submitted by Neal Carter, Sept. 28, 2007

Death of Wm. H. Stewart

At ten minutes before 4 o’clock this morning the earthly career of William H. Stewart was closed in the 68th year of his age. His serious illness was so generally known that this event was not unexpected. He had, however, been resting quite easy for several days past and was able to converse freely with his friends up to the time of his death. The immediate cause of death was hemorrhage resulting from a long and settled bronchial disorder, or consumption.

William Henry Stewart was born at Cairo, Green county, N.Y., on the 12th of March, 1813. His father was of Scotch-Irish descent and his mother English. His father died in 1865, in his 93d year, and his mother also lived to a remarkable old age. – It will be seen that he came of a very long-lived stock. Indeed, his own tenacity of life, after so many years of affliction by disease, was remarkable.

The subject of this sketch was raised on a small farm in the Catskill mountains, which barely yielded a subsistence to the family. As soon as able to drive an ox team or ride a horse he was hired out, during the summer seasons, to the neighboring farmers. For seasons after the age of ten years his compensation was at the rate of 6¼ cents a day, and he esteemed himself quite a man when his wages were increased to 12½ cents a day – so meager was the compensation for labor in those days when comparatively little labor-saving machinery was in use. His education was obtained solely by attending school during the winter months in his boyhood days and by subsequent reading and observation. At the age of 13 he was apprenticed to a bricklayer and plasterer, but his master soon failing in business he was indentured to learn the boot and shoe trade, which proved to be more congenial to his tastes.

After learning the trade, he removed to Ohio, where for several years he worked as a journeyman. During all this time he was never afraid of hard work. The writer of this has heard him say that when his regular business was dull he did not hesitate to wield an axe, and many a cord of wood did he cut at 25 cents a cord.

He commenced business on his own account in 1836 by opening a shoe store in Marietta, Ohio, in which he was reasonably successful. In 1854, he removed to this city, resuming the same business at this place in a modest way, occupying a very small store room on Second street, but gradually enlarging his quarters to meet the wants of an increasing business till his establishment was one of the finest of the kind in the city.

He retired from business in 1875, having acquired a fair competence, and the business is now conducted by his son, Theodore S. Stewart, who inherits to a remarkable degree the business talents of his father.

The deceased was thrice married, though he had children only by his first wife, who died in 1854. Her maiden name was Cynthia Morton. They were married at Marietta, O., in 1838. Five sons and one daughter blessed this union – namely, William M., Sylvester N., Marcus, Theodore S., Edward C. and Rita. All are living and well settled in life. The daughter is the wife of Mr. E. H. Betts, of the Tribune.

In 1875, Mr. Stewart married Mrs. M. J. Hess, who survives him. His family were all present at the time of his death, with the exception of his son Sylvester, who has been in Europe for the past four years but was expected to sail for home on the 27th of January.

Politically, the deceased was an original Whig, and when that party went out of existence he assisted in organizing the Republican party. Though applying himself closely to business he took a deep interest in politics and whatever other public concern he thought demanded the attention of a good citizen. As a result he was called to several places of honor and trust. He never sought office, yet he served on the City Council of Marietta and for eight years was member of the Board of Supervisors of this county, part of the time as President of the Board, during which period the chief responsibility of conducting the affairs of the county rested upon him, which duty he discharged honorably and to general acceptability. He was one of the originators of the Merchants’ Exchange National Bank, organized in 1865, and was a director from its organization to the day of his death. He was also a prominent member of the Odd Fellows fraternity, having filled nearly all the positions in the order.

The deceased was nurtured in the tenets of the Methodist church, and was for many years till his death a communicant in the church of this city and a liberal contributor to its support. Though not demonstrative as a professor of religion, he had a quiet and serene faith, which enabled him to say to a friend, who advised him last fall to go south and spend the winter so as to avoid the rigors of this climate: “O, my dear, sir, I expect before next spring to be in a better country than can be found anywhere on this earth.” This expression, almost prophetic, indicated his readiness to go at the Master’s call.

The funeral will take place from the family residence on Third street, near Cedar, at half-past one o’clock Wednesday afternoon.


In Memoriam

At the regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Merchants’ Exchange National Bank, held Monday evening January 31st, 1881, the following Memorial was unanimously adopted by the Board:

    We learn with much regret and sorrow of the death of our friend and associate, William H. Stewart, with whom we have been officially connected for a long period of years. Having been one of the original founders of this bank, and a member of the board of directors from the time of its organization until his death, the occasion of his passing away from earth calls for some expression of the loss we have sustained by his departure. We recall his faithfulness to his trust; the value of his counsel and judgment upon the important questions presented for consideration and decision through a period of sixteen years. We know how dear to him was the reputation and prosperity of this institution; how ready he was to use his best efforts in its behalf; how regular his attendance upon the meetings of this board. We think of his courteous deportment, of his generous disposition, of his blameless life, his high sense of honor and his integrity, his honorable business career in our city, of all the characteristics of the true Christian gentleman, with which he was so richly endowed; and we are oppressed with a sense of our loss as members of this board, as friends and citizens of this community. We mourn his death while we cherish his memory; and we tender to his bereaved family our kindest sympathy in this hour of gloom and trial, commending them to the only source of consolation at a time like this, while we enter upon our official records this tribute to our departed friend and associate.

Feb 2 1881 (handwritten)--- Two funerals of prominent citizens took place today. That of P. A. Brumfield was in the forenoon and that of W. H. Stewart in the afternoon. Both were well attended. The religious exercises at the former were conducted by Rev. J. Haynes assisted by Rev. G. N. Power. The pall-bearers were W. B. Langridge, Wm. Dill, A. F. Demorest, B. Beach, A. F. Adams and J. B. Lee. --- The religious exercises at Mr. Stewart’s funeral were conducted Rev. G. N. Power assisted by Rev. J. Haynes. --- The pall-bearers were S. G. Stein, P. Jackson, H. W. Moore, B. Neidig, R. H. McCampbell and James Jackson, who were selected by the deceased shortly before his death.

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