The family Bible lists his name as “Walker A. Stewart” and his birth and death dates as above. 1 Many of the dates that follow are from this old Bible.
Three brothers, identified only by their initials as S. Stewart, R. Stewart, and W. Stewart, are listed consecutively in the 1840 census of DeKalb County, Alabama. The latter is almost certainly Walker Stewart, age 20-30, with three older females (probably his sisters Nancy and Margaret and mother Mary) in his household.
Walker was first married about 1845 or 1846. His widow’s Civil War pension application (see below) states that “Walker A. Stewart was formerly married & dissolved by death of first wife”, whose name was given as Margaret Chastine (or Chastain). He had one child of this first marriage, John Stewart, born in 1847. The Bible makes no reference to this first wife, but it does note his second marriage to Sarah “Spear” on 28 April 1850. In the pension file is an affidavit by John N. Franklin stating that he performed the marriage ceremony on that date near Ft. Payne. The marriage license in DeKalb County was dated two days earlier.2 The 1850 DeKalb County census shows Walker Stewart, age 29, with his new wife Sarah, aged only 15, and two year old son John.
The identity of Sarah Spears (she spelled it “Speers” in her pension application) is something of a mystery. Edgar Hardman reported to me in 1979 that his mother, a granddaughter of Walker Stewart, called her “Sarah Bethere Susan McHenry Spears.” His mother’s twin sister, my great-grandmother, called her “Sarah Beth”. If that was indeed her name, it may someday prove to be a clue to her background. There are no Spears, by any spelling, in DeKalb or any surrounding county in the 1840 census. In 1850, only a George W. Spears appears in DeKalb County, age 26, with a wife named Adaline and two infant children named Sarah Ann, age 2, and John H. Spears, age zero. 3 He was surely some relative of Sarah. Sarah consistently gave her own birthplace as Tennessee, and in 1880 and 1900 listed both her parents as born in Tennessee as well.
Walker Stewart later appears in the 1860, 1870, and 1880 censuses of DeKalb County, in each case located in the northeastern part of the county not far from the Georgia state line. By 1870, the eldest son John Stewart had his own household adjacent to his parents. In the 1870 and 1880 censuses, the last four children were still at home. The 1900 census, after Walker’s death, enumerated Sarah B. Stewart next door to her son Byron’s family, with Amanda still at home. Her birth was listed as July 1836 in Tennessee and four of her six children were still alive (which matches our other records).
On 29 December 1886, Walker Stewart applied for an invalid pension based on his service in the Union Army in the Civil War.4 He stated that he enlisted as a private in Company B of the First Regiment of Alabama Volunteers on 10 September 1863. He was described as 69 years old, 6’ tall, fair-complexioned, with “light” hair and blue eyes. He claimed the disability due to rheumatism contracted from “cold and exposure” while in service. He signed each document with his mark. The pension processing included muster rolls, revealing that he was present on the muster roll from 31 October 1863 through 16 June 1864 when he was mustered out. The roll of 29 February contains the comment that he was “on detached service at Shellmound per ord. Col. Fox.” The unit was the 1st Regiment of Alabama and Tennessee Independent Vidette Cavalry according to its muster rolls. He enlisted at Stevenson, Alabama and was mustered out at Larkinsville. Francis M. Wooten (who served in the same company) and his brother Lorenzo Dow Wooten supplied supporting affidavits in 1891, but the pension was not awarded until a few months prior to his death.
The pension file includes his enlistment certificate dated 10 September 1863, also signed with his mark, which states he was born in Marion County, Tennessee. Separately filed in the National Archives are service records for Company B that show that Walker Stewart, Robert Stewart, Samuel Stewart, John Stewart, and Robert L. Stewart all served in the company at the same time. All enlisted in the same week.
Sarah Stewart applied for a widow’s pension on 28 December 1895, stating that Walker had died a month earlier on 29 November 1895 (matching the date in the Bible).5 She gave her age as 60 and maiden name as Sarah “Speers”. She declared that she owned 80 acres of “very poor mountain land” worth perhaps $80, a few household goods, one cow and two hogs. She signed her own name, “Sarah Stuart”, with a shaky hand. The pension was granted and paid until her death on 25 August 1907.
Both Walker and Sarah are buried at Wesley’s Chapel. His original stone reads simply “W. A. Stewart, Co. B, 1st Ala. Vid’t Cav.” with no dates. A modern gravestone, added fairly recently, reads: Walker A. Stewart 1821 – November 29, 1895 Company B, First Alabama-Tennessee Vidette Cavalry. (Note that the 1821 date conflicts with the Bible record, which is also more consistent with census records.) His wife’s gravestone reads: Sarah Stewart July 27, 1836 – August 25, 1907. (The Bible gives her birth date as 30 July, with the year unreadable.)
The first child, John Stewart, is by Walker Stewart’s first wife. The other six are by Sarah Spears.
- John J. Stewart (10 September 1847? – 1901?) He was in his father’s household in 1850 and 1860, listed as John J. in 1860. His father’s family Bible lists his birth as “Sept.” with the date otherwise unreadable. He married Lucretia Tillman on 30 August 1866 in DeKalb County and is in the 1870 DeKalb census with a daughter named Margaret, listed consecutively with his father. (Lucretia Tillman had been enumerated in 1860 as one of two daughters in the household of an apparent widow named Nancy Tillman.) By 1880 John Stewart was in Comanche County, Texas enumerated with his wife “Lucrece”, his mother-in-law Nancy Tillman, and their children Margaret, Aaron, Nancy, Emily, and James. (I note that he listed his mother’s birthplace as South Carolina in 1880 and as Alabama in 1900.) In 1900 he was enumerated in McLennan County, Texas with his wife “Lucretia” and children James and Addie. His birth date was given as August 1845, though earlier censuses suggest it was surely 1847. He and Lucretia were listed as married 33 years, she the mother of eight children seven of whom were living. Both John and his wife are believed to have been buried in the Crawford Cemetery, though an inventory of the cemetery lists no monument for either. From the three censuses, six of the eight children were Margaret (c1868), Aaron (c1870), Nancy (c1872), Emily (c1874), James Walker (June 1877), and Addie (September 1883).
- Mary Margaret Stewart (6 January 1853 – 11 December 1888) She appears to be the “Mary A. Stewart” whose birth is recorded in the family Bible, but whose death is recorded as “Margrett”. She was probably named after either Walker’s mother or his sister. As Mary M. Stewart, she married James R. King Jr. in DeKalb County on 18 September 1868. They are childless in the 1870 census but by the 1880 census of DeKalb County had produced four children named George, Lular, Aminna, and Byron. Four more children whose names are unknown were born in the 1880s. The King family and her youngest sister Julia’s family, along with several others, moved to Titus County, Texas about 1885 and settled on a farm just outside Cookville where nearly the entire family was murdered three years later. The family Bible states that “James R. King and Margrett and six children died Dec. 11, 1888.” Edgar Hardman reported that his mother spoke of their perishing in a fire believed to be arson. A history of Titus County contains a brief story of this tragic event.6 The eldest daughter, Lular, survived having eloped with a neighbor boy a few months earlier. The oldest son, George King, was widely suspected of murdering the family, but was hanged in 1895 for a different murder without confessing to the massacre of his family. For a more extensive explanation of this and subsequent events drawn from newspapers of the period see The King Family Murders page
- Samuel Stewart (22 March 1855 – 29 December 1855) A child who died in infancy, he is included in the family Bible record, presumably a son of Walker and Sarah.
- Gracy Stewart (29 March 1857 – 1 April 1905) She was still in her father’s household in 1880, aged 22. She married John J. Wooten on 10 January 1886 according to the Bible. Both are buried at Wesley’s Chapel with a common gravestone. The Walker Stewart Bible lists the birth of three children: James Pinkney (22 December 1886), James Justus (22 May 1889), Sarah J. (18 February 1893).
- Byron M. Stewart (16 September 1860 – 1930) The Bible gives his marriage to Hulda C. Boyd on 6 July 1890. They are buried at Wesley’s Chapel in DeKalb County, sharing a gravestone.
- Amanda Emily Jane Stewart (23 March 1866 – 27 November 1932) A twin, she married William Monroe Green in DeKalb County. She was still single and living with her mother in 1900. Her husband, William Monroe Green, was a Methodist minister. Both are buried in the Wesley’s Chapel Cemetery.
- Julia Ann Ellen Stewart (23 March 1866 – 14 June 1929?) Amanda’s twin, she married Wilson Taylor on 5 November 1882 according to the Bible. See TAYLOR pages.
- See separate page. The Bible, printed in 1830, was apparently owned by Walker and Sarah Spears Stewart, and passed to their daughter Amanda Stewart Green and to her daughter Myrtle Green Hardman. Her son, Edgar Hardman of Gadsden, Alabama, provided a transcript to my mother in 1972. Mr. Hardman wrote me in 1979 to say that the Bible had burned in a house fire shortly after he had copied it. [↩]
- DeKalb County , Alabama, Marriages 1836-1854, Catherine Cleek Mann (1970). [↩]
- He appears to be the “J. G. Spears” of the 1860 Bledsoe County, Tennessee census, who is aged 36 with a wife named Adaline and children named John (12), Delilah (6), James G. (4), and Samuel (1). He is enumerated adjacent to John H. Spears and his wife Sarah, both 78 and both born in Tennessee. Two households away is a J. H. Spears, 48, and his wife Adaline (sic!). [↩]
- Pension File No. 686250. Pension Certificate Number 324674. [↩]
- Widow’s Pension Certificate Number 423887. [↩]
- History of Titus County, Texas, Volume I, Traylor Russell (W. M. Morrison, 1965), pp228. The article is entitled “The King Family Murder Case” and attributed to A. L. Burton of Texarkana. [↩]