A Family Tree
 From Roots to Buds

Stephen Bumgarner

Male 1811 - 1901  (90 years)


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  • Name Stephen Bumgarner  [1, 2, 3, 4, 5
    Born 18 May 1811  , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2, 6
    Gender Male 
    Died 29 Jul 1901  , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Buried Stephen Bumgarner Family Cemetery, Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [2
    Person ID I324  Main
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2011 

    Mother Lydia Bumgarner,   b. 27 Jan 1794, , , Wilkes County (later Ashe), North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 Jan 1846, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 51 years) 
    Family ID F1032  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Rebecca Nichols,   b. 17 Apr 1811, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Oct 1887, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 76 years) 
    Married 6 Jan 1831  , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [7, 8, 9, 10
    • Bride: Rebecca Nicholds
      Groom: Stephen Bumgarner
      Bond Date: 05 Jan 1831
      County: Wilkes
      Record #: 01 036
      Bondsman: Joseph Nichols
      Witness: T S Bouchell
      Bond #: 000164374
    Children 
     1. Rev. James Linville Bumgarner, Sr.,   b. 7 Oct 1832, , Fishdam Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 12 Apr 1921, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 88 years)  [natural]
     2. Simeon Nelson Bumgarner,   b. 9 Jun 1836, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown  [natural]
     3. Nancy Caroline Bumgarner,   b. 30 Jun 1839, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown  [natural]
     4. Lydia "Matilda" Bumgarner,   b. 11 Dec 1841, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Apr 1924  (Age 82 years)  [natural]
     5. Wesley Levi Bumgarner,   b. 26 Mar 1844, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown  [natural]
     6. Stephen Alexander Bumgarner,   b. 23 Apr 1846, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1925, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 78 years)  [natural]
     7. Absalom Robert Bumgarner,   b. 18 May 1848, , , Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 19 Feb 1918  (Age 69 years)  [natural]
     8. Fanny Rebecca Bumgarner,   b. 4 Oct 1850, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 8 Sep 1863, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 12 years)  [natural]
     9. William Amon Bumgarner,   b. 25 Aug 1853, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Aug 1934, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 80 years)  [natural]
     10. Andrew Jackson Bumgarner,   b. 15 Dec 1855, , , , North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 18 May 1901, , Millers Creek, Wilkes County, North Carolina, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 45 years)  [natural]
    Last Modified 13 Feb 2011 
    Family ID F152  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • Biographical sketch by Flora B. Friend in "A Genealogy of Stephen Bumgarner"

      "STEPHEN BUMGARNER (8 May 1811-29 July 1901), the patriarch of this family, was born, lived, and died in the county of Wilkes, state of North Carolina, United States of America. He married 6 Jan 1831 REBECCA NICHOLS, who was born 17 Apr 1811, also in Wilkes, to William and Elizabeth Holdaway Nichols. Rebecca's grandfather was the Revolutionary veteran, John Nichols, who came to Wilkes from Maryland, "near the Federal City, called Washington now, but Georgetown formerly," before 1796. Rebecca preceded her husband in death, taking her departure 30 Oct 1887, and was buried in the family cemetery on the hill above their home.

      The "work ethic" was very much a part of Stephen's philosophy. Even in his last years, when he suffered crippling rheumatism in his knees and feet, age and infirmity only slowed him down; it did not stop him. When he could not bend his knees to lift his feet, he would slide his feet along the rows and hoe corn with the other workers.

      No portrait of Stephen is available, but from the physical characteristics of his sons and grandsons, it can be deduced that he was tall and strong, that he probably had angular features, and was crowned with a healthy suit of hair and a full, flowing beard which turned white in his later years. He was known for his fiery temper, for his tall tales and for his generosity. He was also trusted and respected, but was at the same time intolerant of behavior he did not condone. The anecdotes which have come to us through his posterity attest to these traits, as the following paragraphs demonstrate.

      In 1838, when he was twenty-seven years old, married, and father of two sons, Stephen moved to Haywood, thinking he would cast his lot with relatives there. In the fall of that year an early freeze killed all the crops, and Stephen, discouraged and disillusioned with life in Haywood, returned to Wilkes. He built his home near the conflux of Reddies River and Maiden Cane Creek, and lived there for the remainder of his life.

      Stephen was a powerful man and a hard worker. He did everything in a big way, and had a heart to match. He planted large fields of grain and had a big garden. He made lots of honey, processed plenty of meat and milk from his farm animals, bagged wild game from his forests and fish from his streams.

      The home of Stephen and Rebecca became a mecca for friends, relatives, and some who just had no other place to go. People from miles around came to share its bounty, and to bask in its warmth and hospitality. It was a common sight for a string of loaded wagons to come rolling down the hill for a weekend rendezvous at Stephen's.

      Monroe Bumgarner, grandson of Stephen, lived beside him as a boy, and remembered him well. In recalling some of his experiences, he said Grandaddy Stephen was a "powerful story teller," and would spin his yarns for a half a day at a time if anyone would listen. He would begin, "If you could see all that I've ketched, killed and found in my lifetime..." And he would be off, telling about "That 'ar buck I killed," or some other adventure.

      About one of his bucks, Stephen would say, "I shot him, and then I threw him over a log, and he kicked me." He carried the buck down the hill and got as far as the creek before he stopped to rest. After he had laid it down he was too winded to pick it up again, and had to call Rebecca and some of the children to help him get it across the creek and up to the house.

      Once Stephen took some lumber to be dressed, and some corn to be ground, to John Lin Whittington's mill. He waited for the work to be finished, then loaded the lumber on one shoulder and had someone put the bag of meal on the other. Telling about it later, he would say, "And so help me, if my feet didn't sink up to my ankles in solid rock on the way home."

      A great-grandson, Spencer Bumgarner, remembered another tall tale. Stephen said he cleared an acre of new ground, fenced it in, and sowed it in turnips. Only one turnip came up, right in the middle of the patch. It grew until it was so big it "busted the fence all the way around."

      There is evidence that Stephen was earnest in his desire to do right, and was humble enough to accept the counsel of his ecclesiastical friends. It was a family custom at the beginning of a meal, for Stephen to pass around a dram glass of whisky, so that each person at the table could take a sip. But that practice ended abruptly after a visit in the home by a minister who told Stephen that it was a sin to drink strong drink. Stephen never again passed the whisky around. His conviction and his consequent example bore fruit, at least among some of his children. Millard wrote that no liquor was ever used in any home he lived in. Those included that home of his father George, and the homes of both his grandfathers, John Wilburn Nichols and Rev. James Linville Bumgarner. In a letter to Stephen from Rev. Ned J. Bird, written 3 Jan 1870, Rev. Bird cautions, "Try to be faithful in serving God, be careful not to get angry, pray as much as you can, read that Bible of yours often, live for God & meet me in heaven."

      Stephen acquired several hundred acres of land, some purchased from individuals, and some by grant from the state. Several of his transactions are recorded in the deed books at the Wilkes courthouse, but probably the most interesting ones are those not on the books. (When asked why they were not recorded, Monroe said, "Sometimes they just had to do things that way.")

      The lands on record as belonging to Stephen lie along the Reddies River, Maiden Cane Creek and Buck Branch. He also owned land in the Suncrest Orchard area.

      Stephen was not a speculator, but two recorded transactions indicate that he was, at least, pretty shrewd. In 1831, when he was twenty years old, he paid ten cents per acre for a grant of fifty acres. In 1839, just eight years later, he sold it for $150.00, fifteen hundred times its purchase price.

      There is also on record the purchase of a tract of one hundred acres from Samuel Kelly (or Kilby) and John Wright for $24.00. What the record doesn't show is that land was sold at auction. On the day of the sale it was raining and there was no crowd. The three auctioneers came, and in order to sell the property they had to get out and recruit builders. They found one - Grandaddy Stephen - against his protest that he had no money to buy land with. They told him they would see that he got money if he would just bid. True to their word, they gave him a way to make the money. Shingles were needed for the new Episcopal Church in Wilkesboro, and Stephen made them. Tradition says the roof lasted fifty years.

      Stephen and Rebecca had ten children, of whom seven married and had families. Of those receiving land from him, Monroe said that Stephen deeded it to them in such a way that they could not sell it during his lifetime without his signature. Because of that provision, Monroe concluded, some had homes who otherwise would have been homeless. Four sons and one daughter lived out their days on land they inherited from their father.

      Stephen outlived his wife and four of his children. He lived to see 40 grandchildren and 79 great-grandchildren born. He died at home and was buried beside Rebecca in the cemetery named for him. That site was chosen, in 1955, for a family reunion, and yearly thereafter, on the first Sunday in October, the clan has gathered to enjoy good food and great fellowship. A very few times the weather has prevented an outdoor meeting, and at those times the reunion was held in the fellowship hall of the Millers Creek United Methodist Church."
    • (Research):Other Bumgarner Researchers:
      Elbert Berry: bberri@msn.com
      Elanine Walsh: Lanie@pcshome.net
      Cathryn Barnes: richard.barnes3@worldnet.att.net
      Nancy Albrigth Crutchfield: eddytour@aol.com

  • Sources 
    1. [S210] Book: North Carolina-Wilkes - Wilkes School Census (1840-1850), George F. McNeil, (Wilkesboro, North Carolina: Privately published, 1993), Stephen Bumgarner household, District 46, page 106 (Reliability: 3).

    2. [S68] Cemetery: North Carolina, Wilkes, Reddies River Township - Stephen Bumgarner Cemetery, grave marker for Stephen Bumgarner, photographed by Gail Rich Nestor, 15 Jan 2004 (Reliability: 3).
      Inscription:
      STEPHEN
      BUMGARNER
      BORN
      MAY 8, 1811.
      DIED
      JULY 29, 1901.
      AGED
      90Ys.2Ms.21Ds.
      Farewell vain world, I am
      going home.

    3. [S2] Book: North Carolina-Genealogy - Genealogy of Stephen Bumgarner 1811-1901, Flora B. Friend, (Winston-Salem, North Carolina: Hunter Publishing Company, 1983), 1-4 (Reliability: 3).

    4. [S43] Book: North Carolina-Wilkes - Heritage of Wilkes County North Carolina, Volume II, 1990, Mrs. Nancy W. Simpson, editor, (Charlotte, North Carolina: The Wilkes Genealogical Society, Inc. in cooperation with Delmar Printing and Publishing, 1990), Ancestor #673 (Reliability: 3).

    5. [S142] Newspaper: North Carolina, Wilkes, North Wilkesboro - The Journal-Patriot [microfilm], (Wilkesboro, North Carolina: Wilkes County Community College Library), M 071.756 Jou., obituary for William A. Bumgarner, 23 Aug 1934, page 5 (Reliability: 3).

    6. [S144] Bible: North Carolina, Wilkes - Stephen and Rebecca Bumgarner, Stephen Bumgarner, (Bulletin of The Genealogical Society of the "Original" Wilkes County, vol. 1, no. 1, May 1967, page 2), "Stephen Bumgarner was born May 8, 1811" (Reliability: 3).

    7. [S467] Marriage: North Carolina, Wilkes - Marriage Bonds (1778-1868), Vol. A-B [microfilm], Wilkes County, North Carolina Courthouse, (Wilkesboro, North Carolina: Wilkes County Community College Library), vol. A-B, Reel C.104.6001, M 929-37568 Wil (Reliability: 3).
      State of North Carolina, Wilkes County.
      Know all Men by these Presents, that we, Stephen Bumgarner and Joseph Nicholds in the State aforesaid, are held and firmly bound unto the Governor of the State of North Carolina for the time being, in the just and full sum of five hundred pounds, current money of the State, to be paid to the said Governor, or his successor or assigns: To the which payment well and truly to be made and done, we bind ourselves, our heirs, executors, and administrators. Sealed with our seals, and dated this 5th day of January Anno Domini 1831.

      The condition of the above obligation is such, That whereas the above bounden Stephen Bumgarner hath made application for a Licence for a Marriage, to be celebrated between him and Rebecca Nicholds of the county aforesaid: Now in case it shall not appear hereafter that there is any lawful cause to obstruct the said marriage, then the obligation to be void - otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

      Sealed and delivered,Stephen Bumgarner
      in presence ofJoseph (his mark) Nicholds
      T. S. Bouchell

    8. [S18] Marriage: North Carolina Marriage Bonds, 1741-1868 [Ancestry.com database], Ancestry.com, compiler, (www.ancestry.com), Bond #000164374, Record #01 036 (Reliability: 3).
      Stephen Bumgarner & Rebecca Nicholds, Bondsman: Joseph Nichols, Witness: T S Bouchell

    9. [S68] Cemetery: North Carolina, Wilkes, Reddies River Township - Stephen Bumgarner Cemetery, grave marker for Rebecca Holdaway Nichols Bumgarner, photographed by Gail Rich Nestor, 15 Jan 2004 (Reliability: 3).
      Inscription:
      REBECCA
      wife of
      S.BUMGARNER
      BORN
      APR 17, 1811
      DIED
      OCT. 30, 1887
      AGED
      76 Ys. 6 Ms, 13Ds
      Asleep in Jesus blessed sleep.

    10. [S144] Bible: North Carolina, Wilkes - Stephen and Rebecca Bumgarner, Stephen Bumgarner, (Bulletin of The Genealogical Society of the "Original" Wilkes County, vol. 1, no. 1, May 1967, page 2), "Stephen Bumgarner was married January 6 to Rebecca Nichols in the year of 1831." (Reliability: 3).