Biographical Sketch of John Steen

By Phil Norfleet

John Steen was a successful planter, of Scotch-Irish descent, residing in the Thicketty Creek area of what was once the northern part of Union County (formed in 1785) and is now part of  Cherokee County (formed 1897), South Carolina.  The land records of colonial South Carolina indicate that Steen was in SC at least as early as 1767 and perhaps a few years earlier.  On 20 August 1767, he received a royal land grant for 300 acres on Thicketty Creek in what was then Berkeley County SC.  [See SC Royal Land Grant Book 14, Page 507.]

Before the Boundary Line Survey of 1772, much of the northern part South Carolina was thought to be in North Carolina.  Accordingly, many NC land grants were issued to land later found to be within the bounds of the Province of South Carolina.  On 26 October 1767, John Steen received three land grants totaling 650 acres from the Province of North Carolina.  All three tracts were on Thicketty Creek in an area then thought to be in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. [See NC Royal Patent Book 23, Page 154.]

During the Revolution, Steen supported the Whig Cause and, after the fall of Charleston (May 1780), was active in the Whig militia under the command of Thomas Brandon.  It is also of interest to note that John Steen's brother, Captain James Steen, was also a well-known Whig leader.  The land records of Ninety-Six District SC indicate that James Steen and John Steen owned land directly adjacent to each other.   Also, prominent SC Whigs, William Williams and John Nuckolls seem to have been friends and/or business associates of Steen, as their names appear as witnesses on deeds executed by John Steen as follows:

30-31 Jul 1778:  Lease and release whereby John Steen of Ninety-Six District SC conveys to David Stockton of NC, " ... 1010 acres on Thicketty Creek adj. Capt. James Steen. ... "  Witnessed by John Nuckolls, Robert Wilkins.  Proved in Ninety-Six District by the oath of John Nuckolls before Robert Lusk, J. P. 23 Aug 1779,.  Recorded 24 Nov 1779.  [See State of SC Deed Books B-5, Pages 537-539.]

12-13 Sep 1779:  Lease and release whereby John Steen of Ninety-Six District conveys to Daniel Thomas, " ... 100 acres on the west side of Broad River above McNeils Shoals ... granted to the said John Steen by Gov William Tyron of North Carolina 26 Oct 1767 then supposed to be in Mecklenburg County but by the continuation of the boundary line lately run fall in the State of South Carolina and District of Ninety-Six. ... " Witnessed by Gabriel Brown, William Williams, James Carveal.  Proved in Camden District SC, 22 Jan 1780 by the oath of William Williams before David Hopkins, J. P.  Recorded 6 March 1783. [See State of SC Deed Book G-5, Pages 433-436.]


Business Dealings with John Mayfield the Tory

John Steen's land seems to have been near a 100-acre tract that John Mayfield the Tory patented on the west bank of Broad River in 1768.  On 09 August 1770, Mayfield obtained a loan of 150 by giving a bond to John Steen using his 100-acre tract on Broad River as collateral.  This bond seems to have never been completely paid off as the bond, many years later, was resold to a certain Christopher de Graffenreid. The record [See Union County Deed Book P, page 505] of the sale states the following:

"In consideration of four dollars in hand paid to me by Christopher de Graffenreid I do assign to Christopher de Graffenreid & his heirs & assigns the within bond & the within mentioned land.  Witnesseth my hand this 25th day of February 1810.

 "/S/ Martha Steen (her mark)

"Witnessed by:

"Patsey Steen (her mark)" 

Martha Steen was the widow of John Steen.  Interestingly, the 100-acre tract given as security for the bond had been sold by John Mayfield's eldest son (heir-at-law), William Mayfield, ten years previously in 1800!  Christopher De Graffenreid (1767-1831) was a wealthy planter who lived in the Neal Shoals area of Broad River in Union County.

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