Many of those with German roots are descended from the Palatines, who arrived in the American colonies in two major waves – the first in 1709 and the second in 1740. The Stufflebeans (Stoppelbeins), my husband’s family, had ancestors that arrived with both groups, but his direct ancestor was part of the 1740 arrivals.
Stufflebean is a unique name and, as far as I know, all Stufflebeans/Stufflebeams descend from one of the Palatine immigrants of 1709 or 1740.
I have to admit I had no trouble jumping across the pond back to the Stoppelbein ancestral home in the Langenlonsheim area of Germany thanks to a friend I met at the Los Angeles Family History Center – Henry Z. (Hank) Jones, FASG, who is one of the pre-eminent experts on the Palatines to America. Langenlonsheim is a bit southwest of Mainz, Germany and slightly north of Bad Kreuznach.
In spite of my interest in the ancestral home of the family, most of my research has focused on the man whose name evolved from Stoppelbein to Stufflebean. After navigating the often unbelievably mangled spellings of the name, I was able to trace my husband’s line to Johannes Stoppelbein, born 28 Feb 1756 in Kinderhook, Columbia County, New York, son of Palatine immigrant Johannes Stoppelbein and his wife, Eva Dingman. Johannes served as a soldier in the American Revolution and, as he migrated westward after the war ended, it was his name that changed from Stoppelbein and giving rise to the Stufflebeans.
John first made a statement about his service in 1832 in open court in Estill County, Kentucky. He had quite an adventure as a soldier and it explains how he ended up living in Kentucky after growing up in New York. Here is an excerpt, with spelling corrected:
In Estill County, Kentucky, on the 20th August 1832, in open court, before James McQuinn, Samuel Tipton and Sampson Waters, Justices of the Peace in Estill County, John Stufflebean, resident of Estill County, aged about 80 years made oath: That he was born on the east side of the Hudson River not far below Albany, New York. That in 177?, he was living on a small river or creek which empties into the Delaware River. He thinks it was called Navasene or Nevasink (Neversink). He lived not more than 8 or 10 miles from the Pennsylvania Line and the New Jersey Line. That he enlisted in 1775 or 1776 or about that time in the service of the United States under Captain James Frontiers. He recollects of being stationed for a while at Hackensack, New Winston, Paramus and other small towns. He recollects of receiving 10 pounds as bounty money when he enlisted. About 2 years after he enlisted he went by direction of his Captain with others of the company to spy and guard the neighborhood of the Delaware in New York against the Indians. While out, he was surprised at the house of one Cajaw Indian near the Delaware and taken prisoner by the Indians and Tories. Brant commanded the Indians. Brant was an Indian, either part, or full blooded and was called Colonel Brant. He was said to have been commissioned by the King. That this deponent with some others who were taken prisoners were taken by the Indians of the Delaware after going up up it for some distance on logs or rafts. They afterwards crossed the Susquehanna River. That they were taken to the Mohawk settlement of Indians where this applicant with others were compelled to run the gauntlet. He continued a prisoner with the Indians about 8 months. He was about 18 miles below the Falls of the Niagra. He was sold by the Indians to Colonel Brittain, the British Commander then. Next he was taken to Detroit and remained there about 2 years or more. At length, he with with five others, on the 26th of April (years forgotten) ran away from Detroit, went down the Lake of Water for 100 miles or more, through a wilderness and came to the Muskingum River to the Ohio. There they fell in with James Garrard’s company to Kentucky. He joined this company in coming to Kentucky and has resided here ever since. For reference as to the truthfulness of his statements, he referred to his brother Michael Stufflebean, who resides somewhere in Illinois. In 1828, he went to Illinois and took his brother’s affidavit with a view of making application for a pension but never made application nor did anything more in the business.
When John made his service statement in 1832, he neglected to include the information that he escaped by agreeing to serve with the British forces, which was not an uncommon occurrence at the time.
Two sources verify that service:
1. Rolls of the Provincial (Loyalist) Corps, Canadian Command American Revolutionary Period , by Mary Beacock Fryer and William A. Smy, Dundurn Press, Ltd., 1981. Page 76, which includes names of those who served in Butlers’ Rangers, lists “#610, John Stufflebem.”
2. Niagara Historical Society (Canada) Publication No 27, (Not Dated), Names Only But Much More, by Janet Carnochan. Page 4 of the Muster Roll of Butlers Rangers, signed by Jacob Ball, 1st Lt, 1783 includes “John Stufflebem, On command to Detroit.”
After two or more years as a prisoner, John may have seen an offer to serve with the British as his only chance for escape. Being German speaking, he may have been seen as a safer bet as a soldier than English speaking colonists.
I found a new item on line about John today – his obituary – and I learned another important fact about him. I knew that John married Priscilla Ross in Bourbon County, Kentucky in 1790 and had at least one son, William, with her and then married Elsee Larrison, widow of Joseph Ketchum, about 1793. His obituary included the revelation that he not only had a wife before Priscilla, but that when he married Elsee, he had three children by his earlier wives.
His obituary includes the tidbit that, during the war, he and five fellow escapees “falling in among the Indians and representing themselves as sent from the British Army, in pursuit of deserters” were given food and saved from starvation.
The British military records don’t say how long John was considered a British soldier. I wonder if he and the other five men agreed to serve in order to be issued British uniforms to aid in their escape? I guess we will never know the answer to that question.
John and his wife, Elsee Larrison, had about ten children together, one daughter and nine sons, and most of the Stufflebeans who live in Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and California are all descended from them.