Santa Cruz County History - People

Old Soldiers: Santa Cruz County Civil War Veterans
by Robert L. Nelson


Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 23, 1927)

Rev. B.C. Stephens, Clergyman and Octogenarian, Dies

Rev. Benjamin C. Stephens, one of the oldest clergymen of the Christian church of California, died last evening at his home in Garfield Park. He was one with many friends and greatly beloved.

Mr. Stephens was born in Johnson county, Missouri, April 18, 1845 and spent his childhood days in the state of his birth. His father Seth Stephens, was left an orphan during the war of 1812 and , after growing to manhood, was married to Elizabeth Marshall, relative of John Marshall, first chief justice of the United States.

Seth and Elizabeth Stephens were the parent of nine children, of which family our deceased brother B.C. Stephens, was a member.

Friends and acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend the funeral services, Thursday, June 26, at 2:00 o'clock, under the auspices of Wallace Reynolds post, G.A.R. in this city.

B.C. Stephens was 16 years old the spring the Civil war was declared in 1861. His father was assassinated in his home in December, 1861 because of political differences with the Union side. B.C. enlisted with the Southern army, but before the war closed, had changed his attitude and served the Union as a government teamster, closing his services at Jefferson City, Mo. after Price’s raid in the fall of 1864.

After a brief courtship he was married to Miss Henrietta Smith, who lived on a farm near Knob Noster, Mo. She was a modest country maiden and proved to be a true wife, a kind and affectionate mother and a devoted Christian.

The couple lived together a little over sixty years. Mrs. Stephens passing away at the family home in Santa Cruz January 18, 1926. To this couple seven children were born: Mrs. Mae Knight of Santa Cruz, Mrs. Uva Nolan of Los Angeles, Mrs. Sue Funkhouser of Ft. Madison, Iowa, Horace Stephens of Dalkena, Wash, Virgil Stephens of Santa Cruz, Homer Stephens of Los Gatos and Floyd Stephens of Santa Cruz.

There are also thirteen grandchildren: Kenneth Knight of Vallejo; Mrs. Ella Wilson of Los Gatos, Horace and Carl Knight, Oliver Nolan and Mrs. Ormae Martin of Los Angeles. Delores and Kenneth Stephens of Los Gatos, Clifford, Harold, Raymond, Floyd and David Funkhouser of Ft. Madison, Iowa.

There are also three great grand children: Betty Wilson and Dorothy Nolan of Los Gatos and Betty Funkhouser of Ft. Madison, Iowa, all of whom live to mourn the departure of a loving father, grand father and great grandfather.

B.C. Stephens became a Christian in early manhood and after attending school at Canton Mo., university, he spent fifteen years in the ministry, most of which was spent in Missouri and Illinois coming to California in 1902 and preaching a year in Sutter county, then coming to Santa Cruz twenty four years ago, making his home in this city and lending his influence toward the good of his home community at all times. He was next to the oldest Christian preacher living in the state. He passed away at his home at 6 o’clock Friday, April 22 after a long illness.

Santa Cruz Sentinel (April 29, 1927)

Funeral Rites for Rev. B.C. Stephens

Sorrowing relatives and friends gathered yesterday afternoon at the First Christian church where funeral services were held for the late Rev. B.C. Stephens, oldest Christian church minister in California who passed away at his home, 41 Bethany Circle., last Friday.

Four ministers participated in the funeral services, Rev. R.L. McHatton of Oakland, for many years a close friend of the deceased, delivered the eulogy; Rev. A. Sterling of Los Gatos, a convert of Rev. Stephens many years ago, offered prayer, Rev. R.A. Adamson, pastor of the Garfield Park Christian church, read the scripture, while Rev. O.J. Law, acting pastor of the First Christian church presided.

"Beautiful Isle of Somewhere", and "Sometime We'll Understand," favorite hymns of the deceased pastor, were sung by a quartet composed of Mesdames Fuson, Buffington, Bodking and Mather while Mrs. Bodkin rendered in a most sympathetic manner as a solo, "Home of the Soul."

Rev Stephen had been in the ministry for more than 50 years and had resided in Santa Cruz for 24 years. He was preceded in death just a year ago by his wife, Mrs. Henrietta Stephens.

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