Major John Stevens

Capt. John Stevens, one of the honored soldiers of the late war, who laid down his life on the altar of his country, was born in Shirley Twp., Huntingdon Co. PA., February 22, 1831. His father, William Stevens, was also a native of the Keystone state. William beame a prominent citizen of Huntingdon County and was officially connected with its history for soem time. His wife bore the maiden name of Ruhama Ayres. She was born in NY, but was reared in PA, where they began their domestic life. About 1840, when our subject was a young lad, they emigrated to Dixon and after soem years removed to Mt. Morris IL for the purpose of educating their children in the Northern IL Methodist College. When all had pursued courses in that institution they returned to DIxon, where WIlliam Stevens died in the month of June, 1890 at the age of 78 years. He had taken quite a prominent part in political affairs and was frequently called upon tos erve in public positions of honor and trust. In early years he supported the Democratic party but became a Republican on the organization of that party. He was a man of few words. It was his actions that counted and his life was an upright and honorable one. He had served as US Marshal of this district for two terms, and was Justice of the Peace for many years and was a life-long member of the Methodist CHurch. Devoted to its interests, he labored untiringly in the Master's vineyard. He was also a Master Mason. His wife had passed away long years before, having died July 28, 1859, at the age of 56 years in the faith of the Methodist Church of which she was also a consistent member.

Capt. Stevens, as before stated, was only about ten years of age when he came to Dixon. His education was acquired in Mt. Morris Seminary, from which he was graduated at the age of 18. He then entered the law office of Judge Heaton, now deceased, and after three years of thorough study was admitted to the bar and began practice. A bright future seemed opening before him and he possessed the ability and determination to become a successful lawyer.

In DeKalb County, IL, in Ross Grove, Mr. Stevens was united in the bonds of matrimony with Miss Mary S. LaPort, who was born in Watertown NY in 1834, and is a daughter of Norris and Minerva (Gardner) LaPort, the former a native of Kingston, Canada, and the latter of the Empire State, Mr. LaPort was of French descent, his parents emigrating from Paris to America. He was reared in New York and some years after his marriage brought his family to IL, locating in Kane County in 1840. Subsequently they removed to DeKalb County, where he devoted his energies to agricultural pursuits. His death there occurred in 1884 at the age of four-score years. His widow is now living with a daughter in DeKalb County, in her 85th year. She is a member of the Presbyterian Church and a lady beloved by all who know her.

In the autumn of 1861, Mr. Stevens organized Company H of the 46th IL Inf. commanded by Col. Jones. He became its Captain and the company was mustere din the service in Feb. 1862. With the regiment it at once marched to the front and was assigned to the Army of the Cumberland. With his command, Capt. Stevens participated in the engagement at Ft. Donelson, where a few of his men were killed and several wounded. Soon after they marched to Shiloh. In the early morning of the day on which that engagement occurred, he and his men were lying near the scene of the severest part of the conflict, when the rebels surprised them. The Captain, hearing the alarm, rushed from his tent, ordered his men to form, and with wonderful bravery and presence of mind placed himself at the head of his troops. With unsheathed sword, waving his hat in the air, he called his men to rally around him and pressed forward to victory, but a few minutes later the rebels, who had the advantage, were upon them. A large piece of shell tore the Captain's leg below the knee and shattered the femur bone. At the same time; a miniball passed through his sword sheath, cutting it nearly in two. This was on Sunday morning, April 3, 1862. One of his comrades made an attempt to carry him fromt he field on a horse, but the beast was shot and both the Captain and his friend fell. One of his privates, a Mr. Tracy, then picked him up and amid flying shot and shell ran with him to a place of safety under a tree, where he lay in his agony, watching the two contending forces as they swayed back and forth in the tide of battle. The Captain was there left without care u ntil Tuesday, when the Union forces succeeded in gaining the field and he was carried to a hospital where every attention was bestowed upon him, but the loss of blood and exposure had been too much for him. On the following Sunday, he was put on a boat to be sent home, but as the vessel was leaving its moorings he passed away. It was his hope to once more reach his home and family but when told by the surgeon that he could not live he said "Tell my wife and little children that I made my peace with God and to meet me in Heaven." He then sank back, dead. His remains were sent to Dixon, where he was buried with all the honors of a soldier.

Capt. Stevens had been High Priest of the Royal Arch Templars of Dixon, resigning that office when he enlisted. In politics he was a stanch Republican and had made speeches throughout the country for Lincoln, whom he met soon after the election in Springfield. When asked by the PResident-elect what office he would like, the Captain replied that he would accept no office. Mr. Lincoln then lay back in his chair and with a hearty laugh requested Mr. Steven's Photograph. The Captain was an active member of the Episcopal Church. His death proved a loss to the community where he resided and in the household made a vacancy which can never be filled. The widow, who still remains true to his memory, resides in Dixon. She is a noble Christian lady who belongs to the Episcopal Church as do also her two sons; Frank E. and Leon L. The elder, who married Miss Sadie Lattin, of Sycamore IL, is now a real-estate dealer of Chicago. The younger, who married Nellie Tibbets, of Preston, Minn., also resides in Chicago, where he is engaged in busienss as a collector.

Lee Co. Portraits and Biographical 1892 Pg 431

Major John Stevens was killed in the battle of Shiloh on Sunday morning, April 6, 1862 was Major John Stevens, father of Frank E. Stevens, the late prominent Dixon journalist and well-known historian of Lee County and the Black Hawk War. Maj. Stevens came to Dixon in 1846 from Huntingdon county, Pa., as one of Dixon's early residents. He was an attorney by profession and served as county superintendent of schools in 1853-54. At the outbreak of the Civil War he raised Company H, of the 46th IL Volunteer INfantry and was made judge advocate and promoted to major, which rank he held at his death.

Dixon Evening Telegraph May 1, 1951

Son of John Stevens

Frank Everett Stevens, who has spent nearly his entire life in Dixon, was for a number of years actively engaged in the practice of law, and has gained success and recognition in journalistic circles as editor of the Weekly Citizen, which he established in 1910. His birth occurred in Dixon, Illinois, on the 5th of January, 1856, his parents being John and Marie Sophie (La Porte) Stevens. It was in 1846 that the father came from Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania, to Dixon, taking up his abode among the early residents of this place. He was an attorney by profession and served as county superintendent of schools during the years 1853 and 1854. At the time of the civil war he raised Company H of the Forty-sixth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, was made judge advocate of the army and also held the rank of major. On Sunday morning, April 6, 1862, he was killed at the battle of Shiloh.

Frank E. Stevens obtained his education in the high school of Dixon and after preparing for the practice of law was admitted to the bar in 1877. For a number of years he ably discharged the duties devolving upon him in the capacity of deputy circuit clerk. It was in 1910 that he became identified with journalistic interests as editor of the Weekly Citizen, which he has since published, and which enjoys an excellent subscription and advertising patronage, being an up-to-date news sheet in every respect. He is a member of the State and Chicago Historical Societies and also belongs to the Caxton Club of Chicago. In the community where his life has been spent he is well known as a representative, esteemed and influential citizen.

Transcribed by Karen Holt - 1914 History of Lee County Illinois Vol 2 by Frank E. Stevens.

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