Hi(Storys) from West Virginia

Until the War of Secession, West Virginia belonged to Virginia, and after the outbreak of the American Civil War and Virginia's separation from the Union, the western counties separated from their mother state on April 27, 1861. It is also known as a mining region and for its labor disputes and relative poverty. West Virginia lies in the east of the USA between Virginia in the southeast and south, Kentucky in the southwest, Ohio in the northwest as well as Pennsylvania and Maryland in the northeast. The northernmost part of the state forms a narrow strip between Ohio and Pennsylvania and is therefore known as the Panhandle. The border to Ohio is formed by the headwaters of the Ohio River, the border to Maryland by the North Branch of the Potomac River.
The state is entirely in the Appalachian Mountains, which is why it is nicknamed the "mountain state. From northwest to southeast it is divided into the Allegheny Plateau (part of the Appalachian Plateau), the Allegheny Mountains and the Valley and Ridge Zone. The highest elevation is Spruce Knob with 1482 m, West Virginia is on average 455 m above sea level, which is the highest value for a state east of the Mississippi.

Johann Franz Steup, born on 27 Oct 1716 in Bach, emigrated to the USA in 1749. 36 years later his nephew Johann Christian Steup sr., who remained in court, will follow the same path together with his wife Anna nee Rübsamen and their 6 children.

Johann Christian is the progenitor of many descendants in the USA. After some time the family Americanized their name into Stipes.


Ancestors in West Virginia


The armory was originally built in 1799 on 125 acres, in Jefferson county, Virginia, and was purchased by the United States in 1796, the ferry itself was initially established in 1761 across the Potomac River. When the United States purchased Harper’s land after his death in 1782, and put up the armory it was soon found that there would be a need for housing for the workers and their family’s and the need for other conveniences. However there would be four acres the United States could not build on as the acres were put aside in Robert Harper will.

The following information published 1841 in the local newspaper "Virginia Free Press" which was printed in Charleston. These newspaper is also available on microfilm at the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Archives.

The Total Abstinence Society of Harpers Ferry held a meeting. A report submitted at the meeting claimed that the amount of liquor purchased and consumed in Harpers Fery over a recent one year period included:

Reuben Stipes was born 1844 in Harpers Ferry as the son of Ann and Reuben Stipes (sen). During the Civil War he was a member of the Loudoun Virginia Rangers, the only organized body of troops from the state of Virginia to fight in the Union Army.

AGE:  --
WHEN, WHERE:  -----
MEMORANDA:  Captured in a skirmish 30 Sep 1863, near Neersville, Va.

The Loudoun Rangers2) were an independent Civil War cavalry unit drawn from the largely Quaker and German farming communities of northern Loudoun County. Of all the special units that were formed to combat Confederate partisan rangers in Virginia during the Civil War — the Blazer Scouts, the Jesse Scouts, Cole's Maryland Cavalry and others — probably the most promising was the Loudoun Rangers.

Walnut Grove, Virginia, 14. July 1855

Dear Cousin,

I take the opportunity to write to you. Maybe you think it was carelessness that I didn't write earlier, but I assure you it wasn't. I thought that there was so much to write that I postponed it until today. The memories of you are just fresh in my memory because you were with us at exactly this time last year. I am just finished with the harvest. No doubt your ears would have been glowing last week because the girls often had your name in their mouths and wish you were here.

When Johann Franz Steup emigrated from the Westerwald to the United States, he and his wife Sofia Barbara (née Horn) founded a new branch in the Steup's family tree. The name Steup was Americanized and was now called Stipes.

In the American Civil War, Cornelia Stipes (nee Mitchell), Thomas Stipes' wife, ran a boarding house (Mrs. Stipes´ Boarding House) in the small town of Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County, West Virginia. The great-grandfather of Thomas was Johann Franz from the Westerwald.

The pension is still preserved today and part of the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers about 65 miles northwest of Washington, DC.

Their health and welfare suffered while the soldiers were encamped around Harpers Ferry, and many Citizens also suffered the hardships of war. Artist James Taylor, sent by Frank Leslie to cover the Shenandoah campaign, observed the dire Situation of one of Harpers Ferry's towns-people. Staying at Mrs. Stipes' boardinghouse in Lower Town, he explained, "Mrs. Stipes´ catered to sojourners at the Ferry to the extent of table board and lodging, not frum choice but necessity caused by her husband's business reverses owing to the War, and his inability to catch on again, when it fell to the lot of Madam to entertain transients to keep the wolf from the door' (Taylor 1989).  Most of the Harpers Ferry's archaeological materials from the Civil War era date from the town's revitalization era (1864/65), when Sheridan staged his Shenandoah campaign. One example comes from Mrs. Stipes' yard, behind the boardinghouse she operated starting in October 1862.