John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. Revolutionary War Soldier

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John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. Revolutionary War Soldier by Ethelene Dyer Jones

On July 16, 1994, descendants and admirers of John Henry Stonecypher, Jr., Revolutionary war soldier, gathered for a service of dedication at the Stonecypher Family Cemetery in Eastanollee, GA, Stephens County.  An historical marker was dedicated and a patriotic program conducted. Stonecypher’s service as a Revolutionary soldier was recounted. A great, great grandson of Stonecypher and Sons of American Revolution member, John Paul Souther (late) of Gainesville arranged the program and led the effort to place a fence around the graves, secure the memorial marker, and plan and implement the impressive program.

As strains of patriotic music came from an impromptu brass band assembled by 7th and 8th generation great grandchildren of the patriot, and accolades were given, we were glad to be there. We knew we were participating in history and honoring a worthy individual who had put freedom above personal safety, liberty above personal comfort. We heard these words from John Henry Stonecypher himself, quoted from his pension application of September 3, 1832:  “I received no pay other than the liberties of my country.”  It was a glorious afternoon beside his grave and near the house he built for his family, still standing in splendor near the family cemetery.

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. was born in Culpepper County, Virginia in 1756, the son of German immigrant Johann Heinricus Steinseiffer who came to America in 1753, and the grandson of Johannes Steinseiffer who came to America in 1749. John Henry, Jr. lived in Virginia until his family moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1763.

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. enlisted in the United States Army in June, 1776 as a private in the North Carolina Militia under Colonel Cleveland and Captain Shepherd. He entered the service at the Wilkes County Court House and was made a guard over some prisoners-of-war at Salisbury under Captain Gordon Shepherd. This was a three months tour of duty.

He returned to Wilkes County Court House and was reassigned to a battalion at the Crew River where they sought to stop the Tories led by a Captain Roberts. At King’s Creek they also warded off Tories. That ended his second three-month’s enlistment.

He rejoined the service in June, 1780 at Wilkes County Court House under the leadership of Captain Rutledge in the regiment commanded by Colonels Loches and Isaacs. Commander-in-Chief was General Gates. He also served under General Rutherford. That term of service was three months.

His fourth term of duty in the North Carolina Militia began at Salisbury. The regiment marched to Charlotte Court House and then to Camden, South Carolina where he again fought under the command of General Gates. The militia (Overmountain Men) army was defeated. Stonecypher escaped and returned home to Wilkes County.

After a few days of rest, he went again to Wilkes County Court House and signed for the North Carolina Militia under Colonel Cleveland with whom he continued in service and fought in the Battle of King’s Mountain in October, 1780.

He was then placed under the command of General Davidson and engaged in the Battle of Okimish at Beattie’s Ford on the Catawba River. There they were trying to prevent the British under General Cornwallis from crossing the river. General Davidson was killed in the battle. The militia was defeated and retreated to the Widow Torrance’s house and lands.  There they were attacked the next morning in her Lane and again defeated. He went home for a brief furlough.

Stonecypher returned to Wilkes Court House, again joining with Colonel Cleveland. He remained with Cleveland until the latter was assigned to the Lejis Catuce. Stonecypher was then placed under the command of Colonel Hearne with whom he continued to serve until the Battle of Guilford (Court House) in March, 1781. At Guilford he was placed among the riflemen under Colonel Campbell. He was wounded in that battle. He returned home for his wound to heal.

In October 1781 he reentered service under the command of Captain Keys, Colonel Hearne and General U. Lowell. They marched to Pleasant Gardens on the Catawba River. From thence they engaged against the Indians who were siding with the British in Cherokee territory. The militia engaged in burning Indian villages at Wautauga, Cowee and Sugar Creek. He served until December, 1781. He was honorably discharged at Wilkes County Court House by Colonel Cleveland. Altogether, John Henry Stonecypher served three years as a private soldier in the Revolutionary War.

He married in Wilkes County, NC to Nancy Ann Curtis, daughter of Joshua Curtis, a lieutenant in the Revolutionary Army. Stonecypher was granted 20,000 acres of land in Rabun and Franklin Counties in Georgia in payment for his service in the Revolutionary War.  He and Nancy moved first to Hart County, Georgia in 1784. In 1786 they moved again to what was then Franklin County, Georgia and located on Eastanollee Creek where he built a dam and a water-operated grist mill. In 1790 he built a stately two-story house, hiring the services of an architect to plan and erect the dwelling.

He and Nancy had nine children:

Benjamin, b. 1787, Franklin County, GA, married Elizabeth Collins.

Susannah, b. 1790, Franklin County, GA, married William Nix

James Thomas, b. 1793, Franklin County, GA, married Martha Ruth Camp

Fannie, b. 1797, Franklin County, GA, married _______ Cannon.

Mary, b. 1799.  Never married.

Nancy, b. Nov. 11, 1800, d. March, 1854.  Never married.

Lucy, b. ca 1801, married Anderson Moseley.

Amy, b. 1803.  Married Cooper B. Fuller.

Phoebe, b. April 16, 1807, d. May 10, 1865. Married Daniel Moseley who operated the old Stonecypher Mill

John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. died at age 96 on December 15, 1850 from injuries sustained in a fall from the mill house steps. Nancy Curtis Stonecypher, who was born about 1760, died July 12, 1852 (?). Both are buried in the Stonecypher Family Cemetery near the house he built at Eastanollee, GA.

Our lineage back to John Henry Stonecypher is through various family lines. Personally for me it is through my mother, Azie Collins Dyer, daughter of Francis Jasper and Georgianne Hunter Collins, Francis Jasper’s father, Frank (or Francis) Collins who married Rutha Nix; Rutha’s parents, William and Susannah Stonecypher Nix. Susannah’s father was the Revolutionary War soldier John Henry Stonecypher, Jr.

In the Souther and Dyer lines, John Paul Souther who arranged the stone placement and memorial service for John Henry Stonecypher, Jr.  in 1994, was the son of Jeptha Freeman Souther and Mintie Dyer Souther. Jeptha’s father was Jesse Souther, Jr. and his mother was Malinda Nix, daughter of William and Susannah Stonecypher Nix. And Susannah’s parents were Pvt. John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. and Nancy Curtis Stonecypher. There are other ties in family lines.  James “Jimmy” Nix, son of William and Susannah Stonecypher Nix, married Elizabeth “Betsy” Collins, daughter of Thompson and Celia Self Collins. Jasper “Grancer” Nix, a son of James and Betsy, married Harriet Caroline “Tina” Duckworth—thus bringing the Duckworths and another  family into the lineage. John Washington Nix, a son of “Grancer” and “Tina” married Cathryn Clarenda Dyer, a daughter of Henderson Andrew Dyer and Adeline Sullivan Dyer. Henderson Dyer’s parents were Micajah Clark Dyer and Morena Owenby Dyer. Clark Dyer invented “The Apparatus for Navigating the Air” and received a patent for it in 1874. Micajah Clark Dyer was the son of Sarah Elizabeth (Sally) Dyer, the first-born of Bluford Elisha, Jr. and Elizabeth Clark Dyer, first Dyer settlers in the Choestoe Valley of Union County, Georgia.

We salute our ancestor, John Henry Stonecypher, Jr., soldier for freedom in the American Revolution. His descendants are many. His legacy shines as a beacon to liberty.

[Sketch written by descendant Ethelene Dyer Jones, compiled from Stonecypher Family History by Watson B. Dyer and others and additional family information (Collins, Nix, and online) sources. Keith Jones shortened this sketch and presented it at the Dyer-Souther Heritage Association Reunion on July 18, 2009 when the program theme was “Honoring our Revolutionary War Patriots.”]

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This sketch, written by Ethelene, is as well researched as the others I've shared with you, but one line makes it my favorite. The quote that came directly from the mouth of John Henry Stonecyper Jr. - “I received no pay other than the liberties of my country.”  

I believe that summed up the feelings of the Patriot Soldiers who fought for the birth of America. Some how, on some level of thought, they each realized what was at stake. They each realized America was an opportunity that would never come again, an opportunity for them and their families to live free.

Although I doubt they could have envisioned the life we live today, I do believe they fought for something bigger than their wants and dreams. They fought for the greater good of the new country of America and that means they fought for me.

Tipper

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Private Michael Tanner (1759-1849) Revolutionary War Soldier Buried in Old Choestoe Cemetery

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Private Michael Tanner (1759-1849)

Revolutionary War Soldier Buried in Old Choestoe Cemetery by Ethelene Dyer Jones

 

The marker for Revolutionary War soldier, Private Michael Tanner, stands about in the middle of Old Choestoe Cemetery.  A simple marble monument, it is unpretentious and one might pass it by, not recognizing its significance or the contribution the soldier made to America’s freedom.

 

Michael Tanner was born December 4, 1759 in York County, Pennsylvania.  His surname came from a trade name meaning those who followed the profession of tanning animal hides for leather.  The earliest-known progenitors of Michael Tanner originated in Germany, moved to Holland, and then migrated to America in 1721, settling and plying their trade in the Pennsylvania colony.

 

When Michael Tanner was 18, in 1777, he enlisted in the Continental Army in Shenandoah County, Virginia.  His first military encounters were to protect settlers against uprisings of Indians.  Then he engaged in skirmishes with the Tories who were faithful to the British crown.

 

When the Revolutionary War officially began, he served first under Captain Raider, General Hand and Captain Mason.  His regiment moved to Fort Wallin on the Ohio River.

 

He next saw service on the South Branch of the Potomac River where he was under the command of Captain George Huston and Colonel Simms.  He fought in Rockingham County, Virginia under Captain John Rush and in the Virginia Regiment headed by Colonel Harris. 

 

The highlight of Private Michael Tanner’s service was at the Battle of Yorktown when General George Washington engineered the surrender of British Field Commander, Charles, Earl of Cornwallis.  There 8,000 allied Continental Army forces converged, together with allies of 15,000 French soldiers and 3,000 militiamen.  The contingents prevented British reinforcements from arriving by sea.  It was a tense confrontation.  Alexander Hamilton was in charge of America’s light infantry.  In negotiations, General Washington secured the surrender of Cornwallis on October 19, 1781.  Did Private Tanner hear, from the British ship in the harbor, the somber strains of “The World Turned Upside Down?”  We can only wonder.  The peace treaty was signed in Paris on September 3, 1783.

 

Private Tanner returned to Rockingham County, Virginia.  There, on July 14, 1782, he married his sweetheart, Catherine Butt.  The young couple migrated to Buncombe County, NC, and eventually to Choestoe in Union County, Georgia before 1838, joining some of their children who had settled here.

 

Known children of Michael and Catherine Butt Tanner are Mollie Tanner Ross, Elizabeth Tanner Ellison, George Tanner, Sally Tanner,  Catherine Tanner Harkins and sons Jacob, Adam and Abraham.

 

 Michael Tanner applied for a Revolutionary pension, using his father’s German Bible to establish his birth date as December 4, 1759.  Catherine Butt Tanner preceded her husband in death, dying April 12, 1842.  We assume she was interred in the Old Choestoe Cemetery in an unmarked grave.  Private Michael Turner died seven years after his wife on August 25, 1849.  In 1989, his great, great grandson, Dr. J. Allen Henson, had a military marker erected in memory of his ancestor.

 

Pvt. Michael Tanner was a neighbor to our Dyer, Souther, Collins, Hunter, Townsend, Nix and other ancestors, early settlers in Choestoe community.  Their daughter, Catherine, married a Harkins.  An error in transcribing occurred in the marriage entry of Bluford Lumpkin Dyer who was listed as marrying Rutha Tanner on February 9, 1854.  Rutha was a Turner, not a Tanner. 

 

On November 3, 2001, the Blue Ridge Mountains SAR and the Old Unicoi Trail Chapter DAR held an impressive memorial service at the gravesite of Private Michael Tanner in Old Choestoe Cemetery.  It was a worthy tribute to an humble soldier-farmer whose ancestors came to the shores of America in 1721 seeking freedom.

 

[Resource:  Dr. J. Allen Henson, biographical sketch of Private Michael Tanner.  This sketch written by Ethelene Dyer Jones.]

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Ethelene's research on Pvt. Michael Tanner is interesting-3 things that I noticed:

  • His surname being Tanner-because his family were actually tanners of hides.
  • Pvt. Michael Tanner was a witness to more than one historically significant battle of the Revolutionary War-makes me wish he'd written down his experiences.
  • Tanner and his sweetheart wife moved to Buncombe County, NC before moving to the Choestoe area of Union County GA which borders Cherokee County NC. Seems many folks landed in Buncombe before moving farther west. Reminds me of a saying I've heard all my life: "The State of NC doesn't realize the state boundaries extend beyond Asheville-(which is in Buncombe County)." In other words-folks around here sometimes think the far western mountain counties of NC get the short end of the stick.

Tipper

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Revolutionary War Patriots Stephen Souther and William Souther

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REVOLUTIONARY WAR PATRIOTS

STEPHEN SOUTHER AND WILLIAM SOUTHER by Ethelene Dyer Jones

 

Two of the Revolutionary war patriots, Souther men whose lineage goes back to Henry and Julianne Souther of Culpepper County, Virginia were Stephen Souther (b. about 1742 – d. 1780) and William Souther (b. about 1732 – d. 1784).

 

Stephen was a son of Henry Souther (about 1712 – May, 1784) and Julianne (last name unknown – about 1715 to about 1783).  William Souther was Stephen’s uncle, brother to Stephen’s father, Henry.  Stephen and William were born in Virginia.  The Choestoe, Georgia early settler, John Souther, was a grandson of Stephen Souther.

 

The five known children of Henry and Julianne Souther migrated from Virginia to Surrey County, North Carolina (from which Wilkes County was formed).  So did William Souther, Stephen’s uncle, and Henry’s brother, who was only ten years older than Stephen.  William’s wife was Magdalena Vernon whom he married in 1755.

 

We will examine, first, our ancestor, Stephen Souther, son of Henry, and trace what we know of the story of his service to his country.  It is unrecorded (yet) in annals of patriot history, mainly because he may have died before his volunteer service was recorded.

 

A story well-founded in Souther family history and recorded by family historian Watson Benjamin Dyer states that Stephen Souther (1742-1782) married Mary Bussey (1745-1790) before they left Culpepper County, Virginia to move to Surrey (later Wilkes) County, NC in 1778.  At the time, much unrest brewed as Tories (those loyal to the British crown) attacked settlers in the remote mountain areas, led in North Carolina by the British Captain Ferguson who promoted Tory loyalties and attacks.

 

Stephen Souther signed on with the militia led by Benjamin Stephens.  The story of Stephen’s military service, passed down in family accounts from then until the present, is that Stephen Souther, suffering from severe nosebleed, for he was afflicted with the disease of hemophilia, died in 1780.  It is not known definitely whether his death occurred at the Battle of King’s Mountain where he may have suffered a wound and the bleeding could not be stopped, or whether he died somewhere enroute to the battle.

 

His widow, Mary Bussey Souther, was granted 200 acres of land on Hunting Creek in Wilkes County on October 23, 1782 in appreciation of Stephen’s service to his country.  Already, prior to his death, Stephen had received a land grant on February 5, 1780.

 

Stephen and Mary Bussey had seven known children:  Elizabeth, Jesse, Michael, Joshua, Joel, Sarah and Frank.  The second-born, Jesse Souther (about 1775-1858) who married Joan Combs, was the father of John Souther, one of the first Souther settlers of our line in the Choestoe District of Union County. John’s brothers, Jesse and Joseph, and his sister, Kizziah Souther Humphries, also settled in Choestoe.  For most of us in the Souther kinship line, our link is back to Stephen, whose Revolutionary Service is not yet proven through records. 

  

Even though we have not found an official documentation of Stephen’s patriotic service, we, his descendants, hold confidently to the belief that he lost his life at King’s Mountain where the British leader Patrick Ferguson and his army were defeated by hill country militia in 1780.  Stephen’s widow, Mary Bussey Souther, did not apply for a widow’s pension from which records most of the accounts of patriotic service are secured.  Instead, she accepted the land grant as recompense in recognition of her husband’s service.

 

Documentation for the service of William Souther (1732-1794), Stephen’s uncle, is clear, found in his application for a pension made September 14, 1833.  His pension was approved and payment made retroactive to March 4, 1831.  He was granted $27.00 per year.

 

In his application for pension, William Souther (#S-7575) stated he volunteered for the militia in Surrey County, NC under Captain William Merritt.  In his first three months tour, he was at Salisbury under General Rutherford, at Rutgers Mill near Camden, SC, and with General Compton at the rout of British soldiers, Tories and Indians at the Catawba River.  Then, joining General Gates, they were defeated at the Battle of Camden in August, 1780, and he returned home.

 

William Souther’s next term of service was by draft in Surrey County.  He was at Richmond, NC under Captain Arthur Scott, at Haw River, where he became sick and was discharged to go home to recover.  His next draft was under Captain David Humphries at Old Richmond in Surrey County.  The unit went to Guilford Court House in March, 1781, and won a decisive victory against the British.  He joined with Colonel James Martin’s forces and went to Wilmington, NC in late 1781.  There the militia was ordered to line up for a proclamation.  William Souther and his fellow soldiers, in formation, heard the grand news that General Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown in Virginia and that General Washington’s army was victorious.  The date of battle victory was October 17, 1781.  The British officially surrendered two days later on October 19, 1781.

 

As regards Stephen Souther who died during the Revolution from excessive bleeding, we will still keep searching for his official documentation of service. As to William, whose service is documented,he is a 5th great uncle in our Souther line.These brave ancestors gave time, energy, courage and loyalty to winning America’s freedom.

 

[Information on William Souther from his pension application; information on both William and Stephen from Souther Family History by Watson B. Dyer, 1988.  Information compiled and sketch written by Ethelene Dyer Jones, Historian, Dyer-Souther Heritage Association.] 

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Ethelene's research on Stephen and William Souther gives a little insight into what it must have been like during the difficult birth of America. As Captain Ferguson, and others like him, encouraged attacks on those who weren't loyal to the King-you know it caused everyone to look twice at their neighbors and wonder exactly which side they were on.

Tipper

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William England and son Richard England Revolutionary War Patriots

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William England and son Richard England

Revolutionary War Patriots by Ethelene Dyer Jones

 

Enlistment in the militia or continental army was not the only contribution to America’s freedom.  Some patriots were known for their material assistance.  Such were William England and his son, Daniel England.

 

William England migrated to America in 1733 and first settled in Pennsylvania where he married, first, Elizabeth Wilcox.  They had one son, William, Jr.  Elizabeth died, and William married, second, Mary Watson.  The Englands moved to Maryland where Mary gave birth to Daniel, born in 1752.  Their next move was to Chatham County, NC, where three more sons, Joseph, John and Samuel, were born.

It was in North Carolina that William England went into partnership with his brother-in-law, John Wilcox, and built an iron foundry.  The iron furnace cast cannons and cannon balls used in the war effort during the Revolution.  Daniel England worked with his father in the foundry on Hunting Creek near Morganton, NC.  He applied for and received deferment from induction into the military because of his work at the foundry.

 

Daniel died in 1818 in Burke County, NC.  He was recognized by Daughters and Sons of the American Revolution for his material assistance in the Revolutionary War effort.

 

Daniel England married Margaret Guinn (1758-NC – 1847, GA).  She received land in the lottery and moved to Habersham County, Georgia with some of her children, namely Richard (1770-1835), Nancy, Rachel and Deborah.  Richard married Patsy Montgomery.  Richard owned land on which gold was found in Habersham (later White) County.  Richard was buried in the England Family Cemetery near the Chattahoochee River in present-day Helen.   Margaret came to Choestoe in Union County when the Englands settled here.  Hers reportedly was the first grave in the Old Choestoe Cemetery.

 

To continue Revolutionary War connections, Richard England’s son, Jonathan, known as “Athan” married Nancy Ingram, granddaughter of John Ingraham, Revolutionary soldier.  His son Daniel married Harriet E. Hunter.  His daughter, Margaret Elizabeth, married William Jonathan Hunter.  And the family kinship lines go on, even to this present generation and beyond.

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As I read about Ethelene's ancestors-I wonder if William England's moves to the south were an effort to find more freedom farther away from the reach of the British. Perhaps his first move was to leave behind the sadness of loosing his first wife and make a fresh start in Maryland. Or maybe his brother-n-law John Wilcox convinced him that North Carolina was a fine place to settle.

I'm always curious about movements folks made from one area to another. It is interesting to note-many of the Patriots in Ethelene's family line ended up in North Georgia due to land grants given to them for their contribution to the Patriot side of the Revolutionary War.

Life is full of symbolism-especially for a sentimental history buff like me. I just can't help thinking about the relationship between the Patriots from the Dyer-Souther-Collins line settling in the North Georgia Mountains and their descendant Ethelene Dyer Jones. A little girl born just a few mountains away from me who grew up to be not only a wife, mother, teacher, etc., -but also a preserver of my Appalachian heritage. Pretty neat uh?

Tipper

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