(ABSTRACTED FROM THE BOOK BY WILLIAM W. STEPP)
By The Jonesborough Genealogical Society
On 23 Sept. 1862, William Stepp enlisted as a Private in Company I, First Regiment of Tennessee Cavalry. His address was given as Conklin, Tennessee. He served until June of 1865. In Dec. 1866 he married Nancy, daughter of neighbor, Joseph West. He lived to the age of 89 years and at age 88 he was still killing game with one shot. Wellington Stepp performed civilian duty for the Union Army in Washington County, Tennessee as a blacksmith. When Southern troops came through the area, he performed the same service for them.
The 1870 census of Washington County shows the Stepp population “booming.” Wellington is 47, wife Elizabeth 42, with six children at home: Sarah H. age 21, Henrietta, age 18, Mary, age 15, Silas H., age 12, William H., age 8, and Viola, age 3. Silas H. Stepp lived nearby in his household at age 41. His wife, Lucinda, is now deceased. Sarah F. Stepp is keeping house for him, and there are ten children in the household: George O.P., age 20, John W., age 19, James S.A., age 17, Mary Catherine, age 15, Hannah, age 14, Alice, age 11, Florence, age 9, Zora, age 7, Ann, age 6, and Charles, age 2. A new household shows for the first time: that of William Stepp and his wife, Nancy B. West, who have two children, Charles T., age 2, and Mary E., age 7 months. Another member of the household is Mary, age 66 – the widowed mother of the clan. Another new household is that of Jackson Stepp (John “Jack”), age 34, and his wife, Martha, age 36. They have four children; James, age 7, Alice, age 4, Georganna, age 2 and Robert, age 8 months. Another new household is that of the latecomers from Virginia, Hanna Stepp Beard and her husband, Charles Beard. They now have five children; Mary, age 13, Silas, age 10, Margaret, age 8, William, age 3 and Charles, age 5 months.
By the 1880 census, the three oldest children of Wellington Stepp have gone. Henrietta E. who married a Hodge in 1878, Sarah Jane who married a Garst in 1872, and Mary Elizabeth, who married a McNeal in 1873, have gone, along with their husbands, to northwest Missouri. Silas Stepp shows up in Carter County with his second wife, Sophina Jane McFarland and seven children; Virginia L., age 22, Susan J., age 18, Zora E., age 16, Robert N., age 8, Emma J., age 6, Edward E., age 5, and Henry P., age 3. The absence of Elizabeth Ann Stepp and her husband Joseph S. Barnes from the 1880 census in Washington County is because they removed to Missouri about mid-February of 1880 and returned in Oct. of 1880, having decided Missouri could not compare to their beloved Tennessee. They missed being enumerated in both states.
In 1895 Wellington made the decision to sell his farm and he and the youngest daughter, Iva Clara, joined the others in northwest Missouri. The Stepps first settled in the Sonora area of Atchison County, Missouri (now called Watson, Missouri). Burney Stepp, one of two surviving sons of William and Nancy, soon left his loved ones behind to join his cousins in Missouri. Burney went to work on farms at the wage of 25 cents per day. Eventually he hired out to James Prather of Watson, Missouri. The Prathers had two daughters, Laura and Rosa. The hired hand married the farmer’s daughter, Laura, on 21 February `900, and they became the parents of the author of this book.
By the 1900 census of Washington County, there are only three Stepp families left. William and Nancy, now ages 61 and 52, are there with son, Samuel Ray, and daughter, Ada. Son Burney is in Missouri, daughter Mary Elizabeth (“Aunt Molly”) has married Andrew Johnson Kyker and they are in their own household. Next door is Robert W. Stepp, son of John, and his wife, Luna, with their daughter, Roxey. Nearby is John W. Stepp, son of Silas, with his wife, Anna and their five children and one grandchild.
Wellington is now living in Missouri with his daughter Francis Stepp Garst; his three sisters – Elizabeth S. Barnes, Mary Jane S. Argabright, and Hanna S. Bears – live in Washington County.
Nancy died first, on 8 Nov. 1928. On 27 March 1927 William followed her, Uncle Andy (Andrew Johnson Kyker) and Aunt Molly (Mary Elizabeth Stepp) lived out their lives on their farm and are buried in the Washington College Cemetery. Silas Haga Stepp lived out his life in Carter County, Tennessee. He and his second wife are buried in the Patton-Simmons Cemetery in Carter County.
Samuel Ray Stepp was the younger and second surviving son of William and Nancy. He married three times. His first wife, Bertha, is buried in Mount Wesley Cemetery in Washington County, TN. Samuel Ray died 11 Dec. 1967 and is buried at the Green Mountain Brethren Church Cemetery near Manchester, MD. Ada Belle Stepp was the younger of the two daughters of William and Nancy. She married J.B. (Bird) Ball, also of Washington County. They had one son and two daughters. Ada Belle died at age 27.
We must now relate the passing of Wellington Stepp. He had been living with his daughter Iva Cara Stepp Peoples. Very shortly before his death at age 87 in 1911, he spent some brief time in a nursing home. He is buried in the Peoples plot in High Creek Cemetery, Rock Port, Missouri. The clan leader was now gone. The pioneer, who with his brother Silas, led the wagon train from Rockingham County, Virginia to Washington County, Tennessee and then again at an elderly age took up roots in his third state, was laid to rest.
Although there are not many with the surname Stepp in Washington County now, there are still many descendants bearing the surnames Anderson, Argabright, Barnes, Dunbar, Garst, Kennedy, Kyker and Maul, to list a few