John Otis” Pa” Stephens was born in Redroot (Ruffin) South Carolina on August 15, 1872 to Syviller and John Stephens. John Otis was one of eleven siblings; two sisters, Lucy Ann and Idella and eight brothers, Jeremiah (the oldest who had nineteen (19) children), John Jr., Joseph (Joe), Charlie, Jacob (Jake), Henry, John Ellix, and Benjamin (Ben). After the release of the family from slavery under Col. Rufus Stephens, the family established a legacy of being educators and famers. At one point during slavery, great grandfather John was sold to the Dubois Plantation and had taken on the name of Dubois. When slavery ended, he went back to the Stephens name. Great-grandmother Syviller was also of Cherokee Indian ancestry, and had a family name of Oats. Syviller had two sisters, Minnie Bryant and Mamie Walker.
John Otis continued the legacy of farming after leaving Ruffin for Cairo, Georgia. John Otis was also known to have followed the thriving turpentine trade. John Otis was to return to Ruffin after marrying Elnora Bradshaw. They stayed for a brief period in South Carolina where Elmore, Alberta and Esteller were born. The remaining eleven children were born in Grady and Thomas Counties. Elnora passed in the late 1920’s.
John Otis reportedly was to marry again as his Death Certificate recorded a Pearl Stephens as his widow. Many more family mysteries to uncover….
The Bradshaw ~ Powell Connection
Our grandmother, Elnora was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth (Lizzie) Powell and Waddell Bradshaw. Our great-grandparents were Minerva “Nervie” Baker Powell and Arder Powell and our great-great-grandmother Sallie Baker, were in slavery during the early 1800’s in Thomas County, Georgia.