Friday, June 28, 2013

David Lincoln Stover (1820 - 1858), my 2nd Great Grandfather on my Father's side

David L. Stover headstone in Elizabethton, Tennessee
David Lincoln Stover – why am I starting with him?  Because I’m intrigued by the Stovers.  Ever since I discovered that our family has a tangible link to President Abraham Lincoln I’ve been possessed by this branch of our family tree.  David was Carrie Brooks Stover’s father.  Carrie Brooks married my great grandfather James William Pattillo, so David is my 2nd great grandfather.

I am intrigued by David in part because I know so little about him and want to know more.  He died young – when he was only 38, so his life was short – that’s one reason I have found so little about him. I don’t even know what caused his death. The state of Tennessee did not start keeping death records until 1908.  He did not serve in the civil war because he died before it started.  That would have been a good source of information – the military kept good records.  Both of his brothers served in the civil war and lived longer, so I know more about them.

Land owned by David L. Stover in Tennessee that he inherited from his father, William Ward Stover who inherited it from Mary Lincoln.
What I do know about David L. Stover is that he was born 25 August 1820 when James Monroe was president of the United States.  Monroe was the 5th US President and served two terms. Monroe was from Virginia, where several generations of our Pattillo ancestors lived.  

One of the interesting things I learned about David is that he was elected to attend the 1840 National Whig Convention when he was only 19 years old.  I found this information in an article - Early History of Carter County 1760 - 1861 published by the Watauga Historical Association.  About the same time his brother Daniel attended a similar convention in Knoxville.  So this branch of our ancestral tree was politically engaged at a national level.  The town of Elizabethton strongly supported the Union during the Civil War though they were overruled by the majority of the state which supported the Confederates, and voted to secede from the Union.

Me in the Great Smoky Mountains, April 2012
When David was 27 he was involved in a lawsuit Nelson v. Powell. David was one of the administrators of his uncle, Samuel Drake’s estate.  The dispute was about who should inherit the land that had been owned by another uncle, John Drake.  Samuel and John each inherited land from their father, Abraham Drake.  John suffered from some sort of mental disorder it seems, so he never married and he lived his adult life with his brother Samuel.  At the hearing David testified that he believed that John intended to leave his share of the land to his brother Samuel, in part because John understood that their father Abraham had wanted the land kept together – not divided up into smaller plots.  During the court proceedings, David’s aunt Eliza Drake Nelson, represented by her husband Carrick Nelson, claimed they were entitled to inherit John’s portion of the land.   I don’t know how the judge ruled.  

When David was 29 he married Joanna Gaines on 13 January 1848, the same year that gold was discovered in California, and while James K. Polk was in the White House.  They were married in Madison County, Florida by J.Z. Ardis, which seems noteworthy – Florida was a long way from Tennessee.  How did they meet?  Was Joanna from Florida?  I don’t know yet and that is driving me a little crazy.  It's what genealogists call a "brick wall".  Between November of 1848 and 1858 they had six children – four girls - Sarah, Carrie, Mary and Elizabeth, and two boys – William and David Gaines Stover. When David died he left his land to his son David.  I think his son William had died, though I don’t have documentation of that yet. 

County Court House, Elizabethton, TN
David is named on another legal document that I found in the Carter County Court House dated 6 August 1855.  This document is a deed between Robert J. Allen, David L. Stover and James Carriger.  I don’t know who either of the other two parties were. According to the deed, Robert sold David a tract of land for $1 and it was to serve as security for a $267.95 debt owed by Robert to James Carriger.  Robert was to pay Carriger back not later than December 25th, and if he failed to do so David was supposed to sell the plot of land to the highest bidder, pay Carriger in full and give whatever was left to Robert.

David was a relatively wealthy man having inherited land from his father William Ward Stover. William inherited the land from Mary Lincoln, the widow of Isaac Lincoln. Mary left the land to William in her will along with several slaves and other property.  On the 1850 Carter County, Tennessee census the home David and his family owned was appraised at $3025 – nothing by today’s standards, but a lot of money at that time. According to the Lincoln Family Magazine, written and edited by William Montgomery Clemens, “David Lincoln Stover, son of William Stover, built a large frame house near the site of the old Lincoln home.  This house still stands.” That was in written in 1916 – the house no longer exists.
Me in the Great Smoky Mountains

David owned seven slaves, aged 7 to 70, who worked on his plantation. The large frame house was on the Blue Spring Branch of the Watauga River in District 9 of Elizabethton (near Wagners Island).  Elizabethton is in far eastern Tennessee and is where I visited for a week in April of 2012.  I flew to Atlanta, Georgia and drove north through South Caroline to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park which is partly in South Carolina and the northern part is in Tennessee.  I visited other places, with family connections as I drove northeast paralleling the Appalachia Mountains to Johnson City where I stayed four nights.  

View driving towards the town on Elizabethton where our ancestors settled in 1782
Driving from Johnson City toward Elizabethton, where four generations of our ancestors lived and died, I came up and over a gentle rise and as the view opened up to the valley below I gasped out loud because it was so beautiful.  At that moment I understood why they chose Eastern Tennessee and during the next four days that feeling was reinforced over and over.  The valley provided excellent farm land, the Doe and Watauga Rivers that weave through the valley provided fresh water, and the surrounding hills provided protection and lumber.  David spent his entire life in this place and is buried on the land he and his family owned.  After two attempts and tips from a fellow local genealogist I found his grave in a small plot, enclosed by a low chain link fence.  He is buried with Isaac and Mary Lincoln and two others whose headstones are no long legible.  The plot is in a backyard on private property about 100 yards from the Watauga River.  The plot is known as the Isaac Lincoln burying ground.  His wife Joanna died 43 years later and is buried in Stevens County, Texas where their eldest daughter Sarah Stover lived at the time of Joanna's death.

Isaac Lincoln Burying Ground where David L. Stover is buried along with Isaac & Mary Lincoln

Sources for this post include: Correspondence with Dale Jenkins and Robert Nave, notes from the Daniel Stover Sr. family bible, Early History of Carter County 1760-1861, the Drake Family History by Donald Drake, Madison Co, Florida Marriage Records 1837-1974, The Lincoln Family Magazine 1916-17, a slave census and the 1850 US Census.

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