The Stalnaker Family

Written by Knight Wees

Published in the Randolph Enterprise, Thursday, August 25th, 1932

That Captain Samuel Stalnaker was the first to arrive in America is proven by the fact that there is no earlier record of the name in German settlements of Colonial New York, Pennsylvania or Delaware.

The Virginia Historical Society believes him to have been on of the Germans who were the first settlers in the valley of Virginia in 1732, in which year Jost Hite and others whose names are not recorded, emigrated there through Pennsylvania. That he was in Bucks County, Pennsylvania is proven by his connection with the Truby family who were settlers near Doylestown, and who came with the Stalnakers into Virginia and West Virginia.

That he was in Augusta County before 1748 is proven by the Journal of Dr. Walker, who states that in April, 1748, he met Samuel Stalnaker on his way to the Cherokees. (Filson Club Papers, No. 13, Page 42)

On March 23, 1750, Dr. Walker again met Stalnaker, who had just come to the place to settle on Middle Fork of Holston River, the last western settlement in Virginia. Here his house was built and here, no doubt, the Cherokees wished to meet the Commissioners of Virginia. On the map of 1751, this settlement is located on the Middlefork of Holston River, a few miles above its junction with the south fork, which is now Washington County, formerly a part of Fincastle, and the first county in Virginia named for George Washington. When Samuel Stalnaker was born; where he was born; when and where he was married, is unknown.

The next record we have is in Summers History of southern West Virginia, Page 58, in which is given a register of persons killed or taken prisoners by the Indians in 1754, 1755, and 1756, on the New and Holston Rivers and Reedy Creek. This register states that Samuel Stalnaker on Holston River was taken prisoner, and escaped, but that his wife, Mrs. Stalnaker and his son, Adam, were killed. The official report of this is found in Dinwiddie Papers, Vol. 2, Page 447, in a letter written to Governor Sharpe of Maryland by Governor Dinwiddie dated April 1, 1756, regarding Indian troubles saying "One Stalnaker who was taken prisoner by Shawnees escaped and says he saw six French officers and one thousand from Outboten? Bound to Fort Duquense and the frontier.

Samuel Stalnaker was an explorer, trapper, and guide, the first white man to discover Cumberland Gap, and who hunted and explored in Kentucky many years before Daniel Boone ever entered it.

Dinwiddie Papers, Vol. 2, Page 503; September 8, 1756, Governor Dinwiddie, writing to Colonel Clement Reed, acknowledged the receipt of a letter from that officer, through Captain Stalnaker and said "Give Stalnaker 100 pounds to qualify him to raise his Company and build a stockade fort at Drapers Meadow." The location of this fort is now known as Smithfield, Montgomery County, the first settlement west of the Alleghany Divide and at that time the first on New River.

In Summers History of Southwest Virginia, is the first official reference to Stalnaker by his title, the record taken from old Book of Courts Martial held by Augusta Militia, 1756-95.

"On July 29, 1756, a council of War assembled at Staunton by direction of Governor of Virginia to determine at what points forts should be built along the frontier for protection of settlers. Captain Stalnaker represented the Holston Settlement in this conference and it was at his request that the Stockade was built at Dunkards bottom on New River and Davis Bottom at headquarters of Middle Fork on the Holston.

An interesting fact is that Captain Samuel Stalnakerís house was chosen as the meeting place for treating with the Indians by his Majestiesí Commissioners, at request of Chief of Cherokees held at Catawba Town and Broad River in March, 1756.

The last reference we have to this remarkable man we find in a statement to the effect that about 1768-9 J.F. D. Smyth, an English Traveler visited Captain Stalnaker at his home on the Holston River and remained two days. He says he found "the old pioneer still wise in the learning of the wilderness," and that he was able to direct Smyth a new route to Kentucky.

Captain Stalnakerís death is wrapped in as much mystery as his birth and marriage. We know he had three sons, perhaps more and that his wife and son, Adam, were killed in 1755. Another son, George, was appointed Constable on waters of Holston and New Rivers in 1755, Withers History of southern West Virginia (Page 109-110) writes of George Stalnaker as later of Boltetourt? County in 1770. Of this branch of the family nothing is known.

Jacob, another son, came to Tygarts Valley with his sons in 1772. They prempted land in the pioneer way of "tomahawk right." Later these lands were surveyed and grants were signed by Benjamin Harrison, Governor of Virginia.

In Book L, Richmond Virginia Land Records, we find the following grants to Stalnakers father and son.

October 23, 1870, record grand was to Jacob Stalnaker, Jr., on east side of Tygarts Valley River, adjoining lands of Jacob, Sr., and Joe Westfall. (Page 272)

October 25, 1870, Valentine Stalnaker granted 150 acres adjoining Jacobís land. This land was assigned to Valentine by John Truby. (Page 257) Years later, Valentine Stalnaker appeared before County Court and swore that he was "one of the heirs of John Truby and that Truby had never received compensation for his services in Revolution, Minute Book 1, R. C. Court. This proves that the two families were related, but what the relationship was, is unknown.

Jacob Stalnakerís birth is unknown, as is that of his wife Elizabeth. He had sons Jacob, Valentine, Adam, Samuel, John, Boston, Levi, and Andrew. Andrew was the only son mentioned in his will, the others having been provided for and we have no way of knowing the order of birth.

Jacob Stalnaker, Sr. , built his home on the hill in Beverly, later owned by his great grandson, Daniel Baker, and still known as the Baker home. The house was built of logs taken from the old Westfall fort on the river-bank, but the building has been destroyed and not even a picture remains.

The will of Jacob Stalnaker, Sr., dated April 25, 1791, proven August; 1792, names wife, Elizabeth and son, Andrew and Executor, Mathew, Whitman.

Test: John Wilson, John Elliott, Edward Jackson, Abraham Claypoof.

Will Book 1, Page 8, Randolph County Court.

Jacob Stalnaker, Jr., son of Jacob, Sr., or Jacob 1st, married Eleanor ___?.

He was considerably in evidence in the real estate transfers noted in the Randolph County Records. In a deed dated April 26, 1800, Jacob Stalnaker, Sr., and Eleanor, his wife, sell to Jacob Stalnaker, Jr., for 200 Pounds a tract of land containing 100 acres on the south side of Filesí Creek, (Randolph County, West Virginia, Land Records, Book No. 3 and 4, P. 107)

In a deed dated Feb. 23, 1907, Jacob Stalnaker and Eleanor, his wife, sell to Adam Stalnaker a tract of land on Filesí Creek, a branch of the Tygart Valley River, it being a part of a tract that the said Jacob Stalnaker bought of Cornelius Bogard, (Randolph Co., West Virginia, Land Records, Book 3, Page 5)

He died in 1834, for on November 25th of that year the appraisement of the goods and chattles of Jacob Stalnaker, Sr., deceased, as sworn by Andrew Stalnaker, Jr., is noted in Will Book No. 3, p. 10, Randolph Co., Records. He died intestate. His children, as disclosed by the records, were:

  1. Jacob Stalnaker, who married Nancy Channell, daughter of Joseph Channell, January 18, 1803 (Randolph County., Marriages, Licenses.) This couple had, among other children, Andrew Stalnaker, born in 1815, died 1888, who married in Lewis County, Margaret, daughter of Adam Smith. They had issue: Marcellus; Adam; Eunice; Newton; Kain; Mary E.; Hannah; Caroline; Thaddeus; Henry; William; and Margaret.
  2. Mary Stalnaker, who married John Meyers, March 28, 1808. (Randolph Co., Marriage Licenses.)
Valentine Stalnaker, son of Jacob first, was granted land along with his father, Jacob, 1780. His home was what is known as the Yokum farm, and an old cemetery on the place, which has been restored, has disclosed interesting data of the family.

We find that Valentine died November 28, 1834, age 76, being born 1758.

He was laid to rest by his first wife, Catherine, who was born, 1753; died 1803.

The children to this union were: George Washington, Rebecca, Ann, Isaac, Abraham, and Jacob.

After the death of his first wife, he married Lucretia Junkins in 1806. [Note: This doesnít make sense. -dh]

His Will, dated October 13, 1833, probated December, 1833, devises to his wife, Lucy, and sons; Abraham and Jacob. Will Book 2, page 447, Randolph County Records.

In 1832, Jacob Stalnaker and Valentine applied for pension, but his Valentineís application is marked "This man is dead." Later his wife, Lucy, made application on same service. Court records declare his death, 1833. Tombstone, 1834, So we find mistakes even in cemeteries.

His son, George W., married Susannah Hart; Rebecca married Jacob Lorentz; Ann married William Phares, Isaac married Stella Oliver, Abraham married Margaret Earl; Jacob married Eunice Stalnaker, daughter of Jacob 2nd; Andrew married Catherine ____, and died in 1840.

Andrew Stalnaker, the youngest son of Jacob the first, died in 1840. His will follows:

Will Book No., 3 p. 117, Randolph Co., W. Va. Records, Andrew Stalnaker, Teste:

Will dated Feb. 25, 1839. Will proved Dec. Term, 1840. William Martiney, John Phares, Robert Martiney.

Devises as follows:

Boston Stalnaker, son of Jacob the first, died in 1826. His will follows:

Will Book No. 2, p. 174, Randolph Co., W. Va. Records, Boston Stalnaker, Test:

Will dated June 22, 1826. Will proved Feb. Term, 1826. W. McCord, Ashby Pool, Chris Rhodes, Andrew Couch.

Devises as follows:

Balance of property to son Ferdinand and daughters, Polly, Betsy, and Dorcas. "Any property that may be left to be divided among my four daughters, Katherine, Margaret, Nancy, and Eliza."

Son Ferdinand Stalnaker, Executor.

Samuel Stalnaker, son of Jacob the first, married Susannah Ratcliff, daughter of William Ratcliff, February 26, 1788. (Randolph County Marriage Licenses.) The children of Samuel are not in evidence on the records as his children, though doubtless he has descendants among the many Stalnakers in Randolph county. The land records show that Samuel was in Randolph county in 1820. (Book 6, p. 25, Randolph Co., Land Records.)

John Stalnaker son of Jacob first, was according to family tradition killed by the Indians. Records in Maxwellís History of Randolph County state that he had a son, John, born 1783, a grandson, John W. who married Mary Chenoweth and a great grandson, John I., who married Elizabeth Hilkey. A daughter Rachel married Robert Chenoth, August 3, 1802. Absence of Will makes it difficult to identify his descendants.

In Deed Book __, p. __, is recorded a deed from Valentine Stalnaker and Catherine, his wife, to John Stalnaker 141 acres of Tygarts Valley River adjoining lands of Joel Westfall and William Marten and Jacob Westfall. This was John, the son of Jacob first.

When Daniel Baker bought the Jacob Stalnaker farm there was an orchard on the place planted by John Stalnaker and still known as Johnnies orchard.

There was also an old tombstone leaning against the building, and still standing where the epitaph can be read:

"In memory of Elizabeth Stalnaker, consort of John Stalnaker, departed this life 13th June, in the year of our Lord, 1844. Age 56 years, 11 mos. and 4 days. (Born therefore 1788)
She lived respected and died lamented
Remember friend, as you pass by"

An old family Bible found discloses that this was Elizabeth Haddon, born June 15, 1787.

John Stalnaker was born June 15, 1787.

John Stalnaker and Elizabeth were married April 26, 1805. To this union six children were born. Washington, born Dec. 3, 1810; Abram Love, Jan. 2, 1812; Mary Brake, Dec. 17, 1819; George, Feb. 28, 1821; Isabel White; Feb. 24, 1822; Hugh, Feb. 11, 1831.

The deaths recorded were Elizabeth, above noted, and Rebecca Haddon, died May 3, 1825, mother of Elizabeth and wife of David Haddon.

A farm adjoining the Earl place and Valentine Stalnakerís home was owned by a man called Black Hawk. This was Andrew, father of John M. Stalnaker, and grandfather of Mr. White Stalnaker, who is still living.

The name was used to designate him from another Andrew, who lived on what is now known as the Fountain Butcher home. Built log house that stood there. His wife was Catherine Channell, and his son, Adam was born there in 1836. Adam married Virginia Harris and was the father of several children.

Adam Stalnaker, killed by the Indians in 1782. Randolph County Records did not begin until 1787. Adam Stalnakerís name does not appear on the records or would not be in histories if it were not for his tragic death. Where or when he was born and where he is buried is not known.

He entered Tygarts Valley with his father and brothers in 1772 and was the father of five children: John, Adam, Andrew, Jacob and Eunice. His youngest son Adam was born 1780, two years before his fatherís death. The names, John, Andrew, Jacob, and Adam in so many generations, make it exceedingly difficult for the historian.

Adam, born 1780, son of Adam; killed in 1782. Married Naomi Morgan, 1805. Her sister Ruth, married George Wees. The marriage of these two girls made their descendants related to nearly everyone in Tygarts Valley.

Adam Stalnaker married Naomi Morgan, was the daughter Zedekiah Morgan and Ruth Dart, his wife. Both her parents were of distinguished Connecticut families. Her brothersí and sistersí names were Joshua, Ezra, Hezekiah, Lydia, and Ruth.

Five years after the death of her husband, Adam Stalnaker, "Naomi Stalnaker (widow) married John Brooks, October 10, 1820." (Randolph County Marriage Licenses.) She died in Randolph County in 1837. (Family Records.)

The children of Adam Stalnaker and Naomi Morgan, his wife, married as follows, according to the Stalnaker Family Records and Maxwellís History of Randolph County.

  1. Eleanor Stalnaker married Jehu Harper.
  2. Daniel H. Stalnaker, who married Miss Sara Wylie of Greenbrier county, May 1st, 1839. (Greenbrier Co., Marriage Licenses.)
  3. Maria Stalnaker married Isaac Baker of Randolph county, and their son, Daniel Randolph Bakerís heir now owns the old home on the hill built by the pioneer, Jacob Stalnaker.
  4. Randolph Stalnaker, born January 17, 1808, on Filesí Creek; died in 1895; married in Monroe Co., in 1830, Caroline Erskine Zoll, daughter of William Zoll and Jane Smith, his wife, who was the daughter of William Zoll and Jane Smith, his wife, who was the daughter of James Smith and Flora (Erskine) Smith, (Family Records.)
The descendants of Jacob Stalnaker and his five sons have a goodly heritage. It took courage, perseverance, industry to hue a home in the wilderness, as it takes courage in these troubled times. One is safe in saying that all the Stalnakers in the state came from this family.

We find doctors, lawyers, preachers, judges in their ranks, besides those in military offices. William Stalnaker was Captain in 1810-12 and Andrew in 1845; Levi and Isaac in 1844; John M. in 1853; Soloman P. in 1862; Washington in 1802; and John was Ensign in 1805.

It is impossible in this short sketch to bring the descent down another generation.

Steinacker-Stalnaker of German

The Steinacker family of Germany, in which, according to German Philologists, the America Stalnaker family has its origin, was anciently seated in Westphalia, Pommerania, and Silesia, Riestap, in his "Armore General" states that they were nobles of the Empire in the year 1637, and created Barons in 1730. The coat of arms, borne by the various branches of this noble old house, is described as follows:

"Díasure une chamois au nat; Coll de gu, tenant de ses pattes une eppe díargent; garnie díor en pal; le chamois rampant, contre un rocher de gu; mouv du flanc dextre; let tout soutenu díune terrasse de sin."
"Cq-Cour C Le Chamois iss L. Díor et díazure"
In closing let me impress on your minds the importance of Family Records and the making of wills.

If each of you have Bible Records before 1850 would send copy to your Secretary, an untold fund of information would be available.

Bibleography [sic.]

Maxwellís History Randolph County
History Stalnaker Family by Richardson and Richardson
Randolph County Court Records
Bible and Cemetery Records
Compiled by Knight Burns (Mrs. Boyd) Wees.

Comments regarding this page to: Deborah Johnson.