Henry C. Jeffers, Jr. alias Henry Duvall and Harriet V. Stephenson
Written by her Grand Grand Grand Niece
BETTY TERRELL OWENS
There is a lone grave in Rock Hill Cemetery between Brownsboro
and Chandler in Henderson
County, Texas. Harriet V. STEPHENSON, “Aunt Jennie” lies buried near her niece, Julia NOWLIN
and grandniece Mary Belle Nowlin TERRELL. Her gravestone says she was born 1851, but
this is wrong, she was born 20 Dec. 1848 (source: her Mother’s Bible) and she died February 1931.
(death certificate). She left no descendants.
Aunt Jennie had pulled her horse and wagon to a stop in
front of Gene and Mary Nowlin Terrell’s
house in Henderson County, Texas in the late 1920’s and announced that she was moving in
with them. And she did. And they didn’t know she was arriving. (source: Thomas Terrell) It is
unknown what all she had in her wagon, but it held items still treasured by the family today,
plus a wealth of family stories that she brought with her.
Her journey had taken her from Wellsburg, Brooke County,
West Virginia where she was born,
to Ohio where she lived with her husband, then locations unknown, then to Bosque County,
Texas where she visited with her brother and his family, and then on to Henderson County,
Texas. Her brother’s daughter, Julia and her husband, John Joseph Nowlin lived in Henderson
County, as did their daughter, Mary (all ancestors of the author).
Records found say Harriet married James Stephenson in
Brook Co. WVA on April 3, 1889.
She would have been about 41 years old if this is correct. She moved to Texas after all her
siblings and parents, except for her Texas brother, were deceased, and she was a widow.
A prolific writer, she wrote numerous postcards to her
young grandniece, Mary, and probably
many more to others over the years. (source: Frances Terrell COTTEN) When she died, she left
a will naming Mary as her grandniece and left her possessions to her and her husband, Gene Terrell.
Among them was a ladies’ gold pocket watch made in the 1890’s, her parents’ family Bible printed
in 1846, and an unusual bowl. (source: these items were inherited by the author).
She had made her living after her husband’s death working as a helper to a family. A nice picture
exists of this family, but their name is unknown.
Douglas Terrell said while Aunt Jennie was living with
his parents, Gene and Mary Terrell, an
airplane that she admired was flown to the airport in Tyler, and one could purchase rides on
the plane. Aunt Jennie insisted on being carried to the airfield, and managed to fly in the airplane
for a short ride. Because she was so elderly, she got her picture in the Tyler newspaper, riding
in the airplane. Aunt Jennie thought this was fun, so insisted the following week to repeat the
adventure, and, after that, had to be dissuaded from more visits to the airfield. She must have
been a determined and bold lady to still have this much spirit at her age of about 80 years.
When Aunt Jennie got to Texas, she brought an astonishing
fact with her! Her brother had
assumed the name of DUVALL, and evidently had expected to carry this secret to his grave
with him and his immediate family. She told the East Texas family the truth.
Harriet V. Stephenson was born to HENRY C. JEFFERS, Sr.
and JULIA DUVALL JEFFERS
in Wellsburg, Brooke County, WVA. She had a brother named Henry C. Jeffers, Jr. and he had
changed his name to Henry “Harry” Duvall. Her brother had served in the WVA 1st and 2nd
Infantry with the Union Army. After the war, he married NANCY MCADAMS on 31 August
1869 and they made their home in St. Louis, Missouri. He made his living working on steamboats
on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Julia Duvall was the daughter of GABRIEL DUVALL and NANCY MARSHALL DUVALL.
(source: Mareen Duvall of Middle Plantation by Harry Wright Newman, page 506).
Robert Nowlin, her grand nephew, related this story to the author, as Aunt Jennie had told him:
One day in the 1870’s, Henry C. Jeffers, Jr. was walking
on a board walk built above the mud in
St. Louis, and a loose board was sticking up. It caused a collision between Jeffers and a black man,
resulting in Jeffers being knocked off in the mud. A fight began, and the other man was killed.
Henry C. Jeffers, Jr. hid in the attic when the law came
for him, and fearing the consequences,
moved with his wife and children to Bosque County, Texas. His occupation is listed as “herding
sheep” on the 1880 census of that county. Until the end of her days, the story was told, that when
the author’s great great grandmother, Nancy, would get angry with him, she would threaten to
“call the law” and turn him in.
Henry dropped the Jeffers, Jr. and took his mother’s maiden
name of Duvall as his last name.
He is buried in Smith Bend Coon Creek Cemetery in Bosque County, Texas under the name, H.
Duvall. His Texas descendants became Duvalls, where they flourish today.
Aunt Jennie told the family who her brother really was,
and about the family in Brooke
County. Her grandfather, Gabriel Duvall worked with his brother, Isaac Duvall who had founded
the first glass factory west of the Allegheny Mountains in 1813 in Wellsburg, Brooke Co. WVA.
Gabriel Duvall was named after his uncle, Gabriel Duvall, a Justice on the United States Supreme
Court under Chief Justice John Marshall.
The bowl she brought to Texas was made there before the
factory closed about 1830.
Douglas Terrell said the bowl was one of a set of eight, that when chimed, rang the notes of
a musical scale. Duvall descendants own the other seven bowls of the set. The Bible she left
has Jeffers family records from 1819.
These facts were essential to the author who needed proof
of Henry’s name change to
establish her lineage. The Bible, along with Aunt Jennie’s will in Henderson County, Texas
supplied the needed proofs.
Aunt Jennie must have been a strong individual. As she
was born in 1848, the Civil War
came at a critical time in her development. The author has often wondered if she lost a sweetheart
in the War. She saw the death of many of her family members before she married at the age of
41 years. She managed to move to Texas late in her life, and find a new home. The author
admires and is thankful to Aunt Jennie, who died a decade before the author was born.
Because of her, the family’s rich heritage in Colonial America is known, and proof exists to
link with the immigrant families of DUVALL, CHENEY, IJAMS, TYLER, GRIFFITHS,
SCOTT, and AGNEW to name just a few.
Because of Aunt Jennie’s legacies,
Betty Terrell Owens lineage through Mary Belle Nowlin Terrell’s mother has been proved
for membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution for BENJAMIN DUVALL
3RD Patriot from Maryland.
Betty Terrell Owens has proved her lineage to MAREEN DUVALL,
Colony of Maryland for
membership in the Colonial Dames of the Seventeenth Century.
For Mary Belle Nowlin Terrell’s father, John Joseph Nowlin,
Betty Terrell Owens has proved his
lineage for Daughters of the American Revolution for:
BRYAN WARD NOWLIN, Patriot, Virginia
EDWARD WADE, SR. Patriot, Virginia