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From left; Dillard (Abe), Wm. (Bud), Nigel, Josephine,
Mary Ella, Richard Marion & Hershel
Photo circa 1905

Josephine nee Young (AKA Solomon) Steele
By Eugene Hampton

 Born at the offset of the civil war as a Southerner, she never had an opportunity to know her father, James Young. He was to die in one of the Civil War’s historic battles at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, only about thirty-nine miles from Richmond Township where he and his new wife were born and raised. James’ father, John Young, was born in Virginia in 1802. His mother’s given name was Mariah, and nothing more is known about her. His siblings were: Judieth Young, born in 1830; Elizabeth Young, born in 1834; Martin A. Young, born in 1836; James Young, born in 1839; Herrod Young, born in 1840; Elizas Young born in 1843 and John Young, born in 1847.

On August 5, 1861 Josephine’s mother, Susan Williams, married James Young in Bedford County, Tennessee, and the Bondsman was Sargeant(sic) Price. This was probably a military title. James was twenty-two years of age when Josephine was born and Susan was twenty-one. The present research indicates James enlisted in the 12th Regiment, Tennessee Infantry Company G in October of 1861 and was killed at the battle before Murfreesboro, Tennessee, December 31, 1862. Josephine was an issue of this marriage, and there is some confusion as to the year of her birth. The 1880 Federal census for Christian County, Lincoln Township, shows her age as 18 at the time the census was taken (June 16, 1880). The soundex for the same census states her age as 19. The 1910 Soundex for the Federal census shown Josephine as 49 years of age. All indications are that Josephine was probably born late in 1861. This leads to the conclusion her mother was pregnant with Josephine at the time of the marriage

On April 21, 1864 Josephine’s mother married James Solomon in Bedford County, Tennessee under the name of Susan Young. James, who was to raise Josephine as his own daughter, was also from Richmond Township, Tennessee. Susan was twenty-four years of age and James was a much younger nineteen. The bondsman was James' brother Wily Solomon. Susan’s father, John Williams, died in Bedford County, Tennessee in 1864, and about 1867 his wife, Abaline, moved the family to Christian County, Missouri to be near her parents, Henry and Barbara nee Lambeth Hart. Abaline’s brother-in-law, Joseph Mack Williams, had moved his family to Christian County in the mid 1850’s. Apparently Josephine’s mother and step-father James Soloman moved to Missouri some time between 1865 when daughter Caledonia was born in Tennessee and 1868 when daughter Barbara was born in Missouri. It is likely the move was made at the same time that Susan's Mother moved to Missouri. Josephine’s other siblings by James Solomon and mother Susan were: George S Solomon, born in June of 1870; William H. Solomon, born in 1873; Thomas F. Solomon, born in 1876, Marion (Marmaduke) Solomon, born in 1879 and Burton Solomon, born in 1886.

Josephine was descended from an illustrious line of people of importance and statue in the growth of the fledging United States. Her Great Grand Uncle, Robert Williams, was: a representative in Congress for North Carolina from 1797 to 1803; Commissioner of land titles for the Mississippi Territory in 1804 and Governor of the Mississippi Territory from 1805 to 1809. Her second great grandfather, Nathaniel Williams on 12 April, 1773 was a Representative from Perquimans Co. in the N. C. Assembly at Newbern ("Colonial & State Records of N. C." Vol. 9, p. 448, 587, 733). He served in Provincial Congress of N.C. in 1775 ("Saffell's Records"). Other ancestors were Judges and Lawyers in the early formative years of the United States in Alabama and North Carolina.

Josephine met and married William (Bud) Steele in The township of Polk in Christian County, Missouri in 1875 She married under the name Josephine Solomon. William was the grandson of Richard Steele, Sr., who arrived in Southwest Missouri from Williams County, Tennessee in 1838. The entire Steele family (thirteen adults ) with the exception of the oldest son, Richard Steele, Jr. made the long trek together. There is no record of how long the move took, or the difficulties experienced on the way, but it is known travel was difficult and sometimes dangerous in that time of Westward movement.

The 1880 census finds Josephine and her husband William (Bud) Steele living in Lincoln Township, Christian County, Missouri, a short distance away from her mother and her Uncle, Marmaduke Williams. Only the first two children had been born at the time of the census. They were: John Perry, born the 19th of December in 1877 and Mary Ella, born the 19th of April in 1878

Because the 1890 census was destroyed, it is unsure just when Josephine and husband Wm. Steele moved to Stone county, but it is known they were living in the Ponce de Leon Township when the 1900 census was taken. Given the fact daughter Mary Ella was married in Stone County in 1893 and son John Perry was married there in 1894, it is probable they were living in Stone County by 1893. By the time of the 1900 census, Josephine had gave birth to six children, four of whom were living at home. They were: Richard Marion Steele, born 14 September, 1882; Reye Steele, born in April of 1884: Hershel Steele, born in February of 1895; and Nigel Steele (Female), born 14 May, 1898. Josephine’s seventh child, Dillard ( Abe ) Steele was not to be born until 1902. In 1900 Josephine also had five grandchildren. John Perry Steele had married Callie Bell Norman and by 1900 they had two children of their own. Mary Ella Steele had married Edward B. Harris and they had three children of their own.

For a few years before she died in 1923, Josephine’s behavior became somewhat eccentric. She would often disappear for days, and even weeks without explanation. On those occasions she would dress herself in multiple layers of garments when she departed. Oral history, as related to the author by his Aunt, Juanita nee Steele Maples, is she died at the home of a friend during one of her absences from home. Her youngest child, Dillard, was only eleven years of age when she died. She is buried in the Ponce de Leon Cemetery where her husband, William, was buried some thirteen years later in 1936.

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© 1996, 1997 Jo Dunne