The Stedham family can be traced back to my 9x Great Grandparents in Gothenburg, Vastra Gotalands, Sweden. My 8x Great Grandfather is said to be the first man with the name Stedham (Stidham) in America. He immigrated from Sweden in the 17th century to New Sweden now known as Wilmington, Delaware. All of Delaware and the southern part of Pennsylvania and the southern part of New Jersey were known as New Sweden in that time period. Many of the Stedham’s (Stidham) can be found in the Old Swedes Churchyard in Delaware.

The story I want to tell is about my 4x Great-Grandmother, Lydia Stedham.  Her parents were John Stedham and Mary Merryman (my 5x Great-Grandparents). Lydia came from a wealthy family who did not approve of her marriage to William McCracken.  Her father disowned her. She would not inherit anything from her family.

William McCracken was an immigrant from Ireland who owned a ferry at Wilmington, Delaware. The couple married in spite of family disapproval around 1790. The couple left the area and I believe they never returned. They first went to Cumberland, Maryland and soon moved on to Brooke County, Virginia, now West Virginia. They were in this area by 1800. It appears that William died about this time, leaving three children to be raised by Lydia, alone.

In a Colonial Genealogist publication, I found two legal suits that Lydia filed:  July 1801 Lydia McCracken charged William Girton with trespass and assult and battery.  It was claimed Girton used dogs to chase, hunt, and cripple two sows and five shoats ( Shoats are young piglets, just weened).  Damage was estimated at $50.00. A jury found for the plaintiff and awarded $7.00 damages.

Brooke County May Term, 1810: Lydia McCracken brought suit against Richard Talbot charging destruction of fences and wheat. Damage to the value of $100.00. The defendant, Talbot, paid $8.00 and costs.

 Lydia Stedham McCracken seems to be a strong woman. I admire her grit! I would imagine that she was fodder for gossip in her corner of the world. I do not picture her as a wallflower or ordinary in any way. She knew how to take care of herself and survive. My guess is she walked away from her birth family proud and never looked back.



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