, he became guardian and a second father to me, giving advice freely and kindly and aiding me in many ways. Die was in the community ‘the good gray head which all men knew,’ and his massive form and genial face have a prominent place in the pictures that are a part of my memory of early years.”
Mere words fail to express much less picture the true life of a man
which is recorded in good works, as each act of kindness and every noble deed
stand out as silent remind ers more lasting than granite, for the influence
of such men lives, and is extended and expanded as time rolls on, so that
neither time nor distance forms a limitation.
William S. Stephens was an honest and God-fearing man, and was an active and consistent church member from his early youth until the time of his death. He was instrumental in building the Mechanicsburg Baptist Church, and helped maintain it as long as he lived. He died Feb. 28, 1888, in his eightieth year, and was interred in what is now known as the Conrad burying ground, the graveyard on the old homestead where he played as a boy. A stone marks the spot.
Samuel Shadrach, the eldest son of William S. Stephens, went to Illinois and took up a large tract of land. He had one daughter, Ella Nora, who married Stephen Michaels, and died leaving to survive her one son, Paul Michaels, of Dallas City, Hancock Co., Ill. William Asbury served in the Civil war with his brother George M. He married Isabelle McFarland in 1875. and to this union were born four children, namely: Harry Wilson, Bertha Frances, William Kennedy, now de ceased, and an infant daughter, deceased. William Asbury died in 1890. The rest of his family live in Oklahoma City, Okla. Mary Jane and Cynthia Ellen went to Johnstown in 1876, where they were successful as dress makers. Cynthia Ellen died in 1891; Mary Jane is living and resides on Lincoln Street, in the city of Johnstown.
Sarah Ann (Skiles) Stephens, the second wife of William S. Stephens, deceased, is descended in a direct line from Robert McCulloch, who fought in the Revolution in the 11th Pennsylvania Regiment. He was born in Scotland about 1732, and married a Miss McCartney in 1753. To this union were born Janet in 1754, who married Ephraim Wallace in 1774; Agnes, who married Joshua Marlin; Sarah, who married Hugh Barclay, and one son, Samuel. Ephraim Wallace was born in Antrim, Ireland, in 1747, and came to this country in 1768. He served in the Revolution under Capt. Henry Rush, Redford County Militia (Pa. Archives, 5th Series, Vol. V, page 118). He married Janet McCulloch, in Canedogigue, Cumberland Co., Pa., and afterward came to Centerville, where he owned a large farm, where a direct descend ant now lives. He died in 1817. To this union were born: Robert, John, Sarah and Annie (twins), Samuel and Margaret. Sarah married John Skiles, son of James Shies, who came from the North of Ireland at an early day with two brothers, Isaac and John, all of whom served in the Revolutionary war. John Skiles and Sarah Wallace were married in 1801 and had one child, Ephraim; John Skiles died when Ephraim was about six years of age. Ephraim and his mother made their home with Ephraim Wallace until Mrs. Sarah (Wallace) Skiles married Joseph McKelvey. To this union one child was born, a daughter, who died at the age of twelve years. Ephraim Skiles married Mary Rodgers in 1824, and Sarah Ann (Skiles) Stephens was the first born of their children. She has also a direct line of descent from Robert Rodgers, who fought in the Revolution in 1780, being a private in the 8th Company, 3d Battalion, Cumberland County Militia. He was born in Donegal, Ireland, about 1744, and came to America in 1771. He married Sarah Kyle in Ireland in 1766. He settled on the Conemaugh river near the present site of the old village of Nineveh, and died in 1800. He had but one child, a son Isaac, born in midocean in 1767, who married Mary Heiss, in 1794, and the following children were born to this union: Robert, Sarah, William, John, Henry, Isaac and Mary (twins), Margaret, George, Catherine, Joseph, Samuel, Eliza, and Jane Ann. Isaac Rodgers, the father, died in 1822. Mary, twin sister of Isaac, Jr., married Ephraim Skiles, as above stated. Shortly after his marriage Ephraim Skiles settled on a farm near the present town of Wehrum, Pa., where he passed the remainder of his life and reared his large family of sixteen children; he was married four times.
GEORGE M. STEPHENS, son of William S. and Mary (Mattern) Stephens,
was born Aug. 31, 1844, in Pine township, Indiana county. He acquired his
education in a local public school and at several terms of summer school under
the supervision of Prof. A. J. Bolar, at Armagh, Pa. For a considerable time
he had charge of the store of A. A. Barker, at Dilltown, as well as for the
successors. Warren & Hatch, who conducted a general store at that place.
He was eighteen years of age when he enlisted at Pittsburg for six months’
service in the Rebellion, joining Company E, 2d Battalion, Pennsylvania Volunteers,
of which he be came a corporal under Capt. W. P. Altimus and Colonel Lintner.
He reenlisted at Puts burg in Company E, 206th Pennsylvania Regiment, under
command of Capt. W. W. Nesbitt and Col. Hugh J. Brady, and served eleven
months, during which time he acted as orderly sergeant. He was mustered out
an 1865, at Richmond, Va. During the next three years Mr. Stephens was employed
by a publishing house in New York City. In 1869 he took charge of his father’s
farm, and until 1885 devoted most of his time and attention to it. In 1885
he purchased the property and general store of George Dill, Dilltown, Pa.,
where he has since improved the property and enlarged the business. On Aug.
15, 1887, he was appointed postmaster at Dilltown, which position he still
holds. The time of Mr. Stephens is fully taken up with his store, post of
fice, gristmill and farm, all of which he man ages with financial success.
On his farm he has erected a modern barn, and his home is attractive in appearance.
He was one of the founders of the Farmers’ Dilltown Telephone Company. He
has found time to take a good citizen’s share in the public life of the community,
and has held various offices in which his fellow citizens have had the benefit
of his experience and ability. He was justice of the peace for five years,
and has been assessor and school director. In political faith he has always
been a general Republican.
On Oct. 27, 1870, Mr. Stephens was married in Brushvalley township, Indiana county, to Elizabeth Catharine McFarland, who was born Feb. 15. 1844, daughter of Capt. Daniel McFarland, of near Mechanicsburg. They have had six children, namely: Mary Loretta married Samuel E. Allison, now residing in Indiana, Pa., and has three children, Charles Herbert, George Miles and Nancy Catherine (twins) ; Cora Ellen, who received her education in the public schools and under Professors Stewart and Campbell, is now the wife of Prof. Joseph Weaver; George Herbert conducts the gristmill for his father; Annabelle is at home; Augusta Pearl, a graduate of Rowe Business College, of Johnstown, Pa., is now holding a position as accountant in that city; William Daniel died Dec. 8, 1888. Mr. Stephens is an active member of the Baptist Church, of which he is a trustee.
MARLIN BINGHAM STEPHENS, born May 10, 1860, on his father’s farm in the village of Dilltown, Indiana county, was reared there and obtained his early education in the local schools. Later he attended normal and select school in the county, and taught school for several years. Then he prepared himself for the study of law at the Classical and Scientific Institute of Mount Pleasant, Pa., and soon after completing his studies there entered the law department of the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, on Oct. 1, 1884. He was graduated from the law department of that institution in June, 1886, with the degree of DL. B. On May 5, 1886. he was admitted to the bar and licensed to practice law in the several courts of the State of Michigan, upon application and examination in the Twenty-second Judicial district of that State. Returning to Pennsylvania, he was admitted to the bar of Wyoming county April 12, 1887, and on May 16th of that year was admitted to the bar of Luzerne county, at Wilkes-Barre, where he opened an office and practiced for a short time. He then removed to Johnstown, Pa., where he has since been located, and where he has attained a leading position in his profession. He was admitted to the bar of Cambria county, March 12, 1888, and was subsequently admitted to practice in Indiana (his native) county; on Oct. 13, 1890, lie was admitted to practice in the Supreme court of Pennsylvania in the Western district of Pittsburg, and on Sept. 25, 1900, was admitted to practice in the District court of the United States. In April, 1896, he was selected by the city council as solicitor of the city of Johnstown, for a term of two years, and was again elected to that position in April, 1898, and was still serving when, in November, 1898, he was elected to the office of district attorney for Cambria county. At the expiration of the term of three years he entered upon another, having been reelected, serving continuously until January, 1905. Since 1896 lie and his younger brother, John Harris Stephens, have been associated in the practice of law. Mr. Stephens is a Republican in political allegiance. He was elected to the office of president judge of Cambria county, being the 47th judicial district of Pennsylvania in November, 1911, and entered upon the duties of that office Jan. 1, 1912, for a term of ten years. He is unmarried.
JOHN HARRIS STEPHENS, son of William S. and Sarah Ann (Skiles) Stephens, was born Oct. 1, 1868, at Dilltown, Indiana Co., Pa., and obtained his early education in the public school, attending in the home district. He afterward continued his studies at Armagh, Mount Pleasant Academy, and the National Normal University at Lebanon, Ohio, and in 1894 entered the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, Mich., graduating from the law department in 1896, with the last class al lowed to complete the course in two years. Having been admitted to the bar in Cambria county in June, 1897, sometime later to the bar of his native county, Indiana, and the Supreme court of Pennsylvania, he has been engaged in the practice of law at Johnstown ever since, and is one of the distinguished members of his profession in this section of Pennsylvania. In addition to the duties incident to a large law practice, Mr. Stephens has for years had personal supervision of the extensive stock farms owned by himself and brother, Marlin Bingham Stephens, at Dilltown, Indiana Co., Pa., where the breeding of Morgan horses and high-grade dairy cattle is made a specialty, and it is the most extensive breeding establishment of its kind in the State.
On Nov. 8, 1899, Mr. Stephens was married to Susan Thatcher Samuel, daughter of Eben and Emma A. (Garman) Samuel, of Johnstown, Pa. They have five children: Mary A. F., William S., Marlin Bingham, Jr., John Harris, Jr., and Susan Thatcher, and reside at No. 41 Osborne street, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.