Birth: Mar. 3, 1687
Baden-Württemberg, GermanyDeath: Nov., 1757
Peter Stephan, son of Gabriel Stäffen and Barbara Bär, was born on 3 Mar 1687 in Steinsfurt, Heidelberg County, Germany, was baptized on 9 Mar 1687 in Steinsfurt, Heidelberg County, Germany. Steinsfurt is a village in southwestern Germany, in the Rhine Neckar Area of the Bundesland Baden-Württemberg between Heidelberg and Heilbronn in the district Rhein-Neckar. He died in 1757 in Frederick County, Virginia at age 70. The anglicized name for Stephen/Staffen/Steffen is Stephens.
Peter Stephan first appears on a membership list of the Skippack Reform Church in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania in 1730. This congregation was founded the year before and among the founding members were Ulrich Stephan, Peter's older brother, Christian Neuschwanger, his brother-in-law and Hans George Baumann, Jost Hite's son-in-law. (Daniel W. Bly, "From the Rhine to the Shenandoah", Volume III (Baltimore, MD 2002), Stephens Chapter, pp.171-183.
Peter Stephens was appointed a constable by the Orange County court in May 1736 but only a few months later stepped aside in favor of his son, Lewis [Orange County Order Book "1", pp. 74,93,108].
In the fall of 1743 Peter Stephens traveled to Williamsburg, then capital of Virginia, probably with others from the newly organized Frederick County. While there he took the oath of naturalization 31 October 1743. The record states that he was a "German Protestant from Heidelberg on the River Mayne,in the Empire of Germany"..
Peter Stephens received an additional 572-acre patent adjoining his earlier tract in November 1752. Also between 1743 and shortly before his death he distributed land to his sons. Peter wrote a will in April 1757 naming all his children and identifying them by order of age, first the sons,(Lewis, Lawrence, Peter, Henry) then the daughters (Maria Christina, Maria Magdalena, Margaret). He appointed his wife, Maria Christina and sons Lewis and Lawrence as his executors
Frederick County will Book "2" P. 266]. The will was probated 6 December 1757. While he appears in most court records as Peter "Stephens" he signed his name on 1737 and 1743 road petitions and his Last Will in German script as Peter "Stephan".
Children of Peter Stephens, Sr. include:
Major Lewis Stephens
Born in Germany c.1713 as evidenced by his naturalization papers in 1743. Lewis married Mary Rittenhouse, daughter of Peter Rittenhouse of Philadelphia. Both Mary and Lewis are named in Peter Rittenhouse's will of 1748. Lewis became Captain, then Major of Frederick Co Virgina Militia. Founder of the town of Stephensburg, now Stephens City, VA. Signed his Last Will 19 Feb 1797; it was proved in Frederick Co Va court Feb 1806. WB-8 p198
Maria Christina Stephens Linville
Born in Germany c.1714; Married John Linville
Mentioned as Eldest of three daughters in Peter's will.
Lawrence Stephens (1716-1776)
Born in Germany per naturalization papers. Lawrence's first wife's name remains unknown. They had children, Mary, Sarah, John and Peter. Lawrence's second wife was Anna Maria Baumann (anglicized to Mary Bowman) daughter of George Bowman (Hans Georg Baumann in German) and his wife, Anna Maria Heydt (Hite).
Lawrence received 225 acres from his father.
Maria Magdalena Stephens
Born c.1720/22; Not sure how long she lived, but she did live long enough to be included in her father's will written in 1757. Also, not sure if she ever married, but are sure that she was NOT the 2nd wife of Jost Hite as some believe. Maria is mentioned as Second of three daughters in Peter's will.
Margaret Stephens Snapp (Schnepp)
Born c.1724, Died 1801; Married Lawrence Snapp
Mentioned as Youngest of three daughters in Peter's will.
My ancestor, married Anna Maria Chrisman, the daughter of Jacob Chrisman and Maria Magdalena Heydt/Hite. Peter received 200 acres from his father.
Born 8 Apr 1734 and baptized as "JOHANN HEINRICH STEPHAN" by Rev. Johann Casper Stoever, 16 May 1735. Henry received 300 acres from his father.
Last Will & Testament of Peter Stephens
Frederick Co VA Will Book 2, page 266:
(7 children provided for in this will)
In the name of God, Amen: The twenty-eighth day of April, in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven, I, Peter Stephens, Senr., of Frederick County, in Virginia, yeoman, being sick and weak in body, but of perfect sound mind and memory, thanks be given to God, therefore calling unto mind the mortality of my body, and knowing it appointed for all men once to die, do make and ordain this, my Last Will and Testament, that is to say:
Principally and first of all I give and recommend my soul into the hands of God that gave it, and for my body I commend it to the earth to be buried in a Christian and decent manner, at the discretion of my Executors, nothing doubting but at the general Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty power of God, and as Touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me with in this life, I give and devise, dispose of the same in the following manner and form:
Imprimis, my will is that if it pleaseth Almighty God to call me from this estate of life before my well beloved wife, Maria Christina Stephens, that she shall be truly and effectually invested with all and singular my Right Property and Interest of, in and to my Mansion House, with the use and occupation of all and singular my lands, being the quantity of twenty-five acres, together with all and singular my movable or personal estate during her natural life, to be by her possessed without interruption or molestation of any person or persons whatsoever; and further, my will is that at and after the decease of my said wife, Maria Christina, the said Mansion House and twenty-five acres of land shall devolve to my eldest son, Lewis Stephens, his heirs or assigns forever, as fully and amply, to all intents and purposes, as I myself in my lifetime held and enjoyed the same.
Provided, and it is my will, that in consideration of the said devise my eldest son shall pay unto my eldest daughter, Maria Christina, the sum of ten pounds current money; ten pounds to my second daughter, Maria Magdalena, together with the sum of ten pounds like money to my youngest daughter, Margaret, to be by them or their heirs received and enjoyed.
Item, for that I have heretofore given to my second son,
Lawrence Stephens, by virtue of a certain deed of lease and re-lease the quantity of two hundred and twenty-five acres of land to be by him, his heirs and assigns, possessed forever.
Item, also I have heretofore given unto my third son,
Peter Stephens, by virtue of a deed of lease and release the quantity of two hundred acres of land to be by him, his heirs and assigns, possessed forever.
Item, I give and bequeath to my youngest son,
Henry Stephens, a certain tract or parcel of land containing the quantity of three hundred acres, be the same more or less, whereon he now lives, to be possessed by him, his heirs or assigns, forever.
Item, my will is that a certain tract of land, containing four hundred acres, be the same more or less, adjoining my former tract of land, which by virtue of a Patent had out of the office of Thomas Lord Fairfax will more at large appear, I give and bequeath to my eldest son, his heirs and assigns, forever, for the consideration of the sum of forty pounds current money, ten pounds of which I give to my eldest son, Lewis Stephens; ten pounds to my second son, Lawrence; ten pounds to my third son, Peter, and ten pounds to my youngest son, Henry, to be by them or their heirs received and enjoyed.
Item, my will is that my well beloved wife, Maria Christina Stephens, be an Executrix with my beloved son Lewis Stephens and my beloved son Lawrence Stephens Executrix and Executors of this, my Last Will and Testament. Revoking, annulling and making void all other Wills and Testaments by me heretofore made. Ratifying and confirming this and no other, my Last Will and Testament. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal the date and year above written. Signed, sealed, published, pronounced and declared by the said Peter Stephens as his last Will and Testament. In the presence of us.
Memorandum, before signing and declaring the within above comprised Will, it is willed by the Testator that after the decease of the said Maria Christina Stephens, that if any movable estate remain, it shall be equally divided between all the children surviving or their heirs. Martin Grider, Andrew ( ?) Ott, Joseph Carroll. At a Court, held for Frederick County, on Tuesday, the 6th day of December, 1757. This last Will and Testament of Peter Stephens, deceased, was presented into Court by Lewis Stephens and Lawrence Stephens, two of the Executors therein named. Maria Christina Stephens, the other Executrix, having refused to take on her the burden of the execution of the said Will, which is admitted to record. The said Will being proved by the oaths of Joseph Carroll and Martin Grider, witnesses thereto, is admitted to record. Teste: J. Wood, Clerk. State of Virginia, County of Frederick, To wit: I, T. K. Cartmell, Clerk of the County Court of Frederick County, do certify that the foregoing is a true copy of the original Will of Peter Stephens now on file and of record in my office. Witness my hand this first day of July, 1891. T. K. Cartmell, Clerk of County Court of Frederick County. Peter Stephens died in Stephensburg (now Stephens City), Virginia, in November, 1757.
NOTE from Contributor: I researched my Stephens family for twelve years. My list of sources includes dozens of records and publications, including books by Daniel Bly. One by one I read every list I could find from the various published records of Rev. John Casper Stoever who was "the" minister in the area who in the 1700's who did baptisms and marriages for all these families. Another helpful contact was the director of the Steinsfurt Museum, Sinsheim-Steinsfurt GER. The naturalization document to the right of this window, submitted by Ms. Holmes, begins.."Peter Stephans native of Heidleberg on the River Mayne in the Empire of Germany"..
Note: Disregard any erroneous information showing Peter's wife, Maria as a Rittenhouse. Her maiden name remains unknown and she was born in Germany as evidenced by her first children's naturalization papers. Another fag member continues to edit her memorial with errors.
Gabriel Staffen (1645 - 1720)
Barbara Bar Staffen (1652 - 1711)