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Stedman, Andrew Jackson

by David Winifred Gaddy, 1994

20 Apr. 1828–7 May 1884

Andrew Jackson Stedman, journalist, lawyer, minister, and Confederate officer, was born in Gatesville, the fifth son of William Winship (1798–1836) and Rebecca Walton Stedman (1794–1873) of Chatham and Gates counties. His father, a large planter, merchant, and state legislator, was of an old Connecticut family that had settled in North Carolina in the 1780s.

Jack Stedman, as he was familiarly known, probably attended local schools or academies before qualifying to practice law, although no record of his education seems to exist. His name does not appear in the alumni lists of The University of North Carolina, yet secondary sources credit him with "degrees" from the university. He served as a presidential elector in 1848 in the Taylor-Fillmore balloting. In January 1858 he published in Salem, N.C., the initial issue of Stedman's Salem Magazine, a literary magazine intended for circulation throughout the South. Because of problems with the printer—poor correction of proof, failure to meet a deadline, and the use of unsuitable paper—Stedman moved his enterprise to Raleigh where Vol. I, No. 1, of Stedman's Magazine appeared in May 1858. Contributions to both numbers were from writers in various southern states. This, too, was the only issue offered. Stedman cited as reasons for the magazine's failure the unsettled times and the lack of paying subscribers. Nevertheless, both issues contained a variety of material by well-known contemporary writers. Several chapters of a novel that he included appeared later when the author's work was published under a New York imprint. An interest in journalism seems to have been characteristic of the family. Relatives were founders of the Southern Literary Messenger and the Wilmington Star.

On 5 Feb. 1855 Stedman married Susan Catherine (Kathleen) Staples (1836–97), the daughter of Colonel John C. Staples of Stonewall, Patrick County, Va. They became the parents of Mary Walton, who died in infancy; William Winship (1858–1900), an editor and publisher; Malvern Vance (1863–1951); and Sallie Rebecca Roberta (b. 1871), who married Henry Lee Mylton.

Stedman enlisted on 18 Mar. 1862 in the Chatham Cossacks of Pittsboro, a unit that became Company B, Forty-ninth Regiment, North Carolina Troops. Soon elected third sergeant, he was severely wounded at Malvern Hill on 1 July 1862, and, although named to the Roll of Honor for his bravery under fire, he was unable to return to the field. Through the intervention of Governor Zebulon Vance, Stedman on 13 Oct. 1862 was appointed first lieutenant in the newly formed Confederate States Army Signal Corps. Ordered in November to report to General Howell Cobb in southwestern Georgia, Stedman served as chief signal officer to Cobb, Joseph Finegan, William Montgomery Gardner, and James Patton Anderson, successive commanders of the military districts of East and Middle Florida. With his headquarters at Quincy, near Tallahassee, Stedman was responsible for lines of signal posts and observation points, which transmitted messages by flag, torch, and telegraph. He was paroled in May 1865, a month after Appomattox, as part of the general surrender of troops.

After the war Stedman practiced law and with his family lived for a time in Pittsboro, then settled in Danbury. There, beginning on 3 June 1870, he published a weekly newspaper, The Old Constitution, and served as solicitor of the Fifth North Carolina District. He was the author of a forty-page pamphlet, Murder & Mystery: History of the Life and Death of John W. Stephens, State Senator of North Carolina, From Caswell County. Printed in Greensboro in 1870, this is considered to be an unbiased, well-written account of a murder that remained unsolved until 1935, after the death of the last member of the Ku Klux Klan responsible for it. In 1873, after moving to Taylorsville (now Stuart), Va., Stedman edited and published The Voice of the People, the first newspaper in Patrick County, his wife's home.

In Taylorsville he became an ordained Baptist minister about 1874 and preached regularly in the local church. He also participated in local civic organizations and was a Master Mason. In Virginia he continued to practice law, serving as commonwealth attorney, and engaged in agriculture and horticulture. His wife's ancestor, Colonel William Martin, had planted the famous "Old Hardy Apple Tree" in Patrick County in 1790, and her family was interested in growing root stock from this tree. Stedman and a son, Malvern Vance, planted over 150,000 apple trees in the county and established the area's apple industry.

An industrious man of many talents, "Colonel" Stedman, as most knew him in later life, was considered to have deep convictions in politics, religion, and agriculture, and he was a polished speaker. The town of Stedman in Patrick County was named for him. He died in Taylorsville (Stuart) and was buried there.

References:

David W. Gaddy, "Confederate States Army Signal Corps Insigne," Military Collector and Historian (Summer 1973).

Weymouth T. Jordan, Jr., comp., North Carolina Troops, 1861–1865: A Roster, vol. 12 (1990).

Salem, People's Press, 15 May 1884.

Melvin Lee Steadman, Jr., "Our Family-Stedman, Steadman, Steedman" (manuscript, possession of M. L. Steadman, Virginia Beach, Va.).

Stedman's Magazine 1 (May 1858).

Stedman's Salem Magazine 1 (January 1858) (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina).

Virginia Biography, vol. 6 (1924).

Additional Resources:

Makers of America. Biographies of leading men of thought and action: the men who constitute the bone and sinew of american prosperity and life, Vol. I. 1915. Washington: B.F. Johnson. https://archive.org/details/makersofamericab01wash (accessed July 31, 2014).

Makers of America. Biographies of leading men of thought and action: the men who constitute the bone and sinew of american prosperity and life, Vol. II. 1916. Washington: B.F. Johnson. https://archive.org/details/makersofamericab02wash (accessed July 31, 2014).

Makers of America. Biographies of leading men of thought and action: the men who constitute the bone and sinew of american prosperity and life, Vol. III. 1917. Washington: B.F. Johnson. https://archive.org/details/makersofamericab3_00wash2 (accessed July 31, 2014).

Stedman, A. J. 1870. Murder & Myster: History of the life and death of John W. Stephens, state senator of North Carolina, from Caswell County. Greensboro, N.C.: "Patriot". http://www.worldcat.org/title/murder-mystery-history-of-the-life-and-death-of-john-w-stephens-state-senator-of-north-carolina-from-caswell-county/oclc/26428801 (accessed July 31, 2014).

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This article is from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 volumes, edited by William S. Powell. Copyright ©1979-1996 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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