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Fayette County, Iowa  

 Biography Directory


Portrait & Biographical Album of Fayette County Iowa

Containing Full Page Portraits and Biographical Sketches of

Prominent and Representative Citizens of the County

Lake City Publishing Co., Chicago

March 1891


~Page 643~


John W. Stewart

John W. Stewart, a farmer and stock raiser of Illyria Township, residing on section 4, was born in Chenango County, N. Y., January 1, 1836, and is a son of Dr. Isaac and Ruth (Wilcox) Stewart. The family is supposed to be of Scotch origin. The first one of whom we have any authentic record is William Stewart, of North Stonington, Conn., who was born in 1692 and married Elizabeth Church. His eldest son, William, married Elizabeth Wyatt, and their eldest son, Nathan, married Barbara Palmer. The next in the line of direct descent is also the eldest son, Nathan Jr., who wedded Anna Brown, daughter of Col. Daniel Brown, and became the grandfather of our subject. He entered the service of his country and when sixteen years of age was one of the Minute Men. He warned the people when the British attacked Stonington Point and did other useful service during the war.


Dr. Isaac Stewart was born in Stonington June 5, 1792, and on the 27th of April, 1825, was united in marriage with Ruth Wilcox, who was born at West Winfield, N. Y., November 5, 1798, and is a daughter of John and Sybil (Guild) Wilcox. Her father was born at Middletown, Conn., in 1771, and died November 11, 1848. In Plainfield, N. Y., he wedded Miss Guild, who was born in Massachusetts February 16, 1778, and died November 26, 1842. The Guild family, five generations remote, came from England, John settling in Dedham, Mass., in 1736. Her father removed from the Bay State to West Winfield, N. Y., where he built the first house, erected the first church and organized the first school. Soon after the marriage of Dr. Stewart and Miss Wilcox they removed to Middlebury, Ohio, where he and his brothers owned and operated a plow factory and an iron foundry. Four years later he returned to West Winfield, N. Y., where he spent one year and then purchased a farm in Chenango County, which he sold in 1840, removing to South Trenton. Five years later he received a diploma to practice medicine. He came to Iowa in 1856 and purchased a farm in Illyria Township, which in connection with his medical practice he carried on. He was a man of great energy and enterprise and a prominent citizen of the community. In politics he was a Republican and in religious belief a Baptist. His death occurred in Illyria October 5, 1864, and his wife, a most estimable lady, died in West Union on the 10th of December, 1870. In their family were six children, but only three are now living: Daniel resides in Illinois; and Mrs. Abbie Briggs makes her home in California.


Our subject is the fifth in the family and the one in whom the people of Fayette County are especially interested. The story of his life is as follows: During his youth he received good educational advantages and attended the public schools and the seminary of West Winfield, N. Y., where he manifested a special aptitude for study. At the age of eighteen he had fitted himself for teaching and embarked in that profession, which he continued for three years. On attaining his majority he followed the advice of Horace Greeley and came West to Fayette County, Iowa, where he assisted his father in the development and improvement of a farm. He also taught a number of schools with excellent success, after which he accepted a position as book-keeper and salesman in a mercantile establishment in Hudson, Wis.


Returning to this county Mr. Stewart was married on the 12th of January, 1865, his union being with Emma, daughter of John and Mary (Joslyn) Hale of West Union. She was born in Chumleigh, England, May 4, 1844, and when about six years of age crossed the Atlantic with her parents, the family locating in Ohio, where they remained four years, coming thence to West Union, where they still reside.


Unto Mr. and Mrs. Stewart have been born four children, two sons and two daughters: Bertha W., wife of C. H. Quigley, an attorney-at-law of West Union; Mabel, wife of E. H. Appleman, of Clermont, Iowa; Charles W., who died at the age of eighteen months; and William R., at home.


In politics Mr. Stewart was a Republican until the time of the National Convention in Chicago, in 1888, which declared in such strong terms it high protective principles, since which time he has affiliated with the Democracy. In Geauga County, Ohio, and in this county, he has acted as Deputy County Surveyor, and soon after his marriage he took charge of the West Union schools, serving as Principal for several terms. In the winter of 1870-71 he had charge of the New Hampton schools, and in the summer of 1871 was employed as teacher of natural sciences in the Baptist University of Des Moines, Iowa. The following year he was appointed Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction under Prof. Abernethy, but four years later resigned on account of ill-health and spent eighteen months traveling in the South and in the New England States. In 1877 he purchased a farm in West Union Township, and in 1883 bought the farm on which he now resides, one of the best in the township, improved with excellent buildings and all the modern conveniences. At present he is serving as Township Trustee. As an educator he did effective service and as Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in Iowa won the highest commendation from the public. Mr. Stewart is one of the most influential and prominent citizens of Fayette County and it is with pleasure that we present to the readers of this Album a sketch of so illustrious a man.





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