John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. was the Revolutionary War ancestor of many descendants in Union County, Georgia and beyond. Although he never lived in Union County, many of his descendants who claim this county as home can trace a direct lineage back to him.
John Henry Stonecypher, Jr. was born in Culpeper County, Virginia, in 1756. His parents were Johannes Henrich Steinseifer, born January 10, 1724 in Eisern, Westphalia, Germany and Eleanor Dortch Steinseifer. The last name, a trade name of those who worked with stone, was anglicized to Stonecypher. John Henry, Jr. married Nancy Curtis in Wilkes County, NC in June, 1785. She was born in Maryland about 1766. After his service in the American Revolution, John Henry, Jr. and Nancy Stonecypher settled on land in Franklin County, Georgia, broad acreage he had accrued because of his service to his country.
John Henry Stonecypher died in 1850. On July 16, 1994, it was my privilege to participate in a ceremony led by the Sons of the American Revolution and descendants at the Stonecypher gravesites at Eastanolle, Georgia in Stephens County. It was a moving experience. Through mountain mists his history echoed through the years. I share here a free verse poem I wrote about the experience. In future articles I will give more history of the Stonecypher family.
This Rose, This Tomb, This Wooded Dell
Struggling roses shed fragrance
In July afternoon.
Sunshine slanting through oaks and elms
Falls dappled on the soapstone tomb.
We gather at secluded gravesite, voices hushed,
Minds awash in floods of imagination
About our Revolutionary War ancestor.
Ninety-six years from womb to tomb
The gravestone tells us.
We know but sketches
Of his long and fruitful life.
A pioneer, a mountain man,
He weighed the choices given him:
Ignore the call of freedom’s price
Or go resolutely to the fray.
In North Carolina, Wilkes County,
He heeded the call to arms.
At King’s Mountain he lifted musket,
Sharp-shot at Beatty’s Ford,
At Guilford Courthouse, wounded sore,
Went home to heal, then left to fight again.
Tide turned with October’s leaves.
On to Pleasant Gardens,
In battles along Catawba’s waters,
Red with blood of patriots and royalists alike,
He tasted victory, reward for hero’s dreams.
From private to captain
Without benefit of military training,
He employed instincts, pride, love for freedom,
Marks of independent men.
Again the call to far horizons
Beyond familiar Wilkes:
He wound through mountains, forests, valleys
To claim in 1784 his 20,000 acres
In north Georgia’s wilderness.
To Nancy Curtis he pledged his troth,
She the daughter of a Revolutionary soldier,
He a veteran of that freedom war.
To their acreage they went, hopes high.
They tamed the land, cleared for a house,
The best their money and expertise could build,
A mansion with the flair and lines of architect Presnell.
John Henry joined to quell Indian uprisings,
Bring those proud and noble natives to subjection,
Helped drive them from the Tugaloo and Estanollee.
Had he no thoughts for justice,
For peace to those whose lands were taken,
Those who wanted only to be kindred
With the woods, the soil, the sky and running waters?
Or did he thinks his wounds at Guilford Courthouse
Gave him unquestioned right,
A heritage to go where adventure beckoned,
Claim as his own the valleys, hills and streams?
What thoughts propelled our ancestor?
We can but guess
In this place on Eastanollee Creek
He built a plantation, a mill,
Became a founding father in a church and started schools.
Long life was his, and children, too,
Rose up to call him blessed.
At age ninety-six he died,
Injured in a fall from steps
At his Eastanollee Stonecypher Mill.
Today, beneath this grove of trees
We gather to pay tribute to his life and deeds,
Lay claim to his kinship and his fame.
Brass music by seventh and eighth generation descendants
Sounds the strains of “America the Beautiful”
And “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”
Words of adulation flow in afternoon assembly.
Beside the grave rose petals ripple in a fleeting breeze.
Thoughts unfold as blossoms, separate and confined
In some vast sea of years and deeds,
Converge on a gray soapstone monument,
A patriot and a name.
(Poem by Ethelene Dyer Jones published first in Mother and Child Reunion, EJ Productions, Epworth, GA, c1995. Used by permission.)
c2005 by Ethelene Dyer Jones; published Mar. 10, 2005 in The Union Sentinel, Blairsville, GA. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.