Randel Stivers - Brick Wall

+5 votes
Okay, so I'm stuck on Randel Stivers. Most of my other "brick walls" don't feel like they're solid, but this one... Whew...

The sources I have located prove Randel's existence, as he had records from the New Jersey militia, was rewarded financial reimbursement for losses resulting from the British burning his looms. (Far as I can tell, he created uniforms for the Minute Men, but wasn't actually a fighting soldier).

The sources prove his son, Daniel, and other sons existed, and they too, were in the militia. Daniel Stivers has many more sources than Randel does.

Here's where it gets tricky. Some of Daniel and his brother's records indicate their mother was a Jeannet Skinner, some that she was Jean Campbell. Some family history bios state that Randel's mother, not his wife, was Jean Campbell, along with a supposed father of Johan Stivers from Holland, but there's no source proof. Even his supposed baptism date cannot be backed up by actual sources from the church.

On Randel's page, I've linked to a few things that give me cause to pause in accepting Johan Stivers and Jean Campbell as his actual parents, since there's no actual source for it, besides family biographies, of which there are a few, and the information contained in them varies on the wife and mother issue.

I've located threads on Geneology.com and Ancestry.com message boards where people have been discussing this issue since 2000. There's even a theory that a genealogist fabricated his parentage in the 1930s. Does anyone know of anywhere I might find actual sources to suss out Randel Stivers parentage? Any help at all would be greatly appreciated.

I've made notes on his page as to being unsure of his parents, since I did add them before I realized what was going on (mistake, sorry). Didn't want anyone else to come across his page and assume those parents or even his wife was correct.
WikiTree profile: Randall Stivers
in Genealogy Help by Melissa Goodnight G2G6 Mach 1 (11.5k points)
In the meantime, I'm marking his parents unsourced.

1 Answer

+4 votes
Hi Melissa,

I have been researching the Stivers family for decades, and the identity of Randal and Janet's origins have been a brick wall as long as I can remember.  As you mention, there are no first hand documentation for any of this information.  There are some second hand sources - you may have seen these mentioned.

(1) Memoirs of Benjamin Depue Hursh, written in 1887.  He mentioned that his grandmother Osee's father was "John" Stivers, whose family was "Low Dutch" from east New Jersey.  and "John's" wife was a "Miss Campbell", whose family lived in Middlesex County, NJ.  (Link to this is not working.) I believe Benjamin did not remember the correct name.

(2) History of the Jennings Family in America, published in 1893:


This states that "Randel" Stivers came from Holland before the French and Indian War, and married Jean Campbell, "a Scotswoman".

(3) Ancestry.com has several SAR applications for descendants of Daniel Stivers showing Daniel's parents as Randal Stivers and Janet Campbell.  These are late 19th and early 20th century applications.

I do not know when Skinner became to be used as Janet's maiden name instead of Campbell, but I believe it was in the early 20th century.

The wife of one of Daniel's descendants hired a genealogist around 1905 and I believe this contributed to the errors we are left with today.

I am inclined to believe that Randal's wife Janet was a Campbell, and the names of their parents are unknown.  

Sincerely, Tom
by Tom Raskin G2G Crew (320 points)
See, and that's why it's so confusing. And several of their sons have Social Security Applications and Claims that list their mother as Jeannet Skinner. I wonder if she remarried at some point and her family members started using her married name instead of her maiden name? I honestly have no idea, it's mind-boggling. I'm more inclined to believe that Randal's wife was Skinner, not Campbell, but that's because there are records for a Jeannet Skinner in that time period in that geographical location, but not records tying her to Randel. There aren't any individual records for a Jane Campbell in that time period in that geographical location, aside from what's written on the boys' SAR descendant applications and other records related to them.

Like, if I didn't have marriage and child names to tie them to, I can still verify that Jeannet Skinner existed. But I can't verify that Jane Campbell did.
Hi Melissa,

Which sons are the ones who have Janet/Jeannet Skinner as the mother's name?  As far as I know, none of the children of Randal and Janet have left any record which mention their mother's maiden name.  I don't put that much stock in DAR/SAR records (unless sourced), but they show at least what the current family stories were at the time the applications were filed.  (That is why I am inclined to think it was Campbell.)  One other item of interest: Randal and Janet attended the First Presbyterian Church of Metuchen. NJ.  The 1794 pew list shows Randal sharing a pew with Samuel Compton.  There are a number of Campbells in that pew list, but no Skinners.  That would go along with what Benjamin Depue Hursh said about his great grandmother (Janet) - the Campbells were a Middlesex County, NJ family.  Benjamin mentioned that the Campbells had numerous descendants in Middlesex County at the time he wrote his memoirs in 1887.

Many years ago, I was part of a group researching our family, which included a genealogist (Louise "Icy" Lynch) hired by an Osee Depue descendant.  "Icy" would always say that you could find family ties by knowing that families often moved together and married people who were known to the family.  Randal and Janet moved to Sussex County after their house was burned in 1777.  There had to be some connection to that area.  They returned to Middlesex County after the war ended, and stayed there until 1809 perhaps, as they sold their house in Bonhamtown that year.  I believe they returned to Sussex County, where three of their children lived: Osee Depue, Randal Stivers Jr., and Elizabeth Compton.  (Benjamin Depue remembers meeting his great grandfather at his grandmother Osee's home around 1820.)  There were Campbells and Skinners in Sussex County too,

Perhaps DNA testing will help on this, although it may be too far back.  I did find a DNA connection with a cousin who descends from my 4-greats grandparents in Ireland.

Sincerely. Tom

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