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The following is copied from a hand-written history of the Stephens family, set to paper by Franklin Stephens in 1926, at age 83. The original was written in pencil on a Big Chief tablet during the last years of his life. It is written in first-person and the reader must remember to put it in its proper perspective. He was the grandfather of Howard Hatcher Stephens, great-grandfather to me, William Howard Stephens, and great-great grandfather to my children, Jeromie Brian and Jennifer Jane Stephens. Any text enclosed in brackets [ ] or colored red was added by me, this date, January 1991.  

A Brief Family History

By Franklin Stephens


My father, William Stephens, was born near Uniontown, Pennsylvania on June 24th, 1793, and died at Maquoketa, Iowa, at his son Daniel's home, June 26th, 1878, being 85 years and two days old.  


My mother, Hannah Stephens, was born in Northcumberland County,. Pennsylvania, on April 16th, 1797 and died at Allen's Grove, Iowa, August 31st, 1875, being 78 years, four months and 15 days old.  

They--William Stephens and Hannah VanHorn--were married January 12th, 1813, by George Pfoutz, Justice of the Peace. The witnesses were Matthew Dunlap, John N. Brown, Mary Greyer and Daniel Vanhorn, this last witness being her father.  

You will notice by the dates given above that my father was but little past 18 and my mother about 16 when married; furthermore, they spent some 62 years of married life together.  

They had 14 children, seven of whom died during their lifetime. Following I give you the family record of births and deaths as taken from the old family bible now in my brother Wesley B. Stephens' possession:





January 25, 1814

March 23, 1835


December 23, 1815

August 2, 1901


December 26, 1817

June 19, 1913


January 7, 1820

March 6, 1888


January 27, 1822

May 22, 1845

Mary Ann

June 18, 1824

died as infant

William June 8, 1826 February 27, 1848
Mary Ellen February 8, 1828 died as infant

Robert Collins

August 11, 1829

June 2, 1903


October 23, 1831

March 8, 1838


April 1, 1833

June 25, 1835

Wesley Browning

October 20, 1836

still alive in 1926

Thomas Lyman October 25, 1838 June 29, 1925
Franklin April 24, 1843 still alive in 1926

Father and mother are buried side by side in the Allen's Grove cemetery, Allen's Grove, Scott County Iowa, and a suitable double monument erected over them. All of the seven children who preceded them in death were buried in Carroll County, OH.  

My father, when about 14 years old, came with his father to Ohio and settled in Carroll County. He helped to clear off he farm north of Carrollton, then owned by Isaac Dwire (Divire?). He afterwards cleared off part of the land on which Carrollton now stands and helped cut the logs and build the first house in that town. To Mr. Dwire (Divire?) my father was 'bound out', as they termed it, for three years. The contract gave Mr. Dwire (Divire?) his services in return for which he was to board and clothe the boy, send him to school two months each year (if there was a school in the neighborhood) and pay him $20 in money each year. It was during these years that he did the chopping, grubbing and log rolling on the aforesaid Isaac Dwire (Divire?) farm.  

In course of a year or so after the close of the above mentioned contract he married and settled near his father-in-law, Daniel VanHorn, in Lee township.  

Your grandmother, Imogen Stephens, maiden name was Albright. She had three sisters and three brothers. One brother, Peter, died in childhood. Their names were Louisa, Henrietta, Imogene, Peter, William, Louise and Ella. I have given the name in the order of their births as near as I can remember. All of them graduated from Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa  

Louise married S. H. Manley, professor of languages in the college, who died someplace in Florida. They had two sons, Edward and Joseph, who are both college graduates. Edward is now and has been for some years a professor in some college in Chicago, Ill., and his mother lived with him. She is a very bright, cultured lady.  

Joseph is president of Marrietta College in Ohio. If either of them every married, I never heard of it. Henrietta married a good miner, James somebody-or-other. But failing in health a few years after, is now cared for in some hospital in the west. I do not know just where. She had no children.  

Ella married a Mr. Olmstead, a clothier of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who moved to Boone, Iowa, later and died there leaving Ella quite a comfortable estate. They had no children. William is a lawyer in Mt. Vernon, Iowa He never married. Louis B. is a prosperous wholesale grocer in Pierre, South Dakota. He never married.  

Your grandmother Stephens' parents came from Pennsylvania, which was their native state. Your great-grandmother Stephens had a very cheerful and happy disposition and was a devoted, kind and loving mother. She was a good singer and appeared often on public musical entertainments and was a member of the church choir most of her life. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church from childhood and so were her sisters and parents.  

She had two older sisters and was never called on or requested to do any cooking or other housework although she often wanted to. After our marriage she at once devoted her energies in that direction and became an excellent cook and housekeeper, thus showing what a will-to-do can accomplish. Her age at death and the cause are given in our family bible now in the keeping of your family.  

About two years after her death I married Mrs. Louisa G. Benjamin, a widow of West Liberty, Iowa There was only 17 days difference in our ages, I being the older. We were married April 3, 1889, at Iowa City, Iowa, and we lived happily together for nearly 24 years. She died in Corvallis, OR., November 6th, 1912, of neuroathenia [a thiamin deficiency] or neuritis.  

She had a son, Roy S. Benjamin, about 16 years old when we were married, who died when 26 years old in Philadelphia, Pa., after an operation for appendicitis. He was a fine fellow, and so far as I ever knew he and my boys got along together like real brothers.  

Lou never got any school education, only a little in childhood in the county district schools. She inherited a love for good books by the best authors and was a lifelong inveterate reader of them. For years previous to our marriage, she owned and edited the 'West Liberty Enterprise'. During the later years of our marriage, while on the farm in Oregon, she wrote a book called 'Letters From An Oregon Ranch' which had a wide sale. She always saw the funny side of everything at a glance and was a conversationalist and tidy housekeeper. Her father, Paxton Wright, was a Quaker and her brother a Presbyterian while she became, in later life, a Unitarian. She had six brothers and one sister as follows: William, Henry, John M., Robert, Oscar, Jane and George. All her brothers except William and Henry were soldiers in the Civil War for three full years or more. William went to California in 1849. He spent his life as a writer for papers and magazines under the pen name of "Dan DeQuill". The other boys were merchants or farmers. Jane died when a young girl. After all the brothers at home enlisted in the army it left Lou to run the farm, her mother being a widow, which she did for three years aided only by a nieces' crippled husband, doing all kinds of farm labor from 19 years of age to 23. This was her contribution toward winning the war of the rebellion.  

Father was dressed in a suit of hankein and mother in a calico dress that cost $.35 per yard when they were married. While father's suit was quite respectable, mothers's clothes were decidedly elegant, as her father was regarded as a rich man. After defraying all marriage expenses, father had some two or three dollars in money and a little spotted two-year-old colt and one suit of homemade work clothes. Mother had about the same change in clothing but no money no stock but some bedding and cooking utensils. They were very happy, having two souls with but a single thought--two hearts that beat as one.  

They built a one room log house in the woods, split out slabs or puncheons for a table, made wooden spoons and dishes, split materials for a bedstead and set up house-keeping. The woods were full of wild animals such as bear, deer, coons, squirrels, pheasants, quails and father was a good shot, having spent some time as an apprentice in his brother Jame's gunsmiths shop. So he killed all their meat.

Mother, like all pioneer women, could shoot almost as well as any man.  

They at once cleared off a little spot for corn and wheat, mother helping to roll logs and burn them and the brush. They dug out a farm there in the succeeding years and were very happy. They would take the children out with them when they went to the clearing and leave the oldest in charge of the smaller ones with some sticks and bright leaves or wild flowers to play with while they worked, keeping one eye on the children and the other on their work and on the lookout for a bear, wildcat or panther that might be lurking about too near the babies. The gun always went with them and stayed in convenient reach. There were also Indians about occasionally whom they generally fed and sent away in peace.  

After many years of hard labor and much deprivation among the woodlands of Ohio, they sold their limited possessions which their industry and economy had gotten them, and followed their oldest son James to Allen's Grove, Iowa, 15 miles from Davenport, in the year of 1844. I, Franklin Stephens, was then one year old. The object of this move was to secure cheap prairie land for their sons, seven of whom came with them. Within a few months after reaching their destination, they and all the children, except for me, were taken with the ague [a form of malaria, probably picked up as they crossed the open lands] and laid sick and helpless for three years. Every dollar they had was spent for doctors bills and machine. Out of five splendid horses they brought with them there, three died during this time.  

Broken in fortune and spirit in 1847, they returned to Ohio, by the financial aid of old friends there, taking all the family along except Daniel who, with his brother James, remarried in Iowa on land they had entered from the government. After living as renters in Ohio for six years, they returned to Allen's Grove, Iowa, bringing four boys with them. John remained in Ohio for a few years and William died there in 1848.  

Their second trip from Ohio to Iowa was in 1853, I being then ten years old and well remember the trip. Robert , Wesley, Thomas and Franklin (me) were the boys who came along to Iowa on this trip. Father entered 40 acres of land in 1853 adjoining my brother James' farm and ought some more and by the aid of his sons again established a home of his own where he and mother spent the rest of their life.  

My father's life occupation was that of a farmer. Beginning life as a poor boy he succeeded by dint of great energy and industry in accumulating a fair proportion of property before he was 45, but about this time sickness and misfortune befalling him, he became somewhat involved and much discouraged, and although he was always able to keep his family together and in fair circumstances, he never fully recovered from his misfortune and left this world as he began it--a poor man.  

Both father and mother united with the Methodist Church soon after marriage and were faithful and worthy members throughout their lives. Over 40 years father was a class leader and exhorter. He possessed a pure, generous Christian heart, was an entertaining conversationalist, had fair palaver as a speaker and was the sweetest singer I ever heard. But a few hours previous to his death he turned in his bed on his back and began two verses of that old hymn beginning:  

"Broad is the road that leads to death

And thousands walk together there;

Best wisdom shows a narrow path,

With here and there a traveler."  

His voice seemed as clear and steady and strong as it ever did. A rich, ringing tenor. He had a cheerful happy spirit, was a great laugher, an excellent mimic and a good story teller. He always saw all the oddities and all the peculiarities of human nature at a glance and remembered them. In politics he was first a Whig and then a stanch Republican. He was 5 feet 8 ½ inches high, rather stoutly built, average weight about 160 pounds. In his childhood and youth his hair was blond but grew darker as he reached manhood and at 50 years of age and on until his death was white as snow. His skin was very white and thin, his eyes a light sky blew. In his early manhood he could jump 33 feet in three standing jumps on level ground and turn and jump the same distance back, and often jumped a stick held six feet high---this was a running jump.  

He was never disposed to be quarrelsome and was uniformly of a pleasant, peaceable disposition, but once thoroughly aroused knew no such thing as fear. To illustrate: At a log rolling in Ohio, where many neighbors had gotten together, a large rawboned burly man whom my mother had refused to marry, pushed her and her second baby into a large fireplace blazing with hickory wood. Bystanders rescued them without serious damage. A few minutes later father, coming in, was informed of what had happened. Without uttering a word he sprung upon the fellow like a panther, seizing him by the throat and holding on until his adversary sunk to the floor. Friends tried to pull him loose and in doing so dragged both men out of the house onto the porch where they pried father's thumb out of joint and thus saved the mans life after many resuscitative efforts, for he was practically DEAD. The 240 pound brute got a just punishment for his criminal act and I know we children have always been proud of father for administering it.  

My mother had black hair in her early life which turned as she advanced in years, but never got white. She was about five feet tall and rather stout in build and stood as straight as a gun barrel all her life. Her cheeks were always a healthy red and all her features betokened firmness. She was unyielding when once her mind was fully made up but always just and generous. She learned to read in childhood and that was all the education she had to commence life with. After marriage she learned to write her name--Hannah Stephens--because she was ashamed to make her mark in signing legal papers, but never learned to write anything else until she was about 65 years old.  

I went to the war in 1862 and she once went to practicing on copies sent for her by my bother Wesley so as to write to her baby boy. Within these months I got a letter from her. We corresponded all through the Civil War. I have some of her letters now, you see when she once resolved to do a thing she never stopped until it was accomplished.  

She never owned a cookstove nor cooked a meal on one until I, her 14th child, was ten years old. For over 40 years she cooked over a fireplace and most of that time for a large family and was always faithful, patient and uncomplaining.  

Having smoked a pipe from ten years of age until she was 56, she decided to quit and never smoked afterward.  

While living in the woods of Ohio, she left the children in the house about dusk one evening and went to the spring a few rods away for a bucket of water. Father was away from home at the time. On her return she heard a whistling in the trees close to the door. She sprang for the door just as a panther leaped for her. She got inside safely but the panther tore most of her dress skirt off of her and in disappointed rage gave vent to a most piercing and blood-curdling scream. Mind you, she didn't faint! After a short time she put the children to bed, barred the door, put out the light and stayed close by the gun for hours listening to the panther climbing the trees and jumping from one to the other giving occasional screams. Mind you, she didn't faint or scream not apply the smelling salts, but when all was quiet she went to bed and slept profoundly.  

She was always modest, rather quiet, and had wonderful self control. In the government of her children she was very firm but quiet. We children all knew what we had to do when mother cleared her throat in a certain quiet way, as she always did if our conduct was improper in the presence of company. If she caught our eye she would omit the throat clearing and shake her head. In case we failed to heed these admonitions, a just punishment always followed when the company had gone, although generally administered with tears in her eyes as she had a wonderfully tender heart as well as a just judgment and unbending will. She administered her own punishment and never threatened to tell father if we didn't behave properly.  

My brother James married Hannah Peterson of Ohio about 1840 and moved to Allen's Grove, Iowa, at once where he entered 160 acres of land on which he lived as a farmer for 60 years. He died there in 1901, being 87 years old.   They had one daughter, Jennie, and one son who died in infancy. His wife also died at the same time. About 1850 he married Angeline Ross of Scott County, Iowa.

They had five children--Jasper, Erma, Mary Adeline, William and Pattie Brown. Of these children, Jennie, Erma and Pattie are still living in 1926.   My brother Daniel married Cynthia Daniels in Ohio about the year 1835 and in 1844 moved to Allen's Grove, Iowa, where he entered 160 acres of land joining his brother James. Some years later he sold out and moved to Jackson County, Iowa, and bought a farm there, two miles from Maquoketa.  

They had three sons and one daughter--Harvey, William M., Eliza and Fancis, all now dead in 1926. Francis died of sickness in the army in 1862 and Eliza died of apoplexy [a stroke] on December 26th, 1907.  

Daniel's wife died in 1890. She lived with his son William M. in Maquoketa and he was hale and hearty when he died in 1913 being 96 years old. All his children were born before I was. Harvey, being about seven years older than me, rather disliked to call me uncle when we were boys.  

Daniel is the wealthiest one of my family, being worth $30,000 at this writing and his son William M. is the wealthiest one of all my relations, being at this time worth $200,000 or more.  

John Stephens was by trade a carpenter and a cabinetmaker. He married Mary Jane Wolf and settled in Carrollton, OH, where he followed his trade until about 1855 when he moved to Maquoketa, Iowa, where he died in 1888 being 68 years old. His wife died when several years past 80. They had six children--Melissa, Elmer, Adaline, Rosaline, Louella and William. They are all dead now (1926). Melissa died of cholera in Carrollton, OH. When it was known that she had cholera nobody would come near the house. John at once sent his wife and family away and stayed with her alone until she died. He then hauled her to the cemetery alone and buried her. No Stephens ever deserted his children in time of trouble or danger.  

Sister Eliza married William Kyle in Ohio. I think they had two children, one I am certain. Eliza died when 23 years old, two years after I was born. You will notice by the family list given at the beginning of this history that all my sisters died young. Eliza lived the longest of them all. She is the only one of them I ever saw and as I was only about one-and-one-half years old at the time I have no real recollection of her.  

Brother Robert Collins was a tailor by trade, then a farmer, then a minister in the United Brethren Church, settling finally on a farm five miles from Anamosa, Jones county, Iowa, where he died in 1903 being 74 years old.  

About 1851 he married Rebecca Groves and moved to Iowa in 1853, settling in Allen's Grove. They had five children of which Otto and Franklin were the youngest. I do not remember the names of the three older ones. All of them except Franklin died with diphtheria in the winter of 1863-4.  

His wife died soon after this, say two years, and about 1873 he married a Miss Pfeiffer and they had two children--Blanch and Clifford. They are both living and so is their mother, although her health is failing.  

Wesley Browning married Elizabeth Mains of Ohio about 1861 and bought and settled upon our old homestead in Allen's Grove, Iowa, which he owned until 1907. He now lives in Davenport, Iowa, 1918 LeClair St.  

For 30 years he conducted a county store in Allen's Grove and a post office in connection with the farm. They had five children--Elbert, Oprah, Robert Clarence, Jennie and Charles M., all of who are still living. Wesley is the best penman of the family and one of the best spellers I ever knew. I never knew him to misspell a word. In his early manhood he was a county school teacher and music teacher. Nobody ever knew how he learned to read. When about five years old mother found him under the bed one day actually reading the New Testament. He has been a great reader of history and newspapers all through life and one of the most honorable, upright men I ever knew.  

Thomas Lyman left the home farm in 1860 and entered Cornell College, Mt. Vernon, Iowa, from which he graduated as Bachelor of Arts in 1865. He was at once employed by the college authorities as one of the instructors, which position he held about six years. During this time he married Miss Elizabeth Pryor who at the time was the piano instructor in the college. He is at this writing Assistant Adjutant General of Iowa and lives in Des Moines. Out of five of six children born to them, only the youngest is living and she is named Ethel VanHorn Stephens. She has three girls and one son now living in Los Angeles, CA. Her husband there died of hydrophobia. His name was Rosco Byers.  

Robert Stephens, who was my father's father [great-great-great-grandfather to me, William Howard Stephens], was born in England. I do not think any of us know where or the month and day of his birth. He died in his 98th year of old age, having been blind the last eight years of his life. He lived with my father at the time and had for a number of years previous. He and my brother John were great friends, and after he lost his sight John always put him to bet at night and walked with him for exercise during the day when he needed it.  

One night after he and John had spent a pleasant evening together cracking jokes (they were both great jokers), grandfather retired and went to sleep as usual and never woke up.  

In his boyhood and early manhood he was a shepherd on the Isle of Wight and also on the Isle of Mann. I knew of no other occupation he had during his life in England. His parents were poor. How many brothers and sisters he had I do not know, I only know he had brothers. What became of them I don't know either. He decided to come to America.  

In those days poor people desiring to come to this country put themselves in the hands of the captain of some ship who brought them to this country and sold them for some sum of money sufficient to pay for their passage to some planter in the Southern states, binding them to work for said planter a certain number of years in payment.  

Grandfather Stephens was sold to a planter in the state of Maryland and signed an agreement to work for him seven years. One year after his arrival in America another ship brought over and sold to the same planter one Margaret Collins who also signed a seven year agreement. Of course there were Negro slaves on the plantation and they all worked together in the fields, although the white people were treated a little better than the Negroes.  

Robert and Margaret fell in love but could not marry by the terms of their contracts until their terms of service were ended. Robert's time ending one year before Margaret's, he worked six months longer, thus finishing her time in six-and-one-half years. They then married and settled in Pennsylvania where they raised a family of seven children named as follows: James, Robert, Jonathan, William, Nancy, Betsy and Polly. This is not the order of their births. I know James was the oldest and William, my father, the youngest, but cannot properly place the others.  

James married and raised a family about which I know nothing. He enlisted as a soldier in one of the historic Indian wars of this country and died of sickness over on the Great Lakes someplace. Polly married Ephraim Yarington. Betsy was twice married, first to John Rumple and next to David Wells. Nancy died when 14 years old. Robert married, but I know of only one of his children--his son Robert who was a hatter some place in Indiana. At one time he was quite well off. My grandmother Margaret died when my father was about five years old. She dropped dead while milking a cow. Grandfather never married again.  

When father was about nine or ten years old his brother Jonathan ran away from home, as he did not like to live with his older brothers or sisters. He took father, of whom he thought a great deal, down the canal passing their place on a walk one day. At last he stopped and taking his knife and a shilling (the last ten cents he had) from his pocket said, "Bill, I'm going to run away and you'll never see me any more. Take these to remember me by--goodby, be a good boy." He walked on down the canal until he was lost to fathers's sight, notwithstanding all father's tears and pleading, and he never saw him afterward.  

Jonathan was 15 or 16 years old at that time. Several years afterward a man came through the country where father lived and not finding him left word that his brother Jonathan wanted him to see William Stephens and tell him that he was driving an ammunition wagon for the government at Memphis, Tennessee, and was well and doing good. This was during the war of 1812. Further than this, as a matter of fact, we know nothing of him.  

When I was in the army during the Civil War I met a John Stephens from Missouri who told me on being questioned before knowing anything of my relationship, that his grandfather's name was Jonathan Stephens, that he died in a certain year, that his father was the oldest of the family and his name will William Stephens (Jonathan's youngest brother's name), that Alexander H. Stephens (vice president of the Southern Confederacy) was his (John's) uncle. We never traced it up as we could not then get letters though the confederate lines very easily. From Jonathan's age at death my father said he was certain he was his last brother. Certain it is that there are many Stephens in the south who spell their names the same as we do. There are also many in the eastern and middle states. They may be descendants of my uncles James and Robert, or of some of my great uncles who may have chose to ... [unable to read the handwriting]...after my grandfather.  

My grandmother, Margaret Collins Stephens, was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. She had blond hair, blue eyes and a light pink skin. She was regarded a very pretty woman. She had a quick temper, great courage and much of the Spartan nature.  

She kept a rawhide lying up on two pegs in the wall when raising her family. She frequently told the boys if she ever knew of them imposing upon any one or picking a fuss she would whip them severely, and if any one imposed on them and they didn't resent it she would whip them still harder; if they got into a fight for good cause and hollered enough she could cut the blood out of them . This illustrates her Celtic gait and temper. However, she never had occasion to go to the limit of her code. She died when about 55 or 60 years old.  

Daniel VanHorn, my mother's father, was born in Pennsylvania June 22, 1776, and died in May 1854, being 78 years old. His father's name was also Daniel and his mother's name before marriage was Anna Packinghan. They were both born in Holland.

Grandfather VanHorn was six feet one-and-one-half inches high, had straight black hair and dark skin. His average weight was 240 pounds. I remember his hands...they were the largest I ever saw. He married Susanna Stull who died in 1848, being 72 years old. She was also born in Pennsylvania, but her father and mother, Matthew and Hannah Stull, came from Germany. Grandmother VanHorn was a small woman, her heaviest weight being 100 pounds.  

Grandmother and grandfather VanHorn frequently conversed in German although one was low-Dutch and the other was high-Dutch, and my mother could speak the German quite fluently in her early life. My mother's parents had eight children as follows: Hannah (my mother), Anna, Thomas, Mary, Jacob, Eliza, Susanna and Jemima, none of whom are now living.

By dint of hard labor and frugality grandfather VanHorn acquired what in those days was regarded as great wealth, being worth $75,000 at his death. A few years previous to his death he married Mary Loll, a maiden lady worth $30,000. Shortly after this he made a will by which he gave 1/3 of his wealth to his wife Mary, 1/3 to the Presbyterian Missionary Cause and 1/3 to his children, allowing his wife to keep all of what she had previous to the marriage. Mary was not satisfied, and having a business head and an inching palm made grandfather believe in his last hours that his children were displeased with the amount given to the missionary cause and would try to break the will and that he had better will it all to her and she would make a satisfactory division after his death. Being in great pain and under the influence of opiates he DID as she wanted, and THERE IT REMAINED FOREVER AFTER, although we fought it in the courts for years afterwards.  

Fortunately, however, I inherited a rather hopeful, cheerful nature, so that the various vicissitudes of a long and somewhat strenuous life have not embittered my disposition although I have had my full share of disappointments, failures, mistakes and sorrow. With a courage born of necessity, I might almost say if I have tried to rise above them all and thus have had my share of pleasure also out of life after all. My chief joy is that my children have carved out for themselves, each in his own way, positions of honor and efficiency and today stand shoulder to shoulder with their fellows doing their part of the world's great work and are rearing their offspring to do the same. Greater consolation I could not ask or even hope for.  

In closing these remarks let me say that my life work is done, and I will soon be to one and all only a memory. So let that memory, on the part of my children, be that they have always held the first place in my heart, and that my closing benediction is:

"May God bless and prosper them and theirs

in the future as in the past."  

Very affectionately,  


The remainder of this family history is added by William Howard Stephens in January of 1984. It is intended to bring the reader forward another 60 years.  

Franklin died in February of 1928, two years after he finished the family history detailed above. His wife, Imogene Albright Stephens, died in 1887, and not too much is know about her.  

Franklin and Imogene had two sons, Louis L. Stephens and Howard Henry Stephens. Louis married and had two sons, Ernest and Richard. Their birth and death information is not know to me.

Howard Henry, the youngest of his two sons, was born in Iowa in 1874 and died in May of 1947 in Topeka. His wife's name was Minnetta Maxwell Stephens, affectionately know as 'Minnie" or, presumably due to her large size, 'Big Ma'. She was born in Illinois in 1878 and died a few months after Howard Henry. They were married in Peoria, Illinois, in May 1899. Photos of the two of them appear elsewhere in this volume.  

Howard Henry spent his life working for the Santa Fe railroad. He started his career with the railroad when he was 16 years old. He was employed as a mechanic in Chillicothe, Illinois. Most railroad employees learn that their employer expects them to move around the territory, and Howard Henry and Minnie were no exceptions. Each move usually meant a promotion. By the time the Stephens' moved to Topeka in 1922 (by way of Ft. Madison, Iowa, Chillicothe, Illinois, Arkansas City, Kansas, Amarillo, Texas, Wellington, Kansas, and Clovis, New Mexico) he had climbed as high up on the ladder as was possible--he was the superintendent of the shops in Topeka, a position he held until his retirement in June of 1940. His retirement certificate shows that he worked for the railroad for 50 years and five months.  

Howard Henry and Minnetta's children were named Franklin Erwin, Zelma Inogene, Helen Louise, Viola Agnes, Orla Francis, Lois Syble and Howard Hatcher. Howard Hatcher's middle name was taken from the name of the doctor that delivered him, Dr. Hatcher of Wellington, Kansas. Howard Hatcher was also my father.  

Franklin's wife was named Virgie. They had one child, Virginia Francis Stephens. Zelma married Arthur Taylor and they had two children, Betty Ann and Arthur Berry. Helen married Bernard Wiss and they had five children. Their names are Betty Mae, Berna Lou, Bud, Gene and William.  

Viola was born January 12, 1907. She and her husband Charles Crank had no children of their own, but chose to adopt a boy and girl, Elizabeth (Betsy) and Charles (Chuck). Photos of these two appear elsewhere. Betsy was killed in an automobile accident in 1962 while she was a student at the University of Kansas. Chuck lives in California and has a daughter Jo Ann. Until her death in 1989, Viola continued to live in Topeka after her husband's death in 1972. He had retired from the Topeka Police Department where he had been chief of detectives.  

Orla married Jack Temple, Jr., a successful salesman. They lived in Kansas City until her death in 1975. Jack purchased a resort in the Ozarks, moved there, and died about 1985.  

Lois Syble was born in June 9, 1911. She married Andy Hoy and they had one son, Andrew. Lois's second marriage was to Jack Jarrell, a newspaperman. He was assigned to the Washington Bureau of he Omaha World Herald. They lived in Washington, D.C. for several years and then moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Jack died in 1973 and Lois died in August, 2011 after reaching the ripe old age of 100 and two months. She had moved to Keene, NH and was just a few miles from her grandson and his family. Independent to the end, Lois never lived anywhere except in her own house or apartment.  

Howard Hatcher was born in 1918 and died in 1982 He married Betty Jane Carswell in 1939 and had one son, William Howard. Howard spent most of his adult life pursuing the photographic craft in one form or another. Just after he and Betty married the moved to San Francisco where he worked as a portrait photographer. The returned to Topeka and both attended Washburn University. During WWII he worked in photo intelligence, serving in the Army Air Corps in the South Pacific.  

After his discharge from the military, he and Betty remained in Topeka. Howard worked for the Carswell Manufacturing (Betty's Uncle's business), then went into advertising for Henry Manufacturing in Topeka. In 1965 he joined the staff of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, as Public Relations Director, the position he held until his death 17 years later.  

Howard spent the last ten years of his life in Winfield, perfecting his first love--photography. He had several photographic exhibitions featuring his work. He revived many of the turn-of-the-century darkroom techniques and left a wealth of photographs for others to study. Over $1,000 worth of his photographs were purchased by his friends in Winfield following his death. The proceeds of the sale were give to Southwestern as a bequest . 

Howard and Betty's son William Howard was born on March 20, 1947. He graduated from Southwestern College in Winfield in 1969. Bill worked in newspaper photography at the Topeka Capital Journal, Wichita Eagle Beacon, and also worked as news bureau director at Southwestern.  

While in college, Bill married Linda Rae Kinder, whom he met in high school, in 1967. They had two children, Jeromie Brian and Jennifer Jane. Jeromie was born October 16, 1969 and Jennifer on January 18, 1971.  

In 1973 Bill and his family moved to Bowling Green, OH, where he served for five years as assistant director of News and Photo service at Bowling Green State University. The four of them moved to Topeka in the summer of 1978. Bill, like his grandfather, worked for the Santa Fe railway in the communications department for seven years.  

At the time of this writing, Jeromie is in the 8th grade and Jennifer is in the 7th. It remains to be seen if Jeromie will continue the Stephens family line, or if it will end with him.

Thoughts About My First 41 Years

  The time is May, 1988. The occasion is the beginning of a new chapter in my life...the first child is graduating from high school. In another year the second child will do the same, and that will complete my transition from the role of father-teacher-provider to whatever comes next!  

The reason for this writing is to do for my kids what my parents didn't do for me---provide me with some answers to questions and provide me with a written perspective on their lives. Now that they are both gone, I wish I had their thoughts and stories set to paper. I did not realize until they were gone that there were things which I never asked them and things which were never clear in my own mind about my early years. Things such as names, places, events, anecdotes, etc. I am attempting to lay out some recollections and memories for Jeromie and Jennifer and perhaps make some things clear to them...things that they don't care about now, but will at a later time in their lives (as I have now that I am older).  

At this writing I am 41 years old. My life is at least half over, probably 2/3 or 3/4 over since both parents died in their late 50's or early 60's.


I attended all grades from kindergarten through high school in the Topeka Public School system. One of my earliest memories of school are of the 4th or 5th grade teacher Mrs. Stone. I had a crush on her and I remember inviting her to come to our house for dinner. She accepted and I remember my mother asking me what I would like for dinner and what clothes I wanted my parents to wear for the occasion. We had a favorite meal (spaghetti and meatballs) and I helped mom pick out some clothes which she would wear that evening. I do not remember much of what went on that evening, but I think back on that time and wonder how many parents were sensitive enough to their kids needs to do something like that?  

I attended Capper junior high school and had one of the worst cases of acne that has ever plagued any teenager. I didn't date--I think I was too self conscious about my acne and perhaps a little shy.  

High school was Topeka West, class of 1965. Photography was my big claim-to-fame and I worked on the school newspaper and yearbook all three years. I was not a strong student academically, getting about a C+ average, but I never felt any pressure from my parents to 'strive onward and upward'. They reminded me at grade card time that I had the potential of doing better, but they didn't make a big production number when my grades weren't up to snuff.  

When I was about 10 or 12 it was discovered that I had a learning disability--dyslexia. It is more common for left-handed people to have this than right-handed people. Sometimes the two halves of my brain wouldn't cooperate with each other and I would see letters upside-down and backwards. I didn't know that I was interpreting them incorrectly, so it made for some difficult experiences in school where they were trying to teach me reading and writing. My mother spent a lot of time with me, helping me trace letters with my fingers and thereby form a better image of them in my brain. Twenty years later Linda would spend time with Jeromie, doing the same thing because he showed some signs of dyslexia.  

I enrolled in the University of Kansas in '65-'66 and became involved with the photographic circles on campus. I took pictures for the daily campus newspaper and was quite the 'big man on campus' (at least in my own eyes) photographically speaking. Unfortunately my studies suffered, and I flunked out after my freshman year. My father, who had left his job as advertising manager for an earthmoving manufacturer in Topeka and taken a public relations job at Southwestern College in Winfield, had arranged for me to be admitted to SC on a probationary basis. I kept my grades up and graduated on the Deans Honor Roll in 1969.  

Photography continued to be a big part of my life in college. I took over as the official photographer at Southwestern and worked for the yearbook and newspaper all three years at Southwestern. I started to make some professional contacts and started stringing for the Wichita Eagle-Beacon.  


While in high school I had a part-time job at the Capital Journal newspaper in Topeka as photo lab assistant. I mixed chemicals, loaded film and worked as a general flunky helping the photographers with their daily assignments. Rich Clarkson was photo chief and in later years went on to become the director of photography at National Geographic. Gary Settle, Bill Snead, Owen Brewer and many others worked at the CJ for a while and have gone on to become legends in the photographic world. Although I strived, I never achieved anywhere near their level of accomplishment. I am satisfied to be able to say that I knew them then and worked with them and shared ideas with them. In fact, in the early 1980's Jeromie attended a lecture at KU where Rich Clarkson was showing some of his work. Jeromie was very much in awe of Clarkson and his reputation. I accompanied Jeromie to one of the lectures and still remember the beaming expression on Jeromie's face when Rich saw me, called me by name and we exchanged smalltalk for a while!  

During my last 18 months in College I started working full time for the Eagle Beacon in Wichita, commuting to Wichita every afternoon at 3:00 and working until 11:00pm. When I graduated in 1969 I decided to quit the newspaper and join the staff at Southwestern College as news bureau director. This lasted for four years until my job was eliminated due to a decline in enrollment in small colleges all over the nation. I located a position at Bowling Green State University in Ohio .

My father, Linda's father, Linda and the kids and I loaded into a U-Haul and moved to Ohio on memorial day weekend 1972. No place to live, strange town, no place to store the furniture, etc. We got it done, though. Floyd almost missed his flight back to Topeka because I provided him the wrong directions to the airport in Toledo. Dad flew back a few days later and I found myself, for the first time in my life, 1000 miles from relatives and on my own.  

Addresses have always seemed to fascinate Jennifer. She can still remember our addresses in Bowling Green. When I was first married, we lived at 1409 W 3rd, then moved to somewhere on West 2nd. When my mother died we moved in with my father and maternal grandmother Lillian Carswell (Nonie) at 136 Red Bud, then we moved to 0101 Iowa (where we lived when Jeromie was born, then to 1810 Fowler when Jennifer was born, then bought our first house at 410 College. Upon arrival at Bowling Green we lived in Stadium View Apts., then 434 N Prospect, and finally 217 W Reed. Whew!  

I have one fond memory of the house on Prospect in Bowling. Dad came to visit us one summer and Linda and I decided to go out for the evening and leave dad in charge of the kids (or was it the other way around?). When we got back, dad kind of mentioned that he met on the of the neighbor ladies, but did not elaborate. We found out later that the kids went upstairs while dad was busy downstairs, opened Jeromie's bedroom window, and proceeded to crawl out on the porch roof and watch the cars go by! The neighbor lady came to the door and asked dad if he knew the kids were out on the roof. They were probably about five and six at the time, perhaps a year or two younger.  

I developed a good relationship with Clif Boutelle and he and I became good friends. Clif was the director of News and Photo Service at BGSU. It was through Clif that I got started shooting bubble gum cards for Topps Chewing Gum, Inc. He had been doing it for several seasons and was wanting to spend weekends with his family. I jumped at the chance for the extra bucks and excitement of attending NFL football games with sideline credentials. I continued to shoot for Topps the entire time I was at BG. I traveled to Cincinnati to shoot football, baseball and hockey, and shot football in Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver, and some summer training camps in Ohio and Chicago.  

After five years at BG I decided to return to Topeka to try my hand at freelance photography as a full-time occupation. I had been augmenting my income at BGSU by shooting commercial assignments. Clif Boutelle and I had the corner on the market in BG and I thought that I would be able to do as well in Topeka. I was mistaken.  

I have regretted leaving BGSU many, many times over the past years. I was secure in a good job there. I enjoyed the work and the university atmosphere. But, no sense crying over spilt milk. I discovered that there was not enough work to keep a self-employed photographer working in Topeka. To keep the bills paid, I took a job at the Menninger Foundation as a mental health technician. I worked on one of the wards at the hospital and spent my time talking to and working with the patients. Although my college degree was in psychology, I realized that this sort of work was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life.  

Television broadcasting had always interested me, and I set out to obtain an FCC First Class Radiotelephone license so I could get into TV broadcasting in a technical position. I passed the tests and got a job as an engineer at WIBW TV in Topeka. I worked primarily at the transmitter site near Maple Hill. One of the things I enjoyed most was the ability to take the kids with me and spent the entire day with them while I did my duties around the transmitter site. Otherwise I would be alone out there for my entire shift. I am sure both kids remember the projects we did on those weekends---the computer rack we built out of 2 x 4's, the dog 'Cat', shooting the .22 cal pistol, looking for snakes, fixing our lunch, and on and on.    

Viola (we called her 'Bug' because her parents thought she was as cute as a little ladybug) was a remarkable person. She is over 80 years old at this time, has had both hips replaced, has had a colostomy, her husband died 20 years ago, her daughter was killed in a car accident, and to top it all if, she is diabetic. She lived in a retirement home for a while, but it got to be too expensive and she moved into an apartment at 914 West 12th. A bad neighborhood, but she has survived so far. Jennifer cleaned her apartment for once a week and that gave her a little spending money.


Linda became pregnant with Jeromie shortly after my mother died in 1968. I have shed many tears since then agonizing over the injustice of life; my mother, who loved little children, never lived to see her own grandchildren. Linda had a hard labor with both kids. I remember October 15th, 1969 was the date set for a national Vietnam War Moratorium , (look it up in the history books if you want to know what it was all about!) and the TV networks were covering the protests from coast to coast all day. Linda was in the labor suite in the hospital at Winfield, I was at her bedside, and the two of us watched the TV coverage all day and into the night while she went through her labor pains. I probably did more watching than she did. Finally she dilated enough for the doctor to be called, and she was moved into the delivery room. She was given a spinal block to deaden some of the pain, and Jeromie was born about 2:00 in the morning on the 16th. The first thing Linda asked for was a hot dog with mustard on it!  

After she was returned to her room I called Dad and told him, called the Kinders, and called Marion Brown in Kansas City. Marion was a close friend of my mother and (I found out much later from Howard) almost became the next Mrs. Howard Stephens after my mom died. No hanky-panky going on, but Marion helped Howard through the tough times following mom's death and I think a real love developed between them. Marion wanted to continue her career at St. Paul's School of Theology in Kansas City, a nothing further came of the romance.

Dad had bought a new green suit for the birth occasion and he put it on and came visiting his new grandson later in the day. He was so pleased to have a grandchild that he was beaming from ear to ear and looked like a giant leprechaun in his new green suit. I made a photograph of Jeromie and we used that on our birth announcement. When I was born, dad took a picture of me and it was used on my birth announcement.  

Jennifer was also born in the middle of the night after a long labor, although I do not think it was a difficult as the first one. Because of her weight and blood pressure, Linda was suffering from toxemia and went into the hospital a few days before the expected date. I found out later that her condition was much more serious than I realized and perhaps a real disaster was avoided by the extended hospital stay. Upon her birth, I called the same three people. I remember that the Kinders came to Winfield one or two days after Jennifer was born. Linda was ready to be dismissed from the hospital and we snuck Cindy (Linda's sister) into the maternity ward to see the new arrival---Cindy was too young to be there---and for some reason Cindy passed out, fell to the floor and got a black eye out of the whole thing. We got chewed out for allowing a minor to come on the ward.  

When Linda was pregnant with Jennifer we decided that two kids were enough. As it turned out we were blessed with a son and a daughter. One of each. Linda was having some problems with birth control pills, so the logical thing to do was for me to have a vasectomy. Dr Kauffman, who had doctored all of us in Winfield, did the job. They day before I was to go in for the out-patient surgery in his office, they said that I needed to have two patches shaved in my crotch, so the two small incisions could be made. Linda got out her beauticians straight razor and proceeded to take off all of my hair from my bellybutton to my kneecaps. I looked really weird. Even Dr. Kauffman commented on it.


When my mother died I was working at the Eagle-Beacon in Wichita. On the police radio I heard an ambulance dispatched in Winfield, but could not make out the address. It was about an hour later that dad called me and said she was gone. Mom had rheumatic fever as a youngster and it weakened her heart wall. She died in dad's arms. It haunts me still when I think of him saying she died in his arms. They loved each other so intensely and each complemented the other's weaknesses. We had a memorial service in Winfield and a graveside service in Topeka.  

The next to die was Lillian, my mother's mother. She had moved to Winfield when dad took the job at Southwestern in 1965. She lived in a spare bedroom at their house. After mom died, Lillian's age caught up with her and she needed more care than could be provided for her at the house. She moved to Wheat Road Manor nursing home in Winfield. She lived long enough to see her great-grandchildren and I have picture of her with them. After we moved to Ohio I wrote her on a regular basis. After her death I discovered she had kept many of the letters and newspaper clippings about the births, stories about me or pictures of mine which appeared in the paper. Many of her final possessions now belong to Jennifer. When she died we had a memorial service for her and buried her in the Stephenson plot at the Topeka Cemetery, about 100 feet south of the Stephens plot. That, of course, is where her daughter Betty is buried. Lillian's maiden name was Lillybelle O'Riley Stephenson and she married into the Carswell family.  

In December 1981 the kids and I took a bus trip to Winfield to visit Dad for Christmas. We spent several days there and we all enjoyed each other's company very much. After the first of the new year dad phoned to say he was going into the hospital for some tests. They had found something suspicious on a chest x-ray. That evening I phoned Dr. Kauffman at home and asked how serious it was. He said not to worry and dad would be home in a few days. At 2:00 the next morning Dr. Kauffman called me with the news of his death. Linda and I sat up and talked about it until sunrise. One of the hardest things for me to do was to tell the kids of his death. We woke them up individually and told them that he had died at the hospital during the night. Both just buried their heads in the pillows and cried. The day before we had taken a Polaroid picture of the kids holding a 'GET WELL SOON' sign and had mailed it to dad at the hospital. He never got it. The letter and picture were returned to us and are in one of our scrapbooks now.  

Dad (who had been a heavy smoker for 20 years) died of lung cancer. The doctor said the tumor was as the size of a grapefruit and was at the top of his lung. I am convinced that dad knew of this condition, that Dr. Kauffman knew all along, and that dad realized his time had come and why burden me with the anticipation of his death? I asked Dr. Kauffman, in a roundabout way, if Dad had any advance knowledge of this large object in his chest. I never got a straight answer from him. He wouldn't want to lie to me, but he probably was still respecting the wishes of an old friend. If it were me with the same situation, I would have done just the same thing.  

Dad was universally liked at Southwestern and the entire campus community joined in sorrow at his death. I asked Norman Callison, the head of the theater department and old friend, to speak at the memorial service at church. He did; he told jokes about dad and provided exactly the sort of memorial that dad would have wanted---witty, unburdened with rhetoric or sentimentality, and sincere.  

Marriage / Divorce

Linda and I met during highschool. Neither of us dated much during those times, just each other. We were married in 1968 in Topeka. Our marriage lasted for 18 years. We had each other for the first few years, then when the kids came along we became caught up in parenting responsibilities. What I am about to say has been said my millions of parents who take the time to reflect on their children's early years. I am going to echo it once more because no truer words were ever set to paper; young parents do not appreciate their children until it is too late. The advice I give to new parents is take time to enjoy your children for what they are---not little adults, but rather people to be molded into something. So much is learned from the parental behavior and not from the parental lectures. Your kids will be influenced more from your actions than your words. If Jennifer and Jeromie have kids I hope they will take time to spend time with them and develop the close physical and emotional bonds which only come from time spent together.  

Our divorce came on friendly terms, joint custody, pre-arranged split of property, the kids chose to live with me. Linda and I did everything to assure the kids that they were not involved in the decision to divorce---it was simply a matter of the two parents growing in different directions. I think they accepted this for the truth that it was. I can not imagine surviving a divorce with custody and property battles---what immeasurable damage it must do to the kids. Linda and I are still on speaking terms and that is the way it should be.  

I was fortunate enough to meet a woman, also divorced, who was 100% compatible with me and my lifestyle. LeAnn and I met when we both worked at TECOM in 1987, began dating in 1988, moved in together in 1989 and were married in 1990. LeAnn's children, Allen and Julie, are roughly the same ages as Jeromie and Jennifer. All six of us get along with each other and we have formed a fine, cohesive, extended family unit. LeAnn and I discussed our backgrounds, beliefs, finances and many other topics before we slowly grew to be a part of each other's lives. I expect to spend the rest of my life with LeAnn, which is a prospect I look forward to with a great deal of excitement!  


Several events come to mind when I think of the pride I feel towards my children. I will relate two or three:  

Jennifer has always enjoyed performing and showing off her skills. I remember vividly the many occasions when she was performing with the clogging team and I watched the audience clapping in time to the music and really getting into their performance. The same holds true for the plays which she was in She had a part in "You Can't Take it With You" and at the conclusion of the performance she presented the director with a bouquet of flowers. The smile on her face and the sense of satisfaction which she must have felt after a job well done made me feel proud to be a part of her life.  

Jeromie worked for most of the last semester of his high school senior year putting together a slide presentation complete with music. It contained images which he had photographed during his four years at Washburn Rural High School. His mom and I attended the premier showing and, quite frankly, since attendance was voluntary on the part of the students, I expected to see a hundred people in there. Boy! was I wrong. There wasn't a seat to be found in the auditorium which could seat 600. They were even standing along the back row. Every time a new image flashed on the screen, hoots and hollers and clapping would erupt. I watched Jeromie's face as he ran the multiple projectors, music, and watched the stop watch during the production. I saw the same sense of accomplishment on his face and damn near cried when the audience gave him a standing ovation (led by his sister) at the conclusion of the 18-minute presentation. No father, whose son had scored the winning touchdown, could have been filled with more pride than I did at that moment.  

In the summer of 1989 both kids decided to join the military. As luck would have it, they both were sent to Ft. Jackson, SC for basic training, Jeromie being a week ahead of Jennifer. Midway though their eight weeks in boot camp, hurricane Hugo blew through that part of the country, inflicting millions of dollars of damage and causing many deaths. I had a phone call from them both the next day and they said the eye of the storm was less than 70 miles from where they were located. LeAnn and I flew to Ft. Jackson for Jeromie's graduation and stayed around for a week so we could attend Jennifer's graduation. I am sure the kids were happy that we were able to be there. I was caught up in the accomplishment that they both had successfully completed basic training...a task that not everyone can do. I never tried to influence their choice of the military, because it was a different environment that it was 20 years previous when I was involved with the draft.  

After getting out of the army, Jennifer tried marriage and it was not her cup of tea. She continued her medical career, working at several area hospitals in the Kansas City and Leavenworth areas. Her assignments included emergency room, corinary intensive care, and neonatal intensive care. In March of 2000 Jennifer had a daughter Olivia Rose Comer Stephens. She was born on Bill's birthday (March 20). A coincidence I'm sure! Olivia was born with several heart defects which were corrected via open-heart surgery when she was just two months old. Corinary and neonatal were two areas that Jennifer had experience in through her job, so she knew exactly what her daughter would be going through.

Jennifer met Kevin, then a Major in the Army. They moved to the Baltimore, MD, area and jennifer finished her BSN degree. Now a Lt. Col., Kevin and Jennifer got married in 2008 and currently live in Lansing, KS. where he is on the staff at Ft. Leavenworth. They have a son Kaiden Dean McCarley who was born in October 0f 2013.

Jeromie is married to a lady who he met while in the army. He and April were married on April 1st, 2001. Not a coincidence, I bet! April has a daughter Trina and a son Matthew. Jeromie became an instant father and seems to bask in all of the joys that fatherhood provides. He and his family live in the Washington, DC area where he works in the telecommunications field. Jeromie has adopted Matthew.

April and Jeromie had a son Jeromie Jon who was born in September, 2006. We just call him JJ. He loves to spend his free time out in their large yard which is enclosed on all sides by rows of trees, each one enticing him to climb it.

That brings my recollections up to date. LeAnn retired in 2007 and Bill retired in 2009. This section was begin in 1988 and most recently edited in November, 2013. The kids have already started to form their own memories and file them away. Perhaps some day they will feel the need, as I have, to set their memories down on paper for the benefit of their loved ones.