Tragedy and Heartbreak

Part 1

Do you ever get feeling down, feeling sorry for yourself? As I read my ancestors stories which sometimes include tragedy and heartbreak I realize how fortunate I have been and truly blessed. Perhaps reading this blog you will be able to think your circumstances not that bad and say, “Chin up, dry your tears and try again?”

Watercolor “Coneflowers” August 2020 by Wendy Harty

Christopher Stump my 4th great grandfather (maternal side) born about 1695, came with his father and mother, arriving in Nutter’s Island, New York harbor along with the Penrods (previous blog). These families made their way to the Tulpehocken Valley in Pennsylvania. His first wife Susanna Shutts died in 1755. They had a son named Frederick Stump born 1723. His father remarried and had a daughter Margaret who would be my Great grandmother married to Michael Miller, making Margaret and Frederick 1/2 siblings. In 1735, Christopher Stump, accompanied Conrad Weiser, facilitating a meeting between four Colonial governments and the Six Nation at Onandaga. Christopher and Conrad nearly lost their lives due to bad weather and Native American skirmishes. It was said Christopher was of remarkable strength, being over six feet in stature. Christopher’s will written in 1769 and proved ten years later, names sixteen children: two of them being my Margaret and Friedrich Stump.

Frederick married Anna Snavely in 1750. He was from Pennsylvania, of German Quaker origins from the Palatine. He came with the Heaton party to settle on White’s Creek near the ford of the trace to Clarksville. He was a signer of the Cumberland Compact, May 1780. His name was listed in the North Carolina Preemption Act of 1784, as one of the settlers who staged and defended the Cumberland Settlements. His son Jacob, his first born 1758-1780, was a signor also and killed by the Indians at Heaton’s Station in the defense of the Settlements. Frederick was awarded 640 acres without any price to be paid.

But how did Frederick end up here? Back in Tulpehocken, Pennyslvania perhaps it was a barking dog or a snapping twig? Something must have warned him. 10 natives were approaching his home and he didn’t intend to die. Quietly he waited behind his door, a meat cleaver in his hand. Was it self defense or a massacre? In these 10 deaths, the story of Nashville, Tennessee would have its beginnings although this story happened far away. The governor had wanted peace and Stump was imprisoned for murder. The description in the local paper describes him as 5’8″, a stout active fellow, well proportioned, black eyes, speaks the German language well, the English indifferently. He had on a light brown cloth coat, a blue great coat, an old hat, leather breaches, blue leggings and moccasins. He claimed self defense and an armed mob of his neighbor sympathizers, “The Paxton Boys” freed him and he fled to Georgia where he started over, always with a Midas Touch. With his family in the back county on the Savannah River north of Augusta, Fredrich once again built a home, a grist and a saw mill and established a prosperous farm. In Georgia, the Revolutionary War was happening. Frederick signed his name to a document declaring himself loyal to Britain but as the revolution wore on he found himself against the King and on the side of the patriots. Stump tangled with the British. He served under Francis Marion, “The Swamp Fox” known for his maneuvers in warfare. He likely took up arms in the Battle of Kettle Creek in Feb 1779, an American victory, and in the Battle of Brier Creek March 1779, in which the British won. Retreating, Fredrich killed some British soldiers, was arrested and sent to St. Augustine, Florida. Again he was imprisoned, and spent four months in the Castillo de San Marcos, the Spanish built stone fortress. Legend says he bribed a guard to let him escape with ten guineas – gold British coins equivalent to about $2000 today. Upon returning to Georgia the British had burned him out; his mill was ashes and they had confiscated 29 slaves, and posted a reward for him wanted dead or alive. He fled northeast and met with the overland party of James Robertson and halted at White’s Creek, December 24, 1779. This was the coldest winter on record. Frederick Stump and his party built a “station” or fort for protection. Four months later at Fort Nashborough, Tennessee, he signed the Cumberland Compact and government was set up in this new wilderness. Frederick was 57 years old. Here he rebuilt his live again: acquired land for a large plantation, built a mill and inn and rented land to other settlers. He distilled and sold whiskey. In October 1792 his distillery was burned by one of the area tribes but by 1795 he was producing up to 600 gallons of whiskey a year. In 1975 his home and inn was made an historical site on the National Register of Historic Places a monument to his determination, bold and incorrigible nature and enterprising spirit.

In the meantime his son Fredrik Stump Jr. lived on Barron River, about eight miles from Bowling Green, Kentucky. 200,000 pioneers came over the Wilderness Road that Daniel Boone had carved out of the forest. In the winter of 1778-79, the weather was so cold that the Kentucky River froze to a depth of two feet. Many of the cattle and hogs froze and the settlers had to eat them to survive. Here we find Hans Fredrik Stump, son of Frederick and Anna, who had been born in 1762. On April 25, 1799 at Bowling green, Warren, Kentucky, he saw smoke along the river. Stump took his fiddle, and went to welcome his new neighbors to the community. He took them turkey and venison meat and a string of fish. Mighty neighborly I’d say! This story ends tragically. It was the notorious Harpe brothers, Micajah and Wiley. During the years 1798 and 1799, the Harpe’s pillaged, robbed and murdered through central Kentucky and Tennessee. While others have killed for revenge or gain they seemed to commit murder for the simple pleasure of doing it. They had kidnapped two girls, tied them to horses, and took them to Nickajack in the mountains and lived their in the Cherokee Indian village. They were captured December 1798 by a posse along with the women. Each of the women gave birth just after the men escaped from prison March 6, 1799. On April 22 the Governor of Kentucky offered a reward of $300. Fredrik Stump was one of their next victims, on April 25, 1799, aged 37. They killed him and sank his body in the river. This would be part of the First Recorded Serial Killers in America.

Frederick’s wife Anna faithfully followed him through all his life’s trials, defeats and triumphs known herself as an astute business woman. The tavern was used on Sundays by local Christian congregations. The other children of Frederick and Anna Stump:

Barbara wife, b Jan 4, 1762 wife of Colonel Phineas Cox, died at Bowling Green, Warren Co, Kentucky the “last child” of Captain Frederick Stump, aged about 96, a widow. parents of William, John Stump, Nancy Jane, James Fredrick, Samuel, Nancy Elizabeth, Rzsanna, Dorcas Covington, Winaford T, Narcissa, Sarah, Christopher Greenup and Elizabeth.

Francis Stump 1761- Aug 22, 1801 at Muhlenberg Co. Kentucky

Anna Christine Stump found in the Heidelberg Congregation at Schaefferstown, Lebanon, PA where she was born 1762. Married Jonathan Guice in 1780 in Davidson, TN and had 13 children. The first gin was built by Jonathan Guice. The following is from the Draper Manuscript papers concerning the forts defense. Date “spring of 1782”. “The hostile Indians ..attack the Cumberland stations…. Jacob Stump and Jonathan Gise son-in-law of old Frdk Stump went out early one morning in search of them… killed Stump (22 years of age) and wounded Guis in 3 places … p 63-64 For defending the fort in 1783 received 3 shillings for service. Received his 640 acres on south side of Cumberland River; served on the jury at Adams Court House at Natchez: 1792-1806. Tax records show he paid taxes on the Spanish grant located 25 miles east of the Fort on Sandy Creek. Anna died in 1816.

Captain Christopher Stump b 1778 at Augusta, Richmond Co, Georgia and died Jul 12, 1821, Nashville, TN. was buried in the Stump Family Cemetery there. He was captain of Troop #4 TN Calvary in the Natchez Expedition and led his 35 men. This was the War of 1812 and Andrew Jackson, major general of the Tennessee militia, outfitted units. The troops were mustered and on January 19, 1913 the overland march began through Alabama and Mississippi, 440 miles Great must have been Christopher and his men’s disappointment when after a month of idleness, an order came from the War department to disband and they walked back to Nashville.

Captain Christopher Stump had a son Thomas Jefferson Stump b July 12, 1804 – May 1852, California credited with this poem:

I am to cross the desert wide, to find the precious treasure, to settle by the Ocean’s tide, and dig when I’m at leisure. A sister I at home will leave, a brother til he is older, if there’s no way other way to go I’ll enter as a soldier. A father I will have to guide me, As I travel through by land, And the host of friends I’ll have beside me will form our little band. Nothing more I have to say, Only my good luck attend you; and should you ever come to Monterey, with our laws will we defend you. Did he find the gold? He had a son named Thomas Jefferson Stump whose tombstone reads, “born April 24, 1831: departed this life at the helm of Steamer “Spokane” in Snake River, August 13,1881 at Washington, age 50, buried in the Pioneer Cemetery in The Dalles, Oregon. The papers say he was one of the oldest captains employed by O.S.N. Co and came from California in 1862 and buried with masonic honours.

Jonathan Stump married Martha Johnston on September 30, 1799 at Davidson, Tn. He was in partnership with Christopher, his brother. listed below.

Christopher Stump 1778, the Captain, was the surviving partner to Christopher and Jonathan Stump. There were many lawsuits, one being vs Benjamin Weakley et al – Montgomery Co TN 1807. These two boys of Fred’s were business men in Nashville. When old Fred died there were a series of subsequent lawsuits over his estate, too numerous to mention! In 1808 they owned the Stump Rapier Clarion which ran this add: A large quantity of Louisiana brown and loaf sugar of superior quality, coffee, hyson tea, almonds, pecans, pepper, spice, French Brandy, Jamaica Rum, Malaga Wines, Lime juice, Shad and Mackerel Fish, Fish Oil and for sale low for cash, at the house of C. Stump and Co. Stump and Rapier (his partner who was captain of the barge.) An July 21, 1918 add in the Clarion Gazette by C. Stump lists for sale:tarred ropes of all kinds, Plough and fish knives, bailing sein, sail maker’s and blocking twine; cables for boats of every kind, powder warranted best quality and equal to any made in the U.States; I wish to purchase a quantity of Salt Petre, for which the highest price in cash will be paid on delivery at my store in Nashville. This Christopher Stump and John Stump were among the original stock-holders of the Nashville Female Academy. Thomas Jefferson Stump, his son, was a Trustee. Chartered in 1816 the men used their influence to be the first to dignify female education. Then disaster struck again! Dated July 13, 1819, compelled by the disastrous events of the times to sell all my property real and personal, to meet my mercantile engagements, I will dispose of the following valuable property, although it is painful to procrastinate the payment of my just debts. C. Stump The Panic of 1819 was the first widespread financial crisis in the United States. It was followed by the general collapse of the American economy. Its severity was compounded by excessive speculation in public lands, fueled by the unrestrained issue of paper money from banks and businesses. The bank foreclosed on the mortgaged farms and business properties they had financed.

When Frederick was about 93 he married Catherine Gingery who was his tavern barmaid, aged 25. Frederick died at age 99 in 1820 having lived! What a dash in between 1723-1820! Was he a notorious killer never brought to justice, or a feisty, German tavern owner and distiller of whiskey who successfully overcame insurmountable odds, more than once, after finding his life in shambles?

Shakespeare is said to have said, “I cried when I had no shoes, but I stopped crying when I saw a man without legs.” This is good – what I’ve been trying to say, “life is full of blessings sometimes we don’t value enough.” And I believe the advice from my fourth great uncle Fredrich Stump would be “Dry your tears, and try again.”

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