Joshua Stephens

Canisteo, Steuben County, NY

Submitted by PHGS member: Pam Davis

Rhoda Stephens, Joshua's wife

George J. Stephens and Elizabeth Stephens - children of Joshua and Rhoda

Joshua Stephens

Joshua Stephens was born in 1793, and was second child born in Canisteo, of Jedediah Stephens. He was married Dec. 29, 1811 to Rhoda, daughter of Uriah Stephens, who was the son of the first settler of Canisteo Valley. She was born in 1795, and married at the age of sixteen. This couple first settled by themselves in 1815 on Bennettís Creek, then a wilderness, on two hundred acres of land, the property now being owned by his children, and on which three of them now reside. They commenced clearing their land, his wife not only attending to the housework in the rude log house, which now stands on the place, but she often assisted him at the log-pile piling brush, and in the general work of preparing the land for cultivation. At this time on their farm were scattered Indian wigwams, so that their immediate neighbors were the red men of the forest. Mr. Stephens was a warm friend of the Indian, and often befriended them; but other white men were unfriendly, and often had quarrels with them, burnt their wigwams and tried to drive them away. This so enraged the Indians, that they resolved upon the death of one of their persecutors. Mistaking Mr. Stephens for this man, they shot him in mid-day; he was hunting for his oxen in the woods. His death occurred September 20, 1825. 
The mother and her four children, Elizabeth, Abigail, Dewitt C., and George J. were left to meet the obstacles of a life in a new country as best they could, but she proved herself equal to the emergency. Her courage, ambition, executive ability, and perseverance made her successful. With the aid of her children she went on clearing the land, fencing and cultivating it.
Her eldest son, at the time of the death of his father was only seven years of age, but the daughters, being older, assisted the mother in her outdoor work until the sons were of proper age to use the axe.
The incidents, privation, and hardships of this family would interest the reader could they be narrated. The mother was a model woman in all her ways, and reared her children to respect and honor her. She lived to care for her children. Devotion to family faintly expresses her love for her children. She died December 10, 1876, being eighty one years and eleven days old, and lived upon the farm first settled upon after marriage the remainder of her life. The second daughter, Abigail married Henry Hamilton of Canisteo; and the oldest son, De Witt C., married Amanda Hamilton and resides on a part of the old homestead. The portraits of George J. and his sister Elizabeth together with their motherís accompany this sketch. They now occupy the old home. The former was born May 5, 1824, and the latter, November 2, 1812.

*The above information was obtained from the History of Steuben County by Clayton (1879).

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Last Update February 15, 2020