Sunday, September 4, 2022

Daniel Stover Sr. 1776 – 1849 My 4th Great Grandfather on My Father's Side

Home of Daniel Stover with Robert
Nave in 2012

Daniel Stover was born in Pennsylvania on April 10, 1776 – the same year that the American colonies declared independence from Britain.[i] He was the son of Christian Stover and Sarah Limbaugh. “When the first census was taken in 1790 Daniel was recorded only as a tic mark in the column headed “Free white males under the age of 16. Daniel was 14 at the time. This was the Dauphin, Pennsylvania census.[ii] At the age of 18 he married Phoebe Ward on September 7, 1794 and the couple settled in Carter County, Tennessee. Phoebe, born on August 12, 1772, was the sixth of seven daughters of William Ward and Sarah Bryant.

Daniel and Phoebe had eleven children. The eldest William Ward Stover, born in 1795, was my third great grandfather. William was followed by Mary Lincoln 1796-1860, Jemima 1798-1876, Isaac Lincoln 1801 – unknown, Thurzy 1804-1847, Susannah 1806 - , Lavisa 1808- , Solomon Hendrix 1812-1889, Delilah 1814-1902, Sarah 1816 - , and Daniel Stover Jr. 1820- 1838 (not to be confused with Col. Daniel Stover who was the brother of my 2nd great grandfather David Lincoln Stover.)[iii]

Like his father, Daniel was involved in community, civic and church affairs throughout his lifetime so records from those various sources tell us quite a bit about who he was and the life he lived. A church record tells us that Daniel was already a leader in his Baptist Church as early as 1794. He was a member of the Sinking Creek Baptist Church. The name refers to the fact that a nearby a creek ended by seeking into the ground. Sinking Creek broke off from Buffalo Ridge Church and was one of the most influential Baptist churches in the area. According to Frank Merritt’s Early History of Carter County, two preachers, Jonathan Mulkey and Reese Bayless, and three laymen, Solomon Hendrix, Alfred Carr and Daniel Stover were the most outstanding members in the history of the church. Daniel was appointed clerk and deacon of the Sinking Creek Baptist Church at the age of 27 in 1803 and held the position at least until 1820.

Patriot monument in Elizabethton

Mrs. Nancy Tipton Johnson, said that “as a girl she often went to Daniel Stover's home to preaching, and at times they would often build arbors to preach under. There is no doubt that the Baptists were pioneers here and were hunting a place where they could worship without molestation.” She went on to say, “Daniel Stover’s home was an assembling place for the Baptist ministers. He possessed a bible, and there were but few Bibles in those days, so the Baptist clans would gather to hear him read the Word.”[iv]


Daniel appeared on the Carter County tax list as early as 1796. The book Historical Reminiscences of Carter County notes that he was the seventh person named as settling in Siam Valley of Elizabethton in Carter County. On January 8, 1807 he was appointed administrator of his father-in-law’s estate. 

Road Projects

In 1805 he was charged with making and laying off a road in his community. This was a common responsibility of land owners during that era. In June of 1820 the court appointed Daniel to “view, mark and lay off a road from A.N. Carter’s ironworks on Stoney Creek by Rubin Brook’s and Christian Carriger’s mill fence crossing the Watauga at Nave’s Ford. From there the road was to go by Henry Bowers and Daniel’s own fence, whichever was nearer and the best way to intersect the public road near William B. Carter’s on the Doe River.” He was also told to make a report at the next court.

Two years later Daniel was again ordered to “lay off a road from Alfred M. Carter’s forge to Scott & Johnston’s forge. That is to say, that part of the road running through the plantation of Abraham Nave – the divining line between Daniel’s and Nave’s land, to intersect with the old road.”

Daniel was involved in another road project in 1824 that involved figuring out the best route from Caleb Smith’s and across the mountain to Zachariah Campbell’s. The recommended route would “avoid the many bad fords across the Doe River and also save the expenditure of the money to be given to William Lindsey Esq. to make the road around the Dripping Rock Ford on said Doe River.” This record went on to propose “the drawing of a lottery to raise money to assist in opening the public road from Elizabethton to North Carolina.”

Historic courthouse in Elizabethton

Era of Property Acquisitions

Daniel and Phoebe purchased fifty acres, adjacent to land owned by Leonard Bowers, from Abraham Nave for $300. That was on August 10, 1807. The deed stipulated that the purchase included “all the woods, ways, water, water ways, profits, commodities and appurtenances and the rivers in and riverines and rents. “[v]  In 2022, historian Robert Nave told me that Daniel Stover’s home was probably built about 1809. He thought it was possible that Abraham Nave built the original log home that was later boarded over. Originally it had a limestone chimney that was removed in the 1960s when Dale Hamilton owned the property.

In 1808 or 1809 Daniel purchased a two-year old Bay Mare from John Daniel for $16.25, and on March 23, 1810 he received a gift of four-year old Ruth – a slave from Isaac Lincoln.[vi]

After living as a renter for several years Daniel purchased the home he was living on and a 149-acre property for $1000 from Isaac Lincoln. The date of the deed was February 18, 1812. This home was still and in good condition when I visited Tennessee in 2012.

A bad photo of a monument to
Daniel's service during the war 
of 1812 from Mr. Nave

Military and Civic Service

Daniel was a sergeant during the War of 1812 when he was 36. He served in Colonel Wear’s 1st Regiment East Tennessee Volunteers as a substitute for Thomas McQueen. It was not uncommon for men to pay for a substitute to serve in their place as Daniel did.

From his late twenties to early fifties Daniel served on several juries which was a very common practice at that time. The earliest such record I found was dated 1804. While today many of us complain when we receive a jury summons, at that time all land-owning men – not women – were expected to sit on juries routinely. This was true for many, if not all, of our male ancestors. I found records from ten different cases he was involved with during 1822. In one case a Robert Blevins charged Daniel with something not explained in the record. Daniel was found responsible and was fined $2.00. In a separate dispute with John Orland, Daniel was charged $10. A third case on the same day between Daniel and James I. Tipton favored Daniel but the fine was only $0.50.

Daniel was a member of the jury for a case against John Arnold on May 14, 1822. The defendant was found guilty and was “taken to the whipping post to receive three lashes on his bare back well laid on after half past six in the evening.”

The 1830 census is the first that listed Daniel by name but little additional information was provided other than tic marks indicating that there were 3 white males and 4 white females in his household that would have been his wife Phoebe and their children.

Marriage record for Daniel and Antoinette Williams
Second Marriage

Daniel’s wife Phoebe died on August 8, 1839 at the age of 66. She is buried in the Nave-Hess Cemetery also known as the Stover Cemetery on Wilbur Dam Road in Elizabethton, Tennessee. Slightly less than a year later Daniel married Antoinette Williams on July 19, 1849. Antoinette was the daughter of  Elisha Williams. She was born in Virginia on August 10, 1810 so was considerably younger than Daniel – 34 years younger. Then on February 11, 1857 she married Elijah D. Hardin whom she divorced sometime before her death.[vii]

Daniel and Antoinette had six children together. They were: Lorina born March 3, 1841, Rhoda July 27, 1842, Samuel January 17, 1844, Eliza Isabella December 5, 1845, Elizabeth April 3, 1847, and Margaret Ann December 21, 1848.[viii] All of these children appeared with Antoinette on the 1850 census for the 9th Civil District of Carter County. 

Antoinette Williams, Daniel's 2nd wife

The 1840 census was similarly minimal. Daniel was listed with 2 other white males and 2 females. From the slave census taken that same year we know that he owned four slaves – one male and three females. His son William is listed separately on the same page.

In 1846 Daniel donated a one-acre lot in Carter County for a school. It was known as the Stover School and served the community for forty years. Daniel was the first school teacher, and he and Matthias Vinhos were trustees.[ix] The site of the school was adjacent to property owned by Daniel and David Bowers. Tice VanHusk, Christian E. Carriger and Daniel S. Bowers, built a log house that served as the school and as a church. When the public school system started, they tore down the log structure and built a frame structure which lasted long enough for Robert Nave to attend school there. According to Robert, “In 1872 a church was built next to the school.  That was torn down and replaced by the existing stone church in 1934 or 35.  To do so they had to go to court because the land had originally been donated for a school.  The court ruled to allow the church to be built, on the basis that there were too many Stover descendants to get permission from all of them.”[x] In 2021 the site was the location of the Siam Baptist Church. 

Siam Baptist Church, 2012

Daniel’s Death and Will

Daniel died on May 24, 1849 in Elizabethton at the age of 73. He is buried with his first wife Phoebe in the Nave-Hess Cemetery. Robert Nave purchased and had a new headstone installed at Daniel’s home in Siam. Robert explained that he’d done so in order to prevent the cemetery from being developed and lost. He also told me that after Daniel’s death his son Samuel, from his second marriage, had a moonshine still on Daniel’s property after the Civil War. He said that, “most people in the area were proud Baptists and found this upsetting because Daniel had been such a pillar of the church. So, the neighbors harassed Samuel and got him to move away.” Next the house was owned by John Grindstaff who sold it to the Harden family, and they sold it to Porter Nave. Porter plowed up the Stover cemetery in about 1915. Nave said, “there used to be a large cemetery with several graves.” Now only the headstone for Daniel Stover that Robert installed remains.[xi] Mr. Nave said, “the original headstone for Daniel was installed by the Daughters of 1812 and he believed that the arrangements were made by Mary Stover, daughter of Solomon Hendrix Stover.” This would have been in about 1940.

In his will dated May 9, 1849 Daniel left everything to his wife Antoinette and the children they had together.[xii] The will made no mention of this children from his marriage to Phoebe. Each of his daughters were to receive the equivalent of the “value of one horse, one cow, one breeding sow, one ewe, one bed and bed clothes, and some cupboard furniture such as plates, dishes etc. as they arrive at age or marry.” He left his slaves to his wife “in trust” so she could use the proceeds from their work to support their children. When his son Samuel reached the age of 21, he would inherit the slaves. Daniel made this stipulation so that, if Antoinette remarried, her new husband would not get the slaves.

His son Samuel inherited all the land. That was about 150 acres on the Watauga River and included the family home, but the home and land was left in trust to Antoinette until Samuel reached 21 at which time Antoinette was to “surrender to him (Samuel) the possession of the lands aforesaid and then my said son Samuel is hereby required to support his mother comfortably during her life.”

Daniel’s slave Nathen was left to Samuel while Ruth was left to Antoinette and upon Antoinette’s death Ruth was to be allowed to “live with any one of my children that she prefers and should it so happen that she becomes a charge, then I require my son Samuel to support her during her life.” Daniel’s remaining slaves and their children were to be divided among his daughters.

Daniel appointed Elijah D. Hardin as the executor of his will and he requested that the court not require a security from Hardin. Makes you wonder if Daniel intended for Antoinette to marry Hardin.

This is the headstone that Robert Nave purchased
and had installed by the DAR for Daniel Stover. 
It is located adjacent to his home.





[i] A paper listing the descendants of Daniel Stover.

[ii] 1790 Dauphin, PA, NARA Series M637, roll 8 p. 203; image 392 on film 0568148.

[iii] Family Group Sheet prepared by Robert Nave, Carter, TN.

[iv] William Montgomery Clemens Editor, Genealogical, Historical and Biographical, The Lincoln Family Magazine, New York, 1916-17, p. 20

[v] Deed Book for Carter Co., Images 370-80, pgs. 110-111,

[vi] Vickey L. “Morrow” Hutchings, Tennessee Deed Books A-B July 1796 – Oct. 1815 Vol. 1, , Carter Co TN Deeds, Image 447 p. 243-44. 23 March 1810.

[vii] Family Group Sheet prepared by Robert Nave, Carter, TN.

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Mildred Kozsuch, Historical Reminiscences of Carter County, TN Johnson City, Overmountain Press.

[x] Told to the author by Robert Nave in 2012.

[xi] A post by Janice Holzer wrote, “Near by the house were servant quarters and at one time there were markers on the property to mark the graves of slaves.” Her source was an article by Rozella Hardin in the Elizabethton Star, 23 July 1995.

[xii] Will Book 1, p.411-414, Carter, TN.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Mary J. Stover 1854-1913 My Great Grandaunt on My Father's Side

Mary J. Stover ca. 1890
Mary Stover was my great grandmother’s sister. She was born on April 5, 1854 - the fourth child born to David Lincoln Stover and Joanna Gaines. She had two older sisters, including Sarah E. Stover and my great grandmother Carrie Brooks Stover (see my blog posts dated Nov. 25, 2017 and July 19, 2021). Mary also had an older brother Win, a younger brother David Gaines Stover and a younger sister Elizabeth W. Stover.

When Mary was one year old her family was living on the Blue Spring Branch in District 9 of Elizabethton in Carter County, Tennessee. Mary’s father died when she was only four years old, but in his will, David made several references to the care of his children. He specified “It is my will and desire that my wife should remain on my lands and raise and educate my children from off the proceeds of same. In the management of the farm and in the education of my children I desire my wife to consult and be guided by advice of my brothers S.M. and D. Stover. I do not specify any particular mode but would prefer private teaching.”

Even though David died three years before the Civil War began, he must have had a premonition of what was to come because his will stipulated that, “In case my brothers, S.M. and D. Stover or either of them sells and relocates to another place or state and my wife desires to go and take my family with them, I give her and my executors full power to sell all my lands without any reservation and all other property that will not be of use. I will and desire that the moneys arising from the sale of my lands in this event shall be invested in Negroes and the lands, or lands alone, and I will that my children shall all share equally in the same at the death of their mother or at her marriage.” Given that David and Joanna had four daughters and three sons, it seems somewhat remarkable that he wanted his daughters to share equally in his estate.[1] 

Downtown Elizabethton early 1900s

Sadly, Mary’s brother Win died when Mary was six years old. He would have been ten or eleven.

When the 1860 census was taken the family was living in Elizabethton. Mary’s mother Joanna was 35, her sister Sarah was 11, Carrie 7, Mary 6, David 4 and Elizabeth was 2. They were living next door to Mary’s aunt and uncle Samuel and Caroline Stover and their four children. Ten years later Mary’s family was still living in Elizabethton but her aunt, uncle and cousins had moved to Sullivan County, Tennessee.

Ten years later on July 13, 1870 when the census taker stopped at the house Joanna’s age was recorded as 43 not 45, Sarah was 21, Carrie 17, Mary 15 and David was 14. The youngest, Elizabeth did not appear so must have died sometime before 1870.

Mary’s older sister Sarah was married in November of 1870, and on February 22, 1876 Mary married William McFarland Cameron – also a native of Elizabethton. He was born on March 1, 1856, the son of Dr. James McLin Cameron (1833-1906) and Mary Elizabeth Adeline Neilson Tipton (1834-1907). 

William Cameron from Dawn
Cameron collection

When the census was taken in 1880 the Cameron family was living in house number 25 in Elizabethton. William was 24, Mary 26 and their daughter Bessie was nine months. William was listed as a dry goods merchant.

Mary and William had eight children[2]. The names of the known children were Bessie, born August 22, 1879, Clarence born in 1881, James Macklin born June 9, 1883, Claude born in 1885, Frances G. born in 1889 and Joanna born February 5, 1892.

Shortly after Joanna was born, the family moved to Los Angeles, California which is where they were when the 1900 census was taken. They were living at 440 Vernon Avenue in central Los Angeles. The 1900 census is difficult to read but it appears that William was employed as a farmhand. Mary and William’s son Claude died in 1902 as did Mary’s mother Joanna. Sadly, the following year William died on July 26, 1903 at the age of forty-seven leaving Mary to raise two teenage daughters on her own. 

On September 24, 1903 the Los Angeles Evening Post ran a small notice that Mrs. Mary J. Cameron had applied for a building permit to have a frame cottage built at 1794 E. Vernon Avenue. Four days later there was a similar notice in the Los Angeles Daily Times that said “Mrs. Mary J. Cameron is having built for her own home a cottage at No. 1794 East Vernon Avenue.” Then on March 5, 1911 the Los Angeles Times ran this ad under Building Permits, “Dwellings five rooms each, 1784-88 East Vernon Avenue: Mary J. Cameron. 

Mary's son James M. Cameron

On the 1910 census Mary’s address was listed as 1786 Vernon Avenue which may mean that she  moved, or more likely the street was renumbered. Mary was identified as the head of the household and widowed at the age of 56. She was living with her son James aged 26 who was working as a teamster for the electric railroad. Twelve-year-old Grace Owens from Nebraska was also living with them and was identified as a “companion”.

Mary died from bronchial pneumonia on March 2, 1913 and is buried with her husband in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles. 

Marriage record for Mary and William 1876

Another marriage record for Mary and William

Death record for William M. Cameron

Mary and William's daughter Frances Gena Cameron Swallow

[1] Though neither of David’s brothers chose to leave Tennessee, his wife Joanna and her children did leave the state a few years after the Civil War. They relocated to Tarrant County, Texas. David’s son David and his eldest daughter Sarah remained in Texas but Mary and her sister Carrie both moved to California.

 [2] The total number of children and those still living was recorded on the 1910 census.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Rodger McGowan My 2nd Great Grandfather on my Mother's Side

Aghanlish former National School built in 1885
very close to the farm where Rodger lived

I know very little about my second great grandfather Rodger McGowan. A baptism record for his daughter Mary Anne McGowan, my great grandmother, provides his name and that of his wife Catheline Garry. Based on Mary’s birth I estimate that Rodger was born about 1820 but I have not found any records to substantiate this date.

I know that Rodger was Irish – most likely born and died in Ireland. Irish records are hard to come by and the name McGowan is a very common name in Rossinver Parish where he lived. In fact, it is by far the most common surname of the top ten surnames in that parish. Fortunately, there are very few Rodgers, and the only other Roger spelled his name without the “d”.

The land that Rodger farmed is lot 22 in
the middle of this plot map

Rodger and Catheline likely married around 1845 because they had a son John McGowan[1] that was born about 1846. My great grandmother Mary Anne was born February 6, 1851. You can read more about her from my blog poste dated August 9, 2015. Mary had a younger sister Catherine “Kate” McGowan[2] born in June of 1853, and my second cousin Sue Tucker shows two additional girls born in 1852 and 1854.

Catheline Garry was the daughter of John Garry and his wife Catheline. Daughter Catheline was baptized on December 4, 1829 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dublin, Ireland.[3]

So, I know that my ancestor was living in Aghanlish townland in 1856 when the Griffiths valuation was recorded[4]. At that time, the family was living on Lot 22 and Rodger was identified as the farmer. He held the lease in common with Owen McGuire who was a cottager. Rodger’s portion of the land contained his house, plus one or more outbuildings for his animals, pasture and some land for crops that he grew. Owen’s portion had his house and a vegetable garden.

This Google screen shot shows the west half of Rodger's 
farm where the house was

Rodger and Owen leased their land from a landlord named Loftus A. Tottenbam. Records show that the taxable annual valuation of the land was ten shillings and the buildings had the same value. The total valuation of taxable property was one pound – which seems remarkably little.

Aghanlish townland was in the Rossinver civil parish and the church parish of Kinlough. Kinlough is part of Leitrim County which is in the barony of Rosclogher and the poor union of Ballyshannon. All of this is similar to our neighborhood, city, county, state and country designations except Ireland is much smaller than the United States. According to Google Ireland is six times smaller than the State of California – so the divisions are quite small. The townland of Aghanlish is 982 acres.

Aghanlish landscape found on Google

Other McGowans living in Aghanlish when Griffith’s valuation was done include Daniel McGowan, Thomas McGowan, a Mary McGowan (not my grandmother), Bartholomew McGowan and Francis McGowan. Some or all may or may not be related to our Rodger McGowan.

I have not found a death record, nor any other information about Rodger. Maybe publishing this blog post will spark some other researcher to find more about this ancestor.

The page of the Griffiths Valuation that lists Rodger
He is the 19th entry

The small square below 23A was Rodger's house
on Lot 22. This map shows the National school.

The red outline shows the location of Aghanlish and its proximity
to Lough Melvin

Historic map of Kinlough showing the location of the Catholic Church

Map of Ireland showing the location of Kinlough - the small area in red

[1] Source is the Ancestry tree of Sue Tucker.

[2] Source is the 1900 census.

[3] Irish Catholic Parish Registers 1655-1915, Register of children baptized at the Roman Catholic Church of St. Mary’s Parish, Dublin.

[4] Valuation of Tenements, Parish of Rossinver, Townland of Aghanlish. Rodger is the 19th person listed on Lot 22.

Monday, November 8, 2021

Samuel Murray Stover 1824-1897 My 2nd Great Granduncle on My Father's Side - Part 1

Dr. Samuel M. Stover
Samuel Murray Stover was the second son of William Ward Stover and Sarah Murray Drake. He was born on May 10, 1824 in Elizabethton, Carter County, Tennessee. His older brother David Lincoln Stover was my second great grandfather. Samuel also had a younger brother Col. Daniel Stover. There were no other children in this family that I know of.

Samuel was born when his father was 29 and actively involved in civic affairs. The Stover family was comparatively well off in that William owned land and several slaves. Though I have not found any records for Samuel dated prior to 1849, I think it is reasonable to assume that he and his brothers received some education and that as young men they worked on the family farm.

Cross County Travels to California During the Gold Rush

The first record I have for Samuel is a copy of the diary he kept from May to September of 1849 as he traveled cross country to California during the Gold Rush. The diary was published by his grandson H.M. Folsom in 1939 and was reprinted in three issues of the WAGS Bulletin in 2012 in volume 39-40. The original is held by Milligan University in Elizabethton.[1]

The Miners Pioneer Ten Commandments of 1849
Scenes When Crossing the Plains in 1849
Lithograph by Kurz & Allison, 1887

Samuel traveled as part of a group called the Tennessee Company. The other members of the group included William Carter Taylor, John E. Brown, Charles Mason and John Edwin T. Harris. They began their journey from Independence Missouri and Samuel’s first dairy entry was logged on May 1, 1849. He wrote, “We have agreed to each furnish an equal share of the outfit, to mine together and to and make an equal division of the proceeds of our labor, at the end of twelve months after our arrival at the diggings in California.”[2] He made journal entries every day commenting on the weather, the people they encountered, the landscapes they were traveling through and the health problems of fellow travelers. On May 6th he noted that three or four immigrants had died of cholera. On May 26th a member of their party, H.A. Wood died from cholera. As he continues, he made several notes about graves they passed.

On May 10th he wrote, “Today I am 25 years of age. How fast the years glide by. Youth and old age, what a short span between them! Went to Wilson’s camp, not yet ready to start. I killed a prairie hen eighty yards offhand. Returned to camp, all well.” On May 13th he had dinner with his aunt Deborah Stover whom he hadn’t seen for twenty years.[3]

Lithograph by Kurz & Allison

On May 19th he wrote about an encounter with one of the local Indians, “… a fine looking Indian came and inquired if I was a doctor. He wanted me to go and see his father. …I took some medicines …. and came to the cabin of the sick Indian. He was an old man and was evidently in the last stages of cholera. His squaw was a fine looking woman of about 35 years of age. They had two very handsome little Indian children. I gave him some medicines and directed the young Indian on how to give them.” This event took place while they were traveling through Kansas. He made several notes about encounters with the Pottawattomie Indians that he noted were very friendly and warned them that the Pawnee would steal from them. On June 8th they encountered a large group of Sioux Indians that he described as “fine looking men”.

By June 1st they had travelled two hundred miles. Several in their party were sick and unable to continue so the group decided to rest for a day. Some in their group decided to return to their homes in Kentucky. 

Route map that Samuel's party took from the Watauga Bulletin, Vol. 39

Samuel’s June 9th commentary made me laugh. He wrote, “A very pretty young lady at Fort Kearney (in Nebraska) sold us some milk. Smiled very gratefully and looked as though she thought she was an object of admiration. I thought her quite handsome, but it may be that not having seen a young lady for a month might have added to her charms.”

Most of Samuel’s entries are matter of fact but on some days, he was more poetic – June 13th he offered, “These hills are very beautiful and picturesque at a distance, resemble the waves of the ocean, looks like they had been thrown up by the ebb and flow of the waters. Some of them raise almost perpendicular and fall as suddenly.”

From June 16th to July 14th, he traveled along the Platte River through Kansas and into Colorado. Several of his journal entries talked about herds of buffalo that they saw and hunted. He continued to mention encounters with the native Americans and on June 20th he described a serious gunshot wound to one of his fellow travelers that he helped to treat. Ultimately the party took the injured man to Ft. Laramie. Most days he noted how many miles they traveled which typically ranged from 12 to 25 miles each day.

Gold Miners of El Dorado County from the Library of Congress collection
In July he encountered two immigrants that were from Tennessee – a Mrs. Vestil “treated me to a fine supper of buffalo meat, biscuits and coffee.” The following day they met Mr. Bridleman from Sullivan, Tennessee and eight Virginians. Occasionally, Samuel commented on the number of travelers for example on July 11th he noted that they’d seen “some two or three hundred wagons.” On the 15th he again mentioned “Several hundred wagons passed during the day and the creek again is white with wagons and tents and the bottom is alive with stock.”

July 17th brought reports of Indians killing whites in Oregon and reassurance that gold was abundant in California. On July 24th he reported that their mules had stampeded. This reminded me of the Western movies we used to watch on television in the late 1950s and 60s. It’s odd to realize my second granduncle actually experienced these things in person.

News clip that mentions our supposed
connection to Sir Francis Drake

Finding water and grazing for themselves and their animals was a constant need. For most of the route they found abundance but on August 22nd he wrote, “No grass except here and there a bunch. Not enough for an animal to live upon….. found the stream was so small and so much stock around it that we could not get a drop for our animals…..Had great trouble at night on account of the dead and tired oxen that had fallen in the road ….. we slept until morning when we were aroused by the gnawing of our horses which had become so famished that they had begun to eat up our wagon, to gnaw off their blankets and bridle rein.”

Friday, August 31st, “Today we crossed the Sierra Nevadas. … when we came to the top a beautiful forest of tall and stately pines that burst upon our vision … nothing could be more welcome than the shores of the Pacific.”

The last published entry was dated September 12th. Regrettably, I’ve not found anything about whether the Tennessee Company found success in the gold fields nor any report about the return trip to Eastern Tennessee.

I am not certain but strongly suspect that another accounting of Samuel may be in the History of Sonoma County by J.P. Munro-Fraser published in 1880. The book includes a chapter about Nicholas Carriger who moved to Sonoma County, California from Elizabethton, Tennessee. The Stover and Carriger families were associated in Tennessee. In this book the author mentioned that a Dr. Storer was included in a party of men who took “a drove of cattle to Trinity County … the party being composed of Mr. Carriger, his two brothers, Solomon and Caleb, and Dr. Storer, with eleven Indians …. and remained there until June in 1850.[4]” I believe this mention of a “Dr. Storer” is actually about Dr. Samuel M. Stover.

Samuel's signature from the will of his grandfather
Abraham Drake

[1] Another copy of the diary is held by the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley campus.

[2] WAGS Bulletin Vol. 39 (2) 2010 p. 146.

[3] Robert Nave and Margaret Hougland researched the names of the people that Samuel mentioned in the journal and added footnotes to explain who each was.

[4] History of Sonoma County p.675.