Where did John Barnet (Barney BA1) Stagner come from?

Where did John Barnet (Barney) Stagner come from?

So its time to start addressing some of the problems that I see in family trees on several different sites, including Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilySearch, Geni, and probably others. These issues are probably preventing the identification of relatives, as in Ancestry’s DNA Circles.

I want to reiterate that I do not consider myself a Stagner expert, but since I am a Stagner I am dedicated to following the evidence and not copying the family trees of others, which contributes to the wide distribution of erroneous  information.

[Because of the confusion with the use of similar names like Barney, George, John and Henry, each has been given a unique identifier, shown in parenthesis after the first time used.]

First of all, the only fact we know for sure is that there was a man named John Barnet Stagner (BA1) found in Rowan County, NC from 1753 to 1775. There is ample evidence readily available from various sources to support this. There is even a 1775 Will mentioning his spouses name and the names of 8 children. The two boys were named John (J1) and Barnet (BA2). The six girls were Elizabeth, Christiana, Barbara, Dorothy, Mary, and Sarah.

What is not absolutely clear and proven beyond a shadow of doubt is where John Barnet Stagner was from before he appeared in 1753.  It is often believed that he was the man identified as Johann Bernhardt Steigner who arrived on the  billander “Thistle” in Philadelphia in 1738. See the “tab” Johann Bernhardt Steigner  for additional information. Reference is also made to another researcher  who apparently tries to link Johann Bernhardt Steigner back to a Johann Bernd Stegner from Oberauerbach, Germany. Along with his spouse Anna Elizabetha Findler a record from the Battweiler-Dellfeld Lutheran Church of Winterbach indicates they had a child born and died in 1737. [I have yet to locate this record, but that is not for not trying.] The similarity of the names suggests that this could be true, but certainly is not proof.

For the period between 1738 and 1753, to my knowledge anyway, not one historical fact has been identified that  proves that Johann Bernhardt Steigner was the same person as John Barnet Stagner. It certainly is possible, but not positively provable with historical facts.

However, there are only two items that point to the fact that they could be the same person:

  1. The name John Barnet Stagner could be an Americanized version of the German name Johann Bernhardt Steigner. John Barnet Stagner may have been German because he took an oath of allegiance to the King in North Carolina in 1763, one of the documented facts. He also settled in Rowan County, NC in an area with other known men of German origin.
  2. If #1 is true, then the German spouse Anna Elizabetha could have been the same person as the Elizabeth mentioned in his Will-at least the names are the same.

These are the only two items that point to this connection.

If this was not him, then where did he come from? I have read family histories, referencing old family information passed down through time, that he was:

  1. The German immigrant described above.
  2. One of three brothers, who may have been German soldiers brought here before the French and Indian War, to fight for the British against the French.
  3. A sole Hessian Soldier immigrant.
  4. He immigrated to the colonies in South Carolina.

So you can see that other thoughts have been presented or passed down through history, but none have yet to be proven.


I have another theory based on a fact that appeared in the 1761 Rowan County, NC Tax List. Three, count them 1…..2…..3 Stagners  were listed in successive order:


Early Stagners

I have never seen any researcher whoever identified this or even tried to explain it! The fact that they even appeared on a tax list in 1761 meant that they all had to be a minimum of 16 years old, born before 1745. The first name is Barnet Stagner (BA1) and this most certainly is the same person identified in other records from 1753 to 1777 as John Barnet Stagner (BA1) (or other similar names).

The other two were George (G1) and Honeul (H1). Who they were is unknown. Since the last name  was the same and they were listed in the same area at the same time, a family relationship is assumed, but the nature of that relationship is not clear. This was the first appearance, and only appearance, in early Rowan County records forthe names George and Honeul (if that is the real interpretation).

The next time a George Stagner (G2) appeared in any records was in Rowan County in 1793 marrying Sarah Hillard and in the 1800 census as a 26-44 year old. So obviously the man referenced in 1761 was not the same one later found in 1800 census because there was a significant age difference. There was also a George Stogner (G6) found in nearby Montgomery County, NC, who was also 26 to 44 years old in 1800 census, so again neither could have been the same person appearing in the 1761 tax list. Based on this information it is assumed that initial George (G1) must have died or changed his name. The timeline below indicates that all three Georges were different men because of the birth date ranges.

Honeul (H1) is not a common name and the name Honeul was never found again in records. It is thought that this Honeul might have changed his name to Henry as there was a Henry Stagner (H2a) of suitable age found in a different part of Rowan County in 1778, where he had a deed for 300 acres on Abbott’s Creek. This Henry (H2a) was shown in this area through 1780. The only information to indicate the age of H2a is that of deed ownership, presumably he had to be at least 21 to own land so it does seem possible that he and H1 could have been the same person. Beginning in 1786-1809 though, another Henry (H2b), was shown once on the tax list and referenced several times as being in the area on Swan Creek, a few miles from the location where H2a was found.

The timelines below show these three Henrys. Bear in mind that little information is known, but what is, is plotted. Based on this plot it does seem possible that H1, H2a, and H2b could have been the same person based on birth and sequence of events. But there is also the possibility that they were up to 3 distinct individuals.

However, the interesting fact to discuss at this point is the appearance of all three Stagners in the tax list at one time. Who were the other two? Where did they come from? Was Barnet the same person as Johann Bernd Steigner?  If so, why did they not appear on the ships manifest of passengers? Were they under the age of 16 and not individually listed? Were all three siblings? How did they get the North Carolina? Why isn’t there more information on them? Where did they go after North Carolina or did they die there? These questions, which are stimulated by the one record, may be crucial to answering the question of what was BA1’s origin? Perhaps one day other records will surface to help answer this question. If such records exist, I expect them to very likely lie buried deeply in Pennsylvania, Virginia, or North Carolina records of the early 1700s!

What my overall theory reduces to is the fact that after researching all the Stagners I could find in colonial and early America is that, in addition to John Barnet Stagner (BA1) there was what looked like two possible additional Stagner families that spread out from North and South Carolina to points west, i.e. AL, GA, TN, KY, MO, and TX primarily.

First Stagner Family:

This man was called Daniel Stagner (AA123) (also referred to as George Daniel Stagner) and he was first in the New York/Philadelphia area before moving to South Carolina near present day Columbia. Could this man have been the same person as George (G1)? The timeline below shows that this could be possible, but at this point it is only a theory, but it does explain what might have happened to G1.  The birth range fits and the location and timing of events makes some sense.

Second Stagner Family:

There a 94-year-old Henry Stagner (H7ef) found in Sabine County, Texas in the 1850 census. This man had a long life, so it is believed that some of the Henrys found in NC, SC, and TN may have been this guy. His 1850 census indicated that he was born in  Pennsylvania in 1756. The only Stagner found in Pennsylvania in 1756 was Daniel Stagner. Could this Henry have been a son of George Daniel Stagner, who had other children documented as born in Pennsylvania or was he of some other family?

The timeline below plots the known information about these four Henrys:


What this indicates to me is that H7ef was too young to be the H1. If he was born in 1756, he would have been only 11 in 1761 for the census. It is my belief that  H1 was a distinct individual and may not have survived. However, it is feasible that H2a, H2b and H7efcould all have been the same person. Again it is my belief the this person could have been a son of Daniel. There are several reasons for that to be addressed at a later date.


In my mind the origin of John Barnet Stagner of Rowan County is not proven. It is only a hypothesis and the 1761 Rowan County Tax only adds to the mystery. This is definitely an area that requires more research. When researching the Stagners of early America it is absolutely necessary to try to obtain the big picture, i.e. looking at everyone with that name or a similar name!