[Last updated: 13 May 2016]

Johan Friederich Stembel (Great-grandfather)

Frederick Stembel (Grandfather)

John Stembel (Father)

Joseph V. S. Stembel


Joseph was born in Middletown, Maryland, on July 28, 1828. He was the youngest of John and Elenor's 12 children (only six of whom survived to adulthood). Joseph was named after his mother's father, General Joseph Van Swearingen(1) (Van was his middle name rather than part of his surname). When Joseph was about 3 years old his family moved to Ohio, eventually settling on a farm south of West Liberty in Champaign County. Growing up, he attended private subscription schools (free public education did not yet exist).(2)

When Joseph was 22, he married Mary Magdalena Ziegler. Mary was born in Perry County, Ohio, the eldest of eight children. Her parents moved to Champaign County when she was 2 years old.(3) The Ziegler farm was located very close to the Stembel's farm. It seems likely the two families were closely acquainted and that Joseph and Mary knew each other since childhood. After their marriage, Joseph bought a piece of land about one mile west of his father's farm.(4) It was adjacent to the farm of his wife's family. He built a house and farmed the land. They lived there for the rest of their lives.

Joseph and Mary had eight children, all of whom reached adulthood and married. Mary was raised as a Lutheran, but she joined the nearby Wesley Chapel Church, where the Stembels worshiped, in 1855. All eight of her children attended the church as well. Joseph, however, did not join the church until 1911. This was Mary's final wish as she lay on her deathbed.(5) This illustrates Joseph's great affection for his wife of 60 years.

In 1901, Joseph and Mary celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. All eight of their children attended, as well as most, if not all, of their grandchildren. A family portrait taken that day included 53 family members! Joseph, though seated, appears to be a tall, trim man with full dark hair (at the age of 73!) with a white beard 7 or 8 inches long. He has a granddaughter on his lap (see the photo on the home page).

50th Wedding Anniversary (1901). Standing L-R: Malissa, George, John, Mary, Catherine, Albert, William, Addie; Seated: Joseph, Mary.

In 1910 Mary and Joseph again celebrated their wedding anniversary with a huge family reunion. This was their 59th, and last, anniversary together. Joseph and Mary were both 82 years old. Seven of their eight children attended (their oldest, Malissa, had passed away eight years before). A newspaper account of that gathering reported there were 107 guests in attendance. Besides their seven children, there were 38 grandchildren, and 20 great-grandchildren.(6) Mary died six months later.

59th Wedding Anniversary (1910). Standing L-R: Mary, Albert, Catherine, William, Addie; Seated: George, (empty chair for Malissa-deceased), Mary, Joseph, John.

Joseph lived nine more years. During this time two more of his children died, George Oren and Albert. Joseph died in February 1920. He was 91 years old. Both Mary and Joseph are buried in the cemetery at Wesley Chapel. At the time of his death, Joseph was the oldest original settler in Champaign County.(7)

Wesley Chapel Church and cemetery, Wesley Chapel Road, southwest of West Liberty, Ohio.

Joseph and Mary Stembel's tombstone in Wesley Chapel Church's cemetery.

Joseph and Mary Stembel's eight children:

A. Malissa (1852-1902). Malissa was born June 7, 1852, near West Liberty. Ohio. Much of what I know about Malissa comes from the 1880 and 1900 census. Malissa married John W. Emery on New Years Day, 1874. John was 24, Malissa 22. They had nine children between the years 1875 and 1892. The first eight were girls; the ninth was a boy.

At the time of the 1880 census they lived on a farm in Harrison Township, Champaign County. Also living with them at the time was a 20 year old servant girl (Nancy Dewey), a 26 year old hired hand (John Egnar from New York) and the hired hand's mother.

In 1900 they still lived on a farm in Harrison Township. They had a hired hand, 20 year old Samuel Jenkins.

John died in 1901 at the age of 50. Malissa died a year later, leaving their children, aged 9, 11, 13, 16, and 18, orphaned. Both are buried in West Liberty's Fairview Cemetery.

John and Malissa Emery's children:

    1. Viola A. Viola was known as "Ola". She was born December 26, 1874. She married Chris Yoder about 1893. Five children are shown in the 1910 census: Bertha, Gladys, Wilson, Catherine, and Edgar. The 1910 census presents us with a bit of a mystery. There is only one Chris Yoder in the 1910 census in Logan or Champaign County, and that is a Christionie Yoder (I believe Chris's full name was Christian E.). According to the census, this man's wife's name was Vera, not Viola, and she was 41 years old (Viola would have been 35 in 1910). Given the fact that people almost never overstate their age in the census, I believe Viola died sometime before the 1910 census, and that Chris remarried. This is reinforced by the ages of Chris's children: 16, 12, 9, 2, and 1. Note the seven year gap between the nine year old and the two year old. In fact, Viola did die before the 1910 census. She is buried in the Bellefontaine City Cemetery where her tombstone shows she died in 1905. She was just 30 years old.
    2. Mary Catherine. Mary was born April 6, 1877. I'm told Mary went by the name "Mame." About 1894 she married John Wass. John was an electrician. They had three children: Lewis (known as "Emery"), Donald, and Mary. In 1900 they were living in Urbana, Ohio. In 1910 they were living in Owensboro, Kentucky, and in 1920 they were living in Greencastle, Indiana. Mary died May 24, 1940, and in buried in Plymouth, Indiana, in their Oak Hill Cemetery.
    3. Josephine Elvina "Josie" was born June 22, 1879. She married Charles A. Butcher in November 1902. They had eight known children though it appears some died in childhood: Marion (male), a male baby (unnamed), Harold, Paul, Joseph, Geneva, Robert, and Theodore. In 1930 they were living in Springfield, Ohio. Charles died in Dayton, Ohio, on May 8, 1949. Josie died on September 14, 1965, also in Dayton. Charles and Josephine are both buried in Newson Cemetery, Christiansburg (Champaign County), Ohio.
    4. Carrie Leonard. Carrie was born September 8, 1881. On May 22, 1906, she married Earl S. Kaufman who was three years older than her. Soon after thier marriage they moved to Colorado. They were living in Denver at the time of the 1910 census. By 1920 they were back in Ohio, where Earl was manager of a lumber yard in the town of Uniopolis (Auglaze Copunty). They had four children according to census records: Earl, Maxine, Donna, and Ned. They lived in Uniopolis for most of their adult lives. I have no record of their deaths.
    5. Grace Malissa. Grace was born October 9, 1883, in Champaign County. Sometime around 1903 she married Arthur Garfield Hanger. In 1910 they were living on a farm in Champaign County. That same year they attended Joseph and Mary's 59th anniversary and family reunion. Census records show three known children: Henry, Bernice, and William. They were still farming in Champaign County according to the census records, but by 1930 they had moved to California, and residing in Redondo Beach, where Arthur worked as a gardiner for a country club. Arthur died July 18, 1966, in Los Angeles. Grace remained in California. She died March 12, 1974, in San Pedro.
    6. Ida Belle. My information about Ida and her family was provided by her great-granddaughter, Kristin Hall Sliwicki. Ida was born October 11, 1885. When she was 15 her father died. A year later her mother died. Ida, and her younger brother, Harry, were taken in by Lydia and David Smucker who lived in West Liberty, Ohio. The Smuckers had a son, John Oliver who was four years older than Ida. In 1905, John (who went by his initials, "J.O.") and Ida married. After the wedding they took up residence in nearby Bellefontaine, Ohio. According to Kristin, J.O. owned a music store and their home was always filled with music. He was also an undertaker, like his father, according to the 1910 and 1920 censuses. In 1910 Ida and J.O. attended her grandparent's (Mary and Joseph Stembel) 59th anniversary celebration and family reunion. Ida and J.O. had two children: David Emery (born 1907) and John Kirby (born 1909). David was Kristin's grandfather. He earned a degree in civil engineering at Ohio State University and went on to become Executive Vice-President of Operations for the Pennsylvania Railroad.

    Ida died of cancer on October 26, 1925, just days after her 40th birthday. She is buried in the Bellefontaine City Cemetery. J.O. remarried five years later.
    7. Eva Stembel. Eva was born August 3, 1888, in Champaign County. When she was 12 her father died. A year later her mother died. At the age of 13 she was orphaned. She may have been taken in by her older sister, Josephine, and her husband. I suspect this because in the 1910 census Eva was living in Springfield, Ohio, where she was a 21 year-old, single, telephone operator. Springfield is located in the same county that Josephine's family was living in. Three years later Eva married Coral V. Funderburg. Coral had been married before and had two children by that marriage. Soon after they married, Eva and Coral moved to Michigan where they had a daughter, Constance. By 1920, they had moved back to Greene County, where Coral had been born. Coral was an electrician. Soon after the 1920 census, they moved to San Bernardino, California, where Coral's skill as an electrician were in demand. Eva died June 23, 1947, at the age of 58. Coral died January 9, 1973. He was 84.

    In 2009 I received an email from a grandchild (or step-grandchild) of Eva's who shared a few memories of her "Grandma Eva": "Grandma Eva was Aunt Connie's mother ["Connie" was Constance Funderburg]. She was a wonderful grandma. I used to stay with her over weekends sometimes. One time she took me to Thrifty Drug Store for lunch. We had salads, which I have always remembered, a half of head of really large iceberg lettuce with dressing. I didn't think I'd ever be able to eat it all. She also made the best deviled eggs. She used dry mustard in them with some vinegar along with the mayonaise etc. She gave me a lot of sheet music and I sang some of her favorite songs at her funeral. She was really up in the Eas[t]ern Star [the Order of the Eastern Star is a Freemason organisation open to men and women. It was quite popular in the late 19th and early and middle 20th century]."
    8. Harriet Ammanon. Harriet was born June 2, 1890. She was known as "Hattie" and "Amme". At the age of 11 her mother died (her father had died the year before) leaving her orphaned. It appears that she went to live with her sister, Grace, and her husband Arthur Hanger, on their farm in Harrison Township, Champaign County, Ohio, for that's where she was living in the 1910 census. She was an Army nurse in WW I. She was relieved from duty on June 12, 1919. According to a relative, she married Gustav Werner, a German brewer. Later in life she lived in Melbourne, Florida. She was described by a relative who visited her often as "Spunky and full of life."
    9. Harry Lewis. Harry was born on July 23, 1892. When he was nine his mother died. This came a year after a year his father died. So at the age of nine he was an orphan. He and his sister Ida were taken in by Lydia and David Smucker who lived in West Liberty, Ohio. Evidently, after his sister married in 1905, he went to lived with the newly-weds, for in the 1910 census Harry was living with his sister Ida and her husband. He was attending school. A few years later Harry married Mary Detrick. According to census records Harry and Mary had just one child, John D. ("Jack"). They lived at various times in Bellefontaine, Dayton, San Antonio, and Los Angeles. Harry died December 28, 1974, in Los Angeles, California. Mary died a year later, also in Los Angeles. Both are buried in Fairview Cemetery, West Liberty, Ohio.

B. George Oren (1853-1914). George is the subject of a later chapter.

C. John Virgil (1855-1937). Joseph and Mary's third child, John, was born on July 23, 1855, near West Liberty, Ohio. He was educated in the public schools of Champaign County.(8) On June 29, 1879, he married Emma Barger. John was almost 24, Emma was 20. They had six children, one of whom died young.

In the 1900 census, John and Emma were living in Union Township, Champaign County, where John was a Farm Laborer. Three of their children were living with them. In the 1910 census, John, Emma, and their youngest son Willie, were living with John's parents. Joseph was 81 and had turned the farm over to John.

John was a member of the Wesley Chapel Episcopal Methodist Church and the Masonic Lodge.(9) He died at the age of 76 on March 12, 1937; Emma died 5 months later.

John and Emma Stembel's six children:

    1. Addie Bessie. Addie was born 13 March 1881. In 1900 she married Frank Bishop, who was about 15 years older than she (it may have been Frank's second marriage). Frank was a farmer. They lived in Champaign County all their life. They had no children. According to the newspaper account, Addie and Frank attended Mary and Joseph's 59th wedding anniversary in 1910.
    2. Maud L. Maudie was born September 14, 1884. In October 1901 she married Gottlieb Seigenthaler. Gottlieb was born in Switzerland in 1792. He was 12 years older than Maudie. They had at least six children: Wilber, Gilbert, Marguerette, Minnie, Ruth, and Leona. All six married. Maudie and Gottlieb lived in Spring Hill, Ohio. In 1910 Maud and Gottlieb attended Mary and Joseph's wedding anniversary in 1910. Gottlieb died in 1949 and is buried in the Springhill Cemetery. Maud died in 1955 and is buried in King's Creek Cemetery (both are in Champaign County).
    3. Mattie. Mattie was born in January 1886. On October 1, 1903, she married Clarence Roberts in the Grace Methodist Church, in Urbana, Ohio.(10) Mattie was 17. Clarence was 21. They had at least two children, Dorothy and Helen. Both lived to adulthood and married. Sometime before 1920, Mattie and Clarence moved the family to Springfield, Ohio. Mattie died in 1938. I have no record of Clarence's death.
    4. James H. James was born August 1888. In the 1910 census, James was working as a farm laborer. Soon after the census he married Ethel Journell. They had one child, Donald, who was born in 1913. James died soon after, on November 7, 1915.(11) In 1929, Ethel re-married, to William Hagenbaugh. In 1946, Donald married and had three known children. Ethel died in 1966.
    5. Ebbie. I'm not sure if her name was Ebbie or Effie. I don't even know for sure when she was born. It could have been as early as 1889 or as late as 1899. I believe she was born about 1890. She died before the 1900 census was taken.
    6. William Edward. William was born in March of 1896. On December 23, 1916, he married Jessie Leota Mason . The wedding took place in the First Methodist Church in Urbana. They had one known child, a son, Edwin. Sadly, William died in 1928 at the age of 32. Jessie remarried a few years later. Their son, Edwin, married and had at least one child.

D. Mary Louize (1857-1951). Mary was born March 2, 1857, near West Liberty, Ohio. In September of 1881 she married Robert Kirkwood, son of David and Mary Kirkwood. Robert was 31 years old, seven years older than Mary. He was a school teacher.

At the time of the 1900 census, Mary and Robert were living on West Beard Street in West Liberty, Ohio. In 1910 they attended Mary and Joseph's 59th anniversary. According to the newspaper account, they were now living in Urbana, Ohio.

Robert died in 1924, at the age of 74. Mary lived 27 more years. Sometime after her husband's death she moved to Columbus, Ohio, where she was living at the time of the 1930 census. She died in 1951 at the age of 94.

Mary and Robert Kirkwood's children:

    1. Ralph Van Swearingen Ralph was born in June of 1882. He married Laura Botcher sometime around 1907. He was an electrician. They had at least one child, Dorothy, born in 1909. By 1910 they had moved to Leavenworth, Kansas. The 1920 census recorded them in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Ralph died in 1930, at the age of 47 in Washington, DC.
    2. Laura Blanche. Laura was born in October of 1883. She married William Irvin Bishop sometime around 1907. In 1910 they were living in Mansfield, Ohio. They had at least one child, Lucille, born in 1908. Lucille married John Sitterley and had two children. Laura and William moved to Columbus sometime before the 1920 census. Laura died in 1962. William died three years later.

E. Catherine Eleanor (1861-1940). Catherine was born March 9, 1861, near West Liberty, Ohio. She was known as "Ella." Catherine married John K. Duff on December 20, 1885. She was 24. I believe John was three years older than she. Ella and John attended Joseph and Mary's 59th wedding anniversary. The newspaper article indicated they were living in Rushylvania (Logan County), Ohio, at the time. Ella and John had three children, and lived in Logan County, Ohio their whole lives.

John died April 22, 1936; Catherine lived four more years. She passed away on October 9, 1940, at the age of 79.

Catherine and John Duff's three children:

    1. Joseph L. Joseph was born in November of 1886. In 1910 he attended his grandparent's 59th wedding anniversary. He was living at Belle Center, Ohio (Logan County) at the time. According to my records, Joseph married Edna Flickenger soon after 1910. They had 5 children and lived in Logan County most of their lives. Joseph was a mail carrier.
    2. Forest. Forest was born in May of 1889. He also attended his grandparent's wedding anniversary. The newspaper reports he was living in Springfield, Ohio, at the time. Soon after the 1910 census he married Ella (surname unknown), and they had at least six children. Forest was a farmer, and later worked for the railroad. It appears they lived in Logan County most of their lives.
    3. Leona. Leona was born in April of 1894. She was just 16 at the time of her grandparents wedding anniversary, where according to the newspaper, she gave a recitation. Sometime before the 1930 census she married R. E. Miller. He was about 18 years older than Leona and this may have been his second marriage. According to my information, they had no children. They lived most of their lives in Logan County. I don't know when they died.

F. Albert Frederick (1864-1916). Albert is the subject of a later chapter.

G. William Henry (1867-1946). William was born February 27, 1867, near West Liberty, Ohio. He was Joseph and Mary's seventh child. William grew up on his father's farm. Little is known about his childhood.

William married Helen Baldwin sometime around 1885. They had two daughters, Florence and Ruth. Just two months shy of her 31st birthday, Helen died, leaving William with two young children (Ruth was just a year-and-a-half old). Two years later, William married Rhoda Fultz. They had a child: a son named David. David was born in Washington Court House, Ohio (I assume David and Rhoda were living there at the time).

At the time of the 1900 federal census--less than two years after David was born--William and Rhoda had moved to Newport, Kentucky. In 1910, they attended Joseph and Mary's 95th Anniversary. According to the newspaper account, they were still living in Newport.

William died September 26, 1946. He was 79. Rhoda died February 21, 1963, in Cincinnati, at the age of 87.

William Stembel's three children (two wives):

    1. Florence Bliss. Florence was born May 26, 1887. Her mother died when she was eight years old. Her father remarried about a year later. Florence grew up in Newport, Kentucky, but from the age of 15 she showed up in the Cincinnati City Directory as a saleslady in local stores with a residence in Newport, which was just across the Ohio River.

    Sometime around 1911, Florence married Louis Woeste. They had two children, Helen (born 1913) and Bonnie (born 1916). They lived in Newport for a time but moved to Cincinnati between 1920 and 1930. I don't know when they died.

    2. Ruth Eloise. Ruth was born in December of 1893. Her mother died when she was just a year and a half old. Her father soon remarried, and they moved to Newport, Kentucky.

    About 1915, Ruth married Earl Crumrine. Earl was a farmer and later a farm implement salesman. They first lived in Covington, Kentucky, where their first child was born, and then moved to Champaign County, Ohio, and later to Cincinnati. They had eight children: Earl, Jr., William, Laura Jane, Mary, George, Bliss, Charles, and Sally. I have no record of Ruth or Earl's deaths.

    3. David Maynard. David was born September 28, 1898, at Washington Court House, Ohio--the first child born to his father's new wife, Rhoda. Soon after his birth they moved to Newport, Kentucky, where "Maynard," as he was known, was raised. After completing high school, Maynard attended the University of Cincinnati. He was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. In 1924 Maynard earned his degree. His thesis, titled "An Investigation of the Flux Distribution in a Pittsburg Polyphase Transformer" is available at the university's library.

    On January 20, 1926, Maynard married Dorothy Edwards. They had two children, but the youngest died as an infant. Their oldest child was David, Jr.

    Maynard became a steel company executive in Pittsburgh where he and Dorothy lived most of their life. Dorothy died December 17, 1970, in Pittsburgh, and is buried in Homewood Cemetery there. Maynard died 3 years later, on May 21, 1974, in Palm Beach, Florida. He was 75. He is also buried in Pittsburgh's Homewood Cemetery.

    David and Dorothy Stembel's child:

      a. David, Jr. David was born in Pittsburgh on June 9, 1933. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he earned a degree in Naval Architecture. At the Academy, David wrote a biography of his cousin Admiral Roger Nelson Stembel as one of his assignments. After graduation he married Judy Stahr on August 3, 1956, at Larchmont, New York.

      David made the Navy his career. He advanced through the ranks, and eventually headed up the Navy's Guided Missile Frigate program. That was David's last assignment. He retired from the Navy in 1985 as a Captain.

      David's family lived in Silver Spring, Maryland (just a few miles from this writer). David was an avid gardener; he also served as the local high school's swimming team announcer. David died July 10, 1995, in Silver Spring and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery just a few feet from his distant cousin Adm. Roger Nelson Stembel. Judy continued to live in their Silver Spring home and work as a docent at the Hillwood Museum in nearby Washington, D.C. She now lives with a son.

      David and Judy Stembel's three children:

        1. David III. David was born November 12, 1959. He attended Temple University. In 1986 he married Karol Williams. They have a son, Calder. David lives outside Philadelphia where he is an architect/planner.
        2. John. John was born on December 16, 1962. He attended Georgia Tech University where he earned a degree in Computer Science. He lives near Atlanta with his wife, Susan, and their two daughters, Stahr and Natalie. John is a noted spelunker.
        3. Wendy. Wendy was born on February 28, 1965. She married David Spencer in 1989. They had two children, Meagan and John. She has since remarried, to Paul Bozzi. Wendy is a special education teacher.

H. Addie Elizabeth (1871-1954). Addie is the subject of a later chapter.


1. Sidelights on Maryland History by Hestor Dorsey Richardson. Tidewater Publishers, Cambridge, MD. 1967. p. 244. This book devotes six pages to the early Swearingen family. Gen. Joseph Van Swearingen is descended from Garret Van Swearingen who arrived in what is now New Castle, Delaware in 1657. He was part of a contingent from the city of Amsterdam who were taking over Fort Casimer from the Dutch West India Company.

2. "History of Champaign County, Ohio" Vol II, p. 804. Author and publisher unknown.

3. Ibid. p. 805.

4. Ibid. p. 804.

5. Mary Ziegler Stembel's obituary published on 24 January 1911. Probably from an Urbana OH newspaper. Original in the possession of Miriam Stembel Lawyer, Wheatfield, IN, 1983.

6. "Wedding Anniversary is celebrated by Stembel Family", report of Joseph V.S. and Mary Stembel's 59th Wedding Anniversary. Date of article is unknown (probably June 1910). It is most likely from an Urbana, OH, newspaper.

7. Ibid.

8. "History of Champaign County, Ohio" Vol II, p. 805.

9. Ibid. p. 806.

10. Church records. Urbana Methodist Church, 1896 - 1914. Urbana OH. A copy can be found in the DAR Library.

11. "History of Champaign County, Ohio," p. 805-806. This book gives the names of John's four children who were alive at the time of the writing (ca 1917). James was not listed.

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Copyright. Oren Stembel, STEMBEL FAMILY HISTORY PROJECT (familyhistory.stembel.org).