Stephen Grover
Stephen Grover Burnett
(Stephen) Grover Cleveland

In a note from Henrietta Beardsley to Octavia Burnett Eichelberger, dated Nov 1910, from a collection donated by Octavia Burnett Eichelberger to the Vigo County Historical Society and held in the Vigo County Library: "Stephen Grover Burnett was born in Caldwell, New Jersey, a few blocks from the house in which Grover Cleveland was born. (Grover Cleveland's) mother's father and grandfather were named Stephen Grover. At the library of the N.J. Historical Society, in the records of the First Presbyterian Church, I found that he was one of the first pastors of the church, and was ordained and installed July 23, 1788. Justus Burnett and his wife Lois had united with this church Dec. 1784 and were intimate friends with the pastor. When their first son was born Mr. Grover asked that it be named for him, but the parents had decided on another name. When the next boy came, they took him to be baptized. The minister did not ask them the name for the baby, but taking him in his arms said, "I baptize thee in the name of Stephen Grover Burnett," giving him his own name. He then turned to the parents and smiling said "I have waited long enough for a name-sake in this family."

I have initiated correspondence with the church to clarify this issue.

Here are some references:

Cleveland, (Stephen) Grover (1837-1908) Father: Richard F. Cleveland. Born in Caldwell, N.J., March 18, 1837. Mayor of Buffalo, N.Y., 1882; Governor of New York, 1883-85; President of the United States, 1885-89, 1893-97; defeated, 1888. Died in Princeton, N.J., June 24, 1908. Interment at Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, N.J.


Stephen Grover Cleveland was born in Caldwell, New Jersey on March 18, 1837. Stephen, the fifth of nine children, was named after Stephen Grover, whose church Stephen's father, Richard Falley Cleveland, had recently taken over.


The first step towards organizing a congregation...was taken under the leadership of Rev. James Caldwell. On July 17, 1779, a tract of land lying in what is now the center of the Borough of Caldwell, was given to the First Presbyterian Church. ... The building of a meeting house began in 1782, but due to the Revolutionary War, they had difficulty getting labor and material, so the meeting house was not completed until the close of 1786.

NOTE: Justus and Lois were married in 1783, supposedly in this church

On July 23, 1788, Rev. Stephen Grover was duly ordained and installed as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. the summer of 1792...a plan was adopted to build a wooden Meeting House on the site of today's church. ... The congregation held its first services in the new building on April 6, 1796.

NOTE: Stephen Grover Burnett was born in September of 1796, eight years after Rev. Grover was installed, and four months after the first services were held in the church.

The church had several pastors during those early years. One of the most notable was the Rev. Richard F. Cleveland, who was installed as pastor for the church in May 1834.... Rev. Cleveland had a landmark in history not only as Pastor of this historic church - on March 18, 1837, in the little back bedroom of the parsonage, he had a son, named Stephen Grover, in honor of the first Pastor of the Church. In later years, he dropped the "Stephen" from his name and as Grover Cleveland, became the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.


Grover Cleveland was born more than forty years after Stephen Grover Burnett...possibly Cousin Henrietta's little story is just another Urban Legend. We'll see.

Return to Burnett Genealogy Web Page: