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.



John  Gatwood was in Virginia January 13, 1663 when he witnessed a deed gift of 219 acres made by Thomas and Jane Button of Farnham Parish, Rappahannock County, to Charles Goodrich. This may be the first record of our name in the Colonies. It was the first I found.   One year later, January 4, 1664, he witnessed the signature of Jane Button who relinquished dower rights to Thomas Corbyn. Because of these transactions, we know that John had some kind of education and could read and write. We also know he had to be of age by the date of these transactions.

June 2, 1666, Colonel John Catlett brought into Rappahannock County, Virginia, ten individuals as immigrants. John Gatwood was one of these men. Again on July 1, 1666, he was one of seventy-three immigrants brought into Virginia by Mr. Thomas Button. It is my belief this was his final trip and when he began his new life in the new world. It is unclear whether these people were indentured. In the case of my ancestor John, I know that when he died, he was the owner of many acres of land which he left to his heirs. I am proud of his accomplishments, no matter where he came from or who his ancestors were.

John was married to Amy (Aimee) Magrah ca.1680. There are nine children listed in John’s will. John and Amy owned approximately four hundred acres of land by 1704.  They were living along the Rappahannock River in Virginia. This is where they were when the Susquehanna Indian Nation made their attack. I think this was a small group of Indians, many had left the area and many had died in prior wars. It is believed that the Gatwood’s knew the Indians quite well. The reason for this belief is because the Indians best friend and interpreter lived adjacent to the Gatwood family.

John had a will made November 14, 1706 and probated January 10, 1707 in Essex County, Virginia. It states that he was a planter and he leaves large acreage to several sons. All his children are listed by name.

Amy married a second time to Joseph Baker. Joseph Baker was a wealthy merchant and when he died, he left most of his wealth to Amy and her Gatwood children.

I believe that Amy Magrah was born in Virginia. It is possible her father was Thomas McGraw/Macgrah, a planter in Essex County, Virginia. When Thomas died he left a will on November 21, 1722. In his will he leaves everything to John Gatwood and his son Phillip as well as James Gatwood. John and James are the sons of John Gatwood and Amy Magrah and Phillip is a grandson. In the will, he refers to James as a “friend”. Amy and her son in law, David Scott witnessed this will. All this seems to indicate that they were family. If this is true, Thomas McGraw/Macgrah would prove a tenth generation!