Friday, July 20, 2012


"Searching, Searching, Searching.......for his masters' long lost gold." That is a line from Brown Mountain Lights, a song I fell in love with as a small child, living with my grandparents and watching Tommy Faile sing on the Arthur Smith Show, a local country music show out of Charlotte, North Carolina.

For the past 2 days, I have delved down into the two counties south of us, into the Register of Deeds and Library History Rooms, looking for any records on William R Stewart, his family and basically anything I could find.

Monroe, the county seat of Union County, North Carolina, is a town that has grown in leaps and bounds during the last 30 years, due to its proximity to Charlotte Mecklenburg and its location on Hwy 74.

It's no coincidence that the city limits of Monroe to the north, coming down either Hwy 200 or 601, is bordered by Stewarts Creek. The place is swarming with Stewarts, and so were the records.

Marriage, birth and death records gave no hint at William R Stewarts life after Hortense. No young lady getting married in Union County listed Willie R as her father. I wonder if the baby died with her mother and her grave is in the Davis cemetary, unmarked.

Maybe the pain and stress of the divorce, the uncertainty of her future and the death of her only child were too much for young Hortense to take. Divorce is stressful enough in modern times, it must have been a last alternative and beyond hope in the gay 90's.

What I have found out is that William R Stewart was the son of a clothing merchant named John Maschiel Stewart and his wife Harriet E McLaughlin Stewart. I found them in the 1880 census with John M being listed as a clothing merchant.



                                                   FOR 1884


Monroe - Mayor, S.S.S. McCAULEY


Stewart, J. D.                                               Monroe                           General Store
Stewart, J. M.                                              Monroe                           Clothing

It was easy to confuse J. M Stewart with J D Stewart. In both cases, the J stood for John. They also both had sons named William, born a year apart. The distinguishing mark was the middle name. John D's son William turned out to be William Crawford Stewart and not the William I was looking for. John M's son was William R , which is correct according to the marriage license and the divorce papers, also the marriage license lists his father as J. M. Stewart. While early documents have turned up incorrect quite often on the middle intial, I believe it was correct this time. 

The old Union County Courthouse is an imposing red brick building. The West side is engraved with the year 1880, it's 'year of birth or creation. Among the towns that call Union home is Waxhaw, which was a very old settlement that turned into a town. Named for the Native  American tribe of the same name. The Stewarts appear to be one of the earliest arriving families to the area. They've been there a long time and by the 1890's there were a lot of them. With Neddy Davis being a local politician, officer and a merchant and John Maschiel Stewart being a clothing merchant and a county office holder, there may have been a professional relationship between the fathers of both bride and groom. Perhaps J. M. Stewart crossed the river to sell his wares at Ned's store in the Davis community. 

The following is the 1880 census of Union County from
Name:John M. Stewart
Birth Year:abt 1846
Birthplace:North Carolina
Home in 1880:Monroe, Union, North Carolina
Relation to Head of House:Self (Head)
Marital Status:Married
Spouse's Name:Harriet E. Stewart
Father's Birthplace:South Carolina
Mother's Birthplace:North Carolina
Neighbors:View others on page
Occupation:Clothing Merchant
Cannot read/write:


Deaf and dumb:

Otherwise disabled:

Idiotic or insane:
Household Members:
John M. Stewart34
Harriet E. Stewart30
William Stewart13
James Stewart10
Ella J. Stewart7
Juniata Stewart4
Lawrence Stewart1
Susan Helms21
Johnson White18

The Stewart family was wealthy enough to have 2 servants. Susan Helms is listed as a cook, while Johnson White was listed as a servant. 

1896 Map of Union Co, NC Post Offices

This is a map of Union County Post Offices from 1896. Most of these little communities have faded away, populated only by a few homes, Mother Nature having reclaimed her own. A few, like Indian Trail, Mint Hill, Mathews and Waxhaw grew into actual towns. A few like Morgan's Mill and Unionville are marked with signs...but not much there. The others are nonexistant. 

Union Co, NC Information Found in 
Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory,
1896 - Vol. VIII 
Edited by Levi Branson, A.M.;
Raleigh, N.C.: Levi Branson, Office Publisher, 1896


POPULATION, 21,259; White 15,712, Colored 5,547
Union County was formed in 1842, from Anson and Mecklenburg counties.
Monroe, the county seat, is 152 miles southwest from Raleigh, and was named
in honor of James Monroe, the fifth President of the United States. Population 3,500

What a difference a century makes.

No comments:

Post a Comment