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Around the year 1840, Joseph STEVENS and Jane COOMBS began her married life together in the mainly rural, farming community of Moorlynch, Somerset, England. Joseph was a miller and owned his own mill. The only child we can trace to this marriage was a son, Charles, born in 1845. Since it was usual to have fairly large families to help with the work, it is doubtful that Charles was an only child. We do know that when Charles was old enough, he joined his father working in the mill.
When Charles reached the age of 20, he married a young woman of 24, named Ann. Her full name was Mary Ann HOLE. She was from Moorlynch and the daughter of George HOLE and Sarah HANE. Charles and Ann (or Anna, as she later was called) were married in the Moorlynch Parish Church. James HOLE and Mary STEVENS witnessed the marriage. Iím not sure, but the witnesses were probably Charlesí sister and Mary Annís brother. In the family, there is copy of what might be called their marriage certificate.
Charles and his young bride could not possibly know how much their lives were about to change and of the journeys they were about to begin. They had their first son, Joseph, in Moorlynch in 1871. In the 1870ís, England was a place of distress caused by the movement of industry to the factory system, labor unions were beginning to form, and farming was starting to become more mechanized. During this same time, the United States was actively inviting people from Europe to immigrate. We donít know if these things played a part or not, but Charles took his young wife and their new son and departed for the United States. Their impending move is probably why there is a copy of their marriage record in the family today. Their next child was named Sarah Jane and is listed as born in Skaneateles, New York. Sarah Jane came to be known to the family as Aunt Sade. There is some dispute whether Aunt Sade was born in New York or on-board the ship that brought Charles and Ann STEVENS to America. Itís known that Aunt Sadeís older brother, Joseph was born in 1871 in England and that Aunt Sade was born outside of England in 1873. This would indicate that Charles and Ann STEVENS left England sometime between 1871 and 1873.
The young couple lived in New York state for a number of years and had three more children there. Their names were John, Frank, and Florence. Then, between 1877 and 1881, Charles moved his wife and five children to Kansas, where he started farming. They lived in a log cabin on Mission Creek, just west of Topeka. The log cabin was located northeast of Dover and south of Valencia in Shawnee county and was the birthplace of Albert and Minnie, the last of Charles and Annís seven children.
About 1885, Charles and Anna began homesteading 80 acres south and a little west of Valencia. Later, they purchased an adjoining 80 acres from an Indian couple that lived nearby. Just 35 years earlier, covered wagons crossed this land headed west on the Oregon Trail. Charles never disturbed the ground where the old wagon ruts carved deep into the Kansas prairie. And his descendants told stories of standing waist deep in the ruts that were in pairs, and of there being four pairs.
One of the first tasks Charles and Anna undertook was to build a house. On the first floor of the new farmhouse were a living room and a bedroom. There were stairs leading to the second floor. The kitchen was in one corner of the living room. Around 1887, they purchased the West Union Grade School building. It was an old school house with 14-foot ceilings, located about a quarter mile west of their new farmhouse. Charles hired professional house-movers from Topeka to move the old school house and add it to the existing house. The house-movers used teams of horses and rollers made of logs. As the logs came out from behind the moving house, they had to be dragged around front again. About one half of the old school became a combination living room and dining room. The other half became the kitchen/pantry and a bedroom. This new bedroom later became the bathroom. The original living room became the formal living room and even had a pump organ.
Most of the farmers in Kansas at this time were growing wheat, corn, and oats. Charles grew these along with row crops and livestock. A strong case can be made that Charles must have been a successful farmer, because Charles and Anna gave all seven of their children an 80-acre farm complete with equipment, animals, and a house.
Because my main concern is with the youngest son of Charles and Anna, I will only tell some of what I know of their other children. Their oldest son Joseph moved to his farm near the Wabunsee and Shawnee county line. Aunt Sade lived about one mile west of Joseph on the farm her parents bought her. I don't know the exact location of Frank's farm, but it was in Wabunsee County, also. Frank later sold the farm and bought a grocery store in Maple Hill, KS. This store was still standing in 1998. Frank, later sold it and bought a general store in Merdian, KS. Florence lived on a farm her parents bought her in Wabunsee County, which was about a mile north of Aunt Sade's farm. John, also, farmed Wabunsee County. Later he moved to Rossville, KS and bought a filling station. Aunt Minnie, the youngest child of Charles and Anna, lived on her farm for an unknown period of time and then moved to Grantville, KS. Later, she and Frank lived together in Rossville, KS where they eventually died. They lived across from my Aunt Hazel (Olson side). After Aunt Minnie died, Frank sold the house and moved into a mobile home in Rossville, KS. The youngest son, Albert, continued to live and work on his fatherís farm and was later given the original 80 acres of what is now referred to as STEVENSí farm.
In 1904, Charlesí youngest son, Albert married Corniela VIERGEVER. Albert and Corniela were married at Willard, in the home of her parents, Leonard and Adrianne VIERGEVER. Albert and Corniela continued to live and work on the STEVENSí farm with Albertís parents. Charles STEVENS became known as "Grandpa Charlie". Grandpa Charlie got to see his house filled again with children, but this time it was grandchildren. Albert and Corniela had all seven of their children before Grandpa Charlie passed away. When Charles died in 1921, Albert and Corniela purchased the other half of the 160-acre farm from the heirs. Charlesí wife Anna went to live with her daughter Sarah (Aunt Sade) in Rossville, until her death in 1933.
Albert never liked the name "Corniela". He disliked it so much, that at some point Corniela had her name legally changed to "Kate".
There is much more to this part of the story. But, for now, weíll stop here.