The Stevens family origins are wrapped up in the mystery of William Stevens. What we know is that he was in Ohio in 1832 and later moved to Indiana where his family remained for four generations.See all links in Stevens Family Tree
Robert Stevens married Doris Petersen in Hattiesburg, Mississippi on March 20, 1942. Why did Bob and Doris, who both grew up in Indiana get married in Mississippi? America had joined World War II on December 7, 1941 and Bob was going through U.S. Army training at Camp Shelby. On May 1 Bob was promoted to staff sergeant and he went on to officer training in Fort Benning, Georgia. Bob would be sent to other US bases in Tennessee and Maryland before being shipped to the Pacific. Read about Bob's return from Japan here.
When his parents moved to the West Coast in 1946, Bob and Doris stayed in South Bend and he worked for Studebaker like his father. Just before Studebaker shut its plant in South Bend in 1963, Bob switched to Mercedes Benz who had distributed their cars in North America through Studebaker dealerships. When Mercedes move their headquarters to New Jersey in 1965 Bob moved there and worked for them until he died of a heart attack in 1981 at age 63.********
William Park Stevens married Jeanette Lehman in Columbus, Indiana on June 12, 1912. The family spent four generations in the Columbus, Hope and Edinberg area in Southeastern Indiana, until my grandparent's generation (William Park Stevens, the boy of 12 in the far right of the 1905 picture).
Like his father, he attended St. Bartholomew Catholic school but later graduated from Columbus high school.
His first job was with W.W. Mooney and Sons, a leather tannery in Columbus. William left Columbus in 1912 to work for Studebaker in Detroit, Michigan. He transferred to South Bend around 1926 to be at the Studebaker headquarters. He and his brother Albert moved to California, along with three of William's children in 1946. William spent his career working for Studebaker in Detroit, South Bend, and Los Angeles where he died of a heart attack at age 61.********
William Ambrose Stevens married Louise Wilson on February 25, 1889 in Columbus, Indiana. William, spent his entire life in Columbus, Indiana, and was a member of a prominent Catholic family there. He was a businessman and in government service.
He attended school at Columbus public schools and St. Bartholomew Catholic academy. He continued to attend St. Bartholomew church during his life. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, a global Catholic fraternal service order.
He was the active member of the agricultural firm of F. M. Stevens & Son. During the economic downturn in 1897, they ran into legal problems associated with unpaid bills.
He was an admirer of Progressive Republican politics and named a son after Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge. At the age of twenty-four he was elected to a seat to the city council, serving in this position for three years.
He was recommended by the Republicans of Columbus for the appointment of post-master. He received his commission July 17, 1897. There was a bit of a political fight over his appointment when he was opposed by Joseph Irwin, a local banker, but he was ultimately approved. He held this post during the administrations of Presidents William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.
In 1918, he and his sons James and Albert worked together on a government warehouse project in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The family relocated there during the project.
For thirteen years he was deputy internal revenue collector for the Columbus district which included five counties. Late in life he started a private tax service.
William was interested in Civil War veterans. He helped organize the John S. Crump Camp, No. 32, Division of Indiana, Sons of Veterans, a fraternal organization that carried out educational, patriotic and philanthropic activities to preserve the history and legacy of Union Civil War veterans. He kept a list of all the veterans in the county.
He died of heart disease at age 68. It was not the first sign of heart trouble. He had had a heart attack five years earlier but luckily he was helping a local physician with his tax forms at the time and the man rendered first aid immediately.********
Frank was a Civil War veteran. He was a member of Company B, Sixth Indiana Volunteer Infantry, the first regiment sent into the Civil War from Indiana. He was the third soldier to sign the muster roll in Bartholomew county and served for three months.
For twenty-five years Frank was in the dry goods business with H. Griffith. In 1880 he formed a partnership in the farm implement business with William Lucas. When Mr. Lucas retired in 1884, Frank took on his son, William, as a partner.
He was a life-long Republican but held no official positions although he was elected Councilman. He was described as a leading Republican politician of Bartholomew county.
At one point William and his father Frank lived a few houses from each other on Mechanic St (now Lafayette Ave.). Frank Stevens lived out his life in Columbus in the house (pictured below) on Franklin St. William moved into the house after his father's death.
His obituary said that he was not affiliated with any church.
His death certificate in 1918 recorded the cause of death as carcinoma of the neck. He was listed as a retired farmer. He had been shown as a farmer on both the 1900 and 1910 census reports.
William Stevens married Nancy Simonton in 1832 in Clermont, Ohio. His children were born in Ohio before 1845. He moved his family to Iowa for some short time but was living in Columbus, Indiana and was working as a baker in 1850. Family stories have him working as a sheriff and losing a finger in a gunfight but I can find no evidence of that. He died in Columbus in 1857.
In Search of William Stevens
I have been tracing the family genealogy for the past few years and part of that effort has been trying to get to the origins of William Stevens. Family tradition has it that he was born in Glasgow, Scotland around 1800 and arrived in 1820 in North Carolina but US census and other documents have him reportedly born in Virginia in 1798 (1850 census) or Ohio in 1807 (LDS Family Search and son's death certificate).
So I turned to DNA to try to get more information. I took the Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA and got some interesting but inconclusive results. This test looks specifically at the Y chromosome passed from father to son. So one would expect that when matches were found that they would be other people with the name Stevens (or Stephens, Stebbins, etc.). What turned up for my test were no other Stevens surnames. That could mean many things: last name changed at some point, adoption, illegitimate paternity, or other reasons.
I tracked down one of the names that shows a close relationship from this test. The last name was Allison and when I tracked back that family we seem to share a common ancestor in Theophilus Simonton, Nancy Simonton's ggg-grandfather. They also lived in Rowan, North Carolina where Nancy Simonton's family had history. There are a number of Allisons married to Simontons. This could be just coincidence and it doesn't say anything about how the Stevens' and Allison's might share a common ancestor in my paternal line. The y-DNA test with this Allison estimated the probability that he and I shared a common ancestor within the last six generations (i.e., William's father) was about 55%.
The Allisons and the Simontons lived in close proximity in Fourth Creek, North Carolina. One possible ancestor of William Stevens is Andrew Allison. Andrew Allison like his brothers Thomas and Robert settled on 640 acres of land each on Fourth Creek, Rowan County (later to become Iredell County) on Nov. 23, 1750, and received a grant of 480 acres on March 25 1752 same place. It is possible that Robert Allison sold his land to William Simonton in about 1756 or 1757 which was immediately adjacent to the Land that Robert Simonton bought in 1756, on Fourth Creek. Andrew was known as Squire Allison and was one of the first Magistrates of Rowan County in 1753. Andrew was High Sheriff of Rowan County for a time around 1768.
Another Allison possibility is the Allison branch that settled in South Carolina. One bit of circumstantial evidence is that Captain Robert Allison (Ellison) served with the famous Revolutionary War officer Francis Marion, also known as the Swamp Fox. William Stevens named his son, my great-great grandfather, Francis Marion Stevens.
The most likely Allison to be the father of William Stevens is Benjamin Allison (1783-1845). ). He is the likely grandfather of the oldest known ancestor of my y-DNA match. But the strongest evidence is that William Stevens shows up as a DNA half-sibling to Benjamin's children. This would indicate that Benjamin is William’s father but Benjamin’s wife is not the mother.
Benjamin's extended family lived in the area of what is now Statesville, NC. They were part of a strong Scots-Irish Presbyterian community there. Also in that community was the Stevenson family. I found a strong match between William’s descendants (myself, my siblings and my first cousins) and William Stevenson (1725-1809).
William Stevenson had three daughters. I tested the DNA connection for each and, like Benjamin Allison, William Stevens showed up as a half-sibling to Jane Stevenson’s children. William shows up as a DNA full grandson to both Benjamin's and Jane's parents. Jane and Benjamin were never married. William Stevens was likely born around 1800. Jane had had children before William but none after. Benjamin was married in about 1803. Jane's father was William Stevenson. Both families were strong Scots-Irish Presbyterians. There are connections between the Allison family and the Simonton family (William Stevens married Nancy Simonton in 1832). I have found no contemporary records to confirm it but the circumstantial and DNA evidence is pretty strong.
None of this gives any definitive answer but it does raise some interesting questions. The most intriguing is that we might not have been Stevens for very long.
We may never know with certainty that all this is true but it seems like the best explanation of our shared Stevens line that we have (until DNA technology gets even better).
The Stevens Patriarchy
(l to r) William Stevens, father of Frank Stevens, father of William A. Stevens, father of William P. Stevens, father of Robert L. Stevens
Note: The following connections are unproven.
The Allison family are Scots-Irish. Untangling the Allison ancestry is complicated. There were many Scots-Irish Allisons who emmigrated to America in the 1700s and many landed in Pennsylvania and Maryland. Many later migrated to North and South Carolina.
Lucinda was the daughter of William Thompson, an immigrant from County Donegal, Ireland.
Although there is no documentation, William may have been the son of William Allison, who was the son of Thomas Allison. Thomas was born in Northern Ireland and emmigrated to Pennsylvania in about 1720. After Thomas' death in 1737, most of his sons, including William migrated to North Carolina.
The Stevenson family are Scots-Irish. They settled in the area of what is today Statesville, North Carolina, the same region where many in the Allison family also settled.
Jane Stevenson. Jane was married to William Sloan.********
Mary was the daughter of William McClelland, an immigrant from County Antrim, Northern Ireland.
Tragedy in Pasadena
Francis E. Stevens was the youngest of the three children of Frank and Kate Stevens. He was educated at Notre Dame and the University of Michigan and became a very successful banker. In late 1927 he was vice-president of the National Bank of Pasadena and had just completed a large Spanish-style home in the area. But all was not well for Frank. His had been quietly despairing for his sons' futures. His youngest son George, 14, has been almost an invalid since birth. His older son Francis Jr. had been attending the University of Michigan when he was involved in an automobile accident that left him with a severe brain injury. He was living at a sanatorium in Pasadena with little hope of full recovery. On the morning of December 8 Frank Sr. picked up George from school and apparently drove to a secluded area and shot his son. He covered the body in the car and drove on to the sanitorium to see his other son. He and Frank Jr. walked out in the grounds and the father shot the son and then turned the gun on himself. Apparently from documents left behind, Frank had been planning this for quite a while.
One is reminded of the poem Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington Robinson published in 1897
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich--yes, richer than a king--
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.