No mercantile enterprise of Ione antedates the establishment of the store of which Daniel Stewart was the proprietor. Through long years he was an active factor in the commercial interests in this place and had marked influence on the business life of the city. His efforts not only contributed to his individual prosperity, but were of marked benefit to the community, for in this utilitarian age everything depends upon progressive business enterprises. As one of the pioneers, citizens and merchants of Amador County, Daniel Stewart is certainly deserving of mention in this volume.
He came to California in 1850 and was a native of Pennsylvania, his birth occurring in North Liberty, Mercer County, on the 6th of January, 1824. He was reared upon a farm and his educational privileges were very meager, but his training at farm labor was not limited. He was eminently a self-made man, owing his advancement to his own efforts. In company with his father and brother he crossed the plains with ox teams in 1850. They made a safe journey, their numbers being undecimated by the Indians and the cholera. After arriving at Sacramento Mr. Stewart of this review proceeded to Ione and established the first store in that town. The enterprise had a small beginning, but owing to the business ability, firm determination and energy of the owner, the trade constantly increased and the facilities were in consequence enlarged. Owing to his generous impulses and thorough reliability, Mr. Stewart made many friends and his business prospered. In 1856 he and his brother erected the first brick store in the town and since that time their concern has been one of importance, the trade constantly growing. He had the unqualified confidence and patronage of a large number of the best people in his portion of the state, and not only did he win financial success, but he also gained a character for upright dealing that was indeed enviable. Mr. Stewart was also an active Republican and was frequently selected to act as a delegate of the party to the county and state conventions. He also took a deep interest in the educational affairs in Ione and for several years served as a member of the school board. It was largely through his instrumentality that the ten thousand dollar brick schoolhouse which is now one of the creditable institutions of the town was erected. He withheld his support from no movement or measure which be believed would contribute to the public good along social, intellectual, material or moral lines. He was also one of the founders of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Ione and became one of its charter members, and through his entire life was one of its most ardent and helpful supporters. He served in many of its offices, and to his labors has largely been attributed the success of the lodge in this place. He was a member of the Veteran Odd Fellows Society of San Francisco and was also a member of the Pioneer Society at Jackson.
In 1848 Daniel Stewart married Miss Caroline Forker, a native of Pennsylvania, and in 1853 he returned to the east to get his family. Their eldest child, J. F. Stewart, was born in the east, and with his wife and infant son Daniel Stewart returned to Ione, where five other children were afterward added to the family, namely: Harry; John C.; Willie; Thomas, who died in infancy; and Eva, who is now the wife of W. A. Bennetts. In 1866 the mother died and in 1868 Mr. Stewart was again married, his second union being with Talitha B. Forker, a distant relative of his former wife. Their union was blessed with two children, Walter and Agnes. This marriage also proved a harmonious one and they lived happily together until the 27th of February, 1899, when the honored pioneer settler, Daniel Stewart, was called to the home beyond, at the age of seventy-five years. His death was a great loss to his wife and children and was deeply mourned throughout the entire county. His lodge and the people in general gathered in large numbers to pay their last tribute of respect to one whom they had long honored. His extensive business and large property interests were left to his wife and children, and on the 19th of February, 1900, the business was incorporated under the firm name of D. Stewart & Company, with the following officers: J. F. Stewart, president; Mrs. Daniel Stewart, vice-president; J. C. Stewart, secretary; Harry Stewart, treasurer; and W. A. Bennetts, manager.
The children were all educated in Amador County and the family is one of marked prominence and the highest respectability. They have one of the finest homes in the town and their store is a leading mercantile establishment of Amador County, in which they carry a large stock of general merchandise. The sons are all men of good business ability, energetic and enterprising, and their straightforward course in life’s relations adds honor to the untarnished family record.
W. A. Bennetts, who is acting as the manager of the store, is a native of England, born June 29, 1847. He was educated partly in his native land, completing his course, however, after his immigration to the United States in 1866. He is a graduate of Heald’s Commercial College at San Francisco, and immediately after his graduation he became a resident of Amador County. For a time he was engaged in clerking in Amador City and Sutter Creek. In 1874 he was united in marriage to Eva Stewart, and he then became an assistant in her father’s store, where he has since remained. His wise business policy has contributed in no small degree to the successful conduct of the business. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Bennetts have been born six children, -- five sons and one daughter. The latter is now a capable assistant in the Ione post office.
Mr. Bennetts is a member of the Masonic fraternity. His is twice past master and is now the master of the Ione lodge, No. 80. He also belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In politics he is a Republican and on the establishment of the board of education he was one of the first appointed to membership thereon. He was also his party’s nominee for the office of representative and made a creditable race, but through a combination of circumstances was defeated. He is a thorough businessman, widely and favorably known in the county, and as manager of the oldest store in Ione, has manifested marked ability.
In closing this record we cannot refrain from mentioning in a brief manner some of the characteristics of Daniel Stewart. He was an earnest, honest and incorruptible man, with a frank, genial manner which won and retained friendship, and in consequence his death was sincerely mourned by a large number of appreciative friends and acquaintances, with whom his long public service had placed him upon terms of intimacy.
We take pleasure in presenting the few facts of the foregoing sketch that we were able to glean, because the subject fully deserves this honorable mention and much more. Not only “line upon line and precept upon precept” are needed, but also example upon example, properly to impress upon the minds of most people the importance of all the excellencies of character.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.