My Mysterious Ancestor! (Part III)
by Raquel Lindaas, AG®
Madison Stephenson came to Owen County, Indiana from Kentucky, per the 1850 and 1860 censuses. There were several families that migrated to Owen County from Madison and Garrard counties, Kentucky around that time, as if en masse. They included the Wilburn/Welborns, the Minnixes, Trueloves, Franklins, Ooleys, Carpenters, and so forth.
In the 1850 census, a James Stephenson, age 18 and born in Kentucky, lived in the home of Henry B. Truelove, age 30, also born in Kentucky. Henry had a young wife named Mary, and there was an elderly woman in the home named Sarah Truelove, age 60, born in North Carolina. Perhaps she was the mother of Henry B. Truelove, head of the household. This family appears on Page 6 of Franklin Township in Owen County. Two pages forward, on Page 8, we find Madison Stephenson, age 39, born in Kentucky. He lived with his wife Polly (Mary Minnix), age 30, born in Kentucky, and their four children: Susannah (my ancestor), Lucy, Owen and Caroline. Madison Stephenson and Mary (Polly) Minnix were legally married in 1841.
Who was this 18 year-old James Stephenson living with the Henry Truelove family? Naming patterns mattered in these rural areas. It is fairly certain that James, born about 1832 in Kentucky, was the son of Madison Stephenson and his common-law wife, Sarah Welborn. Bits of evidence started to come together to form a theory.
On February 7, 1850, Madison Stephenson of Owen County, Indiana sold a parcel of land to William Truelove. (Land Records, Owen County, IN, Book 7, p. 158.) The family connections are somewhat convoluted, but this document suggests a relationship of familiarity.
In Madison County, Kentucky, there was an older James Stephenson, born sometime in the 1780’s. There were several Stephenson men in the records of Madison and neighboring Garrard Counties. But this James Stephenson touched a nerve. In the land records of Madison County, Kentucky, an agreement was found between Madison Baker, son of Sally Baker of the one part, and James Stephenson of the other part. It reads:
“Witnesseth that the said Baker is honestly and industriously to serve and obey the said Stephenson in all lawful commands until he arrives to the age of twenty one years old and the said Stephenson doth covenant and agree to find him the said Baker a sufficiency of good wholesome diet clothing and lodging and all other necessaries so long as he the said Baker shall serve him….this day of 1824.”
The agreement is signed by James Stephenson with his mark.
Young men in their early teens were often indentured servants for a specific number of years, usually seven. They were taught to read and write, and to learn their overseer’s trade. At the end of their term of servitude, they were given a new suit of clothing and a sum of money, in this case, three pounds and ten shillings. It was a practical arrangement for growing boys.
The puzzle pieces started to come together in a rush. Sally is a nickname for Sarah. Sarah/Sally Baker must have been the mother of Madison Baker! And Madison’s biological father must have been James Stephenson, born in the 1780’s, to whom he was indentured for seven years. Madison named his oldest son ‘James Stephenson’, apparently after his father-figure-mentor. But this theory had to be proven. Tune in to the next episode!
Raquel Lindaas, AG®
Heritage Consulting, LLC