This charming portrait shows the Stewart children of Kingston, Mercer County, New Jersey, in 1930. Written on the back: Thomas – 19 months, Benj – 6 and 1/2 years, Evelyn – 10 1/2 years. We have two versions of this photograph, but I like this one best since Benjamin Richard “Dick” Stewart is turning towards his little brother, and Evelyn (also called Stewie by friends), has a sweet smile on her face. They were the children of Benjamin and Maude Eisenberger Stewart. The other photo below of the three children is a little bit more serious.
The branch of the Stewart family that we are researching seems to belong with the Stewart family of Chestnut Level, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. There are a few versions, but basically a Robert Stewart family left Glasgow, Scotland to go to Drumore Township, County Down, Ireland, twelve miles from Belfast, and then emigrated to Chestnut Level, Lancaster County in the early 17700s. It is thought that our Stewart family is connected to them [Source: The Stewarts of Coitsville, published 1899].
The earliest family group that we are certain of were William H. and Margaret Stewart (maiden name unknown), and they lived in Chestnut Level. Margaret was born in Ireland circa 1805, and William H. Stewart was born in Pennsylvania circa 1810. Their child, Robert H. Stewart (1832 – 1907), was the great-grandfather of the three Stewart children shown above. Robert had at least two sisters – Margaret and Mary, but at this time little is known about them. What is wonderful is that from the kindness of another Stewart family researcher, Barbara Fahringer, we have a photograph of Robert H. Stewart, that she received at a Stewart family reunion at York, PA. I love the smile lines around Robert’s eyes.
From family research we know that Robert H. Stewart at various times was a river pilot and boat man on the Susquehanna River, and also fisherman and hotel keeper. Robert married Nancy Ann McCollough (1839 – 1880), and they had eleven children. The first five children were born near Chestnut Level and Peach Bottom in Lancaster County, and they were: Emma, Alice, Mary-Elizabeth “Lizzie”, William, and Benjamin. The next six children were born near Conowingo, Cecil County, Maryland, and they were: Mary, Sarah “Sadie”, Lilly Mae, James, Cecil, and Samuel (who died at birth, and mom Nancy died, too).
Robert H. Stewart died 5 June 1907 and, again, due to the kindness of Barbara Fahringer, we have his obituary. Here Robert’s surname is misspelled as Stewrat.
As the children of Robert and Nancy Stewart left home, they settled in York and Lancaster counties in Pennsylvania, and also their home county in Maryland. Family stories place the family home in Conowingo near the Susquehanna River, but when the large dam was built there in the 1920s, the home was covered under the widening river waters. Robert and Nancy Stewart were buried at the nearby cemetery of Oakwood Bethesda Methodist Cemetery, in Cecil County, Maryland.
I’ve written about their son, Benjamin Stewart (1866-1932), in another posting. Benjamin was the grandfather of the three children in the photograph, and his wife, Olive, died tragically while still in her twenties. He lived in Kingston, New Jersey at the end of his life, and Evelyn, being the oldest grandchild, had the strongest memories of him. She remembered him as a very kind man, with very nice manners, and that he helped at the family garage when he moved up north from Maryland after retiring.
When doing family research it is sometimes easier to concentrate on the paternal lineage since there are land records, war enlistments, and wills to search. In Nancy Mc Collough Stewart’s line we know that her parents were Alexander and Sarah McCollough, and that name can be found in Lancaster County, PA, and also Cecil County, MD. Most likely they were of Irish or Scotch ancestry. Some of the Mc Collough family were buried in the same cemetery as our Stewart family.
Along with Barbara Fahringer, two other ladies spent lots of time also researching the Stewart line – Nancy Sanders (deceased) and Kim Paterson. Many thanks to these three ladies, and many other family researchers, who try to keep alive the memories of the Stewart clan. Little by little we are finding records and photographs, and sharing them to help connect distant cousins.
Surname Saturday is a blogging prompt suggested by GeneaBloggers. Thanks!