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William Stewart

(ca. 1763 - 1850)

From The Maiden family of Virginia and allied families, 1623-1991 : Aker, Alburtis, Butt, Carter, Fadely, Fulkerson, Grubb, Hagy, King, Landis, Lee, Scudder, Stewart, Underwood, Williamson, and others / by Sarah Finch Maiden Rollins.  Henington Pub. Co. ; Houston, Tex. : Order from S.F.M. Rollins, c1991.

"William Stewart was the second son of John Stewart and Susanna Bledsoe Stewart, was born in 1763 in Halifax County, now Surry County, Virginia, and lived there the first year of his life. William grew up in The Hollow, Rowan County, North Carolina, in the part that became Surry County in 1770. When William was in his early teens, his family crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains to what is now upper east Tennessee. After being a Revolutionary War soldier, William moved across the border into Russell, now Scott County, Virginia. There he married Jemima Carter and lived the rest of his life."

"William's elderly paternal grandparents, Lydia and Samuel Stewart, lived about thirty miles south of the Hollow. These elder Stewarts were on their own Stewart Creek, between the Yadkin River and the large Moravian settlement. Samuel Stewart died in 1768 and Lydia in 1772."

"Sometime between 1775 and 1778 John and Susanna moved their family from Surry County west across the Blue Ridge into what is now northeastern Tennessee."

"William's older brother David Stewart and half-brother Loving Bledsoe were drafted into the army, but before the day of their rendezvous, orders came that all should go that were able to go. Since his brother and half brother were going, William Stewart testified in his pension claim that he volunteered for a tour of duty. William tells of the days after the Battle when they marched to Salisbury with the prisoners to turn them over to other North Carolina troops. Then the over mountain men were discharged, and thus ended William's second tour of duty. The rest of William's company went on home, but William said in his pension application that he stayed near Salisbury for perhaps a year after the Battle of King's Mountain. When there was another draft, William was to substitute in the place of one Daniel Tunroy for another three months tour of duty."

"The Company rendezvoused near the Moravian town of Salem (now Winston-Salem) They marched one day towards the army when William `was taken sick" and directed by the officers to return to his uncle's in Surry County. Which Stewart uncle is not known, but it was probably David. There was another draft and William substituted again, this time for a Thomas Smith. The rendezvous was again at Salem, North Carolina. William's company was intercepted by the British and delayed so that they did not reach General Greene's Army before what is now called the Battle of Guilford Court House."

"This was William Stewart's last tour of duty, ending in the spring of 1781. He was now eighteen years old and ready to head back over the mountain to Sullivan County, North Carolina."

"William and his brother David Stewart were among those in Sullivan County in 1782-1783 who were granted specie certificates for the purpose of straightening out various accounts, issuing certificates in lieu of hard cash as payment for military service. William Stewart's' specie certificate was granted 16 August 1782 for 8 pounds 13 shillings 4 pence."

"There is no record of William's mother, Susanna Bledsoe Stewart, leading to the probability that she had died by 1781. William seems to have had no ties to Sullivan County, North Carolina, having been there less than four years at most, and he had already cut the ties back over the Blue Ridge in Surry County. It was a short and easy move just across the line into Virginia where Sullivan County, North Carolina, bordered Russell (now Scott) County, Virginia. William moved about twenty miles to where he would live the last sixty-five years of his long life. His father, John Stewart, later moved over into Russell County also."

"Somehow William Stewart met the Carter family, Carters were some of the first pioneers to cross the New River and settled in Rye Cove not far from the Clinch River. Because of Indian attacks, those years were extremely dangerous ones for the Clinch Valley settlers. They were a northwestern buffer to the settlers in the parallel Holston Valley and were in nearly constant peril from the Indians, who bitterly resented encroachment on their lands."

"Russell County had been created from Washington County, Virginia, in 1785, so Rye Cove was for many years in Russell County. The tax enumeration was taken between 30 April and 19 June. On the first day William Stewart and Thomas Carter were listed. On May 2nd, David Stewart (the only other Stewart and probably William's older brother) was listed."

"About 1789 William Stewart married Jemima (called Mima) Carter. William was twenty-six and Jemima about seventeen. She had three sisters and three younger brothers. Her two youngest brothers, Presley and Thomas, are extremely well documented, and many of their descendants still live in Scott County. Jemima's other brother, Elijah, was captured by the Indians in 1788 when he was twelve and released alter five years, when he returned to Rye Cove. Many Carters lived in Rye Cove, and William and Jemima must have lived on Joseph Carter's land as there is no land record for William before 1805. However, William Stewart of course owned personal property."

"William Stewart and Jemima (Carter), had 12 children born in Russell (now Scott) County, Virginia: James, Elizabeth, Judith, Jemima, Joseph, William, David, Lucy, Anna H., Polly, Elijah, and Nancy. My direct descendent was the oldest, James Stewart: b. 29 February 1790; married ca. 1812, Polly Carter, daughter of Jemima's 1st cousin, Dale and Catherine Carter. James was a millwright. Both James and Polly are buried in Rye Cove Cemetery."

"The first few years they were married, William Stewart and Jemima would have lived in their log cabin in times of peace. In times of Indian peril, they would have taken refuge with nearby settlers in a little stockaded hamlet, called a fort or station. Their fort was known as Crissman's Fort, and in the late 1770's and '80's called Carter's Fort or Rye Cove Fort. The last actual Indian raid was in 1794."

William Stewart was thirty in 1793. Russell County court records for April 1793 show that William Stewart and nine other men were recommended to Henry Lee, Governor of Virginia, for Ensigns in the First Battalion of the 72nd Regiment of Virginia Militia, William Stewart was a Constable from 1793&emdash;1795. The Russell County court records for April 1795 ordered that he be allowed the legal fees of a Constable `agreeable to his account presented," meaning he should be paid the fees the court owed him for his work.

"Not until 1805 did William Stewart live on land that he held title to in his own name. On 21 March 1805 for 15 pounds William bought 100 acres from his father-in-law, Joseph Carter. Prior to 1805 William and Jemima and their eight children had lived on Carter land, but they were just now getting title to it."

"William Stewart was an active member of the Stony Creek Primitive Baptist Church, located close the Clinch River near Fort Blackmore. People joined the newly organized church by letter from another church, showing they were in good standing, or by experience and baptism.' William Stewart joined by letter 27 June 1801. John Stewart, assumed to be William's father, joined by experience and baptism 22 May 1802. There is this mention of William's wife on 25 April 1807: "Then came forward Sister Jemima Stewart and told her experience and was received and baptized.' Sundays were not for work, but for church services administration of the Lord's Supper every three months, and for prayer meetings. Sinning included drunken behavior, fighting, getting in a passion and swearing, dancing, gaming, and even a disorderly walk such as visiting and vain jangling and a constant loose carriage." Forgiveness was nearly always given if the sinner confessed in church and showed contrition."

"There is no mention of William's father after 1802. In 1808 Jemima's father died. Her mother, Elizabeth (Presley) Carter, was a widow about ten years. By 1814 William and Jemima's large family was complete, their oldest two children married, and ten children at home. William was about fifty-nine years old, and Jemima about forty-two."

"Rye Cove and the part of Russell County that the Stewarts and Carters lived in was growing enough for there to be a need for a closer county seat, and in 1814 it became part of the newly created Scott County. Maybe these were the good years for William and Jemima Stewart, a typical frontier couple, who would live to see many changes and more civilized conditions come to their area They had many children and were surrounded by many relatives. Times were hard, and those of a softer, gentler nature would have failed. Surely there were fun times at house-raisings, log-rollings, and harvesting parties where all neighbors came to lend a hand. Just as surely there were struggles and frustrations of daily living, and family problems."

"In 1815 William and Jemima's third child and second daughter, Judith, had married Nimrod Taylor, Jr. On 27 June 1828 (recorded 12 November) sixty-five year old William and Jemima conveyed the 100-acre tract they (and their two teenage children) lived on to Nimrod and Judith. The price was $35 and `the further consideration of natural love and affection." In 1830 William and Jemima were still on this land in their own household with their only two unmarried children. These youngest two were Elijah and Nancy, who by then were about twenty and sixteen respectively. Their four married sons, James, Joseph, William, and David, lived nearby, as presumably did their married daughters. In 1836 daughter Lucy died, and in 1837 oldest son James died. In September 1838 and October 1839 William Stewart took in a tenant, Henry Ford."

"By 1840 William and Jemima could no longer manage their home by themselves and were enumerated in the household of their next to oldest daughter, Judith, and her husband, Nimrod Taylor, Jr."

"Prior to 1840 William Stewart had made an agreement with his son-in-law, Nimrod Taylor, Jr., by which Nimrod would have use of William's land, in return for which Nimrod would take care of William and Jemima's needs. This was a very common arrangement for elderly parents, preceding our federal Social Security system. However, things did not work out as planned. Pitiful as it sounds, at their advanced ages William Stewart brought suit in court 13 April 1843 against their son-in-law. The Circuit Superior Court of law and Chancery ruled for eighty year old William in his complaint that Nimrod was enjoying the benefits of the land in controversy, but, in violation of his contract to make ample provision for the complainants, had instead driven off his very aged and infirm father- and mother-in-law on 29 May 1841 without making any provision for their support . It was ruled that "because of mutual ill feeling it would be cruel and unreasonable to require the elderly Stewarts to return to Nimrod's home, and that Nimrod Taylor, Jr., should pay $60 annually during the Stewarts' life and $30 to the survivor."

"Five months later, 13 September 1843, William Stewart went back to court to get Nimrod Taylor to pay court costs, $28.46, and was successful. On 9 August 1843 Nimrod and Judith Taylor reconveyed the land to her father."

"William Stewart then made a contract with his son David. To guarantee a clear title to David to his 100-acre homestead tract, William made a title bond for $1400. After just a few years the arrangement with David did not prove satisfactory either, and William decided to take matters into his own hands. On 1 April 1847 William Stewart, Sr., sold one and a half acres for $21 to Henry S. Stewart. Then William Stewart, Sr., in September 1847 instituted a suit against his son David. Jemima's name is not mentioned in this suit. It is presumed she had died between April 1843, when her name was mentioned, and April 1847, when she was not mentioned. She was in her seventies when she died."

"In addition to filing a suit against his son David, on 18 September 1847 William sold Elijah E. Carter, for $1010, his 100-acre tract. Now William Stewart's land was owned by his nephew Elijah E. Carter, the second child of Presley Carter, deceased. The last few years of his life William Stewart lived with his youngest daughter, Nancy, and her husband John Hale. He is shown in their household in the 1850 census, the last year of his life. William Stewart died 10 September 1850 at the age of eighty&emdash;seven. He was doubtless buried in Carter Cemetery at Rye Cove beside his wife of over fifty years, Jemima (Carter) Stewart."

"Cases against David, brought by the heirs, continued from 1851 - 1855&emdash; It would seem that while the children did not seem to work together to take care of their elderly father, they did cooperate to divide up his modest estate."

"Evidence that came out in the 1853 trial showed that all the children of William Stewart, including the defendant David, regarded William as incapable of making a valid contract at the time (1843) the contract between William (age eighty) and David had been made, and moreover the contract was canceled after it was made. They eventually reached a settlement - which involved cash for the other heirs and David kept the 100 acres."

"We can imagine the changes William Stewart, born in 1763, saw in his long lifetime. He was in the Revolutionary War and was in his twenties when George Washington became our first president. He saw our nation grow in strength and in size as the United States became involved in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War of 1846-1848. These larger events took no account of life in Scott County, Virginia, which went on with the usual struggles of loving, living, and rearing a large family. We get the picture of a God-fearing man who, to the last, tried to take care of his wife and himself."

James Stewart, son of William


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