Ancestors and Descendants of John Barney Stagner


I am writing this summary for anyone who believes that they are descended from John Barney or Barnet Stagner, who died in Harrodsburg, KY in 1777 at the hands of the Indians.

I have been seriously researching the Stagners for at least the last 10 years. I have scoured data from Pennsylvania to Salt Lake City. I have seen a lot of family trees that purport to show descendancy from Old Barney, but enough of them are incorrect that I find it necessary to point out what I have found out and what I know for sure and what I don’t.

The existence of false information in family trees leads to this information being propagated on to infinity. There are also several stories that others have written on the life of Barney that also are propagated through the family trees. This is not an attempt to correct these stories. Some of these contain accurate information, but a lot of it is just made up and has not been proven to be true.

John Barney Stagner of 1714-1777 Rowan County, NC is thought to be the same person who came to Philadelphia in 1737 on the “Thistle” with other Germans. The best interpretation of his name on this ship manifest was Johann Bernd Steigner. However, there is no absolute proof that this was the same man. The only two reasons one might make the association are the similarity of the name and country of origin, as old Barney was known as the “Old Dutchman” in Kentucky. No record has been found for Johann Bernd Steigner after 1737, either in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. If he was, in fact the same man who next appeared in Rowan County, NC in 1753, there is still no clue where he was between 1737 and 1753. He could have been anywhere on the east coast of America or maybe back in Germany. It is just unknown at the present time.


Therefore, since we cannot actually prove John Barney Stagner was Johnann Bernd Steigner, we can’t actually prove his parents. Some researchers or trees purport to know who his parents were, but there is no proof, so as of now and until someone finds or provides proof his parents are unknown.


In discussing Stagner descendants it is extremely important to understand that there was several John Stagners around in the timeframe of 1766 to 1850. To keep them straight I have designated them with different identifications for clarity.

 I find that many family trees are attributing their descendancy from old Barney’s son Barnet, instead of son John. These errors really mess up the use of the new tools for DNA analysis, like Ancestry’s Thru-Lines and MyHeritage’s Theory of Family Relativity. They also promote inaccuracy as others tend to copy trees instead of doing their own research.

John Barney Stagner’s known descendants are those shown in his Will of 1775 and proved after his death in 1777.:

  • Son John (John123) (abt 1745 – abt 1820)
  • Dau Elizabeth
  • Dau Christina
  • Dau Dorothy
  • Dau Mary
  • Son Barnet
  • Dau Barbara
  • Dau Sarah

Daughter Elizabeth married into the Callahan family. Daughter Christina married into the Wilson family. Little positive information is known about Dorothy, Mary, Sarah, and Barbara (maybe married into Denny family).

Most of the issues that I see in family trees are related to the two sons:  John and Barnet. Researchers often confuse the offspring of the two sons. In that regard, let’s look at each.

First, look at Barnet, where the most solid information can be found. He was the youngest and he inherited Barney’s land in NC after his death. Barnet married Sarah Sally Prather in Rowan County in 1783. By 1800 young Barnet had established residence in Madison County, KY. He died in 1821 and fortunately left a will behind. His known named children were:

  • John J (1784-1847) John40
  • Jesse Barney (1786-1860)
  • Anna James (1788-1849)
  • Barney Thomas (1792-1860)
  • Neddie (1793-) – not in will
  • Rebecca Warden (1796-1820)
  • Eleanor Morman (1797-)
  • Richmond P (1800-1876

Most of this family, including mother Sarah Prather, eventually moved westward to Missouri, some to Illinois and others beyond.

The important takeaway from this is the confusion that some researchers have with the son John123 and John40. They were different generations and not in the same family. In fact, there is no evidence that there was ever any interaction between Barnet’s family and John123 family after they left Rowan County, NC.

The more complicated son John123 left no will and no other direct information has been found showing his descendants. However, several researchers have been able to identify those Stagners that appear to have been his offspring based on the suspected location of John123 throughout his lifetime. For a short history of this man, it appears that he was born in the 1740s. The exact location is unknown, but likely Pennsylvania after his father arrived.

It is difficult to determine in the early Rowan County records that make reference to John Barney Stagner and John Stagner, whether they are referring to the father or the son, but I generally believe that references to “John Stagner” refer to the son John123. I base this on one record where in 1767 there was a “Bill of Sale from John Stagner to Wm Frohock …. small improvement joining Barney Stagners Place”. This was the first reference to John123 Stagner. There were 3 other references to him in 1767-69.  The next reference found him signing petition for petition in Guilford County in 1773. The last reference found for a John Stagner in North Carolina was in 1789 as a chain carrier with William Stagner in Guilford. I cannot determine whether this John was John123 or his son John5. The William Stagner was likely the first son of John123, so the John may have been John5.

Beginning in 1793 a George Stagner was found in Rowan County. He lived in the vicinity of old Barney. He was found there until he sold his property and remarried and in 1805. A George Stagner was next found in Warren County, KY in 1807 where he was found on the tax list and in other records at least one where he was associated with a John Stagner.

Beginning in 1778 a Henry Stagner was found in Rowan County and listed occasionally in records until 1809. Henry lived on the east side of the Yadkin River, while old Barney and John123 were on the west side of the Yadkin River near of in the Forks of the Yadkin. I cannot be certain that this Henry was connected to old Barney. No evidence points to that as a fact, so I have treated him as part of a different family. I believe that he eventually made his way to Lexington County, SC to Ashville, NC, then to Sumner County, TN in 1820, much later than John and William arrived in Sumner County.

 In any event, 1809 was the last mention of a Stagner anywhere in or near Rowan County. [Note: There was a John Stogner in Montgomery County-another family not to be confused with this Stagner family and many have because there are Montgomery County, NC census records in 1800 and 1810 showing a John Stagner-a misinterpretation of the name. This cannot be John123, because he was in Warren County, KY in 1800 and 1810 and cannot be in two places at the same time.]

A John and William Stagner next appear in the tax records in Sumner County, TN in 1799. It has not been determined where they were in the period between 1789 and 1799. I suspect they were in a slow transition from NC to SC to TN. Beginning in the early 1800s John123, George, William, and John5 began appearing in Warren County, KY tax lists.

Based on the location data, dates and names it would appear that John123 had at least the following children:

  • John5 (abt 1766 – 1842) died in Warren County
  • William (abt 1768 – abt 1830) died in Crawford County Arkansas
  • George (abt 1770 – 1840) died in Simpson/Warren County, KY

Warren County, KY data suggests the following additional people were also likely offspring of John123:

  • Jeremiah Stagner (abt 1787 – 1843) died in Morgan County, IL
  • Sarah (1787-1885) married Jacob Hendricks
  • Andrew Stagner (1792 -1873) died in Warren County, KY. He was prominent member of the county. Some researchers claim Andrew’s father to be John5, but when John123 was getting near his end in 1819 his property was taxed to Andrew, suggesting he was a son. He could have been his grandson, suggesting Andrew may have been a son of John5, the old son of John123, but I do not believe this to be the case.

So, for Jeremiah, Sarah, and Andrew, it appears that only John123 could have been their father. There really is no other explanation. John123 was likely in his late 40s or early 50s when the last child was born. A little old, but still possible.

It should also be pointed out that the spouse of John123 is not positively known. She is said to have been Fannie Hendricks, but there is no proof of that. There is nothing written anywhere that I can find that references a spouse or spouses for John123, so having a child into his 50s seems plausible. There is no other Stagner old enough to produce these children.

It should be pointed out that the children of John5 were well defined in a court record regarding his property after death. William did not have any children till after 1800. George’s children are well defined from Warren and Simpson County tax records. His first child John12/13 (1794 – 1866) is often confused with other Johns, but his early life was spent in Warren/Simpson County, KY and he moved to Missouri about 1851, where he died in 1866. The remainder of George’s children were born between 1805 and 1826.

In conclusion, Jeremiah, Sarah, and Andrew appear only have been fathered by John123 as the only Stagner of sufficient age to produce them.

Now there are 4 other individuals who may be attributable to John123:

  • Nathan (1770 – 1857)
  • Barnabus (1773- 1836)
  • Thomas (1783 – ????)
  • Henry (???? – ????)

I say maybe, because these three individuals took a different trek west. Beginning about 1807 Nathan was found in Stewart County, TN and Barnabus was shown there in 1811. After Barnabus died, Nathan moved to Benton County, TN where he died. Thomas was married in Davidson County, TN in 1809 and was listed in Stewart County from 1809-1815. After 1815, no record of him was found. It would appear that these three were related, since they had the same last name and were found in the same area at the same time.

The only possible interaction I found between the Stagners in Simpson/Warren and the Stagners in TN was that George Stagner was missing from Warren County in 1810-11, but a George Stagner showed up in Stewart County, TN in those same years. It is assumed that this was the same George Stagner, since no other could be found in the area. The map above shows the proximity of the counties of interest. This, however, does not prove a connection between the two families. There was also a reference in a Will in Stewart County. A Frederick Gross, who had ties back to Rowan County, made reference to his mother in law Barbary Stagner. Barnabus, son of John123, and Frederick Gross were approximately the same age. So Frederick Gross married a gal who was a daughter of Barbery Stagner. This would seem to mean that this Barbary could have been old Barneys daughter, providing another possible link between the Warren County Stagners and Stewart County Stagners.

The 4th individual in this group was a Henry Stagner. There was mention of a Henry in Sumner County in 1798 and from 1799-1802 in Christian County, KY. All reference to this person disappeared after 1802. I cannot relate this Henry to be the same Henry referred to in Rowan County earlier. It’s possible he was because he was only mentioned in Rowan County records, it didn’t refer to him actually being there. The study of the Henry Stagner name is complicated and will not be further mentioned. It is only mentioned because there is the possibility that he could have been a son of John123.

There is one other John Stagner that must be mentioned because his source of parentage is unknown, but his life intersects with those described above. This John Stagner I designate as John8-11. He first appeared in Stewart County, TN in 1812. He was born about 1771 in NC. He was found in Montgomery County, TN in 1818-1847. He died in Calloway County, KY in 1851. He had children Talbert, Mary, Luedicy, Henry and John J (John56). Some researchers claim him to be the son of old Barney, but that makes no sense, unless John123 had two sons names John! So his origin is still a mystery.

The picture below summarizes the Johns discussed:

2 thoughts on “Ancestors and Descendants of John Barney Stagner”

  1. Great information. However, you mention in paragraph 4 that John Barney Stagner was born in 1753. Is that correct? Also, do you have a copy of the ship manifest from the Thistle that you could share here or with me? thank you, Nathan LaFon


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