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Eliza W. Stedman

(b. 1838)

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At a Glance

Eliza W. Stedman was a member of a prominent North Carolina family. Her distinguished grandfather, Elisha Stedman, was an early settler of Fayetteville, NC.


Mrs. Engstrom’s entry for Eliza Stedman in The Book of Burwell Students states that she was listed in the 1848-1851 catalog, and was perhaps the sister of the distinguished clergyman, James Owen Stedman, born in Fayetteville and a UNC graduate. He was also listed as a “patron” of the school.

No evidence has been found that the Rev. Stedman had a sister named Eliza, nor that he had a daughter named Eliza. He did, however, have a niece, Eliza W. Stedman, the eldest child of his older brother John Madison Stedman and she is likely the Eliza W. Stedman who attended the Burwell School.

John and James Stedman were two of four sons of Elisha Stedman and his wife Mary Owen Stedman. Elisha had come to North Carolina from Connecticut in the late 1700’s and married the daughter, and sister, of distinguished officers in North Carolina. The couple were devout Presbyterians. Elisha Stedman became a prominent farmer and businessman in Fayetteville. He is said to have been one of three partners in one of the first, and certainly one of the most important, taverns and meeting places in the area.

Several family trees posted on genealogical web sites state that children of Elisha and Mary Owen Stedman of Fayetteville were twins who died after birth, a daughter, Mary, a son who died as a boy, and four surviving sons, Thomas William, John Madison, James Owen, and Denny Porterfield Stedman.

Mary Stedman died in 1829, Elisha in 1832. His will directed that his estate was to be divided equally among his four sons; John, James and an in-law were named as executors. Mary and Elisha were buried in the Cross Creek Cemetery in Cumberland County, NC in Fayetteville, NC. The inscription on the couple’s tombstone reads:

“And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”

Both John and James graduated from UNC and James and James later graduated from the Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey. In the same class as John Stedman at UNC was another relative, Elisha Stedman of Chatham County, certainly named for his uncle, the prosperous patriarch in Fayetteville.

Further information on James’s brother Thomas William Stedman has not been located. However, the youngest brother, Denny Porterfield Stedman, is found in the United States Census of 1860 Census for Morrisville, Wake County, NC where he was listed as D.P. Stedman, was married with three children.

John Madison Stedman graduated from UNC in 1830. He married Olivia Potter of Fayetteville in 1833 and they had at least six children. The oldest, born about 1838, was Eliza W. Stedman. Eliza is listed, 12 years old, with her parents and siblings in the United States Census of 1850. It was a bit difficult to find this entry because the census taker spelled the name for the family as Steadman. Eliza’s siblings were Mary O. (likely named for Mary Owen, John’s mother), Margaretta H. (undoubtedly for John’s sister-in-law, Margaretta Harbert, who married his brother James Owen Stedman), Olivia, and Susan W. Eliza may well have been named for her esteemed and generous grandfather, Elisha. The family resided in Fayetteville City, Cumberland County and John stated his profession as “Steamboat Cpt.” According to two sources, he drowned in 1858, reportedly at Whitehall Landing, NC.

In the United States Census of 1880, John’s widow Olivia is shown living with her grown daughter Olivia Hall and her unmarried daughter Susan, in the home of Olivia (music teacher) and William Hall (dry goods clerk) and their two children, in Fayetteville.

It is quite likely that Eliza W. Stedman, daughter of John Madison and Olivia P. Stedman, is the Eliza who attended the Burwell School, perhaps with the sponsorship of her uncle, James Owen Stedman. The dates and ages match up well, and it is clear that the families were fond of each other, shown by the naming of a daughter in the John Stedman family after the wife of his brother James.

There is some ambiguity about Eliza W. Stedman, daughter of John. However, records show that an Eliza P. Stedman, of Cumberland County, married James Woodell of Alabama in 1860 and moved with him to Alabama. This may be the same Eliza Stedman who attended the Burwell School. If she was the same Eliza, she would have been 22 at her marriage. The couple is shown in the United States Census of 1870 of Lauderdale, AL with one child, Mary, 7. Mr. Woodall’s occupation is “General Collector” and Eliza is listed as “keeping house.”

Also in the Woodell household in Alabama 1870 are two Stedman relatives from North Carolina: Susan Stedman, 18, and Ella Stedman, 14. Ella Stedman was the same age as two other Ellen Stedmans: James Owen’s daughter; and the niece who was living with his family in 1880. The Susan Stedman visiting in Alabama in 1870 is very near the age that James and Olivia Stedman’s daugher Susan would have been in 1870. Perhaps this visitor of Eliza’s, Ella, was the young lady called “Ellen” living with the James Owen Stedman family in Memphis ten years later.

This information tends to suggest that Eliza Stedman Woodell was the daughter of John Stedman, but the ages are off by several years. If the age given in 1850 for Eliza, 12, was correct, she should have been 31 or 32 years old in the 1870 Census, but Eliza Stedman Woodell in Alabama stated her age as 29 in that census.

Biographical Data

Important Dates

Eliza W. Stedman was born in 1838, in Cumberland County, NC.

Places of Residence

Schools Attended