Moses Stewart (22 June 1825 – c1910)

Much of my knowledge of Moses Stewart was obtained by backing up from his 1900 census record, which gives his birth as June 1823 (sic) in Ohio and indicates a 56-year marriage to his wife Mary Jane.  The birth year, though, is somewhat suspect, as the 1850-1880 censuses suggest he was two or three years younger.  He is somewhat unique, in my experience, in that he appears in a different state in each of the five censuses from 1850 through 1900.

Marriage to Mary Jane Anderson in Ohio

The first sighting of Moses Stewart is his marriage to Mary Jane Anderson in Montgomery County, Ohio on 26 October 1845.1   Which Stewart family he belonged to is somewhat unclear; there were several in the area.   The marriage register entry states that “his father consents” but does not name him.   Moses and Mary Jane apparently lived with her parents for the first several years of their marriage.  The 1850 census of Dayton, Montgomery County, indicates that he and his wife were living in the household of her father John Anderson.  John Anderson’s household included his wife Rachel and sons named Jackson, Thomas, Lewis, and Martin, plus Moses Stewart, his wife Mary Jane and four Stewart children. 2

Migration to Illinois then Tennessee

Moses Stewart must have remained in Ohio through roughly 1858, judging from the birthplaces of the last two children in later censuses.   By 1860 he was listed in the census of St. Clair County, Illinois, with the two oldest children from 1850 and two daughters born after 1850.3  The two youngest Stewart children, both daughters, of the 1850 census were apparently deceased by 1860.  His brother-in-law Thomas Anderson, now married, is listed next door and Mary Jane Stewart is enumerated in his household rather than her husband’s.  They were apparently living in what is now East St. Louis, both Moses and his brother-in-law listed their occupations as laborers.

At some point, he moved considerably eastward to Tennessee.  In 1870, the family is enumerated in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee where Moses Stewart is listed as a superintendent of a stone quarry.  He and Mary Jane are enumerated with the two youngest daughters from 1860, and their eldest son John S. Stewart, with his own wife and child, are also in the household.4

Then to Texas

He evidently relocated to Texas not long after, probably to Navarro County, as George Rolando Baird married his daughter Emma Stewart on 23 February 1874 in Corsicana, Navarro County.5  George Rolando Baird lived at the time in Dallas, nearly sixty miles northwest, and one of the family mysteries is how he met Emma and why he married her so far from his home.  One possibility is that Moses Stewart was associated with railroads.  The railroad came to Dallas in 1872, perhaps explaining how Emma met Rolando Baird, and was being built through Navarro County by 1874.   There was a separate railroad construction project in Hempstead County, Arkansas in the late 1870s that might explain the Stewarts’ presence there a few years later.

Moses Stewart may have moved back to Tennessee, as the daughter Ida Stewart apparently married in Murfreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee about 1876.6   They didn’t stay long, as Moses and Mary Jane were enumerated in the 1880 census of Bois d’Arc, Hempstead County, Arkansas. 7   He is listed as a “manufacturer” with no children left in the household.  His son John Stewart had returned to St. Louis, where he was enumerated in St. Louis County, Missouri in the 1880 census.8

It is possible that Moses Stewart returned to Texas by 1884.  The 1884 Dallas City directory lists a person named Moses Stewart living in a hotel at 1563 Main, just a couple of blocks from George and Emma Baird on South Elm St.  Since this is the only occurrence of the name in any of the Dallas records (including the directories for surrounding years), it may be that he had briefly relocated near his daughter Emma.   The Dallas Herald reported the sale of a large lot at the corner of Elm and Main streets by Moses Stewart.  And the Dallas Herald issue of 7 October 1887 reported, under the heading of non-jury civil cases, a suit by Moses T. Stewart against Mary J. Stewart.

The Stewart-Baird Scrapbook

Certainly by 1890 or so Moses and his wife were living in Texas.  In late 1890 or early 1891 Mary Jane Stewart, Moses Stewart’s wife, made a scrapbook for her grandson George Washington Baird, the son of George Rolando Baird and Emma Stewart.  George W. Baird was only 12 at the time, and living with his parents in Dallas.  The scrapbook was passed on to his daughter Helen Baird Berry, who gave it to my father in 1975, and I inherited it when my father died in 1986.  The scrapbook, which contains no useful information, is a collection of cut-out figures from decorative advertising materials of grocery suppliers with numerous collectible cards of the type enclosed in old merchandise, and is inscribed: “To G. W. Baird from Grandma Stewart of Aransas Harbor.”  There are so many visual images that all the original pages were completely filled.  Mary Stewart inserted several additional pages made from the reverse side of maps of Aransas Harbor, Texas that were published in 1890.  A piece of the Houston Daily Post dated 17 December 1890 was also included as a decoration.  There are also seven calling cards from individuals pasted into the book, some of whom I can’t identify.9

The fact that Mary Stewart identifies herself as “of Aransas Harbor” is helpful in validating the scrapbook’s date, as the town’s name was changed to Aransas Pass in 1892.   There were several failed attempts to establish a deep-water harbor just north of Corpus Christi, the last being an 1890 charter to the Aransas Pass Harbor Company (to dredge the harbor) and the Aransas Harbor City and Improvement Company (to build the city).  The Stewarts probably were among the early settlers attracted to the area by the company’s publicity.  Aransas Pass lies just inside San Patricio County, in the corner where San Patricio, Nueces and Aransas counties meet.

Retirement in Aransas Harbor?

Mrs. Mary J. Stewart, as a resident of San Patricio County, bought a lot in Aransas Harbor from the Aransas Harbor City and Improvement Company on 12 September 1890 for $400, and over the next two years bought five more lots for lesser amounts. San Patricio County Deed Book K, p227, Book L, pp 589-593 (four deeds) and Book R, p172.  Four of the deeds were also recorded in San Patricio County in Deed Book N, pp 333-339.  In each case, she was the buyer and the deeds specified that she was using her own separate money.  However, several of these deeds included one-year notes for the balance of the purchase price, signed by both Mary J. Stewart and her husband Moses Stewart (who signed by his mark).  I strongly suspect that Mary Stewart was the grantee because Moses was in some way incapacitated, perhaps by old age or infirmity.  I note that he signed the notes with his mark, yet the 1850 through 1900 censuses all indicated that he could both read and write.

Moses and Mary Jane are in the 1900 census of San Patricio County.10   According to this census record, Moses was born in June 1823 in Ohio and Mary J. Stewart was born in December 1825 in Ohio.  They had been married for 56 years (sic) and Mary Jane Stewart is shown as the mother of six children, two of whom were still living in 1900.  Note that all of this fits the earlier census records, though their ages in 1900 were a year or two younger than in prior censuses.  Moses Stewart’s parents were shown as both born in Pennsylvania.  Mary Jane gave her father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania and her mother’s as Ohio.

They were apparently living on one of the six lots purchased several years before.  Moses and Mary J. Stewart had sold two of these lots in 1896 and later would lease out two others in 1906.  There is no deed record that I could find of the disposition of the other two lots or of the two that were leased, and apparently none were ever claimed by an heir.

A Mysterious Disappearance

Neither Moses nor his wife appears in the 1910 census, and both may have been deceased by then.  Both were definitely dead by 1914, for the tax rolls show that two of the lots were listed in the name of the ”estate of Moses and Mary J. Stewart” in 1914, and were sold at a sheriff’s auction in 1917.  (I’d note that Mary paid as much $400 per lot, but they brought only $20 at auction, a reflection of the failed harbor project.)  However, I found no record of either Moses or Mary in the probate index for San Patricio County.  One of the two leased lots, which had been leased for the ten years 1906-1916, appears to have been taxed to Mary J. Stewart through 1916, and afterwards to the former leaseholder.  The other leased lot was carried on the property tax books in Mary J. Stewart’s name until 1954, apparently as an abandoned lot.  It may be a coincidence, but a W. L. Stewart of Denver, Colorado paid the tax on this lot for 1948-54.

In theory at least, the properties should have fallen to the descendants of their children, even if all the children were deceased.  However, I could find no record of any probate in San Patricio.

There are a few tantalizing clues from one of their great-grandchildren.  Ramona Bevills Molen, a granddaughter of George Rolando Baird and Emma Stewart, was orphaned as a teenager and lived with her aunt Daisy Baird, a sister of George W. Baird, for several years just after 1900.   My father tracked down Ramona in 1971 and she told two stories she had heard from her aunt Daisy:

  • She said that Daisy Baird, daughter of George R. Baird and Emma Stewart, went to live with her Stewart grandparents sometime after her father’s death in 1895.  According to Ramona, Daisy said that the Stewarts operated a general store in Ganado, Texas at the time.  This obviously does not fit with their apparent residence in Aransas Harbor at the time.  It seems likely that Ramona’s memory was faulty, and that Daisy actually lived with her elder sister with whom she was enumerated in 1900.  Both Daisy Baird and her brother Harry Baird were in the 1900 census in the household of their elder sister Effie Baird Pemberton.  The Pembertons had bought land in Jackson County (where Ganado lies) in 1897 but sold it two years later and returned to Dallas.  It seems likely it was they, and not the Stewarts, who lived in Ganado.  Nonetheless, the scrapbook, the 1900 census, and the multiple lots in Aransas Pass imply that the Stewarts may indeed have operated a general store though not in Ganado.
  • Daisy also told Ramona that her grandfather Moses Stewart was a telegraph operator for railroads, and that he was a friend of President McKinley and spent time with McKinley in California working on some project.  There may be some shred of truth to this.  While the censuses never listed him as a telegraph operator, his continual movement generally coinciding with railroad constructions may indicate a railroad connection of some type.  The McKinley story seems unlikely.  William McKinley’s family were also Pennsylvanians who migrated to Ohio.  While President McKinley didn’t live in California, one of his brothers and one of his uncles did.  His uncle John McKinley went to California in 1852 to search for gold.  It isn’t at all clear exactly what connection Daisy was speaking of.

To confuse matters a bit, there was another man named Moses Stewart in the area who also worked for a railroad.  The Dallas Morning News issue of 3 January 1911 reported the death on the previous day of a Moses Stewart, apparently of Ft. Worth and Denton, who was a thirty-year employee of the Texas and Pacific Railroad.  He is the only Moses Stewart listed in the Texas Death Index, which begins in 1903 but might not be complete.

The Children of Moses Stewart and Mary Jane Anderson

The 1900 census tells us that Moses and Mary Jane had a total of six children, two of whom were still living in 1900.  From the earlier census records, the six children were evidently the following.   We know that Ida was living in 1900 and the second living child must have been my great-grandmother Emma Stewart – or at least her mother thought she was still alive.

  1. John S. Stewart (c1845 – c1893)  He was in his parents’ 1850 and 1860 census households, aged 4 and 14 respectively.  He married Henrietta H. Story on 1 October 1860 in Knox County, Tennessee.  In 1870 he and his wife (then called “Harriett”), age 19, with a one-year old named Nellie P. Stewart, were in his parents’ household in Chattanooga.  He is listed as a bookkeeper, age 25.  He appears as a bookkeeper in the 1876 city directory for Chattanooga but had moved to St. Louis, Missouri by the 1880 census where he was enumerated, as a 34-year old bookkeeper with wife Nettie H., age 28, and 11-year old Nellie.11   They were boarding in St. Louis with Nettie’s sister Jennie L. Kelly and her husband Andrew J. Kelly.  The 1883 and 1889 St. Louis city directories list him as a clerk for the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

    He was back in Chattanooga in time to appear in the 1891 city directory but was dead by 1894 when Mrs. Nettie H. Stewart began appearing in city directories as the widow of John S. Stewart.   She was listed as a widow in several city directories as late as 1913.  In the 1900 census she was enumerated as Henrietta Stewart, born March 1852, with a son Francis R. Stewart, age 17, and daughter Jennie L. Stewart, age 6.   (The daughter’s birthplace is given here and later as Texas, suggesting that they stopped in Texas before resettling in Chattanooga.)  In 1910, she was enumerated as Henrietta H. Stewart, age 58, with daughter Jennie L. still in the household.

    In 1920 the daughter Jennie L. Stewart was living in the household of Andrew J. and her aunt Jennie L. Kelly in Chattanooga, listed as “niece”, with no sign of Henrietta.

  2. Zachariah Stewart (c1847 – 1860s?)  He was aged 2 in 1850 and 13 in 1860.  He does not seem to appear anywhere in 1870 or 1880, and may have died prior to 1870.
  3. Amelia Stewart (c1848 – 1850s)  She is listed as age 1 in 1850, but does not appear in the 1860 or later households and is assumed to have died in childhood.
  4. Mary J. Stewart (ca Jan 1850 – 1850s) She is listed as five months old in 1850, but does not appear in the 1860 or later households.
  5. Emma Stewart (c1855 – )  Married George Rolando Baird.  See BAIRD pages.
  6. Ida May Stewart  (4 July 1858 – 17 May 1942)  Her death certificate identifies her parents as “M. J. Stewart” and “Mary Jane Anderson”.  (It also gives her father’s birthplace as Dayton, Ohio and her mother’s as Chattanooga, Tennessee.)    She is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont, Texas where her gravestone is shared with her husband Robert W. Sanders (29 October 1850 – 13 April 1916).   Ida was in her parent’s household in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, but in 1880 was enumerated in Murphreesboro, Rutherford County, Tennessee as the wife of Robert W. Sanders, who was listed as a mechanic.  He was listed next door to an older Sanders family, presumably his parents.  A three-month old infant daughter was in the household, later identifiable as Henrietta Sanders.  At some point they moved to Beaumont, Texas in Jefferson County.Robert and Ida were enumerated there in 1900 and 1910, living at 479 Pine Street in Beaumont.  The 1900 and 1910 censuses indicate that they had married about 1876.12 They also show that Ida had borne a total of four children, one of whom apparently died in childhood before 1900.   They used their home as a boarding house, and after her husband died in 1916 Ida continued to take roomers.  She is listed in several Beaumont city directories beginning in 1916 advertising furnished rooms for boarders.  In the 1920 census she had four male roomers and her daughters Henrietta and Pearl in the household.  She was still advertising for boarders in 1925 but by 1930 she was living with her daughter Pearl Bahlman on Broadway.

    Censuses, death certificates, and Magnolia Cemetery records identify three children: Henrietta May Sanders (15 March 1880 – 31 May 1926)  who died unmarried and is buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Beaumont;   Pearl Sanders (19 June 1882 – 2 November 1966)  who married late in life (the 1930 census suggests at the age of 38) to Zeke J. Bahlman (but had no children) and both are buried in the Magnolia Cemetery; and  Lytle R. Sanders (6 September 1886 – 25 March 1910)  who is also buried in the Magnolia Cemetery.

 

  1. Montgomery County, Ohio, Marriage Register: original record.  This is also abstracted in Montgomery County, Ohio Marriages 1803 – 1851, Lindsay M. Brien (Typewritten manuscript, 1940), p120. []
  2. 1850 census Montgomery County, Ohio page 264, Dayton Ward 6 taken 18 October 1850:  John Anderson (54 PA) Justice of the Peace, Rachel Anderson (50 KY), Jackson Anderson (18 OH), Tobacconist, Moses Stuart (24 OH) Laborer [indexed as “Stout” rather than “Stuart” in some census indices], Mary J. Stuart (23 OH), John Stuart (4 OH), Zachariah Stuart (2 OH), Thos. Anderson (10 OH), Amelia Stewart (1 OH)  [note these children’s surnames spelled differently], Mary J. Stewart (5/12 OH), Lewis Anderson (23 OH), Martin Anderson (14 OH). []
  3. 1860 census St. Clair County, Township 2N Range 10W, page 348, taken 13 June 1860:  Moses Stuart (33 OH),  Laborer, $100 personal property,  John Stuart (14 OH), Zach Stuart (13 OH), Emma Stuart (4 OH), Ida Stuart (2 OH).  [In the adjoining household: Thos. Anderson (20 OH) Laborer, $100 personal property, Harriett Anderson (18 OH), Margaret McFarland (23 Ireland) widow, Mary J. Stuart (28 OH)] []
  4. 1870 census Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, page 682 taken 13 September 1870:  Moses Stewart (42 OH) Superintendent stone quarry, $800 real estate, $400 personal property,  Mary J. Stewart (40 OH) Keeping house,  Emma Stewart (15 OH) at home, Ida M. Stewart (11 OH) at home, John S. Stewart (25 OH) Book keeper, Henrietta Stewart (19 TN),  Nellie P. Stewart (1 TN),  Samuel Diggs (19 TN) Carpenter apprentice. []
  5. Original marriage license and return from Navarro County clerk []
  6. She is in the 1880 census there, married to what appears to be a local man.  Later censuses suggest that they married about 1876. []
  7. 1880 census Bois d’Arc, Hempstead County, Arkansas page 473C, taken 15 June 1880:  Moses Stuart (53) head, manufacturer, OH PA PA  Mary J. Stuart (50) wife, keeps house, OH PA (blank)  [incorrectly indexed as Mary F.]  Margaret Dickinson (27) cook, Scotland Scotland Scotland  (widowed, cannot r/w),  Caroline Bernhardt (18) cook, Cook, MO France Switzerland (single). []
  8. 1880 Census St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri page 169D:  John S. Stewart (34) Bookkeeper OH OH OH,  Nettie H. Stewart (28) TN NC NC,  Nellie Stewart (11) TN OH TN [age given as 4 in some abstracts, appears to be 11]. []
  9. The seven calling cards were:  Miss Georgia L. Brown (a daughter of Emma Baird Brown, George W. Baird’s aunt), Pearl Stewart, Pearl Sanders (Ida Stewart’s daughter) , Mrs. Lena Johnston, R. B. Bickel, Robert E. Baird (George Rolando Baird’s brother and George W. Baird’s uncle), and W. D. Friedman.  The only Pearl Stewart listed in the 1900 census was age 26 and living in Dallas, probably too young to have been the person of the calling card.  Whether Pearl Stewart was a relative or just coincidentally carried the same surname is unknown. []
  10. San Patricio County 1900 census, Precinct 6, Volume 95, sheet 9, line 66, dated 13 June 1900:    Moses Stewart June 1823, 76, married 56 years, OH PA PA, Merchant,  Mary J. Stewart December 1825, 74, married 56 years, OH PA OH [mother of 6 children, 2 living].  Both could read and write, and owned their home. []
  11. 1880 Census St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri page 169D:  Listed as boarders in the household of Andrew J. Kelley:  John S. Stewart (34) Bookkeeper OH OH OH,  Nettie H. Stewart (28) TN NC NC,  Nellie Stewart (4) TN OH TN [her age appears to be 4, but should have been 11.  Perhaps a second daughter?]. []
  12. Both Robert and Ida indicated that they had been married 24 years in the 1900 census and that they had been married 34 years in the 1910 census. []