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Sullivan, Parks, Wheeler, & Hawkins

John Thomas Stewart

Hawthorne, Julian, The Story of Oregon, New York: American Historical Publishing Co., 1892, Pages 443-4.

Stewart, J. T., the popular Manager and Secretary of the Franklin Building and Loan Association, is a man to whom credit is due for the industry he has displayed in working his way onward and upward. He was born in Prince Edward Island, Canada, April 18th, 1856. His early education was obtained at the common school in his native place, and he availed himself of all the scant opportunities afforded to acquire the rudiments of learning. By judicious reading and study he informed himself on a variety of subjects, and in time cultivated a good literary talent. At the age of twenty-one Mr. Stewart started for Oregon with the intention of making that State his future home. Hearing on his way the favorable prospects offered in Portland, he entered that city. For six months he performed manual labor wherever he could, and through his energy and perseverance rose gradually higher. In about a year he was offered a clerkship in the mercantile house of J. A. Newell & Co. This position he held for four years, and was then promoted to a more responsible capacity in the same house. Mr. Stewart, after severing his mercantile connections, was elected City Recorder of East Portland for three years. He also served as School Director, every beneficial measure receiving his hearty endorsement. Mr. Stewart is an earnest Republican and an active party worker. In June, 1889, he was elected Mayor of East Portland, and his administration was both strong and popular. He is not only untiring in his efforts, but no demand upon his time nor sacrifice of personal interests ever stands in the way of his doing a service. In June, 1890, Mr. Stewart was a candidate for the Legislature on the Republican ticket, and was elected by the largest majority of any candidate on the ticket. Mr. Stewart bears a reputation as an honorable, straightforward business man. Every obligation he assumes is faithfully and fully discharged. His business operations have brought him into close contact with men in all parts of the State, giving him an extensive acquaintance with a great number of Oregonians. He is a prominent member of the Society of Odd Fellows, and in 1890 was elected Representative of the Grand Lodge of Oregon to the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the United States. He was married on December 30th, 1886 [sic], to Miss Mary E. Wheeler, of New Jersey, a sister of the late Mayor of East Portland.


In a couple of newspaper reports, there are indications that his marriage was not happy. Apparently in early 1893, or perhaps sooner, he was having considerable health problems. On Tuesday, February 28th, 1893, he disappeared from home and from Portland, causing considerable consternation and some scandalous tongue-wagging. Because Stewart was a bank director, his activities had to be explained to the public. On March 6th, an article was printed in the Oregonian. Although he telegraphed that he would be home in seven to ten days, news of his return was printed in the paper on May 2.

Mr. J. T. Stewart, who went to California some time ago in hope of improving his health, returned on the last steamer. He was not very much benefited by the change, and is now confined to his house under the care of his regular physician. His friends hope that he will be able to be out in a week or two.

On July 29th, 1889, he had purchased a lot in Long Beach, Washington for $400 (lot 4 in section 16 of T10N, R11W, deed book L, page 401). Many of his circle of friends acquired summer homes up there. On the day of his return from California, May 1st, 1893, he signed a deed transferring the property to his wife for one dollar (deed book 26, page 254). It appears from a subsequent deed that the intent was to get her name on the deed, rather than give her complete ownership, but it is not clear. On May 16th, Sumner F. Lockwood, the recorder of Pacific County, Washington, verified in the deed book that all taxes on the property had been paid, this confirmation being made at the request of C. J. Wheeler (deed book 26, page 256). On July 29th, they sold the property to Clarence J. Wheeler, Mary's brother, for $800 (deed book 25, page 507).

April 26, 1894, another article appears in the Oregonian. This states that J. T. Stewart has returned home and is fully restored in health. It is not clear where he had been during his illness.

A biographical sketch of his wife says that she moved to San Francisco in 1897. In the 1900 census she and her children are there in a boarding house. The census indicates that she is divorced.

Fast forward to September 25th, 1905. Two articles appear, one in the Evening News of San Jose, and one in the Oregonian. It sounds as if he is on his death-bed. But the Evening News of October 4th reported:

The condition of J. T. Stewart, the former Mayor of East Portland, who is at the Red Cross sanitarium continues very precarious although his chances of recovery are better since the operation was performed.