History of the Steppee Family

by admin on September 19th, 2003

Names of Frank and Elizabeth Cline Steppee and their children and dates of their births and death.

Contributed by: rbailey@azstarnet.com

Names of Frank and Elizabeth Cline Steppee and their children and dates of their births and death:

Frank Steppee Born: April 2, 1842 Died: August 15,1887

Elizabeth Cline Steppee, wife of Frank Steppee: Born: May 30, 1848 Died: January 1871

Children of Frank & Elizabeth Cline Steppee:
George ElmerBorn: Dec. 10, 1869Died: May, 1952
Jacob Born: May 20, 1871 Died: May 20, 1871
Willey Frank Born: Aug. 27, 1872 Died: April 2, 1957
Elizabeth Ellen Born: Nov. 26, 1874 Died: About 1879
Mary Susan Born: Dec. 22, 1876 Died: Nov. 13, 1960
Lena Ann Born: Oct. 30, 1878 Died: Oct. 1972
Mickey Born: Nov.29, 1880 Died: Nov. 29, 1880
Clara Hulda Born: June 2, 1883 Died: Jan. 1, 1970
Edward GroverBorn: June 15, 1885 Died: Feb. 28, 1931
Maggie FrancesBorn: July 15, 1889 Died: Feb., 1943

My mother, Mary Steppee Riley, copied these names and dates of birth from her mother's Family Bible, and gave them to me. I have added dates of deaths to the best of my remembrance. The Stepper family Bible was burned when the log house that grandma and her boys built was burned down about the year 1951. All the Steppee belongings were burned. I am grateful to my Mother for writing these names and dates for me, many years before the Bible was burned. Now I pass these dates and names along to others. –Elizabeth R. Elrod

The original copy of the history was written by: George Steppee (The great grandson of the full blooded Frenchman).

History begins as written by George Steppee:

My great grandfather Steppee was a full blooded Frenchman, living in France near the German border. When just a child he played with a little German girl who lived just across the German and French border. When they grew older, cupid took a hand in their affairs and they fell in love: and were married. When their son (which was my grandfather Steppee) was 4 years old, they moved to America. They settled in Scioto County of Ohio, not far from Cincinnati. Eventually, the four year old son got married and was the father of my father who was named Frank Steppee, born April 9, 1842. The Steppees were Catholic.

My other grandfather, Michael Cline, ( a butcher by trade) lived at Portsmouth, Ohio. Grandfather Michael married my grandmother Mary Uric. They were German. Grandfather Michael sold his business in Portsmouth and bought a home near the Steppee's place in Scioto County. And there in Scioto County, Ohio, my mother, Elizabeth Ann Cline was born May 30,1848, daughter of Michael and Mary Cline. They were Baptist.

Elizabeth Cline Steppee

My father, Frank Steppee, and my mother, Elizabeth Cline met in due time, fell in love. But things didn't go so well for them. They had a misunderstanding and for some time it seemed that they would never be married, but after some time they did make up and were married.

I, George Steppee, was their first child, born in Ohio, December 10,1869, near my grandfather Steppee's home.

When I was a few months old my parents moved to Tennessee and settled near Waverly then moved to Hackberry, then to Palmyra. My little sister, Elizabeth Ellen died while we lived at Palmyra. She was 5 years old. She was buried o­n the hill behind the railroad tunnel at Palmyra, in a cemetery. There is a tomb to her grave.

After Elizabeth Ellen died, we moved back to Ohio. In moving back and forth from Ohio to Tennessee, we traveled o­n a boat down the Ohio River to Paducah, Kentucky, then into the Cumberland River. My family made several moves from Tennessee to Ohio and back to Tennessee again. So, some of us children were born in Ohio and some in Tennessee.

The last move my parents made from Ohio, they settled in Missouri. I was a teen-age boy at that time and large enough to help father and provide for the family. Work was scarce in Missouri so father took me with him and went to Cumberland Furnace, Tennessee, to find work. We were lucky for there was plenty of work at the furnace that was making iron ore.

By and by father saved enough money to send for his family that had remained in Missouri. But the boat fare was more than father had expected, so mother had o­nly enough money to pay her and the children's way to Paducah, Kentucky, and there she was stranded in a strange city with her hungry children. A man who was a stranger with a big heart was kind enough to let mother and children live in a little shack of his near the river.

As there was no way of communication except a letter sent by boat, it was a good while before mother could receive any help from father. Meanwhile, she and the children had to live, somehow. Her next oldest son, (my brother Willie) went to the slaughterhouse as often as was necessary and begged for bones of the cows and hogs that were being killed for market. Bones that otherwise would have been thrown away. Mother boiled the bones and made stew for her family.

At last the much-needed money arrived from father. Then my mother and my brother and sisters bearded a boat and sailed up the Cumberland River. Father met them at the boat landing nearest to Cumberland Furnace and they traveled the last lap of the journey in an oxen wagon to Cumberland Furnace.

A few years passed and my father died of pneumonia caused by getting too hot fighting fire in the coke pit. A coke pit was where wood was seasoned or dried out for fuel for the furnace. Green trees were cut with cross-cut-saws and then into desired length for the furnace. But if the fire box of the furnace was filled with green wood it would cool the furnace down for a while until the wood begins to burn real good. So, dried-wood was needed to mix with the green wood to keep the fire going at a regular heat. A huge hole was dug in the ground and the large sticks of wood were placed all around the wall of the pit and some across the top. Then a fire was kindled o­n the ground in the center of the pit. The fire was kept burning till the wood had seasoned enough to be mixed with the green wood to burn in the furnace. Sometimes the fire in the pit burned too fast and was hot and the pit of wood caught fire. Then the men had to work hard and fast to save the pit of wood. My father gave his life trying to save the wood that he was in charge of rather than have the Company lose the pit of wood. It was in August and a very hot day to be fighting fire. Night came o­n and after it was over; he cooled off too fast and took pneumonia. He died within a week.

The ore that the iron was made from, was dug by pick-and-shovel. It was very hard, hard labor. When a vein of ore was found, the men dug till the last bit of ore was out of the ground. They dug such a large space and so deep that the great holes could have held a dozen houses or more and the top being below ground level. These huge holes are called “ore banks”. The ore was very heavy; it was hauled to the furnace in wagons pulled by oxen and some pulled by mules. The oxen and mules had to work very hard as well as the men.

Father was buried at Cumberland Furnace Cemetery. There is no tomb.

This ends the original copy of history written by George Steppee, son of Frank and Elizabeth Cline Steppee.

History of Steppees continues by: Elizabeth Riley Elrod Granddaughter of Frank and Elizabeth Cline Steppee.

Elizabeth Riley Elrod, have copied the history of Steppees from the original copy written by my uncle George Steppee. The history that he had written was found in his room where he had lived his last few years at Shiloh. He probably had meant to write more, especially about his mother' s illness and death, but had waited too late in life to write it. He suddenly became desperately ill and died within a day and night, in December 1952. He is buried in Baggett's Chapel Cemetery. There is a tomb to his grave.

I learned so much about the Steppee's ancestors, during my childhood days and of course they were my ancestors too. My father moved us to de Steppee farm when I was 4 years old and we lived near the Steppees and I was with them almost every day. I heard Uncle George, Uncle Ed, Aunt Clara, Aunt Maggie, and my mother talk as much about their early life – and whatever they failed to say, I asked questions, and learned still more. I was an inquisitive child and was so interested in the past, of how they had lived and what they did.

The following history is what I learned from the Steppees:

After my grandfather Frank Steppee's death, my grandmother Elizabeth Cline Steppee moved her family of 7 children to a farm o­n Grices Creek in Houston County. They moved by oxen wagon. I remember hearing so much about the oxen. Their names were Pat and Jeff. I used to look with amazement and wonderment at Pat and Jeff's huge yoke that the Steppees kept long after the oxen had died and had been replaced by mules.

Grandma and her family moved form Houston County to Montgomery County about 1890. A Mr. Dunbar had 100 acres of land for sale, all of it in good timber. Grandma bought the 100 acres agreeing to pay a certain amount each year. There were no buildings o­n the land, so Grandma rented a log house near Mint Spring and lived there until she and her sons could cut trees and build a log home. Grandma's land and three other farms connected right at Mint Spring. So she built her house in a level corner right at Mint Spring hollow a short distance from the large spring.

Grandma and her family worked hard to clear enough timber from land to cultivate and made a good living from the rich new ground. The timber that was cut was used for building three tobacco barns, all made of logs, and a log stock barn, a “stable” it was called, a hen house and a smoke house and a log house o­n the hill from Grandma's house, (which she lived in later years). Also timber was used to make boards for the roof of all the buildings, and to make rails and palings for fences.

Aunt Lena was the first of Grandma's children to marry. She married Herbert Alien. Then my mother was next to marry. She married Louis Riley. Then Uncle Will was next to marry. He married Miss Mary (Mattie) Ganey.

In the latter part of 1902, Grandma's health began to fail. She had an infected tooth that lingered o­n and became a “rose” cancer. The center o­n her cheek resembled a rose, growing larger like a rose opening up, so red and her face was swollen. She endured great torture and there was nothing to ease the pain. Then the “rose” burst in full bloom and it was not quite so painful – but the cancer began to eat. It spread more and more. Older people called a cancer at this stage as “eating” the flesh. Grandma's cancer ate and ate till half her face was gone, including o­ne eye.

Aunt Clara and Aunt Mag cared for Grandma, while Uncle Ed and Uncle George attended the farm and made a living. The last summer that Grandma lived, they moved her bed into the “little room”, which had no window and o­nly o­ne door, at that time. They had no screen for doors, so they kept the door to her room closed to keep out the flies. Aunt Clara told me that each time they carried food and water to Grandma, they'd have to be careful not to let any flies in through the door. The door opened out o­nto the front porch. Aunt Mag would stand o­n the porch near the door and fan the flies away while Aunt Clara went in with the food and water or milk. I can just imagine how terrible it was for poor Grandma lying o­n her deathbed month after month in a little dark room with no fresh air. In later years Uncle Ed cut a window out, in the little room. I remember watching him put in the window and what a big difference that made to that little room Then still later in years Aunt Mag cut the logs that divided the little room from the kitchen, and made a door. That was a big help and improvement to be able to step right from the kitchen into the little room, instead of going from the kitchen into the living room and out o­nto the front porch and down across the long porch to the door of the little room. o­ne day in January 1 904, Grandma called her children to her bedside. She told them that she had seen a shining form at the foot of her bed. The “form” was mounted o­n a shining white horse. Then she died.

She was buried oy;n her farm, far up o­n the hill from the house in a large field. There is a tomb to her grave. And as I write this I think of those that have “gone o­n” and are buried there too – in the Steppee Cemetery.

Uncle Will Steppee had married before Grandma's death. He married Miss Mary Ganey but I don't know the date of their marriage. But I would guess it to be about the year of 1902 or 1903 for their oldest child, Virgil, was born October 1904. Uncle Will's wife was called “Mattie” instead of Mary – I never knew why. She was a dear, dainty little woman – Aunt Mag and Aunt Clara told me that Aunt Mattie was so small that she wore a number o­ne shoe the day she married. All of Uncle Will's folks loved Aunt Mattie. She was an industrious little woman; she kept busy from morning till night, caring for her children, and kept her house as clean and tended her garden and worked some tobacco. I remember that Uncle Will plowed up the yard below their house and put in tobacco so it would be close to the house and she could care for her children and work in her tobacco. The tobacco in the yard was her tobacco to buy what ever she needed. She milked cows and raised chickens. It was amazing how much work o­ne little woman could do. All this that I've written about Aunt Mattie happened while she and Uncle Will lived in a house up the hollow from Mint Spring. The farm they lived o­n joined Grandma's land and they worked hard to pay for it. My mother and my sister and brother lived in a little log house o­n Grandma's farm, across the hill from Uncle Will. That is why I remember about Aunt Mattie for I was with her so much and went to school with Virgil and Clarence (Buddy). There are three weeks differences in Virgil and my age. I was born September 14, 1904 and he was born October 7, 1904. I so grew up with Uncle Will's children.

When Virgil was 12 years old, Uncle Will moved his family to Houston County in the little house where Irvin Steppee lives at the present time and Lester Steppee was born there. But I don't know the date.

The sad part of all this is that Aunt Mattie didn't live to be old. She took red measles and pneumonia and died I don't know how old she was, but I'd guess she to be about 45. I can't remember exactly the date of her death. I believe that Lester was about 4 years old when she died. Uncle Will lived many years after Aunt Mattie's death. He devoted his life to his children making a living for them. He was true to Aunt Mattie, was never interested in another woman. Aunt Mattie was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery. Uncle Will died in 1957 and is buried o­n the Stepper home place at Mint Spring with his mother and other relatives including his little son that died at the age of 2 or 3 years old. The child's dad was caused by spinal meningitis.

Uncle George Steppee, Uncle Ed, and Aunt Maggie never married. Aunt Clara married George Marlow, Sr. He was called “Dick”.

Every thing that I have written in this history of Steppees is true to the best of my remembrance and to my knowledge, except o­ne mistake I have made in writing this. 1 will now correct the mistake. Uncle George's history of Steppees was not found in his room where he lived at Shiloh for a short. I am mistaken about it. I have talked with Aunt Lena's oldest daughter, Eunice, since I started writing Steppee history, and she told me that Uncle George gave her the original history. I had understood her to say several years ago that he had written it and left it in the little storehouse where he lived after his home at Mint Spring had burned.

We have to give Uncle George credit for the information he has given us of his (and our) ancestor's early life. I am so grateful to have the history of Steppees and Clines that other wise I wouldn't have, except for Uncle George. Although I did hear part of it from the Steppee family as I was growing up among them. But had never tried to write any of it down. And now T am old and my hand so unsteady. I write very badly. But have done my best to leave this history for the o­nes who may be interested in their ancestors. Many thanks to dear old Uncle George for his part in this history. He was a Baptist minister. He had a college education and was an outstanding man.

This ends the history of Steppees – written by: Elizabeth Riley Elrod – Granddaughter of Frank and Elizabeth Cline Steppee. Written in the year 1974.

Sorry, I forgot to mention that Aunt Mag is buried in Steppee Cemetery with her mother. Uncle Ed and Aunt Clara and Aunt Lena are buried at Shiloh in Herb Alien family cemetery. My mother, Mary Steppee Riley, is buried in the Fletcher Cemetery o­n 13 Highway about 6 miles from Erin.

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