As of 350 years ago or so, we came from Stonington, Connecticut, a seaport that was established by English colonists in the mid-1600s on lands that once belonged to the Pequot Indians. Above is an image of a pamphlet written by John A. Miner, a descendant of one of the founders of the town (the cover illustration was appropriated from Capt. John Smith's famous 1616 book, A Description of New England).
[Click on any of the images to see them larger. Click on any orange text to read a link about the place.]
It’s not clear when the first of our Stewarts arrived in North America or from where. Given the time and the community in which they lived, our Stewarts were most probably Puritans, part of the early migration to the New World.
When Elizabeth I ascended the throne in 1558, she represented the victory of Protestantism over the Catholic Church in Britain, a struggle that had occupied the kingdom for much of the 16th century - ever since Henry VIII broke with Rome to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon because of her failure to produce a male heir.
Nonetheless, Elizabeth and her successors, the Stuart monarchs James I and Charles I, saw the church as a unifying force in the country. While they had broken the bonds with the Pope in Rome, they insisted on a strict allegiance to the Church of England, with the kingdom's sovereign at its head.
That was not in keeping with the Protestant spirit, which argued that any literate person could receive direct inspiration from Scripture without mediation. Protestants who resisted the Church of England's authority became known as Puritans, because they followed a 'purer' form of Protestantism. Some formed 'separatist' churches. Eventually, moves to jail these non-conformers drove them out of Britain and to the New World - the Mayflower Pilgrims the first among them.
In his history of the United States, the historian, Charles Beard, wrote that "During the years between 1629 and 1640, the period of arbitrary Stuart government, about twenty thousand Puritans emigrated to America, settling in the colonies of the far North. Although minor additions were made from time to time, the greater portion of the New England people sprang from this original stock."
Recent DNA analysis by a genetic genealogist, Tyrone Bowes, notes that our line "belongs to the R-M269 haplogroup which is common throughout Western Europe. The predominance of English and neighbouring-Welsh surnames throughout [the Stewart] Y-DNA results would indicate that [this line's] ancestors were ancient Britons rather than more recently arrived Vikings, Anglo-Saxons or Normans."
Dr. Bowes places our Stewarts' potential 'genetic homeland' at Lathom, Lancashire, England, once site of an important manor, Lathom House, dating to the middle ages. You can read Mr. Bowes analysis here.
Lathom House in the 1600s.
The name Stewart, while commonly associated with the Scottish, is of Old English origin, derived from stigeweard - stige meaning "hall," and weard meaning "guardian" or "warden."
If Mr. Bowes is correct, and given that stewart or steward was the title of the principle officer under the lord of a manor, it is possible that our line descended from a steward of Lathom House - or from a lesser steward in the area.
It is also possible, as Mr. Bowes points out, that a Latham fathered a child that was raised as a Stewart (either through adoption or infidelity) some time before our first confirmed Stewart ancestor appeared in North America. If this is the case, the Stewart name may have been picked up in Northern Ireland among Scotch Irish. We are also close genetic matches to Lathams who emigrated from England to Northern Ireland and, from there, to North America. It will, of course, take much more research to conclude which hypothesis is true.
Given, however, that our first known Stewart ancestors were Congregationalists - a form of Protestantism that grew out of the Puritan tradition in America - and lived in a staunchly Puritain colony, it is more likely that our line emigrated directly from Britain with the Puritan exodus.
The first Stewart to arrive in the colonies was James Stewart, who sailed to Plymouth Colony on the Fortune a year after the Pilgrims came on the Mayflower. We have no evidence, however, that he is of our line.
Still, it is intriguing that Miles Standish of Mayflower fame came from Lancashire and that on the Mayflower was an 11-year-old boy named William Latham, also believed to have come from Lancashire - both from within a few miles of Lathom. Our Stewarts' closest and most frequent genetic matches are to individuals named Latham with roots in Lancashire. So it is possible that our Stewarts followed neighbors from Lancashire to the New World.
Our first clearly identifiable ancestor is Lt. William Stewart, and various records list him as having been born in July, 1685 or February 13, 1688 or even 1689 or 1690 - as many as four generations after the arrival of the Mayflower and the Fortune. We know we are genetic descendants of this William Stewart because we match genetically with a Stewart today who is descended from another of Lt. William Stewart's children.
Some speculative accounts claim that our Lt. William Stewart arrived in New England by ship in the early 1700s. Others claim he was born in Stonington. You can read one legend of the family's arrival here. As mentioned below, Lt. William Stewart's father apparently lived for a time and died in the colonies, making it possible that Lt. William was raised in the colonies, if not born there.
Stonington First Congregational Church
Built in 1829, incorporating some timbers from the original.
Built in 1829, incorporating some timbers from the original.
What we do know is that Lt. William Stewart was baptized as an adult on February 13, 1710, by Rev. James Noyes in Stonington’s First Congregational Church. The church is also known as the Road Church because it was located on the town's first road, which ran from the head of the Mystic River (in what is now Old Mystic) through Stonington to Kichemaug (now Westerly), Rhode Island.
Congregationalists believed that adult conversion was necessary for an individual to become a full member in the church.
At the time William was baptized, Stonington had only been settled about 50 years. Louis XIV was on the throne in France. Queen Anne was on the throne in England. The two monarchs were entering the final phase of the War of Spanish Succession, set off by the death of the Spanish king, Charles II. The war had spilled over into the New World where it became one of a series of French and Indian Wars - a prolonged contest between Britain and France for control of Canada, the Ohio River Valley and the lands west of the Appalachians.
In fact, the history of our Stewart line in America follows closely that of the colonies' - and later the country's - successive efforts to eradicate or displace Native American tribes that occupied the land. As new territory opened up, our Stewart forefathers were among the first waves of settlers to claim the newly depopulated ground. From Connecticut to New York to Wisconsin to Montana, each generation that moved further West witnessed the remnants of the vanquished peoples whose traditional lands the newcomers now possessed.
About the time William was baptized, Albany's mayor and head of Indian affairs, Peter Schuyler, was recruiting the chiefs of the five principal Iroquois nations to go to London and visit the Queen in a bid to win military support in the war against the French and their Indian allies. One chief died enroute, but four were feted by London society and had their portraits painted (above).
Schuyler was successful in winning the queen's support and, upon his return with the chiefs later in 1710, hundreds of colonial subjects - including hundreds from Connecticut - joined the fight. They eventually expelled the French from Acadia - now New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada - that October. (Many of the Acadians were resettled in the French territory of Louisiana where they became known as 'Cajuns.')
Rene Chartrand's 2002 book, Colonial American Troops, 1610-1774, tells us that "In 1709, Connecticut raised a regiment of 365 men sent to the Lake George area. In the following two years, 300 men were raised, divided into nine companies in 1710 for the capture of Port Royal [capital of Acadia], and six - including one of grenadiers - in 1711. That year, clothing from Britain was also supplied to these embodied militiamen, probably n the royal livery colors of red lined with blue."
Our William may well have participated in some aspect of that war, reflected, perhaps, in the rank that he was later granted in the colonial militias operating at the time.
Rev. Noyes was already elderly when he performed William's baptism, having been born in 1640. According to a history of Stonington's First Congregational Church, a town-appointed committee went to Massachusetts Bay in 1664 to find a minister and "invited Mr. James Noyes of Newbury, a graduate of Harvard, to become their Gospel-preaching minister."
(The same year that Rev. James Noyes baptized William, his nephew, Oliver Noyes, joined with some business associates to build Boston’s Long Wharf, which extended from Faneuil Hall a third of a mile into Boston Harbor. It was to become a focal point of the town.)
Lt. William Stewart married Sarah Church at the First Congregational church on May 5, 1713.
Sarah was born in the mid-to-late 1680s, according to various records, in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of David and Mary Church.
David Church was born on September 1, 1657, the son of Garrett Church, who had sailed to Massachusetts from England in the 1630s.
David was an innkeeper in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1687 and 1688. He is also referred to as a tailor. His wife Mary was admitted to the church the day that their son John was baptized on November 6, 1687. Their daughter, Sarah, was baptized on October 6, 1689. Massachusetts vital records include a note on the baptism that reads: "Ye 6th of October 1689 one child, of David Churche's called Sarah."
The population of the entire colony of Connecticut was only about 26,000 in 1700, but was growing fast. Lt. William and Sarah had nine children, the oldest of which was named William Stewart Jr., born December 26, 1714.
On Dec 27, 1722, according to land records cited by the 1926 Stewart Clan Magazine, Lt. William and Sarah deeded to "ye Reverend Mr. Creighead, clerk in Stonington," land they had bought five days previously of Saxton Palmer (a great-grandson of one of Stonington's founders, Walter Palmer, with whose descendants the Stewarts intermarried).
The town of North Stonington was set off as a separate parish from Stonington in 1724 to save residents from having to walk all the way to the Road Church each Sunday.
Lt. William also bought land in Voluntown, north of North Stonington. This from the Voluntown registry:
To all people to whom these presents shall com Greeting Know ye that I Aron Stark of Colchester in ye County Hartford … for 80L paid at ye exicouting of thes presents by Willam Steward of Stonington … all my two lotts of Land in ye Township of Voluntown from 82A which was origonaly Aron Huntlys Lott & is ye 11th Lott in ye fourth teer … origonaly Thurston Rainards lott & is ye fourth lott in ye first teer … 7 Apr 1726. Signed: Aron Stark. Wit: Jams Minor, Sarah Minor, Charls Minor. Stonington Aprel ye 7th 1726 Mr. Aron Starke ye subscriber personally appered & ack. This Deed Recorded April ye 27st 1726.Voluntown was created from lands granted to the Volunteers of the Narragansett War, also known as King Philip's War, which had been fought in the late 1670s - thus the name "Voluntown."
Judge Richard Anson Wheeler's "History of Stonington" tells us that "in 1728 William purchased from Richard and Henry Stevens lands containing Asoupsuck Pond, north of what became Stewart Hill in North Stonington." He later sold the land that he owned in Voluntown.
Asoupsuck means ‘place of wild hemp’ in the Algonquin language and was once part of lands inhabited by the Algonquin-speaking Mohegans (not to be confused with the Mahicans, as James Fenimore Cooper did in his novel, ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ which mixes elements of the two tribes).
The pond, now called Wyassup Lake, was the southeastern corner of a 7,000-acre tract of land claimed by the Mohegan Indians and the heirs of Major John Mason in a famous suit against the Connecticut Colony.
John Mason was an English Army major who arrived in New England in the 1630s. He was appointed by Connecticut River colonists to lead a force against the Pequot Indians, who were resisting English settlement. He enlisted the Mohegans as allies and nearly wiped out the Pequots at what became known as the Mystic Massacre, in which about 600 Pequots died. The Pequot War, as the conflict was called, left the Mohegans as the dominant tribe in the area. As a reward, the Mohegan chief, Uncas, gave Mason a large tract of land, which included Asoupsuck Pond. (Uncas, incidentally, was the name of Coopers' last Mohican)
Mason turned the land over to the Connecticut Colony in 1659, but his grandson, also named John Mason, and Uncas’ son, Owaneco, later claimed that the major had reversed his decision and returned the land to the Mohegans shortly before his death in 1672. They asked the crown to intervene.
Queen Anne sent a commission to Stonington to decide the matter in 1704, but the colony refused to acknowledge the commission's authority and so the commissioners granted the Mohegans their request.
At the time that William Stewart bought the land containing Asoupsuck Pond, the case was under appeal. The colony won the appeal in 1743 but the Mohegans and Mason heirs appealed that decision and the matter wasn’t settled until after the Revolution when the Mohegans accepted a reservation on part of the disputed land.
The tribe now has a 700-acre reservation in Montville, Connecticut, a tenth of their original claim. They operate the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Stewart Hill, with Wyassup Lake, is still a feature in North Stonington. There is a small Stewart cemetery there (marked at the bottom of the satellite image above), though our line had left before the cemetery was established.
One of the most prominent buildings in North Stonington's village center is the A. Morgan Stewart Memorial Library, in which the town's historical society is based. The building was once the home of a Stewart descendant.
According to research by a man named Horace W. Dickerman and published in the 1926 Stewart Clan magazine, on March 2, 1729-30, “William Stuard yeoman of North Stonington,” deeded to Jonathan Dean the land in Voluntown that he had bought from Aaron Stark. An “Alexander Steuard” sold land in Voluntown Feb 11, 1729-30 to the same Jonathan Dean. I suspect this Alexander Stewart was related to our Lt. William. Another possible relative was Patience Stewart who married William Thomas in Stonington in 1713.
In the May 1926 Stewart Clan Magazine, Mr. Dickerman wrote, without attribution, that our William "acquired the title of lieutenant and was a man of prominence. It is said that he knew the line of his ancestry back to kings and a set of dishes bearing a coat-of-arms was later in possession of his descendants.”
DNA analysis, however, confirms that our Stewart line is not descended from the so-called High Stewards, the immediate ancestors of the royal line of Stewarts. It is possible, however, that this reference is to a set of dishes related to Lathom House and that the 'ancestry back to kings,' is a garbled reference to a relationship to nobility rather than royalty.
Henry Lee's History of the Stewart or Stuart Family, published in 1920, says that "The General Assembly of the Colony of Connecticut ... in 1734, appointed William Stuart of Stonington to be Lieutenant of the town Company."
Stuart was the British - as opposed to Scottish - spelling of the name, coming from the French, which uses a 'u' as there is no 'w' in French. If this is indeed our Lt. William, he would have been in his mid-to-late 40s.
Chartrand tells us that "Several attempts were made to reorganize the militia in the 1720s and 1730s … The advent of war with Spain in 1739 [the colorfully named War of Jenkins' Ear] changed attitudes and Connectcut became more militant. In 1739, ‘ten good cannons’ were added to the coastal battery at New London and, more fundamentally, the whole militia was reorganized into 13 numbered regiments … Each regiment was encouraged to form a troop of horse if none existed … The May 1741 Militia Act further specified that men from 15 to 50 years of age were to be enlisted; companies of foot or horse would have 64 officers and men, who would provide themselves with the usual arms, accoutrements and equipment. Fines would go to the purchase of colors, halberds, drums and trumpets.”
Sarah died on March 2, 1745 and Lt. William married Mary Bellows just over two years later on March 16, 1747.
Lt. William died in his mid-60s - according to some records on December, 26 1754.
According to Mr. Dickerman's research, Lt. William's will, written Oct. 20, 1753 and probated Dec. 26 1754, provided for "grave stones for my father and former wife and child and myself," suggesting that he was born in the colonies or had come as a young man or child with his father. There is no record of any of these graves.
When I visited North Stonington in the mid-1980s and met the late Dorothy Stewart (widow of A. Morgan Stewart, for whom the historical society's Memorial Library was named), she told me that one of the elderly Stewart men in town had found Lt. William’s grave in the woods on what was once Stewart land. She indicated the general area, but I have since forgotten where it was.
William Jr. married Elizabeth Stevens, the daughter of Henry and Elizabeth (Fellows) Stevens (or Stephens), on December 4, 1740. Elizabeth was born in Stonington on March 2, 1708. Her father is presumably one of the men from whom William Jr.'s father had earlier bought land. Henry was a name carried in future generations down to Albert Henry Stewart who brought our line to Montana.
One history calls William Jr. a “pattern farmer of his day on land he purchased from the Elliots and called Stewart Hill.”
Whether he inherited his father's land isn't clear, but he did get additional land from Elizabeth's father. On January 16, 1749 or 1750, Henry Stevens registered a deed conveying property “for love and good will to my loving daughter Elizabeth Stewart and William Stewart, her husband.”
They had ten children, including Nathan Stewart, born June 22, 1745.
The colonies were exploding with newcomers - having surged from just a quarter of a million at the turn of the century to break the million mark sometime in the 1740s. Connecticut, alone, was nearing 100,000 people.
By the mid-1750s, the growing population and demand for land led to increasing conflicts with the French and the outbreak of another French and Indian war, this one an extension of the wider Seven Years War between Britain and France.
William Jr. died at the age of 46 in Stonington on December 9, 1759 as the war was drawing to a close. Family legend holds that he fell down the stairs of the unfinished Stewart homestead, broke his neck and died. Elizabeth was appointed administrator of his estate on January 4, 1760. She subsequently married Joseph Palmer, a widower with nine children and had a daughter by him, named Sabra.
I don’t know where William Jr. is buried. The story Dorothy Stewart told me may relate to his grave, rather than that of his father.
Few stories from this era survive, but there is one interesting drama recorded. William Jr.’s youngest brother, Lemuel, born in 1732, was apparently troublesome. He married a woman named Eunice who, according to lore, was an Indian maiden – or he fathered a child, Lemuel Jr., with an Indian girl in 1756 and his wife, Eunice, raised him.
According to one history, on September 29, 1756, "Lemuel deeded (by his mark) land in Stonington to [his older brother] Eliphalet Stewart." Lemuel died soon after, still only in his mid-20s. On September 7, 1758, administration of his estate was given to William Jr., “he being a principal creditor and brother to ye deceased, the widow having refused."
Little more than a year later, William Jr. was dead and on February 17, 1761, William Jr.'s widow asked for an account of money expended by her husband in paying debts of his late brother, Lemuel. On Mar 10, 1761, "the estate being settled," the probate court allowed money for the support of Lemuel’s family. We know that on Jul 11, 1763, Wait Wells of Groton, acting as the guardian of Lemuel Jr., then a minor, paid 3.10 English pounds to Lemuel’s widow, Eunice Stewart.
The whole thing sounds surprisingly modern.
Meanwhile, tensions were rising between Britain and the colonies as the crown sought to cover the debts incurred in the Seven Years War. Parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765, repealed it in 1766 and then passed the Townsend Acts in 1767, further inflaming colonial passions and leading to the British occupation of Boston in 1768.
On May 1, 1768 in what was now called North Stonington, William Jr.’s son, Nathan Stewart, married 18 or 19-year-old Barbara or Barbary Palmer, daughter of William Palmer (1705 to 1781) and Abigail Wyatt (about 1711 to 1784). Barbary was a great, great-granddaughter of Walter Palmer, a prominent New England Puritan and a founder of Stonington. Her great-grandfather, Gershom Palmer, fought in the Great Swamp Fight of King Philip's War. In other words, Walter and Gershom Palmer are among our forbears, too.
According to a note in Wheeler's "History of Stonington," Nathan “bought out the family rights in the old homestead on Stewart Hill and built a house, which was afterward occupied by his son Edward and then by Denis Stewart. He was a noble man of great resolution, and his wife was a noble woman. He lived to see nearly all his children married.”
The year Nathan and Barbara were married, a weekly stagecoach began operating on what would become the Norwich-Westerly Road, today known as Route 2, that ran across Stewart Hill.
During these years when Nathan and Barbara were raising their family, meanwhile, the colonies were marching steadily toward war with the Boston Massacre in 1770, the Boston Tea Party in 1773 and the Intolerable Acts in 1774.
Nathan served during the war, with one researcher listing him as a lieutenant. Another researcher says that he was a private - he would have been 30 or 31 at the outbreak of hostilities. The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) list him as a patriot. His son Nathan Jr. also served, because he is listed as a Revolutionary War pensioner in a census taken in Madison County, N.Y., in 1840.
The June 1926 edition of Stewart Clan Magazine tells us that Nathan Jr. "was a minute-man at the age of 16 and warned the neighborhood when the British bombarded Stonington Point." There is something wrong with this entry, however, as Nathan Jr. would have been only 6 during the bombardment and would not have reached the age of 16 until the end of the war.
At the beginning of the Revolution Stonington had a population of more than five thousand, including 237 Indians (more than any other Connecticut town) and 219 blacks. While nothing is known about Nathan's participation, more than 330 Stonington men served in the war, including some blacks and Indians. Those men saw action in virtually every battle of the war, according to an article By Norman F. Boas in a 1999 edition of the Stonington Historical Society's newsletter.
Stonington was also the first coastal town in America to fend off a British naval assault - an attack by the H.M.S. Rose on August 30, 1775. This was the bombardment about which Nathan Jr. is credited with warning the town.
The Stewart homestead, about 1900.
This is apparently the house that Nathan Stewart built on Stewart Hill.
It apparently not the house that was under construction when William Jr. died. Nathan was only 14 when his father died and unless the house sat unfinished for years, it is doubtful that he would have been credited with building it as an adult. Grace Denison Wheeler's 1903 book, Homes of our Ancestors, says that "the first Stewart house was north of Stewart Hill."
Nathan and Barbary had ten children, including Cyrus, born February 14, 1792. All would have been born in this house.
This is another view of the house, taken on the same day. The Stewart Cemetery is behind the two men on the left.
This is how the house appeared in 2004, photographed by our distant cousin, Midge Frazel, who maintains a wonderful blog that contains a tremendous amount of information on the Stewarts. Unfortunately, the house was torn down shortly after this photo was taken.
A great-grandson of Nathan, George P. Stewart, lived in the house with his wife Myra when the gathering pictured above took place. They were living there in 1904 when George's sister, Elizabeth, died. The gathering pictured at the house above may have been her funeral.
After George P. died, Myra and her unmarried son, George Floyd Stewart, continued to live there until Myra's death in 1930. George Floyd Stewart was likely the last Stewart born in the house.
This is a detail from the church ledger recording Nathan and Barbary's marriage and the birth of their children.
Cyrus' birth is recorded here. Nathan and Barbary died in Stonington in the early 1800s.
Nathan Stewart died November 1, 1813, at the age of 69.
Barbary (Palmer) Stewart had died before him on March 15, 1805 at the age of 55.
They are buried in the Great Plain Cemetery in Stonington. My mother, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith, and I visited their graves once in the 1980s and had a picnic there.
After the Revolutionary War, there was a wave of migration from the coastal colonies west into what is now north-central and western New York, driven largely by land speculators rushing to fill the vacuum left by earlier Loyalist settlers who withdrew to Canada, and to take advantage of the now clarified legal status of the new United States.
Much has been written about this migration, which was known generally as "Genesee Fever," after the Genesee River valley in western New York where many of the settlers headed (only to come down with malaria, which then became known as Genesee fever). Many Stonington families were caught up in the frenzy.
The land grab was facilitated by the notorious Sullivan Campaign, ordered by then-General George Washington in 1779 to destroy the Iroquois nation, much of which had sided with the British in the war.
The campaign pursued a “scorched earth” policy of burning Indian villages and fields and was followed by a series of treaties with the remnant tribes that had not fled to Canada for British protection.
Among those treaties was one signed on September 22, 1788 at Fort Schuyler (now Utica, New York) between Governor George Clinton and a council of Oneida Indian chiefs.
The Oneidas were one of the two Iroquois tribes that had sided with the American revolutionaries. The treaty created a reservation for the tribe, which it lost in the subsequent American expansion. (The tribe is trying to reclaim the land and today operates the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York).
The treaty also ceded a large swath of Oneida land to the state of New York.
That land, about 460,800 acres, became known as the “Twenty Townships” because it was divided into 20 numbered, nameless six-mile-square administrative districts in 1791.
This survey and subdivision was an early implementation of the Public Land Survey System that was adopted by the Land Ordinance of 1785, later replaced by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, under which the young United States sought to manage the lands acquired by the Treaty of Paris following the end of the Revolutionary War.
Under the system, land west of the Appalachian Mountains, north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi was split into square townships, six miles on each side, and then further divided into 36 square sections, one mile on each side, or 640 acres. The sections were further subdivided into lots for sale.
Land agents from the coast were soon swarming across the territory, buying lots for investors back east. Among those agents were Stephen Hoxie and Phineas Babcock, representing investors from Rhode Island and Connecticut. They reached Albany in the spring of 1791 and bought thirteen lots in the south-east corner of the 19th township, paying fifty cents per acre.
About the same time, Capt. Daniel Brown, from Stonington, Connecticut, was making his way west to the Genesee Valley. He took a break when he reached the Unadilla River, which forms the eastern border of the twenty townships. He liked the area so much that he decided to stay and bought lot 82 of township 19 from Hoxie and Babcock. He was the first settler in the township, which became Brookfield, New York.
James H. Smith’s 1880 “The History of Chenango and Madison Counties, New York” gives this account of Daniel Brown’s arrival.
Capt. Brown, who was then well advanced in years, being sixty-six years of age, started with the intention of settling in the famed Genesee Valley. Fortuitously taking a southern route, after a toilsome journey of twenty-one days with an ox team, he arrived in the latter part of June, at the residence of Percifer Carr, who had settled on the east bank of the Unadilla, in the town of Edmeston.Nathan and Barbary Stewart’s oldest boy, Nathan Jr., married Capt. Brown's daughter, Anna, in Stonington around that time.
Mr. Brown and his weary companions gladly accepted Mr. Carr's proffered hospitality; and while enjoying this repose he was so charmed with the beautiful scenery, fertility of soil and delightful climate, that he resolved to abandon the projected settlement in the Genesee country and take up his abode on the west bank of the Unadilla, a few miles above the Carr residence.
He accordingly located on lot 82 of the 19th township, and built his house on the hill, a mile west of Leonardsville, on the farm now occupied by Thomas Hewey, and owned by Daniel Hardin, who married a granddaughter of his. There he and his second wife, Abigail Crary, died, the former Dec. 25, 1814, aged 89, and the latter Feb. 18, 1810, aged 76.
Mr. Brown selected with a reverent appropriateness the Fourth of July, the nation's birthday, as the time to plant the germ of the settlement; and as the first rays of the morning sun gilded the tree tops on that day, his ax raised the first echoes of the woodman's song, and heralded the advance of civilization in the western wilds.
Other members of his party settled near him, and several clearings were made before autumn; so that this year witnessed the settlement in various localities, or rather preparations for settlement, among others, by David Maine, Samuel H. Burdick, Samuel Billings and Stephen Collins. All returned east in the fall except Mr. Brown, whose ingenuity was taxed to provide a subsistence for himself and cattle during the severe winter which followed. The latter were mainly supported by browsing in the woods, with some coarse hay cut on the beaver meadow, and drawn home on hurdles "attached to the tails of the oxen."
In the spring of 1792, Capt. Brown's family came in; and in that year he built on Mill Creek the first saw-mill in the town. He was a clothier by trade, but had abandoned that vocation before coming here.
He had two children by his first wife, Daniel and Thede, the former of whom removed to the Genesee country soon after his father left Connecticut; the latter died before they came here.
He had twelve children by his second wife, viz: Abigail, Desire, Eunice, Lucy, Susan, Temperance, Anna, Fanny, Jabish, Nathan, Isaac and Catharine. His ten daughters were tall stalwart women, and it was facetiously remarked that Capt. Brown had sixty feet of daughters, each of them being six feet in height.
According to a 1920 typewritten history by members of the Stewart family then in Arkansas, Capt. Brown offered Nathan Jr. "a year’s provisions and 50 acres of land on condition of his settling in the then wilderness of Central New York. Nathan accepted the offer and added to the original acreage so that at the time of his death, the farm comprised about 144 acres. He was a carpenter by trade and a man greatly esteemed."
Nathan Jr. and Anna moved sometime between the birth of their first child, Isaac, in Stonington on June 5, 1792 and their second, Elizabeth, in Brookfield on Dec. 22, 1793. They most likely moved in the spring of 1793.
The June 1926 edition of Stewart Clan Magazine reports that "In 1793 he went to Brookfield, Madison, NY, then a wilderness. He was a carpenter. His wife died May 31, 1823 in Brookfield. He married second August 22, 1824 in New Brelin, NY, Mrs. Honor Brown Angell born in Rehoboth, Mass., daughter of Thomas Brown. He died April 30, 1850 in Brookfield. His widow Honor died a few years later in Akron, Ohio."
According to Mr. Smith’s 1880 History:
Anna married Nathan Steward, who came here from Stonington in 1794, and settled about two and a half miles northeast of Clarkville, where Erastus Maxson now lives, and where she died. He married again and afterwards removed to the river road and died there.Nathan Jr.'s brother, George Palmer Stewart followed him to New York soon after marrying a girl named Mary “Polly” Hewitt on Jan. 1, 1812. But "wolves, fevers, and ague were such disastrous neighbors that they returned to Connecticut spending the remainder of their lives in North Stonington," according to Wheeler’s history. They are both buried in the Stewart Hill Cemetery on Stewart Hill.
Nathan Jr.'s youngest brother, Cyrus, tried next, moving to Brookfield sometime after the birth of his first child in 1819.
Little is known about Cyrus’ early years. He grew up in North Stonington where an inventory of the town's taxable assets in 1808, when Cyrus was 10, provides a snapshot of the local economy:
A little more than half of the town's area was used for cultivation or pasture, the remainder being taken up by wooded land, much of it rocky outcrops or swamps. The town's roughly 2,500 residents lived in about 750 dwellings and owned about 445 mature oxen and bulls, 1,354 cattle, and 388 horses. There were 3,335 sheep, a reflection of the prodigious wool business. Trade barriers erected by the United States against British textile imports had spurred considerable domestic demand for woolen products in those years.
North Stonington had five stores, all of which had connected taverns. There were four standalone taverns as well.
Two residents owned chaises - light, wheeled carriages with a folding hood, and there was one carriage on springs. Only nine people owned clocks with "steel and brass parts."
Cyrus served in the War of 1812 as a private in Capt. Russel Rose's company of the Connecticut Militia.
The Wikipedia entry for North Stonington contains this account of the Stonington militia's exploits during the war:
North Stonington and its older sister Stonington played an enthusiastic role in the War of 1812, even if the war itself was deeply unpopular in Connecticut and elsewhere in New England.
During the war North Stonington resident Lieutenant Colonel William Randall, the great-grandson of original settler John Randall, commanded the 30th regiment of Connecticut militia, which was mobilized twice.
The first time was in June 1813, when Randall’s regiment—which consisted of about 300 men, equally from Stonington and North Stonington—force-marched overnight in driving rain to Groton to help defend the city against a feared landing by British naval forces.
The 30th Regiment returned to the colors again in August 1814, when a squadron of British warships bombarded Stonington Borough in preparation for a raid on the town.
It was during this battle that Lantern Hill obtained the nickname “Tar Barrel Hill,” because, in anticipation of an attack on Stonington, soldiers had moved pitch in barrels to its summit to set them alight to serve as an alarm if British forces appeared in The Sound. The flames and smoke from this hill alerted Randall and his men to react and move quickly to Stonington Point to repulse the attempted raiding party that intended to put Stonington Borough to the torch.
An article on the battle in the August 19, 1814 edition of Boston's
The Weekly Messenger newspaper.
The Weekly Messenger newspaper.
We know that on October 24, 1816, Cyrus married a girl named Sophie Crocker in the town of Bozrah, Connecticut. Sophie, or Sophia, was the daughter of William Crocker and Sybel Lathrop. She had been born in Bozrah on October 18, 1794.
1816 was known as the 'Year Without a Summer' because of low temperatures in the northern hemisphere, the result of the Mount Tambora volcanic eruption in Indonesia in 1815. Lord Byron, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and their friend John Polidori spent the rainy summer on Lake Geneva telling each other ghost stories. Mary wrote Frankenstein as a result.
In August, American and European ships bombarded Algiers to force the Ottoman Dey to release 3,000 Christian slaves. James and Dolly Madison were in the White House but James Monroe's presidential campaign was drawing to a close and he would be elected in November.
The U.S. economy, meanwhile, was in a mild depression following a period of rampant inflation and financial panic that marked the end of the war in 1815. Cyrus and Sophie would soon face the Panic of 1819, which featured widespread foreclosures, bank failures, unemployment, a collapse in real estate prices, and a slump in agriculture and manufacturing.
Cyrus and Sophie had a son, Ezekiel Lathrop, on February 18, 1819, the year of the panic. He was named after Sophie's maternal grandfather, Ezekiel Lathrop, a great, great grandson of John Lothropp, founder of Barnstable, Massachusetts.
We don't know how the family managed through those difficult years, but Cyrus shows up in the 1830 census living with Sophie and his son in Brookfield beside his brother, Nathan Jr. Many names from Stonington show up in the census, indicating that there was a larger migration from the town to the area around that time.
It was an interesting time in New York. Steamboats had been operating on the Hudson River since 1807 and the The Erie Canal, linking Albany and Buffalo, opened in 1825, making central and western New York easily accessible from New York City and the eastern seaboard. The combination of canal and steamboats suddenly made the Great Lakes region accessible, too.
Meanwhile, central and western New York was at the heart of the Second Great Awakening - a religious revival that swept the state with such completeness that the area was later dubbed by historians as the 'burned-over district' because there were so few potential converts left to populate the various sects that arose there.
In 1830, about 130 miles west of Brookfield, Joseph Smith published The Book of Mormon and established the Church of Christ - later renamed the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Thomas Hastings, meanwhile, composed the hymn Rock of Ages in nearby Clinton, N.Y., that year.
Cyrus and Sophie had a daughter, Frances C., on Feb. 8, 1831, but she died in early childhood. Cyrus' second son, George Henry, was born in Madison County, New York on January 24, 1833.
Patricia Anna (Stewart) Smith has a wooden box carved by George Henry, with an inscription that says he made it in Madison County, New York, in 1840 when he was eight years old.
That means the family lived in Madison County until at least 1840.
A label that describes the box.
Reverse side of the label.
The Stewart family history written in 1920 says that "a portion" of Cyrus' "early life was spent at the old Stewart homestead in Brookfield, N.Y. Later, he went across the Pennsylvania line to a point not far from Binghampton (sic), N.Y., where he remained until 1849, when he removed to Dane Co., Wis. Here he farmed forty acres of his land coming to him on a Government Land Warrant."
Between 1828 and 1833, state land records show that Cyrus bought and sold several lots in Preston, New York, south of Brookfield. The census of 1840 finds him and his family still further south in Dimock, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, just below Binghamton, New York.
While Cyrus and his family were in Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, his eldest son, Ezekiel Lathrop, married a woman named Emeline Allen. County records list the son as 'E.L.C. Stewart' - the C. may have stood for Crocker or Cyrus, but Mary Jo Magill, a descendant of his line, believes that he may have been known simply as Lathrop and census records support that. He and Emeline, both listed as residents of Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, were married on September 13, 1843.
Finally, Cyrus followed the migration west to Wisconsin, arriving in 1848 according to a later obituary of his grandson, George Lathrop Stewart.
Hugh Brogan, in his 1984 History of the United States of America, writes,
To those New Englanders who moved west, Puritanism remained a living force, setting its stamp as deeply on nineteenth century and the Mississippi valley as it had on the seventeenth century and Connecticut.Certainly, the Stewarts were pious and by family accounts, austere.
Federal land records show that Cyrus bought 40 acres of public land at Wisconsin's Mineral Point land office on July 5, 1850. Mineral Point was the largest town in the territory at the time, the focus of an earlier lead mining boom. The Indians had mined lead there for years, using the ore to make black body paint, and whites started arriving to dig for the area's 'gray gold' in 1820. Lead was in high demand for the manufacture of pewter, pipes, and of course, ammunition for the firearms of an expanding U.S. military.
Most of the Indians were resettled west of the Mississippi following the Indian Removal Act of 1830, but hostilities with the tribes in the area didn't end until after the Black Hawk war of 1832. [Black Hawk's band of roughly 500 warriors likely crossed what was later Stewart land and one battle in the war was fought about 20 miles west of where Cyrus Stewart settled.] Abraham Lincoln served as a captain in the war, though he famously said that while others may have seen "live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes, and although I never fainted from the loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry."
Following the suppression of the Indians, government surveyors and private land agents moved in to help fill the void in what is universally described as beautiful country. Mineral Point was chosen as the site of one of two federal land offices responsible for distributing public land to settlers within the area that now encompasses Wisconsin. The other office as at Green Bay.
Here you can read an account of how the land appeared to another settler who arrived in 1847.
These are the surveyor's notes for the land that Cyrus bought. The surveyor calls the land "rolling" and "second rate," the timber mostly oak. An 1877 history of the county noted that the area where Cyrus farmed was broken up by bluffs and suffered from a scarcity of water.
This is a plat survey of the township in which Cyrus bought his land. I have outlined Cyrus' land in red, according to the description given in the land patent above.
Here, I've outlined the approximate borders of the farm in yellow on a Google satellite image.
This is a closeup of the image showing that a road leading to the farm is still called Stewart Road. You can click on all of these images to see them larger.
By 1850, Wisconsin was promoting immigration from eastern states as well as from Europe. Still, the year Cyrus arrived, the population of Dane county was just 16,628. About a tenth of those people were in Madison, the county's largest town and capital of the state, which had risen from nothing little more than a decade before. The tin dome on the capitol building was just 12 years old. Cyrus' farm was about 20 miles north, near the small town of Dane, which had been established just a few years before he arrived.
Wheat was the principal crop around the town for the first twenty years, but the soil couldn't support it and farmers gradually shifted to hay and livestock, according to an early history.
Cyrus' farm was just north of Hyers Corners, named for a hotel built there by David R. Hyer.
Hyer had come with his brother Nathaniel to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from Vermont in the 1830s. In June, 1837, he was part of a group of about forty men who arrived in the Four Lakes region with four wagons of provisions and tools to build the newly established Wisconsin Territory's capital, Madison.
The site was chosen largely because of its location halfway between the new and growing city of Milwaukee in the east and the long established strategic post of Prairie du Chien in the west, and between the highly populated lead mining regions in the southwest and Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay in the northeast.
After helping build the capitol building and the town's first church, Hyer built a boarding house in Madison and later a hotel and tavern at Deerfield. He built another hotel in Madison in 1854 and in 1862 built the Hyer House hotel at Hyer's Corner, where he lived until 1891.
A man named Freedom Simons is credited with founding of Dane just five years before Cyrus arrived.
This honor must be accredited to Freedom Simons, the first settler of the town of Dane. He, with his family, consisting of his wife and children, immigrated from Cayuga county, N. Y., landing in Milwaukee on the 6th day of September, 1842. To give the reader something of an idea of the privations and hardships which the early settlers endured, we will give a few incidents in the life of this pioneer family.The term 'sucker' was a reference to early ox teams and laborers who traveled north to the Wisconsin lead mines in the warm months and returned south in the cold, much as a kind of carp, called suckers, migrated up and down the Mississippi with the seasons. Sucker teams, incidentally, generally pulled Pennsylvania wagons, also known as Conestoga wagons (named for the Pennsylvania town where they were introduced by German immigrants) or prairie schooners, the archetypal covered wagons of America's westward expansion.
Arriving at Milwaukee on board a steamer which came to anchor at a considerable distance from shore (there being no docks or piers), they were taken on board a lighter and landed safely where the city of Milwaukee now stands. One small warehouse accommodated all the freight business of the state at that point. After landing, Mr. Simons set to work to find means of conveyance from Milwaukee to Prairie du Sac, the place of his destination. At that time there were no public means of conveyance; no horse teams to be had, so he chartered what was known in those days as a "Sucker team," which consisted of five yoke of oxen. After six days travel, he reached the place of his destination.
In the spring of 1843, he settled in what is now the town of Springfield, near where Hyer's hotel stands. Simons' was the only house between Fourth lake and Prairie du Sac. He took part in the organization of the voting precinct, consisting of all the territory between Fourth lake and the Wisconsin river.
At the first election seven votes were polled, and Mr. Simons elected justice of the peace; he also received the appointment of post master, and the office was named Dane, after Dane county, through the influence of Mr. John Catlin of Madison.
We don't know how Cyrus and his family traveled from Madison County, N.Y., to Madison, Wisconsin, but it was likely similar to Hyer's trip. They would likely have taken a train or stagecoach or barge to Buffalo, N.Y., where they would have boarded a lake steamer to Toledo or Detroit and then switched to another train to New Buffalo on Lake Michigan, where they would have boarded another steamer for Milwaukee and then taken a sucker team and wagon west to their new home.
In November, 1855, Cyrus' eldest son, Ezekiel Lathrop, now 36 years old, bought forty acres in section 28, about half a mile northwest of his father's farm. It's approximate location is outlined in green above.
Then, in recognition of his service in the War of 1812, the government granted Cyrus a warrant redeemable for 120 acres of land in Vernon County, about 50 miles further west. It may have been anticipation of this grant that drew Cyrus to Wisconsin.
Rather than take the land, he chose to sell the warrant, as many veterans who received such warrants did. In October 1857, he assigned it to a man named Napoleon Bonaparte Van Slyke for an unknown amount of money. The above document records that transfer.
Van Slyke was a farmer-turned-banker who arrived in Madison from New York in early 1853, according to a biography of Dane County personalities. He was presumably descended from Cornelius Antonissen Van Slyke, who came to the New World as a carpenter at the age of 30 to work for Kiliaen van Rensselaer, a Dutch diamond and pearl merchant and one of the founders and directors of the Dutch West India Company. Rensselaer was one of New Netherland's first patroons and founded the Manor of Rensselaerswyck, which spanned the Hudson River at what is now Albany, New York.
Cornelius Van Slyke became an interpreter for the Mohawk nation, was adopted into the tribe, and met and married a French-Mohawk woman, according to the genealogist Lorine McGinnis Schulze. The Van Slykes were granted large tracts of land and their descendants remained prominent landowners in central New York for many years.
Soon after his arrival in Wisconsin and backed by railroad men, Napoleon B. Van Slyke organized the Dane County Bank, which subsequently became the First National Bank of Madison. He later became president of the Wisconsin Bankers' Association. As a member of Madison's first city council, Van Slyke was the driving force behind a controversial $100,000 bond scheme to finance Madison's early development - the city received less than $80,000 from the sale of the bonds but the issuance helped establish Van Slyke financially. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and went on to become a pillar of Madison society, living in a large home on what is now called "Mansion Hill."
It is possible that Van Slyke financed Cyrus' move to Wisconsin on the promise of the land warrant.
By 1854, the railroad from Milwaukee had reached Madison and by 1857, the railroad connected the city to the Mississippi River in the west and development took off. It was this railroad, which kept snaking west, that would eventually take the Stewarts to Montana.
George Henry Stewart
Cyrus and his son, George Henry, got involved in local politics, as recorded in the March 12, 1863 edition of the Wisconsin Daily Patriot:
At a meeting of the Democrats of the towns of Dane and Vienna, held at the house of William Rapp, in the town of Dane, on the 26th of February, 1863, Cyrus Stewart was chosen President and G.H. Stewart, secretary.The Civil War was underway. George Henry was 30, ripe for the draft of July that year, which included all able-bodied men between the ages 20 and 35.
The national Democratic party had split over slavery. Jefferson Davis led the Southern Democrats into rebellion while Stephen Douglas led the Northern Democrats in a failed bid for the presidency on a platform of "popular sovereignty," which would have allowed pro-slavery states to continue the practice but did not endorse slavery outright.
The Republican Party, founded in Wisconsin a decade earlier, backed Lincoln and later blamed the Democrats for the war. (For almost a century afterward, the Democratic party was enfeebled in Wisconsin, with Republicans controlling virtually all offices.)
The Northern Democrats, meanwhile, fractured between the so-called Copperheads - conservative Democrats who wanted peace and opposed the draft - and more moderate Democrats who supported the Union's cause. The Wisconsin Daily Patriot was part of the "Copperhead press," and while there is no evidence, or family lore, to indicate what George Henry's sympathies were toward the South, it's clear that he didn't serve in the war. Loopholes in the draft allowed many young men of means to stay home.
About 15 years after the family arrived in Wisconsin, George Henry Stewart married a war widow named Mary Alice Miller Tubbs.
According to George Henry's Bible, in which he recorded births, marriages and deaths, Mary was born to John and Lucinda Miller in Alburgh, Grand Isle County, Vermont, on December 6, 1841. They moved to Wisconsin where Mary married Daniel V. Tubbs, son of Ezra Tubbs and Annice Dayton Stone, on March 31, 1861.
Mary bore Daniel a child, Daniel M. Tubbs on March 14, 1862.
Daniel V. Tubbs was a private in the 23rd Regiment Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, which was organized at Madison, Wisconsin and mustered into Federal service August 30, 1862.
Among the possessions left by Morris B. Stewart, there are a series of envelopes written in January and March, 1862, and addressed to a Capt. John H. Knight at Drummondtown, Virginia and others written in November and December of that year and addressed to Capt. Knight at Salisbury, Maryland.
The contents of these letters are missing but Capt. Knight was a Mustering and Disbursing Officer originally out of Detroit, Michigan, so the letters were presumably regarding Daniel’s service - the earlier ones possibly regarding the birth of his son and the latter possibly regarding his health.
There is also an envelope addressed to Mary A. Tubbs in care of her father, John Miller, at Dane, Wisconsin. The date and provenance is uncertain but it may have been written by Daniel or a comrade during the war.
Daniel’s unit appears to have moved from garrisons at Newport, Paris, Lexington and Nicholasville, Kentucky between the end of September and the end of October, 1862, without seeing any combat. They moved to Louisville and then to Memphis, Tenn., during the weeks of November 8 to November 27, 1862.
All of these places were solidly under Union control by the time the 23rd Infantry arrived there. Tubbs’ unit left Memphis in December, 1862, and subsequently engaged in a series of actions beginning with the Yazoo Pass Expedition and other battles of the Vicksburg Campaign, including the eventual siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
But Daniel saw none of this action. He died in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 1, 1863, left behind when his unit had moved out the previous December. Regimental records list him as having died of disease. His regiment lost 42 men to combat during the course of the war but lost 267 to illness - mostly dysentery and pneumonia.
On March 22, 1865, as the war was winding down, Mary married George Henry in Columbia County, north of Dane - less than a month before Abraham Lincoln's assassination pitched the country into mourning. George and Mary had a son, George Lathrop Stewart, on March 12, 1866 in Dane County. Their second son, Albert Henry Stewart, was born in 1870.
A transcription of the births, marriages and deaths recorded in George Henry Stewart's family Bible.
(from the possessions of Jack Stewart)
By 1873, Cyrus had added 60 acres to his original 40 as shown in this map of that year published by Harrison & Warner.
Cyrus' oldest son, Ezekiel Lathrop, had sold his original 40 acres to J. Keighinger and had accumulated a larger spread east of Cyrus' farm. George Henry, now 40 years old, was farming on land he had purchased to the west of his father and which he would eventually expand to include much of Ezekiel Lathrop's land.
Ezekiel Lathrop eventually moved west to the Dakotas, though his son, Lathrop Henry Stewart, later returned to live in Waunakee where he married Florence Amelia Ford - the daughter of Daniel V. Tubbs' sister, Harriett, and a man named Archibald Ford. Lathrop Henry, his wife, Florence Amelia and their daughter "Nellie" are buried in Kingsley Cemetery, a private cemetery on farmland to the west of Waunakee.
An eastbound freight train
leaving Baraboo toward Devils Lake, Wisconsin, in 1906.
Photo borrowed from the collection of Lou Schmitz.
In 1870, the year Albert Henry was born, the Baraboo Air Line Railroad, linking Dane to Chicago and Minneapolis, was built through town. It allowed easy transportation to both Madison and Lodi, towns that would figure in the Stewarts' Wisconsin years. The railway is visible in the map above where it runs through the hamlet of Dane. You can read a history of the Baraboo Air Line here
Cyrus died in Dane County on July 31, 1876 - about month after Custer's Last Stand, to give it some historical perspective. Jack Stewart had a copy of Cyrus Stewart’s obituary and as I recall he died after falling or being dragged by a horse. The 1920 history written by the Arkansas Stewarts says that Cyrus "came to his death through being thrown from a horse which he was riding to water, at the same time leading another. He was buried near Waunakee, Wis. He was a man highly respected by all who knew him."
Sophie, Cyrus' wife, died January, 23 1877. Both are buried in Waunakee's Union Cemetery. Waunakee was just east of the Stewart farm.
The national census of 1880 finds George Henry Stewart, a farmer now 47 years old, living with his wife and two boys in Dane County.
James Garfield won the presidential election that year and Wabash, Indiana, installed streetlights to became the first electrically lit city in the world.
Volume 8 of the Collections of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, published in 1908, lists "a small red stone pipe, found in Dane, Dane County, from GH Stewart."
Patricia Stewart Smith has such a pipe, which was among the possessions of her father, Morris Stewart. Presumably, it is the pipe mentioned in the historical society document, brought West by George Henry's son, Albert Henry Stewart. It is actually the stone bowl of a calumet, commonly known as a peace pipe, smoked on ceremonial occasions.
The pipe is similar to this one, used by the Sauk warrior, Black Hawk, and now exhibited at the Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island, Illinois.
George L. Stewart was 14 and the census noted his occupation as “works on farm,” meaning he had already left school. Albert Henry was 10 and the census noted that he was “at school,” most certainly School No. 10 south of the farm. The household included Daniel M. Tubbs, 18, Mary’s son from her first marriage. A 20-year-old man named William Youngblood, from Mecklen, Wisconsin, is listed as a hired hand. Youngblood is a Native American name.
George Henry prospered and his landholdings spread, though family lore has not remembered him fondly. Charles Stewart, his great-grandson, recalled hearing that he wouldn't allow his wife to spend money on curtains and shoes for his boys were a considered a treat. Above is a turn of the century county map with George Henry's property outlined in red.
This is a detail of the map. You can see that his property included some of Ezekiel Lathrop' farm. Ezekiel Lathrop has disappeared from the county, apparently having moved to the Dakotas.
By laying the detail over a Google Earth map, you can see that some of the farm buildings from George Henry's time are still there. Presumably one of these is where his sons George Lathrop and Albert Henry grew up. Click on the image to see it larger. School No. 10 is presumably where young Albert Henry went to school.
This is a photo (from Google Maps) of the farm just north of the school as it appears today. The house is recent but the barn may be from George Henry Stewart's day.
This is a photo (also from Google Maps) of the farm on the land further west. We don't know which one George Henry lived on or whether A.H. Stewart lived on one for a while. We know that A.H. lived on a farm in Lodi, further north, before moving to Montana, but Morris, his son, talked of being born at Hyers Corner or Corners.
Both farms and the school are in Section 33, just north of Hyers Corners in this map.
Albert Henry Stewart
On January 1, 1893, Albert Henry, by then 23, married Marian E. Tipple, two years his senior.
Marian was born in Oregon, Wisconsin, on February 28, 1868, the daughter of Huntington Tipple and Hannah Kurtz.
Hannah Kurtz Tipple
Huntington Tipple was prominent enough in Dane County to be profiled in “The Biographical Review of Dane County, Wisconsin” that same year. Though we may not be familiar with his name, Huntington was Morris Stewart's grandfather and is a great-grandfather or great-great-grandfather, etc., to everyone descended from Morris Stewart.
It is interesting that he, too, came to Wisconsin from Madison County, New York. The Stewart and Tipple families probably knew each other in New York or at least were part of a larger migration of families from Madison County to Wisconsin.
Huntington TIPPLE was born in the town of Fenner, Madison County, New York, 27 February 1822, and was the son of Abraham TIPPLE, who was born at Schoharie [Schoharie County], New York, and his father Martin TIPPLE, was a former resident of Dutchess County, New York.Huntington Tipple died five years after the biographical sketch was written. His obituary appeared on the front page of Evansville's Tribune on November 8, 1898.
He [Martin TIPPLE] was of German ancestry as far as is known. He removed from Dutchess County to Schoharie County and from there to Oneida County [NY], where he was one of the pioneers, and there spent the remainder of his days.
The maiden name of the grandmother of our subject [the wife of Martin TIPPLE] was Margaret OSTERHAUT, and she was of Holland ancestry. She [Mrs. Martin TIPPLE] reared seven children: George, Cornelius, Peter, Abraham [the father of Huntington TIPPLE], John, David, and Jacob.
The father of our subject [Abraham TIPPLE] was thirteen years old when his parents [Martin and Margaret (OSTERHAUT) TIPPLE]removed to Oneida County [NY], and there he was reared. After reaching manhood he [Abraham TIPPLE] purchased forty acres of timber land in the town of Verona, Oneida County [NY]. He was industrious and possessed good judgment, hence was a successful business man.
In connection with his farming he operated a stone quarry and conducted a store and meat market. He later purchased five other tracts of forty acres, making in all six farms extending along one street. He resided in Verona [Oneida County, NY]some years and then removed to what is now Verona Center, Oneida County, New York, where he purchased an hotel, with quite a tract of land, which he platted and started a village.
Here he [Abraham TIPPLE] resided until his death, in 1861.
Our subject [Huntington TIPPLE] was reared and educated in his native State [NY] and things were in a very primitive condition then. Simple ways prevailed, and although times were not as when his grandfather [Martin TIPPLE] came to the State [NY] and found more Indians than whites, with no railroads and no means of travel except by the slow canal routes, still, removed from the great centers, life went on very quietly and with little change.
He [Abraham TIPPLE] remembers when wheat was a luxury, corn and rye bread forming the staples of living, and nothing in the way of groceries were bought for constant use. A few of what we now  consider necessities were kept for severe illness or honored guests, but among the early life in most pioneer counties the sassafras bush furnished the tea and maple the sugar on most tables.
Our subject [Huntington TIPPLE] made the best of his opportunities for obtaining an education, but he was reared to habits of thrift and at an early age began to assist on the farm and to make himself useful. Until 1843 he remained in Oneida County [NY], then removed to Chautauqua County [NY], and in 1845 came to the Territory of Wisconsin [not a state until 29 May 1848].
In company with Norman SIMMONS he started with one horse and wagon, intending to drive all the way, but at Ashabula [Astabula County], Ohio, he drove into a shed to feed the horse and there the latter became fractious, broke the wagon, and, in consequence, they changed their plans. The second day they were fortunate enough to secure a ride to Grand River [Lake County, OH, just west of Ashtabula County], and there embarked on a steamer to Milwaukee [Milwaukee County, Territory of Wisconsin], where our subject secured a ride with a farmer as far as Rock Prairie [?], where he visited a brother-in-law nearby.
In October [1845?] he started out on foot to seek a home which would suit his ambitious ideas, purse, and fancy, and came directly to Dane County.
At that time Madison [Dane County, Territory of Wisconsin] was but a hamlet, with only two small stores. The country was but sparsely settled and the land had not yet been purchased by the Government, and deer and other wild game were plentiful, roaming at will.
He [Hunginton TIPPLE] selected a tract of Government land in section 7, in what is now the town of Rutland [Dane County, WI], and on foot went to [the land office at] Milwaukee and purchased the land, paying $1.25 per acre.
Being single and with limited means, he worked for others a portion of the time to enable him to get his living, and the remainder of the time he labored on his land. This did not continue, for in 1848 he [Huntington TIPPLE] erected a log cabin, married, and began housekeeping in that humble abode.
However, this state did not long continue either, for soon the land was cleared, a frame house took the place of the old one, and two barns were built. Here the family lived until 1864, and then he traded his farm for a home and twelve acres of land in the village of Oregon [Dane County, WI]. At this place he resided but a few months and then purchased a farm at Lake Harriet, in the town of Oregon.
He has since bought, occupied, and sold several farms, being successful as a farmer and dealer in real estate. Our subject was active in all of his business interests until recently, when he settled down to the enjoyment of a quiet comfort in the village of Oregon [Dane County, WI].
In 1848 our subject [Huntington TIPPLE] married Hannah E. KURTZ, who was born in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, a daughter of Joseph KURTZ. Mr. and Mrs. TIPPLE [Huntington and Hannah E. (KURTZ) TIPPLE] have seven children: Romanus C., Horatio, Helen, Amanda, Hattie H., Edna, and Marian. Mrs. TIPPLE is a member of the Presbyterian Church.
He [Huntington TIPPLE] has been a Republican since the formation of the party  and attended the second constitutional convention, which convened in 1848, at which he, with another gentleman, had charge of the mail distributed to the distinguished members at that time.
DIEDMrs. N. D. Wilder was Marian's sister, Harriet (Hattie) Hosmer Tipple, who had married Newton David Wilder.
Mr. Hunting Tipple, aged 76 years, died at his home at Oregon on Friday, November 4, 1898. Mr. Tipple was born in Fenner, N. Y. He came to this state in 1845, where he has since resided a very highly respected citizen. He leaves two sons and four daughters to mourn their sad loss, his wife having preceded him to the promised land on November 24, 1892.
The funeral was held at his home on Sunday, November 6, and largely attended. Mr. and Mrs. N. D. Wilder closed their residence here and have been caring for the deceased, Mrs. Wilder's father, since October 21st. An able funeral discourse was delivered by the resident Presbyterian minister, Rev. Mr. Jugh.
On Nov. 27, 1893, about eleven months after Albert Henry and Marian were married, she gave birth to Morris Bradford Stewart. They eventually had two more children, Beryl and Marie.
By the 1900 census, George Henry is listed as a 'landlord,' and his son, George Lathrop, is listed with his growing family on a nearby farm, which he owned with a mortgage.
Some distance away lived Albert Henry and his young family, also on a farm but one that he rented. It is possible that Albert rented this farm from his father. In a 2002 intensive survey of Dane County, historian Timothy F. Heggland notes that George Henry contracted a house from a local architect and builder named Carl C. Menes.
Menes was a Norwegian immigrant who arrived in Wisconsin in 1886 at the age of 16 and moved to Lodi with his wife and children in 1897. He was a self-taught architect who built many "Queen Anne" style homes, "favored by members of Wisconsin's middle class in the late 1890s," according to Heggland.
Heggland writes that George Henry contracted Menes to build a "farmhouse," but that the location is not known. The original house on George Henry's farm at Hyers Corners is apparently gone, so we don't know what it looked like. But the Lodi house that Albert lived in, pictured below, was a Queen Anne style with characteristics typical of the houses that Menes built. It may have been built by Menes and may be the house that George Henry contracted him to build.
If you click on the picture to see it larger, you can see the name "A.H. Stewart" over the door of the barn behind the house. This picture was among Morris' possessions. On the back is written, in Morris Stewart's hand, "Stewart house in Lodi, Wisc." Patricia (Stewart) Smith added at a later date, "Morris Stewart's boyhood home."
A button with little Morris' picture on it.
George Henry Stewart
George Henry Stewart died in Dane on Christmas Day, 1903, around the time the photograph below was taken of his grandchildren, Morris, Beryl and Marie. George Henry's wife, Mary, died on March 18, 1906. I remember Morris once showing me a picture of Mary and telling me that he remembers her making delicious sticky buns.
It’s not clear what happened to the family farm. Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith believes that George Henry had leased it to someone and recalls that her father, Morris, went back to Wisconsin to settle affairs related to the farm after A.H. had died. Charles Stewart, Morris' oldest son, has no recollection of that but remembers Morris and A.H. going back earlier, together.
Marian with her youngest daughter, Marie,
probably on their Dane County farm.
probably on their Dane County farm.
Marian was not well and went in 1907 to recuperate from an unknown illness in Sioux City, South Dakota - more than 400 miles away and a long way to travel for anything but a serious affliction.
She wrote to Morris on Aug. 7, 1907, addressing the letter simply “Morris B. Stewart, Dane Station, Wisconsin. RFD 87.” The address suggests that Morris was still living on the farm, though her reference to writing to Albert Henry in Madison suggests that a move was already afoot.
The stationery bears the imprint of a raised fist emanating rays. The envelope is addressed in ink but the letter is written in pencil.
Dear Son Morris,Helen was Marian's older sister and may have been living in Sioux Falls. Osteopathy was still a new branch of medicine – the first school of osteopathy had opened in Kirksville, Missouri, just 15 years earlier. Marian’s illness was, perhaps, an early bout of the depression that was eventually to claim her life.
I wrote to your father yesterday and addressed the letter to Madison as he requested me to.
I am so sorry you strained your stomach coming down that rope and I have thought of you so often and wonder how you are now.
Morris if you are well again, try to eat of all the different kinds of food there is on the table for you will be so much healthier and have more endurance as you grow older.
You must have your hair cut if you have not already done so and go to Lodi and have your teeth filled before school commences. You can phone to the dentist and make an appointment or ask your father to phone for you. Write to me soon and tell me if you are well and happy.
I am regaining my health slowly but surely. I am doctoring with a lady Osteopath doctor and Aunt Helen does all she can to have me recover.
I received a letter from Aunt Edna this morning and one from Beryl Monday.
Now you must write to me soon. I will enclose paper and envelope and you can borrow a lead pencil.
My address is
712 West Eighth Street
P.S. Morris, you must write to Beryl, too.
By August, 1908, Marian was back in Wisconsin, writing to Beryl who was apparently spending the summer in Lodi. The surviving postcard, with a color-tinted photograph of the Main Hall at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, is postmarked Madison, suggesting that the family had moved to the house at 1717 Monroe St.
Lodi is in Columbia County, about five miles north of Dane, and is where George Henry Stewart and Mary Alice Tubbs were married, so presumably there were other relatives living there.
Interestingly, the postcard is addressed simply to Miss Beryl Stewart, Lodi, Wisc. Lodi must not have been a very big place in those days.
In June, 2005, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith talked to her older brother Charles Stewart, about Morris’ earliest trip west:
CHARLES: Dad, though, came into the country he was about 15 years old, about 1908, he came, rode a railroad, a freight train and was kicked off the freight train at Culbertson Montana and he spent the summer there as kinda a helper on the ferry across the Missouri river. And that’s kinda one of the stories, too, he tells. Dad could never sing, he was never much of a singer, and the fellow that owned the ferry, Dad once in a while would sing, and after a while the fellow said, ‘you know, Morris, you musta learned to sing before tunes came into fashion.’
These were exciting times - Orville Wright made the first hour-long flight in 1908 and Henry Ford introduced the Model T that year. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, meanwhile, were reported killed in Bolivia.
We know that A. H. started west to seek his fortune after Congress passed the Enlarged Homestead Act in 1909, doubling the amount of land a settler could claim to 320 acres from 160 acres. The railroads brought an invasion of agricultural homesteaders. Montana's population surged from 243,329 in 1900 to 548,889 by 1920, while the number of farms and ranches increased form 13,000 to 57,000.
A picture of covered wagons on Broadway Street in Lewistown sometime between 1900 and 1910.
While the photograph above shows covered wagons, the frontier era had ended decades earlier. Even Buffalo Bill, whose Wild West Show had fed the imaginations of young boys for a quarter century, was white-haired and near the end of his run.
Much of Montana's bottom land had already been homesteaded and what was left was the dry, so-called bench-land prairie. The Enlarged Homestead Act was meant to settle this more arid land.
The Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (known as the Milwaukee Railroad) bought the line that passed through Lewistown in 1908, bringing an influx of people from Wisconsin, including A.H. Stewart.
Lewistown's Milwaukee Railroad depot
On March 8, 1909, Albert Henry sent a postcard from Lewistown, Mont. to Marian at the Monroe Street house in Madison, telling her he had just arrived.
I arrived Here tonight. Weather is fine and business looks good. I will write more in my next letter. I got a note of Marxmann for 700.00 but no money. Hope this finds you all well. A.H. StewartMoney is a constant theme in Albert Henry’s correspondence home.
That summer, Morris joined his father and a cousin, Clarence Tipple, to work in Lewistown. [Clarence Tipple was the son of Romanius Tipple, Marian's oldest brother] Morris wrote postcards to Beryl, some of which survive.
Beryl in those days
On June 22, he wrote her that “I am at the ranch and have got a fine pony. Clarence, the good old soul, is here. Papa, Clarence and I have our room together.”
A.H. received his mail in care of Cook Reynolds Co., a real estate company based in Lewistown. George Cook had come to Montana from his native New York in the spring of 1880 and made money sheep ranching before turning to real estate. He formed Cook Reynolds, his second real estate company, with R.W. Reynolds in 1908, just before A.H. Stewart came to town.
Cook Reynolds acted as land agent for the Milwaukee Railroad, charged with selling off large blocks of Milwaukee Railroad land to investors and homesteaders.
A.H. Stewart came to Lewistown to manage what his son Morris referred to as the “Bank ranch.” It’s not clear if the name is that of a family or refers to a bank that had invested in the land, but the Bank ranch appears frequently in local newspapers of the day, described as 2,600 acres of alfalfa and sheep grazing. There is still a “Bank Ranch Ditch” visible on maps of the area northwest of Lewistown, part of an irrigation system built in 1906.
The Bank Ranch was in what was then called Deerfield, Montana, outside Lewistown. In a 1982 interview given by Morris for a Montana oral history project, he said his father had been hired to run the ranch. The local agent for the ranch was apparently a man named C.V. Peck, referenced further below. C.V. Peck appears in local newspapers beginning in the 1890s when we was mining in the area and later as a sheep rancher and agent for other ranch corporations.
The proprietors of Cook Reynolds were some of the wealthiest men in Lewistown and it is possible that A.H. Stewart meant to follow their example by striking off as a land agent for the Great Northern Railroad and platting the town of Carter. The Great Northern was expanding in Montana – it didn’t reach Lewistown until 1913 – and both railroads were competing for homesteaders to drive traffic on their lines.
Marian wrote to her son saying she had received the card or perhaps a missing letter that recounted his journey in some detail.
Madison, Wis.Beryl wrote him a letter the same day:
June 27th, 1909
Dear Son Morris
We received your welcome letter yesterday telling us of your safe arrival at Lewistown and at the ranch later. We are so thankful that you had a [missing] and safe journey [missing] not [missing] from you since you write us from Miles City, June 18th. We enjoyed reading the description of your journey and your meeting with a Lodi acquaintance at Miles City. When did your father run across Clarence and how did he happen to hire him to work on the ranch?
Life at home goes on about the [missing] when you [missing] I managed [missing] the screen door to the kitchen and I put in screens on the cellar windows. Dudley hoed your potatoes and they are growing fine. We made and froze our own ice cream today and Chauncey Holt has promised to mow the lawn tomorrow. One of Beryl’s girl school mates has come to call on her and they are sitting on the hammock on the front porch.
We are having the finest [missing] with rain [missing]
Be sure [missing] your father all the questions I told you to ask him about the business and both of you write soon and tell your father to send me that money as soon as possible.
From your loving mother, Marian Stewart
Madison WisA week later, Morris wrote, “We won a baseball game today. Clarence sprained his wrist last week but it is coming along alright. How’s everything in Wingra Park? Write soon.”
June 27, 1909
Dear Morris –
The thermometer must be ninety in the shade today it is so hot.
I got a postal from Nellie Steele and she said—come [missing]
I went [missing] Hiedelburg” at the fuller opera house Saturday afternoon.
Helen Piper had a party Thursday. I got first prize in one of the games we played.
Anna Johnson and I went for a row on Lake Wingra Friday. We got some water lilies and I learnt how to [missing]
Marie wanted Mama to write you a letter for her so Mama did.
Remember me to Clarence and give my love to papa.
Hoping you are well and enjoying your self. I will close. Please write soon.
The Monroe Street house was on the Western edge of Wingra Park, Madison’s first suburb built in the 1890s. It was quite a desirable neighborhood at the time.
This is a picture from around that time of the intersection between South Randall Avenue and Monroe Street, which runs into the distance. Lake Wingra is in the background and Wingra Park is the neighborhood further down Monroe Street. I've marked the approximate location of the Stewart's house with a red circle.
This is a photograph of the Monroe Street house that was among Morris’ possessions.
This is how the house appears today, thanks to Google Maps. The neighborhood is a shadow of its former bourgeois glory and the front lawn has been gobbled up by commercial real estate.
Morris’ postcards home are taciturn, to put a fancy word on it. The postcards themselves almost tell more of a story than what he wrote on them. Most were color-tinted, some by hand. Many were printed in Germany, a reminder that globalization has been long in coming. The images also attest to the fact that the Wild West was already a fading, romantic notion by the time the early century homesteaders arrived.
On July 7, 1909, Morris sent Beryl a postcard that had a color-tinted photograph of bison on a green hillside pasture.
The caption reads, “A Herd of Buffalo a surviving few.”
“I am in Lewistown,” he wrote. “Mr. Kelly is going back east today to have an operation for pendecitus [sic]. We are all well. Write soon. Morris B. Stewart”
The postcard photo is copyrighted 1907. The first two decades of the century were kind to Montana. The prairie, according to many accounts, was indeed green much of the year, luring homesteaders with the false promise of fertile fields. That changed after World War I, and the subsequent dry years sent many homesteaders packing.
Marian wrote Morris in Lewistown later that month, complaining bitterly about A.H.'s neglect and their financial straits. Whitewater is a community southeast of Madison. Being the mother and father's go-between must have been a heavy burden for a 15 year old to bear.
Madison WisA postcard sent on August 2, 1909, has the color reproduction of a painting signed by John Jones. The subject is a woman riding on a horse along a cutbank.
July 18 - 1909
Dear Son Morris -
We received your welcome letter yesterday as usual and we were so pleased to hear from you and that you were all well. Every Saturday we look for your letters and enjoy reading them so much. You must always write to us Sunday. Write a letter if possible, if not write a post card, so that we may know that all is well with you. I am busy every minute of the time too, week days, so postpone my writing to you until Sunday when I have more leisure.
I met Mr. Kelley in Mr. C’s office Monday. He said you rode your poney every day and that you had twenty-four men to work on the ranch. Does Mr. K and your father ship much stock to Chicago? How nice that you are all earning wages. You have to keep enough of what you earn to buy your school clothes another fall your new books and also for your spending money another winter.
Does your father expect to stay in Montana all winter at $100 per month? I don’t suppose there is any use to ask him to write and answer my questions about the Whitewater farm, soon, for he evidently intends me to await his pleasure in writing. Tell him I need that $50 per month he promised to send me badly and that I can’t feel right towards him until he does right by us by me about paying int. on mortgage on Whitewater farm and also he ought to make a payment for our groceries.
We are having the finest of weather although people say we do need rain again. Our street is being sprinkled this summer so it is not nearly so dusty as during the past seasons. We [missing] that she and Myrtis were at the Seattle Fair in Washington and that they had met Mrs. Smith and Miss Goldsphoon while there. How nice that was for them
Does your father, Clarence and your self expect to go to the exposition? Or has your father been and returned again. I must close now hoping to hear from both you and your father soon. From mother (over) Remember me to Clarence.
Mrs. Jacobs has sold her house and lot for $3,700. and she is going to Janesville to make her home.
Mr. and Mrs. Noel have sold their home and have purchased a farm near Ft. Atkinson where they expect to move this fall. Marie and Beryl send love.
The caption reads, “Cattle Girl.”
It was part of the publisher’s “Anglo Cowboy Series” according to fine print on the reverse. The descriptive paragraph reads,
“Cattle Girl. Born on the ranch, accustomed all her life to the freedom of the range, the Cattle Girl is not content to assume the duties of a house too early in life, and she may be frequently met ‘cruising’ for cattle or visiting outlying camps. Her ideas are usually as wide as are the great reaches over which she rides, and as clean as the mountain-born stream she fords.”
Like the other postcards, it carries a green one-cent Benjamin Franklin stamp.
Dear Beryl,In an August 9 postcard with a painting of a “Cow Puncher” from the same series, he asks, intriguingly, for Beryl to write and “tell me about rescuing that woman.” There evidently was a fairly constant flow of mail back and forth.
Clarence and another man have gone over on their
homesteds [sic] to live. Write soon.
Morris B. Stewart
Morris ends the postcard by writing that “We are still haying.”
I remember that he said he operated a “buck rake” in Judith Basin when he first came out, and this presumably is what he was doing at the ranch near Lewistown.
A buck rake
Morris, however, said in a mid-1980s interview with a Montana State historian that he had worked an "overshot stacker." I may be mistaken about the buck rake, or he may have worked both pieces of equipment.
An overshot stacker
On August 25, in another postcard to Beryl, he reports that “I’m still haying,” and says that “Papa got back from Chicago last Saturday.” A.H. was a busy man.
This postcard is interesting because it has a color-tinted photograph of range riders camped on the green and open prairie with white tents in the background. The caption reads, “‘Reps’ Starting Out on a Trip.” Morris would eventually work as a range rider, himself.
Fort Benton's River Press reported on A.H. Stewart's first visit to Carter on June 9, 1909. The above excerpt is from Jack K. Castor's book, "Carter, Montana; Homestead Boomtown, 1909 - 1930s." Click on it to read it. Lewistown, by the way, is the seat of Fergus County.
In his 1974 memoir, Morris wrote that “It was not long until my father platted the townsite of Carter and sold lots and Carter started to grow, as the country was being homesteaded and Dad located people on homesteads.”
On August 24, 1909, A.H. wrote Morris at the Peck ranch from Fort Benton. The envelope bears the printed return address of “The Day House, Lewistown, Montana.” On the opposite corner is a red two-cent Washington stamp affixed upside down. A partially legible postmark reads, “Lewistown & Harlowton, 1909, Aug. 2,” suggesting that the letter was carried to Lewistown before it was mailed.
The Day House Hotel
The hotel was built in 1880's on the corner of 4th Avenue North and Main Street in Lewistown. This photograph was taken of it there. But in 1908, it was moved to the corner of Broadway and 4th Ave North where A.H. apparently stayed in it. Billboard advertisements about the Montana State Fair, Stetson Shoes and Peerless Smokes are attached to wooden fences next to the hotel.
The Day House lobby before the building was moved in 1908. It may have been updated by the time A.H. stayed there.
The letter is addressed to "Morris B. Stewart, Deerfield, Montana (Care of C.V. Peck)” On the back flap, written in pencil, is the name Ronald L. McKinnon.
The letterhead reads “Grand Union Hotel, Missouri & Yellowstone Packet Co., Geo. H. Stevens, Prop’r” with an engraving of Fort Benton’s three story hotel with some pedestrians and horses passing before it. The date is not legible beyond Aug 2?, 1909. On the back of the first page, written in pencil, are the words, “Sapadilla Powder.” Sapodilla Powder is made from the fruit of the Manilkara zapota tree and was commonly used as an insecticide, both for gardens and bedding.
[I have broken the text into paragraphs to make it easier to read.]
My dear son MorrisIn a brief memoir of his life, written in 1974, Morris recalled that “In the fall of 1909, I rode horseback to Carter, where my father A.H. Stewart had filed on a homestead. There were no laid out roads, just trails. All there was at Carter was a section house.”
I arrived at Carter Yesterday and found Frances and George in their new House and today we came down to Benton. The crops are fine over here and one man has 500 acres Broke and is sowing grain with an engine and 4 drills.
Now Morris Pack the trunk and send it to Lewistown on the stage and and [sic] put on your boots and tie my fur collared coat on behind your saddle and you and your Pony come to Fort Benton. Get your Check for what you have Earned of Mr. Peck.
When you get to fort Benton stop at The Grand Union Hotel. Tell McKenna and Kingsbury and the Blacksmith and Clark that I can get them good Land yet. But there are people filing every day. Yesterday there was Eight out looking for land. And later we expect more than now.
As soon as you get this you tell Mr. Peck that I sent for you and Put our things all in the trunk if you can’t get them all in the trunk put the rest in a sack and have them go to woods barn on the stage and I will pay when I get to Lewistown
Bring the rope on the saddle and the halter roll the Halter up in my over coat and tie it on the saddle and if you start in the morning you can make Square butte Ranch by noon and Ft Benton by night try and feed your Pony at Square butte ranch.
Write Clarence a letter when you get this so we will know you are coming over [overleaf] and after you are Here a day or two you can go to Wis by the way of Lewistown and get your trunk and Homeward ride and go to school
Hoping this finds you well and that you will get over Here all right I remain your father A.H. Stewart
P.S. water your Poney Every Chance you get on the road and don’t ride to fast in the first of the route
Give Mr. Peck my regards and see How many want claims over Here.
Deerfield to Fort Benton is about 80 miles and to Carter is about 90 miles. A horse walks at about 4 miles an hour.
A section house was a small dwelling for a railroad section crew. The railroad companies divided the tracks into sections between 10 and 30 miles long and assigned a foreman and crew to tend each section.
Morris B. Stewart from around that time
On Aug. 29, 1909, Morris is still at work on the Peck ranch and writes his mother that he will be home soon.
Lewistown, Mont.On Sept. 11, 1909, Morris had completed the journey to Carter and was preparing to return to Madison to finish high school.
Aug. 29, 1909
Mrs. A.H. Stewart
Dear Mother :-
I received your letter last week and expect to reach home about the tenth of September. I’ll bring your trunk home with me.
Papa is over to Fort Benton on his claim. Last week a large band of horses passed ranch. Today we dug out a bumble bees’ nest and got a little honey and in the afternoon week went swimming in Warm Spring Creek.
For the last week we have been camping out about four miles from the home ranch. I sleep in a tent every night.
Give Marie a kiss and Beryl my love,
From your son
Morris B. Stewart
He sent his mother a postcard with a color-tinted photograph of the Carnegie Library in Great Falls. The descriptive caption on the back of the card reads, “Great Falls, Mont. the “Cascade City” on the upper Missouri. Population 22,000. Seat of Cascade County. Head of navigation on the Missouri River. Has unsurpassed natural resources of all kinds.”
“Dear Mother,” he writes. “I’m at Great Falls and going to start home today. Morris B. Stewart”
By November, it seems that A.H. is responding to Marian’s perhaps desperate appeals. He writes her a letter that is full of reassurances and promises of money. The letter is written on the stationery of the Grand Union Hotel, which A.H. used as an occasional residence during various periods of his life. It is dated November 23, 1909, addressed to the Monroe Street house. Amazingly, it took just two days for the letter to reach Madison, presumably by train.
Dear MarianIn fact, A.H. was very busy, building one of Carter's first major buildings, a barn that would serve as a livery and feed stable.
Your letter rec’d to[torn away] and Hasten to answer [torn away] Enclosed find Draft for 50[torn away] and today I am sending Mr Colby 125.00 more.
And will send you another 50 in a few days.
I am kept very busy and am making money and do not Expect to be Home as long as the business of locating people keeps up. Joe Fish is here and got a nice piece of land I expect he start Home soon. He can tell you How busy we are Clarence wanted to go and see His girl at Aberdeen but we are so busy we cant let Him go.
Weather is warm no snow Write often
This, from Jack Castor's book, shows one of the other new businesses and talks about the growing community. It must have been an exciting time for A.H.
Jack Castor's book cites the River Press's reports on the progress in Carter. The newspaper tells of 35 prospective homesteaders visiting from Wisconsin, surely at the behest of A.H. You can just see A.H.'s now completed red barn with white trim in the picture.
Sometime after this, the family in Madison moved from Monroe Street to 225 South Mills Street on the other side of town. In later letters, A.H. refers to Marian's "houses," suggesting that she owned both houses, perhaps with money left her by her father.
225 South Mills Street, Madison, Wisconsin
This is how the South Mills house looks today, again, thanks to Google Maps. It is evidently divided into apartments now and the size suggests that it was a multifamily home, if not a boarding house, back when the Stewarts owned it.
On April 1, 1910, A.H. writes to Morris at the South Mills house to report on his business.
Carter Mont, April 1, 1910A.H. remained in Montana, now established as a businessman with many interests.
Morris B. Stewart,
225 South Mills St.
Your letter rec’d. I am getting along all right. Am very busy. The contest did not come to trial and I guess the man will drop it he has no show of beating me. I have built a barn and have 8 horses to do the livery work of locating and sell lots to people. We have fine weather. Joe & his wife are not here yet. Clarence is here at work in the lumber yard at 65.00 per month. When you are ready to come out I will send you money.
Yours truly, A.H. Stewart
On April 17, 1910, A.H. writes again to Morris in Madison, this time with an envelope stamped “A.H. Stewart, Real Estate and Livestock, Carter, Mont.” Again, it took just two days for the letter to be postmarked in Madison: a 13-starred American flag postmark on the back of the envelope is dated April 19, 1910, 7:30 p.m.
The letterhead reads “A.H. Stewart Real Estate,” and in the opposing upper corners smaller print reads, “Homesteads Located, Relinquishments For Sale, Carter Lots For Sale,” and “Livery and Feed Barn, Anything In Live Stock.” It hints at Beryl's health, perhaps a reference to the depression that she, like her mother, suffered from.
My Dear Son, your letter rec’d.The 1910 national census lists Marian, Morris, Beryl and Marie in Carter, with A.H., on April 3. But the same census lists them all, including A.H., in Madison on April 25. This was evidently due to sloppy census taking as it appears that Morris did not go to Montana at all that year.
I will send you the money to come with soon as some people pay me what they owe me. Perhaps a day or two. We are having fine weather and lots of people here taking land. I have 7 horses and a barn 32 x 54 painted red trimmed in white. And a nice little House.
We are making money here. I hope Beryl is well by this time. Tell her when she gets to Montana she will have the best pony in town and Marie can ride little Jack.
Joe Fish and wife are here. He is working for me and his wife is working in the Hotel. She gets 40.00 per month and board & room. They feel alright out Here.
We have 3 steam plows running at Carter plowing 60 Acres a day.
How is everything at Madison in a general way. How much do you owe the grocery man and where do you buy your Groceries. How do you like your new House on Mills St. How soon will your mother be ready to come to Carter. Write soon,
Love Father, A.H. Stewart
On July 7, 1910, A.H. wrote Morris again, also on his business letterhead, suggesting that money would be tight that winter. It's not clear what he meant by the line 'Have Marie with me,' but it seems unlikely that Marie was in Carter without the rest of the family.
Carter, Montana, July 7, 1910On August 10, Morris' cousin, Everest Rollis, the son of Marian's sister, Edna, writes saying that it is too expensive for them to undertake a trip to Carter. In fact, this was a fib meant to put Morris off. Morris apparently wanted to accompany Everest to Carter, but Everest went without him at A.H.'s suggestion.
Morris B Stewart,
My dear son Your letter and your mothers rec’d to day. Glad to Hear from you
I don’t know but it seems to me you are working pretty cheap but it may be all you can get You certainly are having warm weather We had a nice rain here the 4th business is looking better than it did but it is sure to be a short crop and pretty close times this winter
you must be what help you can at to [sic] your mother and if she is nervous don’t get angry at her for she is the only mother you will ever have and will do more for you than anyone else.
Clarence & wife are Happy Fish & wife are doing well out here. Most every one are satisfied
How was every thing out in Springfield and Dave Have Marie with me. Glad to hear Beryl was out camping but she must also do work at home and just as soon as I can I will have you all out here but it won’t be until next year now.
With kindest regards & best wishes from your father,
Stoughton, Wisc, Aug 10th, ’10.That same day, August 10, 1910, A.H. writes Marian a post card from Great Falls saying that Everest had already been to visit once.
Dear Cousin Morris:-
Went down to the depot yesterday to find out about rates again and our station agent told me that it would cost something over $50.00 for round trip to Great Falls Montana on Homeseekers ticket as I will have to go on the Great Northern because his line, “The Puget Sound” doesn’t go to Great Falls. I didn’t fall in with that idea at all for I can’t afford to pay so much. After talking it over with my girl I have decided to go to work again here for a time and save more money; of course my board money helps out my folks a great deal and I really ought to look out for them for a while yet as I am young and have more years to live than they.
So old by, we’ll just wait a few months; work hard, play hard and hang on to our cash, after helping out the “old folks:” our time will come and we won’t come out the losers either.
Write to me whn you have a chance and let m know how you are getting along.
It shows a promising picture of the lake at Gibson Park, named for Paris Gibson, the man who had founded Great Falls less than thirty years earlier. One can feel A.H. straining to convince his wife how wonderful Montana is as friends and neighbors arrive from back east.
“Everest was here and was very much pleased with Carter and vicinity and I got Him a good claim 4 miles from town. How do you like Gibson Park. A.H.S.”
Two days later, A.H. writes Morris telling him that Everest is coming back to Montana, but that he wants Morris to stay in Wisconsin and finish school.
Carter, Montana, Aug. 12, 1910Morris was evidently upset that Everest had gone without him as there are several subsequent letters that meant to mollify him.
Morris B Stewart
My Dear Son. I rec’d a letter from Everest today saying he would be out here leaving there on the 16 and that you wanted to come I can not have you come out now because I have not got the money to spare and next spring I will bring you all out any how so I want you to be satisfied until spring and I hope next year will be more rain and we will be all right
You are in a pretty good place for this winter
From Your Father
On October 2, Everest writes Morris from his home in Stoughton, Wis., south of Madison, apologizing for not coming to see him on his way home.
He writes on letterhead from the Mandt Wagon Co., a branch of the Moline Plow Co. The letterhead says that Mandt trades in "Agricultural Implements, Wagons, Vehicles and Grain Drills."
Stoughton, Wis., Oct 2nd 1910.A few days later, A.H. writes Morris, encouraging Morris to finish high school so he can come back to Montana the next year. Again, money is clearly on his mind. Morris, the man of the house back home, has been trying his own hand at business, though it’s not clear what kind.
Dear Cousin Morris:-
When I came back from Montana, I fully intended stopping off at Madison to see you but I was so dead tired and filthy dirty that home and a bath looked good to me, and, making good connections, I came right thru. Then I was coming up in a day or so; and going to the shop to see about work they wanted me to begin the next day so I did and I haven’t found time since to come up or to write to you.
Things are running very slack at the factory and many men with families as well as single men are being laid off; those of us who are kept at work certainly stay right on the job and work hard.
Your father told me to tell you that he said you should go to school this fall but I suppose he has written to you about it long before this. Well, old boy, I like Montana fine place all right and fine people, your father was just fine to me and did everything he could to help me along. I slept with him and he looked after me all the time. Now I am trying to get some of the boys here to go out to him and locate but the darn shop is running so low that the lads want to stick to their job for as much of the winter as they are able.
Next spring, though, I believe some will move West all right. Before I went west, Morris, I got a letter from your Papa in answer to the one I wrote him and he told me that you should not come out this fall so that is the reason I didn’t let you know I was going. Well I haven’t time to write any more just now but expect to see you some day before very long and then we can talk about the trip.
So long from
The letter, dated October 5, 1910, is again on A.H.’s business letterhead.
My Dear Son,Among the pictures from Morris' possessions is this one of him beside a woman, possibly an aunt, and Beryl.
Your letter rec’d + Picture of Marie + of the House. glad to hear from you, and that you are doing a little business. Also glad to hear that you are trying to Graduate next June by taking a few more studies. I hope you will succeed and Graduate from Madison High School. It would help you quite a little here if you do. And perhaps next winter you could teach school out here and make money.
Do the best you can. And keep the furnace fire and such work done at House. And don’t try to Earn too much this winter but get on with your school the best you can. You know you can be getting you lessons a few days ahead if you have the time which makes it Easier for you.
It is a beautiful day Here today at I am going out to get exhibits of vegetables for the exhibition car for the Great Northern R.R.
Everest was only out Here for a few days and went right back. Clarence is at Aberdeen at work. [overleaf] And George Boyington. Joe Fish is still at work for me and will work until next spring I think.
I was very much pleased with the pictures. I wish you could take more of them. I would like one of your mother and Beryl and yourself and of the House on Monroe Street. We are having a few taken of different Places around Carter and will send you some when I can.
Write to me often whether I write or not. And I would also like to Hear from Beryl and Marie [underscored]. And I want Beryl to learn to play more than one piece on the piano. Hoping to Hear from you soon.
I remain Your Father, A.H. Stewart
The woman between Beryl and Morris might be their aunt Edna, Marian's sister, and the man behind Morris might be an uncle, possibly Romanus or Horatio Tipple. The older woman might be Morris' grandmother, Hanna Kurtz Tipple.
On Nov. 30, A.H. writes Morris again. Money remains tight.
Carter, Montana, Nov 30, 1910The next January, A.H. wrote Morris another letter on his business letterhead. Again, money is a preoccupation and he refers to the farm in Lodi, which he had rented out:
Morris B Stewart
225 South Mills St, Madison, Wis
My Dear son Your letter rec’d. glad to see that your standing is well up tell Beryl I want her to do a little better.
We have about 6 inches of snow here at present but it will soon be gone. Yes I can do as well now as any time for your friend who wants a claim, if he has any money and I will give you ½ of what we make on him or any other man you can send out I don’t expect to be home before Feb and then only for a few days but when school is out I will have you all come out here.
I wanted to send you money for your Birthday but I can’t spare any just now I have to take to many notes to do much in cash but will as soon as I can
Give my love to the rest of the family And write more often.
From your father, A.H. Stewart
Carter, Montana Jan 22 1911By May, 1911, A.H. is ready for Morris to return, this time with the rest of the family in tow. He writes a letter from Carter, postmarked May 31, on his business letterhead. It’s not clear what ‘lots’ he is referring to, but clearly Morris is still trying to make money on his own:
Morris B. Stewart
My Dear son Your letter and pictures rec’d and glad to hear from you and to receive the pictures. Business is a little better I sold my barn and lot 120 x 150 ft for $2,000.00 and am to get the money Feb 23 1911 so I will have to stay here until after this is paid. I sold a claim yesterday for $300.00. I get 50.00 for my commission.
Bjlde is not staying on our farm and I must get another tenant. I have two applications for the farm but I will have to come back and settle with Bjlde Mar 1st if I can. If I can’t I will have the State Bank of Lodi settle with him. I had planned to have you stay in school until school closed and then have you all come out here and I think you need the schooling especially in penmanship. Your writing is very poor for a boy that holds a medal for speaking. Now try and learn to write better
Don’t worry about coming out here for you will surely have a chance to come and it may be a longtime before you have a chance to see Madison again and you will have plenty of hard work and out door exercise and don’t you forget it.
I wish you could send me a picture of Marie and one of your mother and of the house on Monroe St if you can take them.
How would you like running an automobile this summer. Do you think you can do it? I may get one this summer.
How is the price of real estate in Madison do you think your mother could get a sale for the south Mills St. House for $10,000. If she could she better sell it and buy a house in Great Falls. Rents are higher here than in Madison.
Write me often and more business and better writing.
With the best of wishes for you all. I remain as ever, your father.
My Dear Son MorrisMorris did make it to Montana, but it seems the rest of the family did not right away. On August 6, 1911, Morris is in Great Falls, writing to Beryl on Mills Street in Madison. He uses a postcard with a color-tinted photograph of a silhouetted man fishing in a canyon stream under a caption that reads, “Fishing in the Sluice Boxes in Belt Creek. Northern Montana.”
Your letter rec’d and glad to hear from you. I think if I were you I would offer my lots for sale but if you can’t get what you want now, list them with someone to sell.
I am mailing you a sample of my wheat. It is from two kernels of wheat. I wish you would show them to Mr. Joseph M. Boyd and tell him I have 140 acres like it.
I can’t say just what ought to be done with the furniture, but I would not ship any out Here the freight is too much.
I will send the 150.00 dollars as soon as I can. I sold 2650.00 worth of stuff last week but mostly on thirty days time. I hope to see you all Here soon so I will close.
From your father, A.H. Stewart
Dear Beryl,Perhaps he is referring to the harvest of the 140 acres of wheat that A.H. spoke about in his letter of May.
We are going to thrash [sic] Monday. Pa has three ponies and one is little Jack. My trunk got here today. We had chiken [sic] for dinner and supper. I was pulling peas & making fences this afternoon. Write soon.
Morris went back to Madison to resume school. He evidently had made many friends during his summer in Carter as there is a burst of correspondence from several girls, particularly one named Adair Worth.
Wed. Sept 13, 1911Another girl he knew in Carter wrote him a long letter in October. It's a fascinating letter because it gives a sense of what life was like in the tiny prairie town.
Just received your letter this morning. We had a regular circus in town this morning. You know Bruno Yon, Well Mr. Stewart had that colored cowboy come over & ride him. He bucked something awful & kicked, it was better than the riding they had the fourth. Mr. Stewart is going to lend him to Dutch Ed for a month & the colored man is going to ride him so that he will be more gentle.
[missing] has five gates. Mr. Boynton said I could ride Shep first when he found him. When! He doesn’t know where he is tho he is looking everywhere. Say do I look like an Adare Maybe you mean a chocolate Adare they don’t have such things in Carter I’d have you know. Weren’t you surprised to wake up on the train & not see your Pa. He said he hated so to say goodby so he didn’t’ wake you. Benny Preadup brought us two rabbits.
When I was on the Teton the other day we saw three big wild ducks swimming along not
In a very bad humor every thing I said, he’d disagree he hasn’t got such a sunny disposition as you, you know. Don’t forget Montana. Guess I will close. I’ve written a much longer letter than you did & if you don’t spell my name right I’ll not write again. I wish you were going to be here for the dance Likely you’ll be taking a trolley car ride with Nelly or Jennie, tho.
P.S. Ans soon & don’t play hookey & don’t get any [missing]
This letter ought to take extra postageA.H. wrote to Morris in November, promising money.
Oct. 20. 1911
Carter – Mont
Hello Morris. –
I think you’re awful mean. you haven’t written to me since I don’t know when. We have been having lots of excitement lately and haven’t had time to write many letters. Mr. Boynton has just built a new house 24 x 10 ft and last evening he had a house warming and all the Carter people drove over. Charley M. took Mrs. Graham Mrs. Bryant’ and Mrs. Stovall Minnie M. Saybill Mr. Bryant Maurice Taylor and Mother and I and John Clyde Bill Nye and Chauncey walked over and Mr. and Mrs. Bosley and Andy and Henery and J.B. of course and Mr. Shoulty and her kids were there too.
I don’t know when we ever had so much fun. The women brought the refreshments cakes sandwiches doughnuts and coffee and Henery and Andy and Maurice played the violins and the banjo and sang an accompaniment for all the dances. And Mr. Bryant and some of the other ones would relieve them now and then so they could dance.
We sang and Mr. Bryant and his wife cut some pigeon toes and we had a very hilarious time and then we all helped get supper. The men all wore their overalls and working clothes and we called it a hard times party.
Clyde ate supper with Saybill and Minnie and Maurice and I ate supper and the rest sat on the floor and ate with every body. The floor was full of teacups and plates and things and when anybody wanted a sand witch or anything some body else would slide it across the floor to them and Mr. Bryant was lying on the floor full length and Mrs. Bryant was hunting for a seat and went and sat down square on top of him. Well we nearly died laughing and then they began cutting up it sounds awful rough to tell about it but really it wasn’t it was just comical. After our very informal supper they swept the floor the dancing continued and we danced and sang to Casey Jones and had altogether the best time we have ever had.
When we started home it was snowing and cold they boys who had walked over begged to be taken into the wagon and so we did and poor Clyde sat on Mrs. Bryant’s lap clear home. We drove a big lumber wagon and put lots of straw in the bottom and then we all sat on the floor. I wish you could have been there it was a regular western picnic. Tomorrow night we are all going up and surprise Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Nelson they are leaving for G.F. to spend the winter soon and it’s to be a farewell dance.
We are planning to have a fine time Halloween and expect to have a masquerade too. We had an impromptu dance the other night and had a good time and a few days previous we had a big dance and had a large crowd a great many Fort Bentoners came and a boy says he will bring a saddle pony down for me and take me to the next Fort Benton dance. Will ride up he lives in F.B. I am going maybe (if mother will agree. I would love to go to.) I had a perfectly dandy time at that dance and had a grand spat with Clyde and we haven’t spoken since. I haven’t been riding but twice in the last month and Ned ran away with me and jumped over a five foot ditch twice. Gee it felt like flying.
I am going to rest up from riding a bit and it’s getting too cold to be nice. Don took me for a buggy ride last Sunday. It felt awful queer to ride in a wagon again it’s only about the third time I’ve been in one since I was in Montana. Just think mother won’t let me write to Mr. Wilbert M. Nietertand I’ve gotten three letters too and he says he wants to correspond if he can (but he can’t) and I am dreadful put out about it.) I haven’t anything more to write so I will say Adios
P.S. Please sir won’t you write soon. How is school I am not studying my head off a bit. Write me a letter as long as this.
Carter Nov 12, 1911Sometime in the spring of 1912, A.H. wrote Marian urging her to sell her houses in Madison and move West. She was clearly reluctant to do so.
My Dear son Morris,
Your letter rec’d this morning and hope you were successful yesterday and are champions now but be careful and not get hurt too much.
I wrote your mother that I had notified Macmillan to pay her the rent. Tell Marie to write me a letter, and let me know how she is. It is pretty cold here now and some snow. I have not got any money for you or Beryl now but if I have any soon I will send you some. I have bot a mate to Ned a nice bay pacer broke single and double and to ride and perfectly gentle, one that your mother can drive next summer.
I wrote your mother to sell her houses in Madison and buy in great Falls and there by make twice as much money (and you better sell your lots if you get a buyer). I have one or two deals on that may bring in some money. Things are doing very well on the whole at Carter.
I hear you write to Adair and I met Genevieve Carter and she said she heard from you.
I don’t know if she read a letter or not. Well it is nice to have some correspondence it will help you when you really want to write a nice letter. I wish Beryl would write me more often too and I must write to your mother more than I have. Does Beryl play or sing any nowadays.
And does your mother want to come to Montana in the spring.
Write me how the game went
From your father
Carter, Montana, 24, 1912Sometime after this letter, Marian apparently suffered a relapse of the illness that had plagued her for so long - probably a bout of her frequent depressions. It was serious enough that Morris apparently sent a telegram to his father in Montana. In May, A.H. replies, urging Morris to leave Marian behind and bring the rest of the family West. Beryl and Marie are apparently staying with Marie's sister, Edna Rollis, in Stoughton, Wis. I do not have the complete letter, but transcribe the portion that I do have here:
My Dear Marian
Your letter rec’d and note what you say about Beryl wanting to finish high school at Madison. I want you and all the children to come to Carter as soon as school is out. And Beryl can go to school at Great Falls to graduate.
I have left you all at Madison until I need you here. This country is doing well and my business is very good and my Homestead is worth abut $6000.00 now if it were patented land. And the town site is worth more. I think it is worth perhaps $10,000. now. And I get asked why don’t you have your family out here, etc and how can you hold a homestead and have your family live in Wis.
I will have money for you to come out with and the piano and rugs and a few of the things is about all we need. The rest you better sell or rent the flat furnished. For it costs so much to ship and the bother it would make you. The best thing you can do is to sell both of your houses and invest out here. Houses rent well here and money brings good interest 10 - 12 %.
[missing] Morris graduate I would like to but I am the much needed man of this place and in June is when business is good here. But will have the money for your car fare and will be glad to see you when you get here. I have a perfectly gentle horse for you to drive and a rubber tired buggy. I bot them in great falls.
With love and best wishes, I am your Husband, A.H. Stewart
Carter, Montana, May 30, 1912The uncle that A.H. refers to before the missing portion was presumably Edna's husband, Christopher J Rollis, who was born in Norway and served as a U.S. Army captain in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War.
Morris B. Stewart
My Dear son - your letter & telegram rec’d I am very sorry your mother is sick. I hope she is much better by this time. I was in hopes to have her and you and Beryl & Marie all come out here. But if she is so poorly that she can’t come. I wish the rest of you could come.
I know that if she was out here she would like it here. Now I have not got any money just now but the first money I get I will send to you and you tell the people at the Hospital that I will pay the bill and the Doctor. I don’t want you to leave Beryl and Marie at Stoughton any longer than is possible if Marie has trouble with a growth in her nose I can have that fixed out here. And I do hope that you can all come out here.
I don’t think you mother needs a guardian if you do what you can. That is about the worst thing you could do for her health. And your Aunt Edna gets sort of excited I presume. Your Uncle is [missing]
Capt. Christopher J. Rollis
I have seen letters written by A.H. to Morris referring to the move from Wisconsin, but don’t know where they are now. Morris graduated from high school and a 1912/13 census showed Morris, 18, Beryl, 17 and Marie, 8, living in Carter.
Marian was not there and it is clear that she was in poor shape to withstand such a wrenching upheaval. On July 2, 1912, she wrote to Beryl indicating that she was in Madison, again recovering from an unspecified illness. Her reference to going home 'or to some of our good relatives and friends' suggests that she was at some sort of institution. It also suggests that she was not intending to go immediately to Carter.
Madison Wis. July 2nd 1912Uncle Newt was Newton David Wilder, Marian's brother-in-law. Newton was a cigar manufacturer from a prominent family who had married Marian's sister, Harriet (Hattie) Hosmer Tipple, in 1890.
Dear Daughter – my darling child, I am going to answer your welcome letter. Am sitting here at the end of the hall by the open window and am thinking of you and the rest of our family and hope and pray that you are having a nice time at Mr. Owens.
I am out of doors most of the time and my health is improving rapidly am in hopes to be able to go home soon or to some of our good relatives and friends.
I received a letter from Evansville today and Uncle Newt is buried today.
Come and see me as often as you can and write soon.
From your Mother,
Congress amended the Homestead Act in 1912 to reduce from five years to three the length of occupancy required to prove a claim.
The next surviving letter from Morris' possessions is from a spirited girl named Genevieve Carter in Iowa who A.H. had earlier referred to and who clearly has a crush on Morris. Her reference to “that summer” suggests she met him in the summer of 1911, before he had graduated from high school and traveled to Carter.
Perhaps, Morris had feelings for Genevieve, too: why else would he have kept the letter all his life?
The letter is dated February 2, 1913, on expensive rag-paper stationery with the words “Creston, Iowa” embossed at the top.
Dear friend Morris: -Genevieve wrote Morris again in June, just before going back to Carter from Iowa.
So you are still calling Mont. the place [underscored]! Well so am I. I have some dandy times here but – .
Did you graduate from high in Wisconsin? I’m going to in just four more months – if I have good luck. Denn-ich gehe zu Montana. Ya! Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
When the crowd was up to Carter from Benton – did you meet anyone named Isabelle Morrow, Mary Green, or Margaret Poulsson? Or was it the older bunch? Marg is my particular pal – and so I guess she wasn’t up or she would have mentioned it.
Do you ride Jack still? – maybe you remember you gave me his picture once – I’ve got it in my snap shot book now. My but I certainly had a good time at Carter that summer. Minnie Morrison went and told Sybil a lot of truck that wasn’t so tho; and she doesn’t like me anymore – and I don’t like Minnie.
Of course, you are terribly interested in all of this truck – please forget it – you probably knew it already tho.
Our foot ball team gained the championship of S.W. Iowa this fall. – I believe it’s yourself that’s a foot-ball player – so I’ll not be after a showing my ignorance by telling you anything about the details of our victory.
I’m singing alto in the M.E. choir here – and it’s about time to go so I’ll close. My cousin very kindly says I squeak in the choir – he’s quite brotherly and very truthful. I hope you write and tell me all the news soon,
Creston, IowaAmong the four teachers listed in Carter for the 1913/1914 school year was Genevieve Carter, now graduated from high school and having moved to Carter, one imagines, with hopes of seeing Morris again.
June 23, 1913
Dear friend Morris;
Of course you will think this letter is sudden, but honest I couldn’t help it. Actually – just yesterday I remembered to write to a girl who sent me a gift the last of May. Talk about fun. I’ve had enough the last few months to do for years. When I arrive home, I shall resume the roll of stick (and act dignified). I did think I’d wait till after the 4th to come home, but I think now that I shall arrive in that dear Carter next Sunday night. I’m glad to. I hope there are not more cyclones in this place till I’m gone.
Did I tell you about our class scrap? I believe I did. Well, I’ll tell you of the dee-lightful picnic I was on Friday. Talk about luck! The grand affair was at the Country Club – we went in a tally hoe (if that’s how you spell it). We had to walk up the hills on account of the load (No 2) While eating dinner it commenced to rain, which made it interesting (No 3) While out on the lake (it’s 3 mi long) it commenced to pour again. There were four of us in the boat and course we all enjoyed the water. (No 4) Supper – no accidents (No 5) Hack man late – more rain, a part of us walked nearly all the way in – the roads were so slick (No 6) Sat. morning – cleaning white shoes.
Now – wasn’t it pathetic? It was fun, just the same.
A bunch of us are going to print pictures tonight – I don’t know any more zu schreiben. Ich bin ein Dumkopf. Ya. Das ist richtig. We have a fine new White City here – a sort of Coney Island II. All free for only a dime and a few little extra charges when you get in but cheap at that.
I suppose – since I’m returning to the promised land – that I’ll see you some time this summer or winter. I’ll probably be a school ma’arm this winter and look [funny face drawn] only worse. How I pity the kids I’ll teach.
State land records show that A.H. filed six roughly 40-acre homestead claims on January 3, 1914. Beryl graduated from high school in Great Falls and both Genevieve Carter and Beryl are listed as teachers in Carter during the 1914/1915 school year.
Genevieve taught during the 1915/1916 school year as well. She is no longer listed as a teacher during the 1916/1917 school year.
In his 1974 memoir, Morris wrote that “In a few years, Carter mushroomed into quite a town having 2 banks, 2 saloons, 2 livery barns, 2 lumber yards, 3 hotels, 4 stores and a blacksmiths shop and 4 grain elevators. This was in horse and buggy days. About this time the automobile appeared and Henry Ford put the world on wheels.”
Morris, in his 1974 memoir, wrote that “In 1915, I filed on my homestead where we still live, which is 25 miles north of Carter.”
This is a picture of the homestead shack that he built on his claim. He was still living in this shack when he brought his wife, Tryeth, to the ranch in 1927. She stayed in it for a year before Morris moved Marian and Beryl's homestead shacks onto his land and put them together.
The land that Morris filed on was once part of Blackfeet territory and, in the early 1800s, home to French fur trappers who lived in dugouts along the coulees - for which Dugout Coulee, which crosses the Stewart land, is named. Charles, Morris' son, used to be able to point out the shallow depressions left by one pair of dugouts and remembered the timber frame of the shelters from when he was a boy before a flood swept them away.
On July 16, 1806, Meriwether Lewis and three men set out overland from what is now Great Falls to explore the Marias River. They reached the Marias on July 18th, having traversed what is now Stewart land.
Lewis' journal entries of July 17 and 18 recounts their journey:
Thursday July 17th 1806.
I arrose early this morning and made a drawing of the falls. after which we took breakfast and departed. it being my design to strike Maria's river about the place at which I left it on my return to it's mouth in the begining of June 1805. I steered my course through the wide and level plains which have somewhat the appearance of an ocean, not a tree nor a shrub to be seen. the land is not fertile, at least far less so, than the plains of the Columbia or those lower down this river, it is a light coloured soil intermixed with a considerable proportion of coarse gravel without sand, when dry it cracks and appears thursty and is very hard, in it's wet state, it is as soft and slipry as so much soft soap. the grass is naturally but short and at present has been rendered much more so by the graizing of the buffaloe, the whole face of the country as far as the eye can reach looks like a well shaved bowlinggreen, in which immence and numerous herds of buffaloe were seen feeding attended by their scarcely less numerous sheepherds the wolves. we saw a number of goats as usual today, also the party coloured plover with the brick red head and neck; this bird remains about the little ponds which are distributed over the face of these plains and here raise their young. we killed a buffaloe cow as we passed throug the plains and took the hump and tonge which furnish ample rations for four men one day. at 5 P. M. we arrived at rose river [the Teton River, about ten miles northwest of Carter] where I purposed remaining all night as I could not reach maria's river this evening and unless I did there would be but little probability of our finding any wood and very probably no water either. on our arrival at the river we saw where a wounded and bleading buffaloe had just passed and concluded it was probable that the indians had been runing them and were near at hand. the Minnetares of Fort de prarie and the blackfoot indians rove through this quarter of the country and as they are a vicious lawless and reather an abandoned set of wretches I wish to avoid an interview with them if possible. I have no doubt but they would steel our horses if they have it in their power and finding us weak should they happen to be numerous wil most probably attempt to rob us of our arms and baggage; at all events I am determined to take every posible precaution to avoid them if possible. I hurried over the river to a thick wood and turned out the horses to graize; sent Drewyer to pursue and kill the wounded buffaloe in order to determine whether it had been woundded by the indians or not, and proceeded myself to reconnoitre the adjacent country having sent R. Fields for the same purpose a different rout. I ascended the river hills and by the help of my glass examined the plains but could make no discovery, in about an hour I returned to camp, where I met with the others who had been as unsuccessfull as myself. Drewyer could not find the wounded buffaloe. J. Fields whom I had left at camp had already roasted some of the buffaloe meat and we took dinner after which I sent Drewyer and R. Fields to resume their resurches for the indians; and set myself down to record the transactions of the day. rose [Teton] river is at this place fifty yards wide, the water which is only about 3 feet deep occupys about 35 yds. and is very terbid of a white colour. the general course of this river is from East to west so far as I can discover it's track through the plains, it's bottoms are wide and well timbered with cottonwood both the broad and narrow leafed speceis. the bed of this stream is small gravel and mud; it's banks are low but never overflow, the hills are about 100 or 150 feet high; it possesses bluffs of earth like the lower part of the Missouri; except the debth and valocity of it's stream and it is the Missouri in miniture. from the size of rose river at this place and it's direction I have no doubt but it takes it's source within the first range of the Rocky mountains. the bush which bears the red berry is here in great plenty in the river bottoms
Courses and distances July 17th 1806.
N. 10° W. 20 m. from the great falls of the Missouri to rose river where we encamped on it's northern bank in a grove of cottonwood. ms. 20 [20 miles]
The spies returned having killed 2 beaver and a deer. they reported that they saw no appearance of Indians.
Friday July 18th 1806.
We set out this morning a little before sunrise ascended the river hills and continued our rout as yesterday through the open plains at about 6 miles we reached the top of an elivated plain which divides the waters of the rose river from those of Maria's river. from hence the North mountains [the Bear Paw Mountains], the South mountains [the Highland or Judith mountains], the falls mountains [the Little or Big Belt mountains] and the Tower Mountain [the Sweetgrass Hills] and those arround and to the East of the latter were visible [in fact, there is no elevation where all these mountains are visible]. our course led us nearly parrallel with a creek of Maria's river which takes it's rise in these high plains at the place we passed them [this would be Dugout Coulee on Stewart land]; at noon we struck this creek about 6 ms. from its junction with Maria's river where we found some cottonwood timber; here we halted to dine and graize our horses. the bed of this creek is about 25 yds. wide at this place but is nearly dry at present, the water being confined to little pools in the deeper parts of it's bed. from hence downwards there is a considerable quantity of timber in it's bottom. we passed immence herds of buffaloe on our way in short for about 12 miles it appeared as one herd only the whole plains and vally of this creek being covered with them; saw a number of wolves of both species, also Antelopes and some horses. after dinner we proceeded about 5 miles across the plain to Maria's river where we arrived at 6 P. M. we killed a couple of buffaloe in the bottom of this river and encamped on it's west side in a grove of cottonwood some miles above the entrance of the creek. being now convinced that we were above the point to which I had formerly ascended this river and faring that a fork of this stream might fall in on the Northside between this place and the point to which I had ascended it, I directed Drewyer who was with me on my former excurtion, and Joseph Fields to decend the river early in the morning to the place from whence I had returned, and examine whether any stream fell inn or not. I keep a strict lookout every night, I take my tour of watch with the men.
Courses and distances of July 18th 1806.
N. 25 W. 7 ms. to the source of Buffloe Creek passing the dividing ridge between the waters of Maria's and rose [Teton] river at 6 ms. praries more hilly than yesterday. many prickly pears now in blume.
N. 15 W 12 ms. down buffaloe Creek to the place at which we dined. here timber commences on this stream. 25 yds. wide no run- ning water.
North 5 ms. to Maria's River 130 yds. wide 3 feet deep encamped on South side.— Ms. 24
For all A.H.'s dealing, it seems he continued to have money trouble, as noted in the River Press in March 1915.
The Great Falls Lumber Company had a lumber yard beside A.H.'s livery and feed stables and probably supplied the lumber to build the barn. It may have been around this time that he famously borrowed money from his son Morris and when he failed to pay it back, told his son that it should teach him not to lend money to anybody.
Marian did make it to Carter some time between the summer of 1912 and the winter of 1915, but their new life proved too much for her to bear. On March 20, 1916, she swallowed a fatal dose of poison at her home in Carter. Dr. E.M. Porter was summoned from Fort Benton but there was little he could do. She succumbed ten days later, at 11:30 a.m. on March 30. She was 48 years, 1 month and 2 days old. Dr. Porter wrote in the cause on the death certificate as “Strychnine poisoning due to taking squirrel poison with suicidal intent.”
Fort Benton’s River Press learned the news and printed a brief item the day after the burial. It read:
Word was received from Carter this morning that Mrs. A.H. Stewart, a well known resident of that town, had taken squirrel poison with suicidal intent and was in a critical condition. Dr. Porter responded to the call for assistance, but soon after his arrival in Carter the poison completed its deadly work. Mrs. Stewart was afflicted with mental trouble, and after being under treatment at the asylum at Warm Springs for about a year was released from that institution a few months ago.Other articles on the page mention a new undertaker at the corner of Main and St. John streets, a ten-inch snowfall in Lewistown and the death of one man and the impending death of another from the “dread disease” spotted fever contracted from tick bites.
One can imagine the devastation suffered by the family.
A.H. continued his business deals. He filed another 40-acre homestead claim on February 8, 1917 and the River Press noted on May 16, 1917, that “Articles of incorporation have been filed in the office of the secretary of state by the Carter Publishing company of Carter, with a capital stock of $5,000. The incorporators are O.F. Tate and A.H. Stewart of Carter and B.H. Kreis, of Fort Benton.
This was evidently to buy the Carter Herald, one of Carter's two newspapers at the time, as Jack Castor explains in his book:
A.H. built a ferry, which had some trouble. As Jack Castor noted in 1991, the ferry is still operating. Look here.
The only hint of distress or discord comes in an odd item that ran in the River Press on April 25, 1917. “Morris B. Stewart has brought suit in the district court against Arthur S. Elsom to recover alleged damages of $5,000 for loss of reputation due to his arrest on a charge of assault. The complaint states that the charge of assault against the plaintiff was dismissed in the justice court, and that the accusation was made for the purpose of bringing him into disrepute.”
These were hard years for Montana homesteaders and the land was emptying out as the initial wave of homesteaders abandoned their claims.
In June, 2005, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith talked to her older brother Charles Stewart, about Morris’ early homesteading days.
PATRICIA: When Dad homesteaded out here, he started in cattle?By July 1917, a little more than a year after Marian’s suicide, A.H. had eloped with one of Fort Benton’s most illustrious ladies: Lou Stocking, heir to a sizeable sheep ranching estate.
CHARLES: Well, Dad, he homesteaded see in 1910 and he wasn’t actually 21 and you had to be 21 in order to homestead, so there was another feller, A.H. got him to file
on a homestead, but Dad did all the work. In other words, he broke out the 80 acres and built his shack.
PATRICIA: When you say broke out 80 acres ...
CHARLES: Well, you had to break 80 acres. See it was 160 acres and you had to break half of it so you had to break …
PATRICIA: Plow it?
CHARLES: Plow it, and build his shack, and then when Dad was 21, which woulda been, lets see, about 1913 or so, Dad, this fellow filed a relinquishment in favor of Dad, and I’m sure he probably got a little remuneration out of it, you know, probably not much.
PATRICIA: Now when you say plow, how did Dad plow this.
CHARLES: With a team and horses, and then a sulky plow that had maybe one or two bottoms on it that you kinda rode. Now some of the homesteaders, there was outfits that came in with big steam engines and they would custom plow your, you know, do it that way. Some of homesteaders did it that way, because busting sod was tough, it took power, and horses.
So anyway, and then Dad, then actually, what he did, he worked for these big cattle ranchers, Dutchead Rachel and Brown Blaze and McLeish, and kinda, as a range rider, in other words kinda a cowboy, and that’s how he kinda made his living. He didn’t make it off of his homestead, he just, you know, hiring out to these fellows.
On July 4, 1917, the River Press reported:
The friends of Miss Lou Stocking, of this city, received a surprise Saturday afternoon by the announcement of her marriage to A.H. Stewart, of Carter. The news came in the form of a telegram to Fort Benton friends of the bride, stating that the wedding took place in Spokane, Wash. Miss Stocking left here by the westbound train Wednesday evening, but no intimation of the purpose of her trip was given to her close personal friends.Other articles on the page mention the sale of 2,600 acres for $35 an acre, wheat prices at $1.50 [presumably per bushel], details of a local baseball game, charitable collections for the new war rolling across Europe and a government offer of labor to help in harvesting and threshing because of the shortage of labor during the conflict overseas.
The bride and groom have a wide acquaintance among residents of this part of Montana. Miss Stocking has made her home in this city since childhood, and has taken a prominent part in the social activities and church work of the community. Mr. Stewart was the founder of the town of Carter, and has been identified with many of the business enterprises and developments in that vicinity.
It is understood that upon their return from the Pacific coast, the newly wedded couple will make their home in this city.
A separate item in the same edition reported that “A.H. Stewart, who was married to Miss Stocking at Spokane a few days ago, became the victim of a bunch of practical jokers when he arrived at Carter this morning. A posse of his friends took forcible possession of the bridegroom and placed him under guard in a two-wheeled cart that was hitched to an automobile, and with four of the conspirators in the machine the party came to this city. Word of the affair was telephoned to Fort Benton allies, and upon their arrival here the delegation was given a noisy welcome.”
According to a biography attached to a collection of her papers at Montana State University, Katherine Louisa "Lou" Stocking was born on April 3, 1862 in Denver, Colorado to Margaret Henry and John J. Uhle. After John Uhle died, Margaret Uhle married Winfield Scott Stocking on January 16, 1864 in Boise City, Idaho Territory.
Winfield Scott Stocking was born in Michigan on March 15, 1837 and had gone to California in 1859 and prospected in Oregon prior to locating at Boise. After their marriage Winfield and Margaret, along with her daughter Lou, moved to Fort Benton in 1866 where Winfield established a meat market and located the first ranch in the territory on Teton Creek. In 1883 he opened the first Opera House in Fort Benton.
Lou Stocking, celebrated as the first white child to travel up the Missouri River as far as Fort Benton, was raised on the family ranch and attended St. Mary's Academy at Leavenworth, Kansas. She wrote extensively about her travels, recounting in one entry how her steamboat stopped at Standing Rock Indian Agency in June 1876, “when news of the Custer tragedy was brought in and twenty-four women, waiting there for news, learned that their husbands had been killed in the battle of the Big Horn.”
After marrying, she and A.H. lived in Ft. Benton and Great Falls while he managed the sheep ranches she had inherited, including the Los Angeles Sheep Company near Sun River, Montana.
About the time that A.H. and Lou married, a rural Post Office and small store opened just northeast of Morris' homestead along the trail that was eventually to become a road. The post office was called Hervin, and Melvin B. Nelson was appointed its first postmaster on August 27, 1917. Melvin married Morris' sister Beryl sometime in 1918 and when he left that year for the Army he put the post office and store in the hands of Maggie M. Francisco, who took over as postmaster on January 11, 1919.
A man named Harold C. Stevens took over as postmaster on April 13, 1922, but the Post Office and store burnt down shortly after that. Charles Stewart, Morris' son, recalls Morris saying that he saw the fire and ran to help but that there was no way to get enough water up from the coulee to stop it.
The foundation of the building is still there together with a rusted Story & Clark piano frame from Chicago. The piano presumably belonged to Melvin or Maggie Fransisco and was one that Beryl probably played on. It may be the piano that A.H. wrote about moving from Madison, Wisconsin, in his letter to Marian in the spring of 1912.
By 1918, Morris was in the army, too. I used to have a copy of a wonderful letter from Morris to Jack Stewart in Siberia complaining about the “bum fit” of his uniform and warning cousin Jack to steer clear of the “whores.”
Morris' Draft Card.
He apparently wasn't very happy about going because he claimed an exemption that was evidently denied. In response to the question, "Do you claim exemption from draft (specify grounds)?" he wrote, "Crops and Farm to look after."
It was the beginning of Montana's dry years. The area around Carter was hit that August by a withering drought, attested to by many local newspapers. The Hansboro News of Hansboro, South Dakota, for example, carried many items about laborers arriving from Montana in search of work after drought devastated the harvest further north. An example: "Max Jahnke and Albert Glanders arrived from Carter, Montana Friday. They expect to assist here, during the busy season and report crops dried out in their locality."
On Sept. 23, 1918, Lou Stocking Stewart wrote to Morris from Great Falls. She addressed the letter to him at Camp Lewis, Washington, but he had been transferred by the time it arrived. Beryl’s new husband, Melvin Nelson, forwarded it to Morris at Camp Stevens, Oregon. It’s a fascinating letter with many details.
My Dear Morris –The letter was included with a letter from Melvin, mailed by Melvin in a Y.M.C.A. envelope from Camp Lewis to Camp Stevens in Oregon. Melvin apparently refers to Beryl’s depression and rumors circulating about her.
I hasten to thank you many times for the post card and certainly did appreciate it coming from you. The picture of Y.M.C.A. is good and the boys seem happy at their play. I am glad to know they have so many amusements. All this helps them to be cheery and keep up courage and we want them all to know and feel that the home folks are going to stand back of them and do all in our power to help them win this war [three words underscored].
September 25th begins our fourth liberty loan for Chouteau County. $110,000 and I wager old Chouteau will be there with her loan. We want our boys to win. I have two stars on my service flag, Morris Stewart and Melvin Nelson and have pinned on the flag the names of young men who left with you for Camp Lewis. When you all return home I will show you.
After you left your father and I went out to Hessin to look over your affairs. It was pretty hard on Father but he braced up with lots of effort. He traded the bay horse and sled runners for the mare. I believe it was a good trade. The man who bought cattle and hay from you we still have to hear from. But that is good. Father sorted over your things and will bring them to the Falls to pack away. The machinery will try and sell. Many small trips [?] etc. he will store in the grainery and fasten that up tightly.
Mr. Dan Kelly has the red sheep shed about hauled up to Jones house. He certainly came in good at the right time.
We had to come back to the Falls. So last evening your father left for Benton and will go out to Hesin by horse back. Will finish all the business up, bring the wheat in and horses down to the Neubert ranch for the winter. So everything is being taken cared for.
Don’t worry but just put on all the courage you can. We are here to stand back of you. Everything will come out all right for you and Melvin – Beryl is looking good and preparing for her trip and being with Melvin this winter she will visit around among her friends before she starts. Will be with me soon. She has her teeth to be looked after and some shopping to do.
Marie is getting on nicely and becoming reconciled to her school. By this time must be getting down to real study work. I believe we have done the best thing for Marie’s future good.
Now Morris, I have written the news for today. I am going to Benton tomorrow night. We will be away for a few days – Then you will hear from father and know just how things are coming.
The cow shipped by Frank Kelly brought eight cents so the man said who went down with the shipment – Mike Kelly will be out the first of October. I think now he will do well on the sheep deal. Sheep are advancing in price. I hope he makes good. I think Dan will go back with him.
Remember me to Melvin. I was very sorry not to have seen Melvin off. I was in a position at Benton and could not leave very well. I will treat him better next time he comes home to see us.
With best wishes from father and myself. And always believe you have a good friend in me. You own mother was your best friend. And I will foster her wishes for you. Be of good cheer and courage. Stand for your flag, country and your God who will be your guiding star.
Sincerely, Lou Stocking Stewart
Remember me to the young men who left with you will always be glad to hear of their success.
Beryl from around that time.
Melvin's letter is on YMCA stationery, with an American flag printed in color in the upper left-hand corner and the red YMCA triangle in the upper right-hand corner. In the middle, at the top, printed in blue ink are the words, “Army and Navy, Young Men’s Christian Association, 'With the Colors'” At the bottom of each page, printed in blue are the words, “TO THE WRITER – save by writing on both sides of this paper. TO THE FOLKS AT HOME – save food, buy liberty bonds and war savings stamps.” It is dated Sept. 28, 1918.
Dear Morris,Shorty Taylor, mentioned in Melvin’s letter, lived on a small place between the Stewart Ranch and Mrs. Howell’s to the south, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith recalled in 2007. “He didn’t have much push,” she said. “I don’t think he knew how to farm.” Patricia said that he eventually sold his land to “the Fairchild boys.”
I have your good letter of the 28th and am very glad to note your expression of satisfaction over the new situation and that you feel you are going to like it there and hope your stay there will cover most of the winter for while you are going to experience good damp weather on the other hand it’s beats snow and ice and zero weather of other parts of the country. Soon after you left I investigated to find out just what constituted Fort Stevens and found it to be just what you described in your letter.
The Coast Artillery is a branch that is much sought out by the “boys” for it ranks high and furnishes a line of training that is both interesting and pleasing as well as instructive. While I was sorry to see you leave for reasons of companionship yet I am glad to see you away from the Infantry the most grueling and thankless branch of them all. I understand the bunch who were in training there before you have recently left for overseas and most of them were in training four months before going across. I am enclosing a letter to you from Lou and you will please pardon me for opening it but until yesterday I hadn’t heard a word from Beryl and I was in anguish you may be sure and hoped that Lou’s letter might divulge something about her.
I wired Dad Friday night and Saturday morning I received a reply that Beryl was in the best of health so that rather eased me. Sunday I received a letter from Beryl and again today and she explained that owing to being busy cooking for Kelly and the dogs and numerous other things she missed one mail.
Her letters Morris are brim full of happiness and contentment for she feels so carefree with no worries on her mind so you know that enhances my comfort to know. She is out of the State and able to get around. She hopes to get into the Falls about the 15th of this month and after a short visit there she’ll be on her way out here. She mentions that Shorty Taylor has gossiped around that she is to be contested and this reached her thru Francisco. Can you beat it?
I’m afraid some day on my return “there’ll be guts to clean” if some of these people don’t clam up for it gets me out of patience. Beryl also says that Francisco appears to feel very satisfied with the business and that is good to know.
Jim Robbins tendered Beryl a proposition of teaching their school but after due consideration she declined it and am glad she did for there is no telling. I may go to France this winter and in that event I want Beryl here as long as possible and she needs a change anyway. I am also enclosing a part of Beryl’s letter referring to Marie and you will note what she says about the little things that make a kid happy. So perhaps you can arrange to send her a token now and then.
I have written Beryl and Marie and the folks of your transfer and also of course explained your move into said branch is a very good one so they should be pleased. Your shaving outfit is on the way here and I shall pick it up and forward to you tomorrow together with any mail you may have at the 21st Co. I hope to hear of your progress frequently and hope when Beryl comes I can arrange to get a pass and we’ll drop down.
With Best wishes to you and the boys. I remain as ever.
Morris and Melvin returned from war, but times were tough. Morris remembered in his 1974 memoir that “In 1919, we had one of the worst droughts we ever had, followed by a hard winter, which broke the cattleman and thru him the banks. That winter stockmen shipped in Dakota slew grass for hay and straw was better feed and a big percentage of the stock died. A lot of homesteaders left the country and their land was taken over by the counties and offered for tax title, but no one would buy it. At that time it was question of whether this would be a farming country.”
“Slew grass” is a term for thick, marsh grass.
In Trails, Trials and Tributes, compiled by the Egly Country Club in 1958, Morris wrote:
“I first came to Montana when I was sixteen. My father, A.H. Stewart, filed on a homestead where Carter is now. He had the townsite of Carter platted and sold lots and located a lot of people on homesteads, including myself.In June, 2005, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith talked to her older brother Charles Stewart, about how Morris acquired cattle land during those years.
"I remember riding north of Carter on horseback when there were no laid out roads or fences. In the early homestead years, people did not have much faith in this as a farming country. I can remember when everyone wanted a ranch of bottom land along a river. They did not care much for bench land. The homesteaders who homesteaded the bench or uplands were called drylanders and in those days a drylander was not considered very highly as an economic asset.
"In 1920 I heard one of the best talks that I have ever heard. It was given by Prof. M.L. Wilson who later became assistant Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. It was following 1919, which was one of our worst drought years. I remember he said this country was settled by people from practically every state in the union. “Now,” he said, “it follows that a farmer from the state of Washington could not expect to go to Indiana and farm there with the same methods that he used in Washington any more than the Indiana farmer could go to Washington and farm the way they do in Indiana.” He said that he did not know if this would be a farming country but that, if it did prove to be a farming country, that, through trial and error, there would be a system of farming evolved that would be adapted to this country and that would be the proper way to farm it.
I think it is safe to say that this country has developed into a successful farming country and that, with the coming of electric power, rural telephones and better roads, this is a good country to live in."
CHARLES: And then the tough years came in the 20s or late teens and they started going with the dry years and everything and the bad winters and everything. And they [the cattle companies] couldn’t pay him but they would pay him in cattle and then he would just run his cattle along with theirs and that’s how he got his start in cattle. Pretty soon they just passed from the scene they all went broke or sold out or you know.A.H., meanwhile, filed another 40-acre homestead claim on June 22, 1920.
And then this land that was all homesteaded up, about two thirds of the homesteaders left the land, just abandoned it, because it was dry and they couldn’t make a living out of it. Well then that land would go back to the counties and it was called tax land and the counties since there wasn’t anybody living on it, nobody paying taxes, they would advertise in the spring of the year thousands of acres of land that you could buy it or you could have it if you would just pay the back taxes on it. And that’s how Dad got started buying land. He could, say it cost 50 cents an acre, he would pay the back taxes on it and it’d be his land, he’d get a tax deed to it, they called it, and that is how he acquired most of his land.
In June, 2005, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith talked to her older brother Charles Stewart, about Morris’ brush with death after the war.
PATRICIA: Charles, what happened when Dad got sick?Another recollection, perhaps more accurate, is that Otto Flater returned with a 'stone boat,' a kind of horse-drawn sled used to haul rocks, and moved Morris to his house on that. Todd Smith, Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith's son, recalls that when A.H. drove Morris to Great Falls, they filled the car with hot rocks to keep him warm.
CHARLES: Well, this was kinda during the, the flu epidemic, 1917, 18, 19, I guess. It had hit New York first and it was a little slower coming out here west. It was in kinda the wintertime and Otto Flater had stopped by Dad’s homestead shack. He’d ridden horseback down to Carter and was on his way back in the evening, and he stopped by Dad’s homestead shack and Dad was in pretty bad shape. And um, in fact I think maybe the night before why Dad thought he was going to die because he couldn’t get his breath and he kinda passed out and he was kinda surprised when he woke up that he was still alive.
So anyway, but anyway, that flu what would happen is your lungs would just fill up with phlegm and you’d just drown - literally drown. But anyway so then he got on his saddle horse and he lived about two miles northeast of where Dad did and he got down to his own place and of course he was married and he was telling his wife, he says, ‘I don’t think Morris is going to last through the night.’ So she made Flater go down and get Dad on horseback and take him up to her place or their place and she made a big mustard, what do they call it, poultice, poultice and laid it over his chest and he credits that with saving his life because that sort of loosened the phlegm to where he could kinda cough it up. And then uh…
PATRICIA: How’d he get Dad on a horse?
CHARLES: Well he just, you know in that day and age, when you were sick you got on a horse.
PATRICIA: Dad could get on the horse by himself.
CHARLES: Ummhumm, oh yeah, and what would get him is that they would literally drown. Well anyway, then they got word to old A.H., my Dad’s Dad, and he came out in a car and this was when cars were a real rarity and there was quite a little snow and of course the roads weren’t much of a road and he would walk ahead of the car when they couldn’t see the grass so they wouldn’t get stuck, you know. They got him in the car and took him to the hospital in Great Falls and he was about 3 months in the hospital there. But what really saved his life, what really saved his life was the fact that a doctor back in New York City had come up with a treatment where that he, they would go in between the ribs in the back and puncture into the lungs and suck this phlegm out and before that it was almost curtains if you got it, you know. And in this area, there was, well, half a dozen homesteaders died; Mrs. Howell’s husband and a daughter died, and Mrs. Moore died and Downy died, Charlie Downy, and Rinker died, it really took a lot of people right in this area.
So it was a, and mainly because the people got sick and didn’t go to the doctor and so anyway, those were I think, but a, Dad recovered although he felt that he was never as strong after that as he was before, you know. So anyway, he always, it did damage his lungs some, so he was, but otherwise, he lived a fruitful life to the age of 92.
In a 1982 interview given by Morris for a Montana oral history project, he denied that he had contracted the Spanish flu - though that was long the lore in the family. The flu pandemic swept Montana in the winter of 1918-1919 and Morris fell ill in early 1920. In any case, an entry in the Great Falls Tribune, dated February 26, 1920, describes him as ill with 'influenza.'
This article says Morris was suffering from 'flumonia,' an old medical term to describe influenza with pneumonia.
For the rest of his life, Morris wore a "union suit," one-piece long underwear, year round - even through the broiling summers. I remember him telling me that he had only one lung and was afraid of catching cold.
Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith recalled in 2007 that A.H. put homestead claims in for Morris, Beryl and Marie and that Beryl and her husband Melvin lived on their’s for a little while. Marie never did. Morris eventually moved the two shacks onto his homestead and put them together to make a home after he married Tryeth.
Morris Stewart, baby Charles, and Tryeth
Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith recalled in 2007 that Melvin then went on to work for Monarch Foods, a high-end canned goods distributor and that he and Beryl shared a duplex in Great Falls with Marie and her husband, Ed Grinager, a traveling salesman for Arrow Shirts. Melvin and Beryl had a boy they named Bob.
Beryl failed to overcome her depression, however, and committed suicide in December, 1930. She was apparently being treated at a sanatorium in Topeka, Kansas. According to family lore, she tried to drown herself, perhaps in the Kansas River.
Her death certificate, above, shows that she died on December 16 of pneumonia after having been under a doctor's care since December 9. If the story of her attempted drowning is true, she presumably tried to kill herself on December 9.
Auburn is a small town a few miles southwest of Topeka. It's not clear why she died there.
Family lore holds that Beryl was sent for treatment at a mental hospital where one of Tryeth Stewart's older sisters - apparently Zelda - worked as a nurse. Zelda did live in Kansas. Charles Stewart, Morris and Tryeth's son, recalls hearing that Morris went to visit Beryl there and on one occasion broke open a bathroom door when she locked herself inside.
It will take further research to determine where this hospital was. It may have been the Topeka State Hospital, formerly the Topeka Insane Asylum, which became notorious for its abuse of patients. Beryl may also have been treated at Topeka's famous Menninger Clinic, which used intensive, individualized treatment for patients with complex or long-standing mental illnesses. Dr. Karl Menninger's first book, The Human Mind, was a bestseller in 1930.
It may also have been at Christ Hospital, Topeka's oldest hospital, where the doctor under whose care Beryl died operated a private clinic for the mentally ill earlier in the century. Note that "insane asylum" was common parlance in that less politically correct age.
An article in the October 8, 1908, edition of Topeka's Emporia Weekly Gazette carried the following item:
Dr. Lindsey Arrested
Topeka Man Charged With Keeping Insane Asylum in City
Topeka. Oct 7. – On the complaint of Mrs. Luella Couchman, Dr. W. S. Lindsey, one of the most prominent physicians of Topeka, was arrested Friday afternoon for maintaining a public nuisance, or in other words, maintaining an insane asylum within 500 feet of a dwelling house inside the city limits.
Mrs. Couchman, supported by other people in the neighborhood, says that the people are in constant fear of the inmates of the institution and that their cries and actions are a nuisance. Mrs. Couchman lives on West Tenth Avenue just across from the Christ hospital tract. On this tract there are a number of the cottages of the hospital and they are used for private purposes. The cottage in question is located on the southern edge of the grounds and within 500 feet of the nearest dwelling inside the city limits. The cottage is maintained by Dr. Lindsey at a considerable expense to himself and is used for treatment of private cases of nervous troubles. Insane people have never been treated in this cottage and as a rule the patients are quiet. It is necessary that they be quiet as many of the cottages of the hospital are situated near Dr. Lindsey’s asylum.
There is a city ordinance against an asylum which causes a public nuisance and Police Judge S. S. Urmy issued the warrant Friday at the complaint of Mrs. Couchman. They appeared in the court yesterday afternoon but the trial has been postponed until next Wednesday afternoon at 2:30.
In speaking of the matter, Dr. Lindsey said:
“Contrary to the report of the complaint, I am not keeping an insane asylum. This cottage out at Christ hospital is part of the institution and is for the benefit of the public. I receive for treatment nervous and neurotic patients, but they are very seldom noisy. In fact, it is necessary that they be still on account of the proximity of the cottages of the hospital. I do not deny that the private hospital has caused a little annoyance to the people living in that vicinity. I take their word for that. But they must realize that every public convenience is at the inconvenience of someone and damages someone’s property. I do not think that I will make any systematic defense Wednesday, but simply to go court and state the truthful facts of the matter. I believe that this will stop the complaints. The patients are a good class of people and I have heard very little noise myself. I do not think that the complaint will be pushed when the people realize the true conditions.”
Beryl's body was sent back to Great Falls for burial, as noted in this death notice in the Great Falls Tribune.
She was buried at Highland Cemetery in Great Falls on Saturday, December 20.
She was just 35 years old when she died.
As if to complete the tragedy that struck the Stewart women, the youngest daughter of A.H. and Marian Stewart, Marie Grinager, ended her life by accidentally setting herself on fire while smoking and drinking gin in a synthetic nightgown at her home in Great Falls in 1979. She was 76.
Morris, the surviving son, never spoke of the varous tragedies.
Marie and Ed Grinager helped Melvin raise Bob after Beryl's death. He was an exceptionally bright boy. His son, Tom Nelson, recalled in 2011 that Bob went to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology at around the age of 16 but returned to Great Falls after one year as he wasn't quite mature enough to handle a school like MIT at that age. He finished school at the University of Montana in Missoula with a degree in engineering. Bob enlisted in the Navy to avoid being drafted after college and became a pilot.
Bob served as a pilot on the USS Enterprise, which was one of only three American carriers commissioned prior to World War II to survive the war (the others being Saratoga and Ranger). She participated in more major actions of the war against Japan than any other U.S. ship. The Enterprise was in the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, various other air-sea engagements during the Guadalcanal campaign, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf, as well as the "Doolittle Raid" on Tokyo. The ship earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II.
Bob Nelson (center) in front of his Avenger on the USS Enterprise
Bob was shot down in the Pacific on April 30, 1944 during a massive raid on the Truk Atoll. According to family, Melvin, who had remarried to a woman named Edna, sat up in bed that night and said, “Bob’s been shot down.” Melvin later received a telegram saying his son had been shot down. (Tom Nelson, Bob's son, never heard the story, however, so it is likely apocryphal.) Bob was rescued by a float plane from another aircraft carrier and taxied to a waiting submarine, the USS Tang.
Bob Nelson is presumably one of the men riding on the wing of the float plane as it taxied them to the USS Tang.
Bob Nelson is in the upper right leaning against the ship's railing.
Bob kept flying and was credited with being the first to spot the Japanese fleet in the Battle of the Philippines Sea, otherwise known as "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot," a decisive battle of the Pacific war in June, 1944.
This is from an account of the battle written by David James:
American searches failed, for most of 20 June, to find the Japanese fleet, but eventually - at 1540 - an Avenger piloted by Lieutenant R.S. Nelson, from the veteran carrier Enterprise, found Ozawa's force. Nelson's message reporting the contact was however so garbled that Mitscher did not know what had been sighted or where. He nonetheless decided to make an all-out strike when more information came in, despite the fact that there were now only about 75 minutes to sunset, and that the strike would therefore have to be recovered in darkness. By 1605 further reports from Lt. Nelson had given the Task Force 58 commander the information needed. At 1610 the aircrew manned their planes, and at 1621 the carriers turned into the wind to launch the strike. The launching - of 216 aircraft - was completed in the remarkably short time of eleven minutes.This is an Associated Press article about the battle that ran in July, 1944:
The two-day engagement had been the largest pure carrier-versus-carrier battle in history, and was to be the last. The immediate consequence of the Japanese defeat was the US capture of the Marianas. This broke the Japanese inner line of defence, and meant that American bombers based in the islands could now reach targets on Japan itself. As a result of their huge losses of aircrew in the battle the remnants of the Japanese seaborne air groups were never again able to challenge the American fleet, and at the Leyte Gulf four months later the Japanese carrier force - which had once dominated the Pacific War - was reduced to playing the role of decoy, while the primary attacking role was, of necessity, assigned to the Imperial Navy's battleships and their attendant cruisers and destroyers.
'Killer' Kane's Air Group First To See Japanese FleetBob was highly decorated, receiving both the Silver and Bronze Stars. Admiral Chester Nimitz flew with him on one mission, as recorded in his flight books now owned by his son Tom. Nimitz was the Commander in Chief of the Pacific Fleet during the war.
By ELMONT WAITE
ABOARD CARRIER FLAGSHIP, CENTRAL PACIFIC, July 19 (AP) - To the air group aboard this flagship goes credit for catching the Japanese fleet within range of our divebombers and torpedo planes.
It was the air group skippered by Cmdr. William R. (Killer) Kane, San Rafael, Cal.
Lt. Robert S. Nelson, Great Falls, Mont., torpedo pilot, was the first to sight and report the enemy fleet's position the afternoon of June 20 (ELD).
"I noticed a rippling on the horizon," he said. "I stared at it for a few moments to make sure, then called my crew and the other planes...
"We climbed, continuing our course toward clouds and a rain squall for cover. By that time the Jap ships could be seen clearly. We worked in and out of the clouds while I plotted their position, counted them, and sought to identify them. I sent our contact report as soon as I figured we had sufficient information."
Lt. Nelson and his wingman, Lt. (jg) James S. Moore Jr., Miami, Fla., were the first to see the enemy fleet.
Two other torpedo pilots, Lt. (jg) Robert R. Jones, Minneapolis, Minn., and Edward W. Laster, Benson, Ark., flying a slightly different search sector, also spotted the enemy ships that first afternoon.
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"Enemy force sighted...." This radio message from Lt. Nelson's plane, that electrified our carrier force and resulted in the high-speed launching of a heavy attack, was sent by Radioman James Livingston, Lander, Wyo. A similar message from Radioman Robert W. Grenier, Helena, Mont., flying in Jones' plane, quickly followed.
Lt. Jones said his first feeling was great elation. "I knew there was just one other fleet in the Pacific and this was it. I knew we'd attack quickly."
Two fighter planes accompanied that historic search, piloted by Ensign William E. Velte, Upper Darby, Pa., and Lt. Edward G. Colgan, Cleveland Heights, O. Jones' gunner, William P. Whitley Jr., Raleigh, N. C., spotted an enemy torpedo bomber as the searchers started back, and Lt. Colgan attacked - downing it with a single burst.
Lt. Nelson said he heard radio conversations between our own pilots, already speeding to the attack as the search teams were returning. He gave the flight leader additional information, he said.
Lt. Jones said he saw our attack formations on their way to blast the Japanese fleet.
"It was one of the greatest thrills of my life. Coming toward us on the horizon were three large formations of our planes flying high and gaining altitude. We knew the Japs were in for a bad time."
Other crewmen in the search planes included Thomas T. Watts, aviation radioman first class, Oregon City, Ore.; Ralph C. Hovis, aviation ordnance machinist second class, Hoquiam, Wash.; Robert W. Gruebel, aviation ordnance machinist second class; Peter G. B. Fielder, aviation radioman third class, Baltimore, Md.; and John Fuentes, aviation motor machinist second class, Los Angeles.
Nonetheless, Bob Nelson suffered mental problems near the end of the war - according to one story, he had a breakdown while flying and had to be talked down. He returned to Montana after the war and started a construction business, building three-bedroom homes in a day when most homes had just two bedrooms, his son Tom recalls. But he had trouble throughout his life after that, suffering from the depression that claimed is mother and grandmother. He was killed on October 22, 1994, by two men during a robbery at his home in Tacoma, Washington. He was 74.
We can pick up another stream of our bloodline in Liebsthal, Pfalz, Germany, where a man named Johann Nickel Holl married a woman named Anna Margaretha. They had two sons, Abraham and Andreas, and emigrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1738. They later settled in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, as part of what became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch community there.
Abraham, who was born in Germany on May 20, 1714, married a German-American woman who had been born in Lancaster Co., Maria Catherine Stentz, on May 7, 1745. Among their children was a John Hull, born in Pennsylvania around 1751.
John married Ann Mary Lingafelter, still in Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, before moving to Greene Co., Tennessee. There, he and his wife had eleven children, including Jacob Hull (named for Ann Mary's father), born around 1800.
Jacob married Katherine King in Greene Co. on March 22, 1821.
Among their children was George Hull, born in Tennessee in 1832. George married Susanna P. Peters on August 25, 1853 in Boone Co., Indiana, and among their children was Julius E., born in Lebanon, the county seat, on July 26, 1862.
Julius worked as a boy in his father's butcher shop in Boone Co. and, according to later accounts by Julius, left home at the age of 15 to seek his fortune - crossing the bridge that spanned the Mississippi at Saint Louis on foot - the start of a peripatetic life that eventually drew him to Montana.
When Julius was 23, he married Julia D. Pearce, a young woman from a prominent family in Missouri. According to family lore, the Pearce or Pierce family did not support the marriage, either because the Pierces were northerners and the Hulls were southerners and Civil War divisions were still raw - or because Julius was from a lower social standing than his bride.
Julia’s parents were John Whitney Pierce, born in Washington County, New York, and Cassander or Cassandra Bird, born in Washington County, Pennsylvania.
John was the son of Samuel Pierce and Emily Whitney, both born in Vermont. They married and moved across the border into Washington County where John was born. They then moved to Pennsylvania and later Ohio.
Not much is yet known about Cassandra, other than that she may have been born on March 8, 1825 and that she married John on September 18, 1848 in Ashland, Ohio.
An 1883 History of St. Clair County, Missouri, gives this account of John:
JOHN W. PIERCE, farmer and insurance agent, section 22, was born in Washington County, New York, January 20, 1829, and was a son of Samuel and Emily (Whitney) Pierce, the former a native of New York and the latter of Vermont.John and Cassandra appear in the 1870 census living in Butler Township, St. Clair County, Missouri. Their six children are all listed as having been born in Illinois, including Julia, who was then 5. The census shows that John was a farmer.
When our subject was about seven years old his parents moved to Ohio, where he grew to manhood and received his education. At the age of nineteen he engaged in the patent right business, which he followed for two years, afterward becoming occupied in manufacturing linseed oil for three years.
In 1848 he went to Illinois and farmed until 1859, after which he was again in the patent right business for four years. In 1867 he came to St. Clair County, Missouri, and now owns a farm of 160 acres, all well improved. He is also agent for some of the leading insurance companies, and H. H. Dix' marble works.
Mr. P. is a member of the M. E. Church. In September, 1846, he married Miss Casinda Bird, a native of Pennsylvania. They have six children: William B., Maria C., Leander M., Harriett A., Julia D. and Baxter R. They lost three.
A decade later, the family is living in Chalk Level Township, St. Clair County, Missouri, now with a grandson born to their oldest boy. Julia is 15. The birth state of both John’s father and mother are listed as Vermont.
Baxter and Rosa Pierce.
John Whitney Pierce eventually followed his youngest son and Julia's little brother, Baxter, to Powder River County, Montana, where he died on July 8, 1906.
He is buried, together with Baxter and Baxter's wife, Rosa, in the Willow Crossing Cemetery there.
The 1900 census finds Julia D. married to Julius E. Hull and living in Peabody, Kansas with three daughters, Zelda M., Maude and Florence (click on the image above to see the page larger).
Julius’ birth date is listed as July 1862. Julia, May 1865. They’ve been married for 15 years and Zelda is 11. The census notes that Julia has had 5 children but that only the three girls survive. This would suggest that the two others – boys according to Patricia Ann (Stewart) Smith’s recollection - died before they were 15. The two older girls are listed as having been born in Missouri. Florence was born in Kansas.
Patricia remembers Zelda and Florence visiting the ranch at different times. Zelda was married and had moved to California where she had a son and worked as a nurse. Patricia never met the husband or the son. Florence also married and had a couple of daughters. Patricia corresponded to one of the daughters for a while. Her name was Jerry, but Patricia doesn’t remember the last name or anything more.
Tryeth Oglona Hull was born in Peabody, Kansas in 1905. Her birth date is listed as January 2, but she always said that she never really knew what day she was born.
By 1910, Julius and Julia are living in Sheridan, Dallas County, Missouri with four daughters, Florence, Willa A., Tryetha, and what looks like Veda E. – evidently Veda Elizabeth, or Beth. The census now says that Julia has given birth to 9 children, but that only six are still living, indicating that their daughter Maude has died.
Julius left the family to look for work. Patricia, Tryeth's daughter, remembers her mother telling her that "Uncle Jim kept us alive by giving us molasses and we lived on cornbread, molasses and milk." Uncle Jim was apparently Julius' older brother, James Hull, born in 1858. Tryeth used to tell Patricia that her mother (Julia) would get angry at the three girls because they would make each other laugh and spit out their milk. Julia apparently had a temper and Tryeth used to tell of being beaten and spending the night hiding in a ditch.
Patricia thinks that Julius moved Julia and the three youngest girls to Hamilton, Montana sometime before or around World War I. According to Julius' 1956 obituary in The Western News, they arrived in 1916:
Mr. Hull was one of the old timers of the valley having first come here in 1910. He left and then came back again to settle in Stevensville in 1916 near the site of the Bitter Root Inn, since burned. He sent for his wife and family and they later moved to Hamilton, buying the John Weichelbaum place where they farmed many years.You can read an interesting history of Stevensville, Hamilton and the Bitter Root Inn, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, here.
Julius E. and Julia D. Hull and their three youngest girls show up in the Bitterroot Valley in the 1920 census. Willa is 17, Trietha (as her name is recorded) is 15 and the youngest, now listed as Beth, is 14. The family called Willa "Billie" and called Tryeth "Johnny."
Julia Hull and her daughter Willa "Billie" Hull
Julia died in 1928 in Springfield, Missouri, where she had gone to visit one of her elder daughters, presumably Florence. Willa wrote Tryeth from there to tell her of the death.
June 17, 1928
My dearest Johnny,
I suppose you must know by this time that mother passed away. She went Tues. 12th about 5 p.m. Her last hour was quite easy, but up until that time she suffered terribly. It seemed so sad to give her up, but she suffered so terribly and could not get well.
I could not get here until after she went. She was so natural. We bought her a gray casket, gray lined. A she [sic] pink shroud ruffled about the neck and hands. She looked so aristocratic lying there and so queenly. It doesn’t seem possible that she is now gone. She has been with us so long. She had so many beautiful flowers.
Must quit honey, will write later,
Julia D. Hull
By the time Julia died, Tryeth was living in a two-room wooden shack, nursing her first-born, Charles, on the dry, sun-baked prairies of Montana.
Willa “Billie” Hull had been the darling of the family and was sent to study at a Normal School while Try was left to fend for herself, finding work as a domestic in the home of a wealthier family, the Gerlachs, in the Bitterroot Valley. Try later worked for families in Portland, Oregon and then Spokane, Washington.
Willa graduated and got a job teaching in Russell, Montana - a one-room schoolhouse near the country post office named for the artist Charles Russell. This was in the 1920s and single women in the territory were scarce. Morris, back from his stint in the Army, was interested in finding a bride and proposed to her, but Willa turned him down in favor of a man named Art Pope. Art was heir to a sizable sheep ranch and was, it seemed, the better bet. Willa told Morris that she had a sister, Tryeth, who was working in Spokane and suggested he try her instead.
Morris took the train to see Tryeth in Spokane, proposed and returned some months later to marry her. We know from letters written to her by Morris' sister, Beryl, that Try was living at 1129 North Sherwood Street, a small, 2-bedroom bungalow built in 1923.
He gave her a platinum wedding band.
Inside is inscribed "M.B.S. to T.O.H."
And "4-7-27," the day they were married.
Morris and Try Stewart's Marriage Certificate
Morris and Tryeth were married by Rev. Joel Harper, the British-born son of a minister who moved to the U.S. as a child, attended seminary in Chicago and settled in Spokane with his brother, Thomas, also a minister, in 1919. He and his brother preached at Westminster Congregational Church, the oldest established church in Spokane. You can read his obituary here.
The 1930 census, meanwhile, found Try's father, Julius, as a widower in the Bitterroot Valley.
Julius E. Hull
He eventually moved into a small house on the same piece of property - presumably the family farm - as his daughter Beth and her husband, Charlie Talbot. Charles Talbot was a truck farmer in the Bitterroot Valley who later raised sugar beets.
Julius with his daughters. Back row, Willa (Billie), Tryeth (Johnny) and Beth. Front row, Florence, Julius, Zella.
Julius died on March 9, 1956 and is buried in Corvallis, Montana.
His obituary tells us that:
Funeral services were held Monday afternoon for J.E. Hull who passed away in his sleep Friday March 9 after an illness of about two months. He had lived alone in his home on South Sixth St. until his health began to fail, being in good health for his age before two months ago. He then went to his daughter’s home on Hamilton Heights and was moved to a rest home here about ten days ago.The 1930 census shows Morris and Tryeth in Chouteau County with two children, Charles M. and Patricia A. The household includes an 18-year-old hired man, Frank E. Timmons.
Julius Elmer Hull was born July 26, 1862 at Lebanon, Ind. At a young age he went to work in his father’s butcher shop. In those years, child labor was tolerated. He finally struck out on his own in 1877 (15 years old). He remembered crossing the St. Louis bridge which connects Missouri and Illinois.
Mr. Hull was married to Julia D. Pierce at Buffalo, Mo., March 8, 1886 ... Mrs. Hull preceded her husband in 1928. She had gone back to Springfield, Mo. to be with a daughter where she died and was buried at Union Grove, Mo.
Mr. Hull loved this valley and it was his wish to be buried here. Of note in the nonagenarian’s life is that in all his 93 years he had never suffered a severe laceration, never broken any bones and had had no operations of any kind except the removal of his teeth at age 70. Up to that time he had not lost a tooth.
He retired when 81 years old and moved to town where he could be closer to his church. He enjoyed reading and studying the Bible and enjoyed the fellowship of the Assembly of God church having been a member for many years. He seldom missed church on Sunday and until a few months ago attended the mid-week services also.
The young couple struggled through the Great Depression during which they were forced to sell off their cattle. Their son, Charles, would tell of watching his parents cry as the buyer drove the cattle off their land. But they came through those dark years with the land intact and later built back the herd and paid off their debts and became one of the wealthiest ranches in the neighborhood. While they never lived extravagant lives, they had assets worth millions of dollars by the time they died.
Willa's husband, Art Pope, on the other hand, lost his sheep ranch and eventually turned to truck driving and never recovered the financial promise that had led Willa to choose Art over Morris in those early years. (In fact, after Tryeth died, Willa, by then widowed, contacted Morris to suggest that they finally marry, but Morris' children intervened and the reunion never happened.)
According to family lore, A.H. ran through all of Lou's money and they were eventually supported by Morris.
One oft-repeated family tale tells of A.H. borrowing money from Morris and, when he failed to repay it, telling his son, 'that'll teach you never to lend money to anybody.'
A.H. Stewart and his wife moved into an apartment in Great Falls where his granddaughter, Patricia Stewart, recalls Lou would lay newspaper on the floors to keep them clean.
Morris, in his later years, would take an evening constitutional from the ranch house, past the reservoir and the grain elevator, up to the mailbox on the state road that ran north through the ranch. He often talked of having lived to see the world go from horse and buggy to a man on the moon. When he was in the nursing home at Deaconess Hospital at the end of his life - the same hospital where he had spent weeks recovering from pneumonia as a young man - he wrote a poem about that walk and the amazing progress he had lived to witness.
Our Stewart line.
You can see more of the postcards here. You can see more photos here. You can see movies and the beginning of a documentary on the Stewart Ranch here.