John Stokes was born in Virginia and then came through the North Carolina Quaker community where he married Sarah West. They moved to Kentucky where they had six children. Then the whole family moved to Union County, Illinois where their seventh child, Matthew Gillespie was born in Aug 1811, which was just prior to the New Madrid earthquake. The earthquake appears to have dampened their spirits, as they did not have their eighth child, George Evans, until 1818. 

John N. Stokes was born 1778 at Virginia. His family then moved to the Quaker community in North Carolina.

About 1795, John married Sarah West at North Carolina. They then moved to Kentucky where they had Allen, Susannah, John, Jones, Anna, and Thomas. The family was living at Hopkinsville, Christian, Kentucky in 1810 according to their census. 

According to History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois page 284, Thomas Standard, John Gwin, and John N. Stokes settled in section 12, Range 1 east, in the year 1811. Other sources variably state he arrived in 1808 and 1809. However, it is clear from the birth locations of the children and their birth dates that 1811 is the correct year. John Stokes Jr. married John Gwin's daughter, Mary Gwin.

About four months after Matthew Gillespie was born is when the New Madrid earthquake, which lasted three consecutive months, ruptured and unnerved the settlers. John and Sarah did not have any more children until George Evans was born in 1818. Sarah died about 1824 at Union County, Illinois. 

At some time while living at Union, Illinois, John built a grain mill and operated it for a number of years. 

A young woman by the name of Cynthia Pender got pregnant and delivered a boy, Miles Leedham Pender 1 Mar 1825. According to Illinois County Marriage Records, when Miles married Kay Sauir Dansing 26 Nov 1826, he listed his mother as "Stokes" and his father as "Smithy Stokes." There were no "Smith Stokes" in Union County or anywhere near. It seems odd that Miles would give both of his parents surnames as "Stokes." And even in 1826, "Smithy" was a common alias used when people wanted to remain anonymous. In Cynthia's will, probated 13 Sep 1856 at Union County, Illinois, she clearly named Miles Pender as her son.

Was it just coincidence that John Stokes Sr. married Cinthia Pender 22 Oct 1839 at Union County, Illinois and then had two more children by her? Young Evans Stokes was born to these parents 1 Jan 1846 at Union, Illinois, and William Scott Stokes was born Dec 1850 at Union, Illinois.

John was still shown as the owner of 80 acres of land at Stokes Precinct in 1835 according to the History of Union County, Illinois.

John and Cynthia were living with their two boys in Union, Illinois during the 1850 census. 

John passed away 21 Jul 1856 at Union County, Illinois.


  1. History of Alexander, Union, and Pulaski Counties, Illinois
  2. History of Union County, Illinois
  3. Illinois Statewide Marriage Index
  4. Illinois County Marriage Records
  5. The Pioneer History of Illinois