Saturday, October 8, 2011

Surname Saturday: Springdale Surnames - Four Stewart Brothers; Pt. 2 - John and James Stewart

A family that had close ties with the James P. McPherson family was the Stewarts.  Obviously, McPherson had contact with the Stewarts before coming to Springdale in 1850; he and his family  stayed in John's house upon arriving in Dane County; John and James were McPherson's close friends and associates; and J.P and Mary named one of their daughters Jessie Stewart McPherson.  By including the Stewart family in the Springdale Surname families, I hope to find more information about this family -- and hopefully the Scotland connection between the McPherson and Stewart families.
The John Stewart Stone House in the Village of Verona
Where J.P. McPherson lived in the Fall & Early Winter of 1850
Photograph, courtesy of the Maggie McPherson Burmeister Family

Four Stewart brothers came to the area around Verona and Springdale in Dane County, Wisconsin, from Little Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland.  The following information, transcribed from Verona Centennial Souvenir: History of Verona by Alice Kunstman, is about the next two brothers, John & James  Stewart, who arrived in  Dane County about 1844:

(from page 9)
Two more of the Stewart brothers came here from Scotland in 1844.  James Stewart located on what is now the George Kahl farm and remains of the early house can still be seen near the spring a little off the road leading to the house where Elmer Palmer, son-in-law of George Kahl, operates the farm.  But his brother John Stewart chose the section about two miles west of the "corners" as our village was then called.  Today, travelers can see the fine stone house built by this pioneer, on highway 18 where Melvin and Hubby Bollig live.  The farm, now owned by Frank Stewart, needs no description.  Mr. and Mrs. John Stewart had one son, Thomas A. Stewart, and three daughters, Mary, Christine and Margaret, the latter two married two Lyle Brothers and Thomas (he was known as Stonehouse Tom) married Jessie Rutherford and they are the parents of Frank Stewart.

The James Stewart family were Katie, Maggie, Jack (little Jack) Robert and Willis (twins) and Jesse.   There are no living descendants of this branch.

(According to the diary of James P. McPherson, when they first came to the area in 1850,  they were welcomed to the John Stewart farm;  before moving to their home in Springdale, the McPherson's first lived in John Stewart's log home, then moved into John Stewart's stone house, "next to the new frame store."  This store undoubtedly the store mentioned below, from page 11 of the History of Verona.
"Red Store" Constructed
At about that time a little store was built on the John Stewart farm.  It was know as the "Red Store."  Mr.s George Nieland recalls that her mother, Mrs. Alex mcFarlane, took eggs to this store in a basket on horseback and received 3c a dozen "for trade."

(John Stewart was also involved in the early organization the the Presbyterian Church in the area, as noted in the following,from page 19 of the History of Verona:)
In the winter ... , January 16, 1847 a meeting was held at the Badger Mills for the purpose of organzing a Presbyterian church and the minutes of that first meeting are recorded as follows: 
Badger Mills,January 16, 1847 
The Presbytery of the Wisconsin River having appointed a commmittee to visit the people, residents in the neighborhood of the Badger Mills with the view to the organization of a Presbyterian church, should the way be clear for it.
M.A. .Fox, one of the me mbers of the said committee being present at the meeting specially called for the religious service.  Satisfactory evidence of the regular standing of the following named persons were given:
Adam Davidson, from seccession from the Church of Scotland; also John McDonald, Janet McDonald, Alexander Crearer and Margaret Crearer.
Elizabeth Robson, from the Presbyterian church of Milwaukee.
James, Edie, Peter Martin, Janet Martin,  Patrick Davidson, John Stewart and Catherine Stewart from seccession  from the Church of Scotland.
Lydia Matts, Presbyterina Church of St. Peter, Pennslyvania.
James Campbelll, Catjherine Davidson, Amelia Davidson and james Young from the Church of Scotland.
The church procceds to the election of ruling Elders when Peter Martin and John McDonald were chosen and set apart in the usual manner.

(page 21)
Early day trustees were Adam Davidson, John Rutherford, John Stewart, Samuel Lamont, William Donkle, John Meyers, William Charleston, James Edie, J. Cameron, William Thompson, James Miller, Alexander McFarlane, Walter Rollo Sr, James Muir, and James Clow.
 In 1861 the congregation built a fine church and parsonage in Scots lane, on the Mt. Vernon road, just about where the Darrow farm road meets the Mt. Vernon road.  Eventually the church was abandoned after the settlers moved nearer to Verona Corners.  The church was taken down and built into a barn on the Drives farm and several years later the barn was destroyed by fire.

There were many notations in the diary of James P. McPherson which referred to John Stewart.  The last was on February 16, 1858:
Funeral of John Stewart.  Very cold day.  At Taylor's Store.
John Stewart, born February 10, 1810, was only 48 years of age when died on February 13, 1858.

James Stewart and his family were listed in the Dane county Federal Census of 1850, 1860, and 1880.  John Stewart was listed in the Dane county Federal Census of 1850.  His widow and family appear to be  listed in the Verona, Dane county, WI 1860 Federal census, though her name is listed as Carolina rather than Catherine.

The Stewart family were early pioneers in the settling of the area around Sugar River and Verona, and in fact of early Wisconsin.  They were also very important to my ancestor James Peter McPherson.  Someday, I hope to find how and when this connection started.
~ ~ ~

© Joan Hill, Roots'n'Leaves Publications


  1. What a goldmine J P's diary would be for these related/connected families. Fingers crossed they turn up.