I wouldn’t have known about William B Stevenson at all if I hadn’t been researching a collateral family connection, his younger sister Isabel Katherine Stevenson who had married Benjamin Alysworth Ferris in Ontario Canada in 1878. This connection lead to a family connected to my Yates family some 137 years later. Since these are still living descendants, I’ve chosen to not disclose any further individuals in this line.
Instead, I’ve created a genealogy report for William that includes all of his immediate family information as well as sources. Individual Genealogy Report William Burden Stevenson (PDF)
It seems just too little to share just the report though. How do you sum up and man’s life with just a report. It’s doesn’t really speak to his rough and tumble upbringing in Ireland where as a young boy he would sneak out of the house to attend wakes and get inebriated on free ale. Or, his household that included not only his family members but also a goat in the house. The goat spent a lot of time in the kitchen in the house in Ireland, but it knew enough to make itself scarce when the lady of the house (William’s mother Ellen) would enter the kitchen. Did she flap her apron at him and tell him to ‘shoo’?
As William went off to join the British Navy, his father John (Jock) was ending his Irish Coast Guard career. This was during the reign of Queen Victoria and as I have mentioned before, John was awarded land in Canada which initiated the next migration of the family to Ontario.
As you remember, William deserted the British Navy and made his way to join the US Army. He served both in the Army and then in the Navy where they could put his true skills to work onboard ships. William was honorably discharged from the Union Navy and the decades that followed found him still in maritime service on merchant ships that sailed around the world. He would come home now and then and tell tales of his adventures, some of which were quite extraordinary (which his mother didn’t believe) and fabricated stories which his mother took as gospel. (this anecdotal information is from the book “Oh Lord, What Next” by Geraldine Jacobi Russell, mother of actress Jane Russell, who was also a descendant of the Stevenson family).
William’s first wife was Elizabeth Schumacher who was born 31 July 1841 in Pennsylvania. They married in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1881, and resided in Ardoch, Walsh, ND until her death in 1891. I haven’t yet found her cause of death or any children they might have had together. The year following Elizabeth’s death William married again in Grand Forks, ND, this time to Elenor Glen Seeley.
Elenor and William lived in the Ardoch, ND area from 1892 to 1900. During the years leading up to 1900 Elenor and William had three children: William, Kenneth B, and Loila. The middle child, Kenneth B (Burden?) was not living with the family when we find them in the 1900 census of Seattle, WA where William is employed as a Ship Master. Ten years later William and their two children are living in another location (Port Orchard, WA) and William is employed now as a rigger (one who works with rigging for ships) at Puget Sound Navy Yard in Bremerton.
It appears that William and his family lived in Port Orchard through the years 1910 to the year of his death in 1926. Elenor would predecease him in 1924. The oldest son, William S. Stevenson was by then married to Idabelle and they were also living in Port Orchard with their daughter Willa who was born in 1933.
For a short time William Seeley Stevenson was the owner of Stevenson’s furniture store on Bay Street in Port Orchard, WA. The store building is still in existence but as of 2016 it is a community events center.
We come to the end of William Burden Stevenson’s life in 1926 when he entered the Veteran’s Home at Retsil, Washington when his health was failing and his family could no longer care for him at home. He had dementia and essentially had lost all of his motor skills and was completely dependent on the staff at Retsil. He passed away on 26 June 1926 and soon after the home ordered his headstone from the Veteran’s Administration. That stone has since been replaced by the one below and William and Elenor share the stone that is at Sunset Lane, Knights of Pythias Cemetery in Port Orchard, WA.
Fair winds and following seas William!
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