This was originally published in The Belle Banner, Belle Missouri July 3rd 2019. If you would like to see the current articles as they are published, you may subscribe to The Belle Banner by calling 573-859-3328, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail to The Belle Banner, PO Box 711, Belle, MO 65013. Subscription rates are; Maries, Osage, and Gasconade County = $23.55 per year, elsewhere in Missouri = $26.77, outside Missouri = $27.00, and foreign countries = $40.00.
We celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, because that is when the Declaration of Independence from England was signed. It was actually approved by congress two days prior. It took another six years of bloody fighting against the English Army and between neighbors who desired to remain loyal to the king, and those who desired to govern themselves, to actually gain that independence, and another five years of political squabbling, negotiating, and arguing (1787) to come up with the Constitution, under which the United States of America lives.
My sixth great grandfather, Davis Stockton and his brother Richard and their families settled in present day Albemarle County, Virginia in the early 1730’s at the east base of the Blue Ridge Mountains. That was an uninhabited forest area when they arrived. With broad axes and cross cut saws they built cabins, cleared land, hand dug and chopped out stumps, marked the land they would purchase, and planted corn, wheat, and tobacco for cash, and gardens for food. The stories around Batesville, Virginia are that Davis Stockton with his sons William and Samuel built the first mill in that area in the early 1740’s. Stockton’s Creek and Stockton’s Mill Creek are still carry the name. I believe the mill was on Stockton’s Mill Creek very close to present day Batesville. Davis’ oldest son, Thomas (my fifth great grandfather) married a Quaker and became one, otherwise his wife, Martha Allen, would have been ostracized by friends and family. That caused somewhat of a religious split with staunchly Presbyterian Stockton’s.
Land speculators had purchased some of the land in that area, but did not live on it, but as neighbors moved in, Woods’, Terrell’s, Kinkead’s, and Lewis’, and the county court moved closer, roads were cleared. Davis actually patented (purchased) his first 400 acres in 1739 and Richard his first 400 acres in 1741, and Thomas bought 400 acres in 1745. Thomas’ son Thomas (my fourth great grandfather) was born in 1743 as was Thomas Jefferson, whose family lived about 15 miles east of the Stockton’s. Thomas was the third child, after brother Newberry and sister Jemima.
Davis’ good friend and neighbor Michael Woods built his plantation, which he called Mountain View, at the base of the mountains directly on the path from Woods Gap (now called Jarman’s Gap). That was also an old Indian trail, which the war parties traveled. In 1742, Michael Woods wife, Mary Campbell, became the first white woman killed by Indians in that area. The French and Indian war in the 1750’s didn’t spill into Albemarle County, but just across the mountains in Augusta County was the main north/south Indian trail through the Shenandoah River Valley and the Iroquois, from the north were at full scale war with the Catawba in the south. Alexander Brown wrote in “The Cabells and their Kin” that 60 persons were murdered by Indians in Augusta County in 1758. Albemarle County formed a Militia, in 1758, to defend against the Indians. Samuel and William Stockton, Adam Goudylock, (married to Davis’ youngest daughter Hannah) and William Whiteside (married to Davis’ oldest daughter Elizabeth) were members of that Militia. Henry Brenton (who was possibly married to Davis’ daughter Sarah) was also a member.
Davis Stockton died, probably in December 1761, his estate was inventoried on January 8th 1762. The family had always grown corn and wheat for use and sale, but the money crop had always been tobacco. The fertile river bottoms in the Albemarle area grew much more and better tobacco than the thin soils in the piedmont, but tobacco depleted the soil fast. Three or four years of growing tobacco, and the land would no longer produce a profitable crop. They then turned to wheat, which (albeit a weak yield) would produce a crop which could be sold. As always, when more and more is produced it becomes worth less, which is what happened with tobacco in the Colonies in the 1750’s. So times were becoming hard.
In 1760 George III inherited the throne of England. One of the primary concerns of the English Crown and Parliament, at that time, was paying for the French and Indian war. It was argued that since the colonies benefitted most from the defeat of the French, the colonies should pay the bulk of the expense of the war.
In May 1764 British Parliament passed “The American Revenue Act of 1764”, known historically as “The Sugar Act of 1764”. It was an extension and modification of “The Molasses Act of 1733”, which placed a tax on sugar, but was largely ignored and worked around. But the new act placed a tax on not only sugar, but wines, silk, cloth, coffee, tropical foods and rum being imported into the colonies. Plus, it placed burdensome bonding requirements on exports from the colonies, such as iron and lumber. This Act caused immediate economic hardship, in that exports fell off rapidly. The slowing economy caused people to not spend, but try to save their money. People couldn’t pay their debts with paper money, it had to be gold or silver.
Then came the “Duties in American Colonies Act 1765”, known as “The Stamp Act of 1765”. It was the first attempt to impose a direct tax on the colonies. It required all legal documents, permits, commercial contracts, newspapers, wills, pamphlets, and playing cards in the American colonies carry a tax stamp. The Act passed British Parliament by a large majority on March 22nd 1765, and went into effect on November 1st. The highest tax was for attorney licenses – 10 pounds. Other court papers were taxed in various amounts. Land grants under a hundred acres were taxed 1 shilling, 6 pence. Up to 320 acres at 2 shillings, 6 pence, with an additional 2 shillings, 6 pence for each additional 320 acres. Cards were taxed a shilling a pack, dice ten shillings. Newspapers and pamphlets were also taxed. The amounts were to be paid in sterling, not in colonial currency. The Act was protested fiercely throughout the colonies. All colonial assemblies sent petitions of protest to the Parliament and King. Merchants and landowners formed local protest groups which often turned violent and destructive as more people became involved. Finally all of the stamp tax distributors were intimidated into resigning their commissions. The tax was never effectively collected. After much infighting in British Parliament, repeal of the Stamp Act passed by a vote of 276 – 168 on February 21st,, and the King agreed to the repeal on March 17th, 1766.
By 1775 hostilities with British troops had started, then on July 4th 1776 all those who signed the Declaration of Independence did so knowing that it would mean all out war. Most of them lost what fortune they had, many would lose their freedom and some their lives.
Much of the family started moving out of Virginia in the late 1760’s. My fourth great grandfather, Thomas, spent his life on his farm, just over the county boundary in Amherst, present day Nelson County, but brother Newberry, with his in-laws the Lattimore’s, the Welchel’s and the Goudelock’s all settled close to each other in what became York County South Carolina. Samuel and the Whiteside’s were just across the line in North Carolina. William had moved from North Carolina over the mountains into the present day Sevier County area of Tennessee. Newberry’s group settled around Clarks Fork of Bullocks Creek. That area is now within the boundaries of Kings Mountain National Park. The Battle of Kings Mountain was literally fought in their backyard. The Battle of Kings Mountain was an American battle. Lord Cornwallis and the British Army had been defeating the rebels (patriots) in battle after battle throughout South Carolina and was preparing to charge north into North Carolina. British Major Ferguson recruited a loyalist militia force of about 1,000 to protect Cornwallis’ flank. On October 7th 1780 Ferguson’s militia was met by an equal number of patriots at Kings Mountain. Our family fought with the patriots. Davis Whiteside died of wounds from that battle. William Stockton, by then a true backwoods pioneer came with the “over the mountain men” from Tennessee, with their Kentucky Long Rifles accurate at twice the distance of their opponents. The battle lasted 65 minutes. The results were the loyalists suffered 290 killed, 168 wounded, and 668 taken prisoner, and the patriots suffered 28 killed and 60 wounded. Many historians say that was the turning point of the Revolutionary War. It was literally a “civil war” with neighbor against neighbor. Some of the people that the family moved with swore oaths of neutrality, and some had their property confiscated because of suspected affiliation with the British government.
After the war many of the family moved to Baron County, Kentucky. My third great grandfather, Newberry, married Anne Henderson in 1806 and moved with the Henderson’s and Campbell’s from Virginia to Madison County, Kentucky. Then most of that group moved to Boone County, Missouri in the summer of 1817. In 1843 my great great-grandfather, John Henderson Stockton and his brother Joseph settled in the Dry Fork/Peavine Creek area of present day Maries County.
My great grandfather, Jackson and his cousin Joseph spent four full years in the Confederate Army. Jackson’s half-brother, Orsemus spent four years in the Union Army. After the Civil War, they came home and spent the rest of their lives together.
My father, W.B. (Bud), was drafted in 1944, volunteered for the paratroops and was discharged from the 82nd Airborne Division in 1946. I enlisted in the Army in 1961, spent a lot of time in the 82nd Airborne Division, took a couple year break, and retired from the Army in 1984. Our Son, John Richard, enlisted in 1991 and spend four years as an infantryman in the 10th Mountain Division. He saw combat in Somalia in the summer of 1993. If you’re curious about that action, watch the movie “Blackhawk Down”. Caution, it is kind of rough.
I have seen some of the rest of the world and my conclusion is that this country has done more to promote individual freedom and liberty than the rest of the world combined. Yes, I do get a lump in my throat when saluting old glory as the National Anthem plays, because I do love this country.