Robert Stewart (c1780 – 9 April 1835)

The Stewart family Bible, although it doesn’t explicitly name him as the patriarch of the family, notes the death of a Robert Stewart on 9 April 1835.1 We infer from the Bible that he was married to a woman named Mary M. and had eleven children, one of whom died in childhood.

He seems highly likely to have been the same Robert Stewart who married Polly Allen in Knox County, Tennessee by bond dated on 28 January 1804. 2   Robert Stewart signed his name to the bond and his surety was one Moses McSpadden. 3   Robert Stewart’s widow Mary, according to the Bible, was born on 9 February 1781, and their eldest child was born 4 November 1804, so a January 1804 marriage is plausible.   Further, a possible relative of  Moses McSpadden named John McSpadden was guardian of the children of one of Robert Stewart’s sons in DeKalb County, Alabama fifty years later.

Our only other clues to Robert Stewart’s whereabouts lie in the Civil War enlistments of his son Robert (born in 1812), who gave his birthplace as Overton County, Tennessee and his son Walker (born in 1819) who gave his birthplace as Marion County, Tennessee. 4   I have not found a record of Robert Stewart in Overton County, though there was a Stewart family living there at the time.

There is no full census for Tennessee until 1830, when we find six heads of household named Robert Stewart and one named R. C. Stuart in Tennessee, but only one whose household composition resembles the family of the Bible record.    Robert Stewart of Marion County, aged 50-60, is a nearly perfect match.5

Marion County, Tennessee bordered both Jackson County, Alabama and Walker County, Georgia at this time.   By the end of the decade DeKalb County had been formed in Alabama just south of Jackson, and Dade County had been carved from the northern part of Walker County, Georgia.  The 1840 census shows that most of the family had moved into DeKalb and Dade counties, near the state line between the two.  Three sons are listed consecutively in the DeKalb County, Alabama 1840 census (identified only by initials S, R. and W.).  Walker Stewart appears to have his mother and his two unmarried sisters in his household.  Two other sons, Andrew and John, are listed consecutively in the Dade County, Georgia census about ten miles away.

On the assumption that the family moved southward over the county and state line at the same time, it appears from later census records that they all moved to Alabama sometime in 1834.  Matilda Stewart Hicks had two children born in Tennessee, the second on 10 December 1833, and one about 1835 in Alabama.  Samuel Stewart had a child born in Tennessee in 1832, and the next in Alabama on 10 February 1834.  John Stewart’s first child was born in Alabama on 1 November 1834.  Since DeKalb County didn’t exist in 1834,  they would initially have been in Jackson County.   Indeed, there is a Marion County, Tennessee deed dated in the early 1830s from Robert Stewart of Marion County to a James Stewart of Jackson County. 6  There are no land grants in DeKalb until 1 August 1845, when there are several grants issued to Walker, Robert, and Samuel Stewart.  How much earlier the land entries may have been made is anybody’s guess.

Mary M. Stewart was undoubtedly the elderly female in her unmarried son Walker’s household in 1840.  In 1850, she headed a DeKalb County household of herself, her unmarried daughter Margaret and a border named Zenos Stout.  Interestingly, she had $150 of real property, though how she acquired it is unclear.  She gave her birthplace as Virginia.  She died on 1 January 1852 according to the family Bible.

The Warren Cemetery, in which several members of the family are buried, is the old name of what is now called the Stewart Family Cemetery.

  1. Matilda Stewart  (4 November 1804 – aft1872)  The Bible contains a record of her birth on 4 November 1804 and of her marriage to John Hicks on 18 August 1830.  Although I didn’t find John Hicks in 1840, he is in the 1850 and 1860 censuses of DeKalb County, Alabama.  Their children in these censuses were William Hicks (18 June 1832), Loranna Hicks (20 December 1833), Elijah Hicks (c1835), Mary Hicks (c1838), Robert Hicks (c1839), Martha Hicks (c1841), and Matilda Hicks (c1845).   The Stewart Bible lists birth dates for the first two children.  It also indicates another daughter, Nancy, born in 1835, who was apparently either married or deceased by 1850.  According to the censuses, the first two children were born in Tennessee, the rest in Alabama.   Her husband died in 1864 and Matilda Hicks applied for a Civil War claim in 1872.  She stated she was aged 70 and the widow of John Hicks, and that she had resided at Valley Head in DeKalb County for 40 years.   She declared that her brothers Robert Stewart and Walker Stewart, as well as her nephew Samuel Stewart, had served in the Union Army.7

    Matilda Hicks was enumerated in the 1880 census of DeKalb County as a 76-year old widow with her daughters Martha Drake and Matilda Crabtree in the household.  The census lists her father’s birthplace as Pennsylvania and her mother’s birthplace as Virginia.

  2. Martha Stewart  (7 January 1806 – 20 May 1885)  Her birth is listed in the Bible, and is apparently the Martha Brock whose death is also noted.  She doesn’t appear in any Brock household in DeKalb County or in any surrounding Alabama county in the censuses.
  3. John J. Stewart  (20 June 1807 – 12 June 1879)  John J. Stewart also kept a family Bible, a transcript of which was provided to me by a descendant in 1981.8  His birth date and his wife’s birth date match those in the Walker Stewart Bible.  The latter gives his wife’s name as “Polly”, the former as “Mary Ann” (which is how she appears in censuses).  The two Bibles have the same marriage date but differ in the year – John Stewart’s Bible gives his marriage on 6 September 1834 to Mary Ann.  (However, the year 1833, as in the Walker Stewart Bible, better fits with the birth of the eldest child.)  She was Mary Guinn according to the death certificate of their son George W. Stewart.9  [Her parents, John Guinn and Sarah Varnell, had yet another family Bible naming her children.]  Whether they married in Alabama or Tennessee is unknown, but the two eldest children were born in Alabama according to the 1850/60 censuses.  Their children are listed in the Bible as John Robert (1 November 1834), George Washington (9 August 1836), Matilda Jane (12 February 1838), Alexander Harvey (28 November 1840), William Lafayette (31 February 1843), Sarah Ann (12 January 1845), Joseph Varnell (11 February 1849), and Mary Virginia Elizabeth (5 December 1855).  John J. Stewart is in the 1840 census in Dade County, Georgia, adjacent to Andrew Stewart and four names away from his father-in-law John Guinn.   He was in each Dade County census until his death.
  4. Samuel Stewart  (24 May 1809 – 23 February 1855)  The Bible has an entry for the marriage of Samuel Stewart and “Sarah” on 1 September 1831.  He is in the 1840 census of DeKalb County with five children and an older female, presumably Sarah.  By 1850, however, the census shows him with a wife named Permelia and nine children, the first three of whom are in the Bible:  Lucinda Stewart (13 June 1832), Mary Ann Stewart (10 February 1834), Robert H. Stewart (14 February 1836), Benjamin Stewart (c1838), Jane Stewart (c1839), Susannah Stewart (c1841), Margarette Stewart (c1843), James R. P. Stewart (c1846) and Jasper H. Stewart (18 May 1848).  Another child, Samuel D. (1 October 1855) was posthumous.  Only the first child was born in Tennessee.  Permelia (said to have been a Matheny) was apparently the widow of a Williams, as there are two young teen Williams children in the household.  How many of these children were hers is uncertain, but apparently only the last three. According to descendants, John McSpadden and Jesse Cunningham were guardians of children and Permelia was guardian of the youngest three. According to a descendant, John McSpadden and Jesse Cunningham were guardians of children and Permelia was guardian of the youngest three.10 Samuel died in 1855 and an online listing of graves in the Warren Cemetery lists his grave there.

    His widow Permelia married James R. King Sr. on 31 (sic) November 1858.11  (James R. King’s son by a prior marriage married Walker Stewart’s daughter Margaret ten years later.)   The 1860 DeKalb census shows James R. King and Permelia with Jasper and three more Stewart children:  Minus Stewart (c1850), Kingberry Stewart (c1852) and Samuel Stewart (A posthumous son, born 1 October 1855).  By 1870 only the two youngest Stewart children are in the household, and in Permelia is a widow with son Samuel D. Stewart in the household.

  5. Mary M. Stewart  (18 July 1811 – 13 October 1898)  She was the wife of William Mahaffey and is buried in the Head Springs Cemetery in DeKalb County.  The 1860 census lists three apparent children:  Richard, William, and Samuel.  The 1870 census shows William and Mary with a 7-year old named Eliza J. Mahaffey, apparently a granddaughter. 12  William and Mary Mahaffey are enumerated in DeKalb County in 1880 with a 16-year old granddaughter named Jane.   Mary’s mother’s birthplace is listed as Virginia but her father’s birthplace is blank.13
  6. Robert Stewart  (15 December 1812 – August 1874)  The family Bible contains his birth and marriage dates, but no other information.  He and Walker served in the Union army, and Robert’s file contains the statement that he was born in Overton County, Tennessee.  Robert Stewart is in the 1840 census of DeKalb County, Alabama consecutive with brothers Walker and Samuel.  It is not clear how many wives he had.  The Bible gives his marriage to “Julia” on 19 March 1837.  This wife appears to have died by 1840, when he is listed in the census with one male and one female under 5 but no older female.  By 1850, he is in the DeKalb census with a wife named Sarah and children Elmira I. (age 12), Emmy Ann (age 8), Samuel (age 5), Robert (age 4), and Lucinda (age 1). In 1860 he is enumerated adjacent to Walker Stewart, and has a wife named “Judah” and the same children (Elmira now being “Lymina”), plus Talitha and Tabitha (age 8), John W. (age 5) and Montague A. (age 3).  This wife Judah appears to be different than Sarah, as they gave different ages and states of birth.  In 1870 he still had Judah in the household, as well as the five youngest children. Judah is said by descendants to have been Judah Ashberry, sister of the Archibald Ashberry who married Nancy Stewart.  Robert Stewart is buried in DeKalb County’s Warren Cemetery.
  7. Martin Stewart  (15 June 1815 – 11 January 1820)  The Bible lists the birth and death of Martin Stewart on separate lines.  We assume from the absence of any later record for this name that this is the same person, therefore one who died as a child.
  8. Andrew Stewart  (13 June 1817 – )  His birth is listed in the Bible, but no other information is noted.  He was perhaps named for his father’s brother who died at New Orleans in 1815.  He is in the 1840 census of Dade County, Georgia listed adjacent to his brother John, with a household suggesting he was married and had at least three young children.14   I haven’t found him after 1840.  If he died, the children in his 1840 household do not appear in either Dade or DeKalb counties in 1850.  There is a Stewart widow named Hannah in the 1850 DeKalb census located near Walker Stewart, but the children don’t match Andrew’s 1840 household.  I suspect he migrated elsewhere.
  9. Walker A. Stewart  (27 August 1819 – 29 November 1885)  See separate paper.
  10. Margaret Stewart  (3 December 1822 – 26 October 1868)  She is probably the same Margaret Stewart who married Edward N. Taylor on 23 September 1852.15  It is curious, though, that the Bible does not mention her marriage, death, or any of her children.  (All references to Taylors in the Bible refer to Wilson Taylor who married Walker Stewart’s daughter.)  Edward N. Taylor and Margaret are in the 1860 census of DeKalb County with children Ellen Taylor (age 6), Walker Taylor (age 5), Mary Taylor (age 4), Robert H. Taylor (age 2), and Nancy J. Taylor (age 2 months), along with a 15-year old Dennis Taylor.  Margaret died in 1868 and is buried with most of her siblings in the Warren Cemetery.   Edward Taylor remarried to Nancy J. Williams in 1870 and appears in the 1880 census with the three youngest children of his marriage to Margaret Stewart.  with the same three youngest children, a new wife named Nancy, and three children under 9 years old.  It appears that Margaret had died shortly after the 1860 census, and had had no further children.
  11. Nancy Stewart  (8 February 1826 – 1880)  She is said by descendants to have married Archibald Ashberry, probably about 1845 or so.  He is in the 1850 census of DeKalb County adjacent to Walker Stewart, with Nancy and a daughter named Mary J., age 3.  By the 1860 census they had added sons named William (age 8) and Robert G. (age 6) to the family. All three children were still at home in 1870, when the Ashberrys were enumerated adjacent to Walker Stewart.  Nancy’s death is not in the Bible, but she was still alive and in Archibald Ashberry’s household in 1870.   Nancy is said to be buried in the Warren Cemetery.  A “W. M. Ashberry” who is probably the son William is buried at Wesley’s Chapel Cemetery (16 September 1850 – 21 May 1914)  as is Robert G. Ashberry (15 May 1853 – 19 August 1927).
  1. The Bible, printed in 1830, was apparently owned by Walker and Sarah Spears Stewart, and passed to their daughter Amanda Stewart Green and then to her daughter Myrtle Green Hardman.  See separate page for a transcript. []
  2. Original bond in Knox County files.  Abstracted in Knox County Tennessee Marriages 1792-1837, WPA Project (Byron Sistler & Associates) and in Knox County, Tennessee Marriage Records, 1792-1900, Roscoe Carlisle d’Armand  & and Virginia Carlisle d’Armand, (Family Record Society, 1970). []
  3. According to Joseph L. Haw III, The McSpad(d)en Family Ancestry (1982), p55, Moses McSpadden was living at the time in Claiborne County, Tennessee.  One of his children, Samuel McSpadden, would later be a next-door neighbor of Robert Stewart’s brother Joseph in Georgia. []
  4. The Walker Stewart enlistment form is clearly meant to read “Marien”.  In the past there has been debate about whether it was Warren or Marion.  In comparing the letters M and W written a half-dozen or more times on other enlistment forms by the same officer, Capt. George Allen, on the same day it is very clear that the first letter of the county name is an M and not a W.  The fact that “Marion” is misspelled is not a concern, as the name of the state is also misspelled as “Tennissee”.   However, Overton County is an unusual location, not on any reasonable migration path from Knox County to Marion County. []
  5. Robert Stewart page 63:  1 male 5-10 (Walker), 1 male 10-15 (Andrew), 1 male 15-20 (Robert), 2 males 20-30 (Samuel, John), 1 male 50-60 (Robert), 1 female under 5 (Nancy), 1 female 5-10 (Margaret), 1 female 15-20 (Mary), 1 female 20-30 (Matilda or Martha), 1 female 50-60 (Mary).  Either Matilda or Martha was apparently married by the enumeration.  The 1830 census was supposed to reflect the family as of June 1, and we know Matilda was married in August.  []
  6. This reported to me by Nona Lee Stewart in 1981.  I have not verified this. []
  7. Southern Claims Commission Application No. 17017. []
  8. A partial transcript provided to me by Nonalee Stewart of Nashville, Tennessee in 1981. []
  9. Death certificate of George W. Stewart provided by Nonalee Stewart in 1981. []
  10. Courtesy of Betty Stewart, via email. []
  11. DeKalb County , Alabama, Marriages 1836-1854, Catherine Cleek Mann (1970). []
  12. The entry is misindexed as “Mahathy”. []
  13. The ancestry census index mistakenly places them on the last page of the Dallas County census rather than on the first page of the DeKalb County census, page 529A. []
  14. Andrew Stewart, page 81: 1 male under 5, 1 male 30-40 (sic), 2 females under 5, 1 female 10-15, 1 female 15-20, and 1 female 20-30. []
  15. DeKalb County , Alabama, Marriages 1836-1854, Catherine Cleek Mann (1970). []