submitted by Neal Carter, Sept. 28, 2007


At 5 o’clock yesterday afternoon, Martha J. Stewart breathed her last, while weeping friends stood around the bedside dreading the coming of the final departure. For days and even weeks, Mrs. Stewart has lingered on the confines of earth, suffering almost continually, but only partly conscious of what she was passing through. She has not enjoyed health for months, but was not confined to the bed until about four weeks ago, when the first symptoms of typhoid fever made its appearance. In four days the fever had gone to the brain, and the patient was unconscious, remaining so, with but slight intervals, up to her death.

Mrs. Stewart was born at Lost Creek, Juniata county, Penn., in July, 1831. Her maiden name was Hesser. She embraced religion when only fourteen years of age, in Lewistown, Mifflin county, Penn., and united with the Methodist church, with which organization she remained until her death, living the religion she professed and leading an exemplary life in every respect. She was married to Wm. Hess, in February, 1851, at Bowlsburg, Penn., and in two years after removed to Muscatine, which has since then continued to be her home. Her husband died in November 1857, of the same disease which caused her death – typhoid fever – leaving his wife and babe but little of these worldly goods. Nothing daunted, Mrs. Hess took up the responsibilities of her position, saw the life work mapped out for her, and how nobly, faithfully and successfully she performed that work, the citizens of Muscatine can testify.

She opened a boarding house in the small apartments she was then occupying, in the house which formerly stood on the corner of Third and Chestnut streets. Her business increasing, she moved to the rooms now occupied by Mrs. McCormick, on Second street, afterwards occupying rooms over Moore’s hardware store. She was located here during the war, and her house was the favorite with the soldiers, they filling all the rooms to overflowing. She afterwards occupied the Park House (now the Globe House), and accomplished the then difficult task of making money in that hotel. The National House (now Eastern House) becoming vacant, she leased it, and with her long experience, fine financiering abilities and general good management, she made money where others had lost, and the house became a popular one with all the better class of customers.

In July, 1875, she married Mr. W. H. Stewart, of this city, whose death occurred but eight short months ago.

Deceased had but one child – Miss Willie Hess – who now mourns the loss of one who has been both father and mother to her during her entire lifetime; and although sore bereft and the only survivor of her father’s family, can count in Muscatine scores of friends, who stand ready to offer their sincerest condolence and sympathy in this her hour of affliction.

Four sisters and two brothers survive deceased – Mrs. J. B. Porter, of Coneville; Mrs. J. G. McKeehan, Chambersburg, Pa.; Mrs. L. Reinhold, Williamsport, Pa.; Mrs. H. O. Cowdry, Kansas; Jos. Hesser, Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Chas. W. Hesser, of Athelton, Kansas.

The funeral will take place from the residence of E. H. Betts, on Third street, at 10 o’clock to-morrow (Monday) morning. Friends are invited.

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