The following biographical sketch of Rev. Benjamin Franklin Stevens
appears at page 996 in the History of Marion County, Missouri
written in 1884:
gentleman is a son of Benjamin and Sarah (Holson) Stevens, both natives of
Sussex County, England, where his father was a merchant and farmer.
Young Benjamin was born in the same county as his parents, October 22,
1801. In 1803 his parents moved to
Chatham, England, where he received a good education, and learned gardening and
horticulture. In 1823 he married
Miss Sarah, daughter of William and Sarah Foster, Chatham, England.
After his marriage he engaged in merchandising in Chatham, which he
continued till 1831. When 24 years
old he joined the Independent Church in England, doing missionary work as
preacher on the Sabbath. He became
a believer in baptism by immersion, and after he came to the United States, in
1831, joined the Baptist Church. In
1832 he moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., where he resided three years, and taught
school. He then settled on a farm near Hannibal, where he farmed and
preached, having been ordained in 1837. He
was pastor of the Baptist Church in Hannibal, and for two years had charge of
Crooked Creek Church, in Monroe County.
He was pastor of Ebenezer Church, in Shelby County, and Bethel Church, in
Ralls County, seven years. He was
one of the pioneer preachers who farmed during week-days and preached on Sunday.
In 1839-40 he preached to one church, riding thirty-two miles to fill the
appointment, and all the pay he received was jeans enough for a suit of clothes;
one person gave the wool, another spun it, another wove it, others made up the
cloth, etc. In 1849 he went to California, across the plains.
He returned in 1851, but was so poor that he gave up preaching and turned
his attention to farming. He also
engaged in the manufacture of lime, and afterward engaged in the real estate
business, and has accumulated a competency for his declining years.
He is a man of remarkable energy, for his age, and is much venerated and
respected. Mr. and Mrs. Stevens
have had fourteen children; six are living; Henry H., dentist, in San Francisco,
Cal.; Mrs. Annie E. Pickens (widow), in St. Louis; Benjamin Q., dentist, in
Hannibal; Edward, dentist, in Cameron, Mo.; Laura, wife of Oscar Pennell, of
Hannibal; Louisa, wife of John W. Edward, of Nebraska.
In 1849, lured by the prospect of gold and wealth, he went to California.
Mr. Roberts, who was leading a wagon party offered to pay his expenses,
and those of his son Henry, for services rendered as a pastor.
When Rev. Stevens returned to Hannibal in 1851, his son Henry remained in
San Francisco and became a dentist. His
wife, Sarah, remained on the farm with the other children during his California
He kept a journal or diary of his trip to California by covered wagon
during the gold rush. It was transcribed by J. Hurley
Hagood. Mr. Hagood also added the
footnotes and appendix. Rev. Benjamin Franklin Stevens had a granddaughter named Luna Stevens,
who came into possession of the handwritten diary.
Harriett Holme Hickman, the daughter of Luna Stevens, inherited the diary from
her mother. Harriett Holme Hickman gave the diary to one of her
grandchildren a few years before she died.
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