Alexander Stephens

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Alexander Stephens

Birthdate: (50)
Birthplace: Salisbury, Rowan County, Province of North Carolina
Death: February 7, 1824 (46-54)
Bladen, Rowan County, North Carolina, United States
Place of Burial: Davidson County, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Stephens and Martha Garner
Husband of Mary Ann Stephens (Daily)
Father of Hannah Stephens; Martha Brown (Stephens); Elizabeth Stephens; John Stephens; Alexander Stephens, Jr and 7 others
Brother of William Stephens; John Stephens; James Stephens; Richard Stephens, Jr.; Martha Ward and 8 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Alexander Stephens

Alexander Stephens, son of Richard Stephens and Martha Ann Roberts [or Robards], was born in North Carolina in 1773 or 1775. He married Mary Dailey, daughter of William Dailey (1750-1840) [from Ireland] and Mary Palmer (1757-1819), in Rowan County, North Carolina. Mary was born on 19 November 1778 in Rowan County, North Carolina.

Alexander and Mary were members of the Baptist church. They raised a family of eleven children. After Alexander's death in Rowan County, North Carolina, Mary Dailey Stephens married (2) George Naught or Knaught or Knott on 1 April 1841.


There seem to be many discrepancies in Alexander Stephens' vital statistics. More research is indicated:

  • Some records indicate Alexander Stephens was born in October 1773; others state 1775
  • His place of birth is either Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina or Hillsborough, Chatham County, North Carolina
  • He is variously recorded as having died on 7 February 1824 or ten years later on 2 February 1834
  • His place of death is either Bladen, Rowan County, North Carolina, or Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina

History of Alexander Stephens and his wife, Mary "Polly" Dailey and her second husband, George Naught · 26 June 2013 · 0 Comments


Alexander Stephens was born in Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina about 1775. His father, Richard Stephens was born in October 1750 and his mother, Martha Robards (or Roberts) was born in October 1755, both being born in the same place as their son. Alexander was their third of nine children.

Mary Dailey, known as Polly, was born on November 19, 1778 or 1787 in Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina. Her father, William Dailey was born in 1748 or 1750 in Ireland and her mother, Mary Palmer was born in Hopewell, Hunterdon County, New Jersey on December 23, 1757. She is their sixth of ten children.

Alexander Stephens and Mary “Polly” Dailey were married on November 1, 1800 in what is now Davidson County, North Carolina.  They eventually had eleven children: William (Nov. 11, 1801), Hannah (Nov. 13, 1803), Martha (Oct. 12, 1806), Elizabeth (Feb 10, 1809), John (Mar. 31, 1811), Alexander Jr. (Apr. 13, 1813), Mary (Apr. 13, 1815), David (Apr. 4, 1817), Daniel (Apr. 4, 1819), Simon or Simeon (Dec. 31, 1820) and Rohanna (Dec. 31, 1822).  All of their children were born in Salisbury, North Carolina. 

Alexander was one of those who helped to form Davidson County, North Carolina in 1822 and was considered to be one of the “Conscripted Father’s.” He was elected as one of the first county rangers.

Alexander must have been in poor health because he made his will in 1819 as follows: Will of Alexander Stephens Sr. In the name of God Amen. I Alexander Stephens of the County of Rowan, being through the abundant mercies of God though weak in body yet of a sound and perfect understanding and memory, do constitute my last will and testament and desire it to be received of all men and such, acceptance of it through the all sufficient merits and of my most compassionate (illegible) in Jesus Christ (illegible). I give my body to the earth from whence it was taken in full assurance that it will rise again at the resurrection of the great day. As for my burial, I desire it may be decent at the discretion of my wife and executors hereafter named as to my worldly state. I will and positively order that all my just debts be paid. I will and bequeath all my real and personal property that I now possess to my dear and loving wife, Mary Stephens, to do and dispose of as she thinks proper to raise my children upon while she lives during her widowhood, and then all my estate to be equally divided among all my children, and I do constitute my wife Mary Stephens my sole executor of this, my last will and testament in witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand and seal this 25 of December 1819. In the presence of Richard Biggs (signed) ALEXANDER STEPHENS

Alexander and Polly’s first four children were married over the next few years, William in 1821 to Sarah Garner, Hannah in March of 1823 to James Smith, Martha in March of 1823 to James Brown, and Elizabeth in October of 1823 to James Brown’s younger brother, Daniel Brown.

Alexander died on February 7, 1824 at the age of 49 leaving Mary “Polly” with seven young children still at home: John–age 13, Alexander Jr.–11, Mary– 9, David–7, Daniel–5, Simeon–4, and Rohanna–2.

In the spring of 1825, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, which connected the Illinois River and Lake Michigan was built and brought thousands of people into Illinois. The government had opened a tract of land, and hordes of settlers emigrated to the state. In the autumn of 1831, Alexander Stephens Jr. and his sister Elizabeth and her husband, Daniel Brown and their family moved to Illinois, and settled in Schuyler County. By 1834, a quarter of a million acres of land had been sold – land that was primitive and a climate that was cold. And it was with the greatest of effort that these frontier settlers succeeded in providing homes for themselves.

Daniel wrote to his brother, James Brown in North Carolina and told him of the new land and the splendid opportunities it held. James and his wife, Martha (Stephens) and their children made the journey by wagon and team to Illinois and also settled in Schuyler County in the spring of 1833.

In 1835, James and Martha moved to Adams County, Illinois and engaged in farming on a large scale. The land had to be cleared of timber before it could be cultivated. Wild wheat was plentiful and was used as the main food for all. As the county became more settled, the people raised vegetables, grain, hogs and cattle.

Daniel and Elizabeth Brown remained in Schuyler County where they lived a pioneer life, hunting, fishing, making their own plows, harrows, rakes and forks, using horses and oxen to do the heavy work, braiding their own whips from pelts of wild animals, raising their own honey and making their own sugar.

It was not until 1836 that Mary “Polly” Dailey Stephens, the mother of the family and her remaining unmarried children moved to Illinois. They journeyed overland with wagon and teams and settled near her daughters, Martha and Elizabeth and their families in Schuyler County. Daniel was 17 years old by this time and worked for $12 a month, helping with farm work.

In 1839, Schuyler County was subdivided and Brown County was formed. Daniel and Elizabeth now lived in Brown County, probably named for the many Brown relatives who lived in that area.

In the winter of 1838-39, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were being driven by mobs from Missouri. They had started on their journey expecting to work their way back to the Saints in Ohio, but the hospitality they received from the settlers in Illinois caused them to remain in the state, settling at Quincy.

The Stephens and Brown families were strong believers in the Bible (most of them were Baptists) and they heard rumors of the “Mormons” being driven from Missouri. The rumors said that the people of Missouri were going to burn the Mormon’s at the stake or shoot them.

One day, James Brown, husband of Martha (Stephens) heard two Mormon missionaries by the names of Jacob Foutz and David Evans, speak at the Dunkard Church. After the meeting, James Brown said, “Gentlemen, if this is the doctrine which the Mormon’s preach, I want you to come and preach in my house.” The meeting was held two weeks later and Jacob Foutz and Talton Lewis spoke to those in attendance. Soon after, James and Martha Brown and their older children were baptized along with several of his other Brown relatives. Martha’s brother, Alexander Stephens soon joined the church and was baptized on June 18, 1840.

Soon after the missionaries had visited his home, James Brown took them to see his brother Daniel and wife, Rebecca (Kimball) and their family. Elder Foutz was given permission to speak in the schoolhouse about three miles from Daniel’s home. The news that the Mormons would preach on Friday spread like brush fire and the schoolhouse was nearly filled to capacity for the meeting.

Some of those who attended had freely threatened to tar and feather the elders, others came to confound them, while still others simply wished to watch the “fun,” as did Daniel’s twelve year old son James Stephens Brown.

The meeting was opened with prayer and then Elder Foutz rose and began his discourse, reading from the Bible.

    Judge not, that ye be not judged.
    Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
    Ye shall know them by their fruits.  Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
    Even so every good three bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt thee bringeth forth evil fruit.
    A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree 

bring forth good fruit.

    Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
    Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 

At the conclusion of his address, some of the people said they did not wish to mob a man who preached so well. Elder Foutz was once more invited to James and Martha Brown’s house and was guaranteed permission to preach on Sunday in an oak grove. Many of those who attended the Friday meeting followed Elder Foutz asking him about the Mormon faith. James Stephens Brown, the boy of 12 years old later said of the meeting:

    “As to myself, it seemed that I had not only heard it thunder, but I had seen the lightning and felt it through every fiber of my system, from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.  It was revived as the showers of Heaven revive the parched earth and impart life to the languishing vegetation.  Notwithstanding the fact that I knew the Latter-day Saints, or Mormon’s, were looked upon as filth, in fact as even worse than rubbish, that they had been called the very off-scourings of the earth that they were regarded as deserving to be put to death, yet from that very day I received their doctrine in or by the spirit.  I had listened to ministers of various Christian denominations advocate good and virtuous principles but I never knew any of them to preach the fullness of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as did that humble Mormon Elder.”  

John Stephens and his two sisters, Martha (Stephens Brown) and Elizabeth (Stephens Brown) were converted and baptized. The remainder of their siblings as well as their mother, Mary “Polly” Dailey Stephens did not join the church.

Mary “Polly” had remained a widow for seventeen years while her children grew and were married. Alexander married in 1831 to Margaret Northam, Mary married in 1831 to John Johnson, David married in 1834 to Celia Northam, John married in May of 1833 to Elizabeth Briggs, Daniel married in January of 1840 to Rebecca Kimball, Simeon married in January of 1841 to Elizabeth Stinson and Rohanna married in February of 1841 to James Gaddis.

In 1822, two years before the first of the Stephens family moved to Schuyler County, Illinois two young brothers, George Naught (born about 1785) and his younger brother Isaac (born about 1790), bade farewell to home and kin in Glasgow, Scotland and left on a westward journey to a land of promise. Landing in New York, they remained a short time when they immigrated to Kentucky, later moving to Whiteside County and then went to Schuyler County to become the first white settlers in Woodstock Township.

Very soon after their arrival George purchased land and in 1823, upon their arrival in Woodstock, Isaac Naught and his wife, Nancy Carlin Naught, built a cabin where they raised a family of several healthy, hearty boys and girls. The Naught’s were Baptists, and Isaac built the Logan Creek Baptist church.

George Naught was a mighty hunter – a nimrod of the forest, and often joined the Indian braves of his neighborhood. He became quite well acquainted with a certain Indian brave who admired him very much. They often wandered off in the hunt and chase together. The fast appearing whites, made the Indians become jealous and fearful of their loved hunting grounds. Calling a council of war, they decided to massacre the whites, but George Naught had a friend, an Indian brave who could not betray him. One day at hunt he said: 'George, us Red Men kill all white men, and when I kill you, I kill you good.'

The white settlers banded together and drove the Indians across Crooked Creek, or the LaMaone River, as it was later called, and the Naught settlement was saved.

In 1832, George Naught and his brother’s son, John Naught, enlisted for service in the Black Hawk War. They served as Private’s in the Fourth Regiment under Colonel Samuel M. Thompson. This company was mustered out of service at the mouth of Fox River, on May 28, 1832.

Mary “Polly” Dailey Stephens and George Naught were married on April 1, 1841 by Justice James C. Reid of Brown County, Illinois. George had never been married before and they did not have children together.

They were only married for four years before Mary “Polly” died in October of 1845 in Bainbridge, Schuyler County, Illinois. Her will was filed the month before her death on September 20, 1845 as follows: Last Will and Testament of Mary Daily-Stephens-Naught

This day came William Stephens and presented this last will and testament of Mary Naught for probate which after being ordered to be recorded which is in words and figures as follows viz.  "State of Illinois, Schuyler County, September 20 in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and forty five:  "I being in a low state of health but in my right mind do make this my last will and testament. First, I will to Hannah Smith and Roann all of my wearing cloths. Also I will to James Brown and his heirs, Mary Johnson and Alexander Stephens, fifty cents each and after that if there is any thing left after my being decently buried to be equally divided betwixt William, John, David, Daniel, Simeon Stephens and Elizabeth Brown, Hannah Smith and Roany Gaddis. This my last will hereunto I set my hand and seal. 

her mark. Mary X Naught

Three months after Mary “Polly” Dailey Stephens Naught passed away, her second husband, George Naught died about January 16, 1846 in Schuyler County, Illinois. His will was made on October 7, 1844 as follows: THE WILL OF GEORGE NAUGHT This day came William Stephens and presented the last will and testament of George Naught deceased for record which being duly process is ordered to be recorded which is in words and figures as follows viz.

I George Naught of the County of Schuyler and State of Illinois do make and publish this my last will and testament in name and form following that is to say: First it is my will and desire that a certain black horse known by the name of pilot shall belong to my wife, Mary as long as she lives. Also it is my will that the balance of my personal and real estate, that executors shall dispose of as such thereof as will satisfy all of my just debts and expenses, also and after this it is my will that my wife Mary shall have her third of the balance of my estate if any.

Also I will unto my Brother, Isaac Naught and his heirs all my right interest and title to fifty acres of land off the east side of the North East Section thirty one in township one North of the Be--(?) line in Range one west of the fourth principal meridian lying and being in the County of Schuyler and State of Illinois, and then the remainder if any is my will that it shall be divided equally betwixt my wife Mary and Joshua Lamma an orphan boy that I raised, also the Probate Justice shall appoint three disinterested freeholders to lay off and divide the property remaining betwixt the above Mary Naught and Joshua K. Lamma persons expressed in the above will and lastly I humbly constitute and appoint my said brother, Isaac Naught and William Stephens to be the Executors of this my last will and testament, In Testimony whereof I have hereunto my hand and seal this the 7th day of October A.D. 1844.

George Naught and Mary Dailey Stephens Naught are both buried in the old Davis Cemetery, north of the well-known Stephens Cave, located south east of Layton (Illinois). This cave received its name from John Stephens, a nephew of Mary Daily-Stephens-Naught, who owned land surrounding the cave, and in it operated a mill and distillery from the water power furnished by numerous springs in the cave.

Explanation: There is no locality called, "Layton" in present-day Illinois. Mrs. Maxine Shelts (volunteer at the Jail-Museum, Rushville, IL) confirmed it by phone (April 26, 2010), that present-day, "Sugar Grove" was formerly known as "Layton". There are two sites identified as, "Davis Cemetery" in Schuyler County, one as being identified at these GPS coordinates: Latitude: 40.02440, Longitude: -90.55470 (Woodstock Twp.) and Latitude: 40.15970, Longitude: -90.51060 (in Bainbridge Twp).

As for the children of Mary “Polly” Dailey Stephens and Alexander Stephens: Child #1 – William Stephens died September 16, 1861 in Bainbridge, Schuyler, Illinois and is probably buried there.

Child #2 – Hannah Stephens Smith died October 28, 1840 (place unknown).

Child #3 – Martha Stephens Brown died on September 28, 1840 in Kingston, Adams County, Illinois three days after giving birth to their ninth child. She was buried in the Kingston Park Cemetery in Kingston. Her husband, James Brown joined the Mormon Battalion and was captain of Company “C” and took with him his 4th wife, Mary Black and her small son, David Black. More about his life is in his history. Captain James Brown was one of the first permanent settlers of Weber County and was one of the founders of Ogden City and is buried in the Ogden City Cemetery in Ogden, Weber County, Utah. He had 13 wives and lots of descendants.

Child #4 – Elizabeth Stephens Brown died on October 9, 1890 in Farmington, Davis County, Utah and is buried in the Ogden City Cemetery in Ogden, Weber County, Utah. Their son, James Stephens Brown was also in Mormon Battalion and was in Company “D” and made the historic trek to the West coast.

Child #5 – John Stephens was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the Prophet Joseph Smith. When the Latter Day Saints were driven from Nauvoo, Illinois, John and his wife took their seven children and went with them to Winter Quarters, (now Omaha, Nebraska). They remained in this area for quite some time. John was assigned by Brigham Young to stay and help raise crops for those pioneers that were coming later. It was know as the "poor farm". Later the Stephens Family immigrated to Utah in the Bates Company in 1851, the same company that Orson Pratt was in. The pioneer companies were divided into hundreds, fifties and tens. John was captain of one of the ten families. They suffered many hardships during their long trek across the plains. They traveled with two wagons and two yoke of oxen. Before reaching Independence Rock their ten families were about one days drive ahead of the main company and Brother Woodward’s wagon was about a mile behind the rest of them, when they camped for the night. John and his son James Otha Stephens went back to help them and found about fifty Crow Indians surrounding the wagon taking what they wanted. He told them to leave things alone. Brother Woodward drove on with the Indians following. One going arm in arm with James and one with James Otha, they went on to camp. One of the Indians went to one side and fired his gun as a sign of peace. They came to camp with them... John and his family moved to Ogden, Weber County, Utah and in 1870, an epidemic of smallpox visited Ogden. The Stephens families were among those stricken. So terrible was the disease that rows of tents were erected east of the city and those ill were taken there. John Stephens was numbered among the dead. He died on December 3, 1870 and was buried in the Ogden Cemetery in Ogden, Weber County, Utah.

Child #6 – Alexander Stephens Jr. also joined the Mormon Battalion and suffered many afflictions that came with that company. He was discharged from the U.S. Infantry in July 1847 at San Diego, and he with his nephew James Stephens Brown, with others of his company was given work at Sutter Marshall's sawmill, and he was there at the discovery of gold. More about his life is in his history. He died on September 15, 1894 in Wilson (Ogden), Weber County, Utah and is buried beside his second and fourth wives in the Ogden City Cemetery in Ogden, Weber County, Utah.

Child #7 – Mary Stephens Johnson died July 11, 1905 but it is not known where she is buried.

Child #8 – David Stephens died of emphysema of the lungs on April 24, 1891 in Elkhorn Township, Brown County, Illinois but it is not knows where he is buried.

Child #9 – Daniel Stephens first lived in the area that is part of Brown County, Illinois, then later he moved to Schuyler County, where he purchased land near Sugar Grove, Bainbridge Township, where he built a home for his family and lived the remainder of his life. He and his wife joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Illinois. Unlike his two older brothers and sisters he did not emigrate West with the church but remained in Schuyler County, Illinois. An interesting account of Daniel's 77th surprise birthday dinner. The party was given by his daughter, Olive Nooner. Those attending from his family were sons, David, Samuel and John. The daughters that attended were Samantha Jane Black and Olive Nooner. Other guests included 10 elderly neighbors and friends of David. The party presented Daniel with a gold headed cane. The article mentioned: "It is impossible to describe the dinner, 'To see is to know'". Daniel died on May 18, 1899 and is buried in the Stephens Cemetery located in Bainbridge, Schuyler county, Illinois.

Child #10 Simeon Stephens was a Justice of the Peace in Benton County, Missouri. He died before 1880 and is buried in the Shilow Cemetery in Benton County, Missouri.

Child #11 – Rohanna Stephens was only two years old when her father died. She went with her mother and family to Illinois in 1836. In 1844, Governor Thomas Ford of Illinois, believing that he was going to be facing a "Mormon War", called for volunteers from the counties surrounding Hancock County to assist. One hundred eighty nine men from Schuyler County, Illinois volunteered to fight in this war. Rohanna Stephens’s husband, James Gaddis was one of them. It would be interesting to know what his thinking was, knowing that at least two of his wife's sisters and at least three of her brothers were part of the Mormon faith. They marched to Carthage, Illinois where they were released by the Governor. The Mormons agreed to leave the state. After they were driven out, the mobs were satisfied for awhile and things quieted down. Rohanna Stephens Gaddis died before 1890 but it is not known where she is buried.

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Alexander Stephens's Timeline

October 1773
Salisbury, Rowan County, Province of North Carolina
November 11, 1801
Age 28
Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina, USA
November 13, 1803
Age 30
Rowan, Rowan, North Carolina
October 12, 1806
Age 33
Salisbury, Rowan County, North Carolina, United States
February 10, 1809
Age 35
Rowan, Rowan, North Carolina, USA
March 31, 1811
Age 37
Rowan, North Carolina, United States
April 13, 1813
Age 39
Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina, USA
April 13, 1815
Age 41
Rowan, Rowan, North Carolina
April 4, 1817
Age 43
Rowan, Rowan, North Carolina