The Walter Stewart Family History by Mary Stewart Rawlinson
Starting in the 1970's, Walter Stewart Clan Chief Historian Mary Stewart Rawlinson compiled and published an extensive collection of records on Walter Stewart, Sr. and his many descendants called "The Walter Stewart Family History". The records it contained were the combined efforts of generations of Stewarts. The book was first released in hardcover in 1982, the 75th anniversary of the first Walter Stewart Clan reunion, held in 1907. Catalogued in the book are the 6,280 descendants and spouses that were known to the family at that time. The book was re-released in electronic format in 1999. During the transistion many errors, omissions, and inconsistencies were corrected. If you would like to purchase a copy in either format please contact Mary at "mary at walterstewart dot org". Selected portions of the book are posted here on the webpage. Below are the introductory pages. The following pages are also excerpts from the book:
Historic family images, including some scans from the book, can be found from the Photos page.
Walter Stewart Clan History: Introduction
Mary Stewart Rawlinson, Editor
Introduction to the First CD Version
The Walter Stewart Family History CD that you have obtained is the very first computerized edition of this book. It was produced from the original 1982 edition of this work edited by Mary Stewart Rawlinson, Chief Historian of the Walter Stewart Clan.
Now that the Walter Stewart Family History is computerized, the task of updating the records can begin. Many cousins have faithfully sent in their Family Update Sheets since 1982, and these will be incorporated in future CD editions. In 1999 I retired from my position with the SC Department of Mental Health, and I look forward to many busy happy hours spent in updating the family records from material already on hand. From now on, it should be possible for those with copies of the CD to correct and update their own family records on the computer and send me a copy by e-mail. I hope to incorporate all these additions in the second computerized edition of our family history.
The Walter Stewart Family History has been a work in progress for nearly a century. It owes its very existence to the first family Historians, Squire Wistar Stewart and Maude Stewart Buford of the House of Clark, and Nan Stewart McCarter of the House of Robert. Their work was continued by the House Historians and many other hands, making the first printed edition possible in 1982.
This computerized edition was the work of younger generations, beginning with the contributions made by many cousins for the upkeep of the records, which has made possible the purchase of essential equipment and software. I am deeply grateful to my daughter, Judith Lesslie of Mount Pleasant, SC who performed the necessary technical miracles to convert the printed book first to computerized text, and then to CDs to be distributed to the family. She was ably assisted in proofreading the entire book by my young granddaughter, Chelsea Clark of Dorchester, SC, who soon enlisted her mother, Linda Lesslie Clark, in this monumental task. During the production process, numerous inconsistencies, errors, and omissions from the original printed copy of the history were corrected. Inevitably, as a result of the conversion process from paper to data, other errors have undoubtedly crept in. For these errors, please accept the humble apologies of all of us.
Clarification by Judith Lesslie
Please also be aware of the tremendous direct contributions by Mary Rawlinson to this first CD edition. Were it not for her encouragement, patient coaching in the fine points of genealogy, and clarification of literally hundreds of questions around the original printed version, this edition would be a lesser product. Thanks, Mom!
Foreward to the original 1982 edition
This book is the record of the descendants of Walter Stewart, Sr., who by family tradition came from County Antrim, Ireland and settled in Laurens County, South Carolina in 1788. He had seven sons by two wives. In 1982 there are 6,280 known descendants and spouses in this family, which spans nine generations.
The publication of this book in 1982 marks the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first Walter Stewart Clan reunion, held at New Harmony Presbyterian Church near Fountain Inn, South Carolina on October 17, 1907. The Stewart reunion is still held near Fountain Inn on the second Sunday in August each year, and the traditional invitation still goes out. Bring a full picnic basket and join us!
My debts are many and great, first and foremost to past generations of historians in our family. Without them, this book could never have been written. Even had it been written, it could not have been published without the efforts of the nine present House Historians. They have freely given not only their expert knowledge and the fruits of their own researches, but also countless hours of work in collecting data on current members of the family. The number of individuals listed in the genealogical records has doubled in the last two years, from 3,000 to over 6,000. The enthusiasm of new young families, many of them in states far from their South Carolina roots, has made it possible to produce a more complete and attractive book than was originally envisioned.
Untold numbers of our widespread family have contributed to the information in this book. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all of you - along with humble apologies for any errors in transcribing your data. Special thanks should go to several for help in rediscovering whole "lost" branches of the family: Tony Bennett and LaVon Hall Bennett of Cumming, Ga.; Miriam Donnan Chapman of Charleston, S.C.; Mary Leslie Cummings of DeQueen, Ark.; LaVell McKinney of Hollywood, Fla.; Nolan Purtell of Little Rock, Ark.; and Robert E. and Helen Stewart of Gadsden, Ala. Others have added greatly to our knowledge of the history of the family, among them Bobby Walding Cutler of Duncanville, Tex.; Marion Milam Kay of Mountville, S.C.; Ruth Stewart Owens, Clinton, S.C.; Nannette McGowen Padgett of Panhandle, Tex.; Annie Ruth Garrett Parker of Greenville, S.C.; Carl and Fannie Ruth Stewart of Garland, Tex.; and "Miss Emmie" Stewart Fulmer, Dr. James and Louise Fulmer, Catherine C. Peden, and Lillian Stewart Sperry of Fountain Inn, S.C.
On behalf of the entire family I should like to extend gratitude to Laurie Stewart Radford of Chapel Hill, N.C. for a financial gift in memory of her sister, the late Esther Katherine Stewart Brown of McLean, Va. This gift has made it possible to include more pictures in the book than had originally been planned, as did a gift from Mary Leslie Cummings of DeQueen, Ark. Edwin Walker Stewart of Indianapolis managed book sales to libraries and genealogical societies. Generous financial assistance from David and Mary Lou Stewart Garrett of Fountain Inn, S.C. made it possible to print additional copies of the book above and beyond the number originally requested by members of the family.
Thanks are due to a number of institutions whose staffs were unfailingly patient in helping an amateur historian with knotty problems: the libraries of the University of South Carolina; the South Carolina and the Alabama Departments of Archives and History; the Atlanta Historical Society and the staff of Sweetwater Creek State Park in Atlanta; and the Presbyterian Historical Foundation in Montreat, N.C. Mr. William P. Jacobs of Clinton, S.C., editor of the upcoming Laurens County Historical Book, generously opened his files and contributed much valuable information. Mr. W.C. Baldwin of Baldwin Motor Company in Clinton provided access to the existing original records of Bethany Presbyterian Church in Laurens County. It is a pleasure to report that old Bethany Church has opened its doors once more and is being recommissioned as an active church under the auspices of the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton.
To my husband Bill Rawlinson, the real historian of the household, goes my love and gratitude for boundless patience and wisdom during the long process of preparing this book. He was an active partner in this task, serving as the Stewart family's Civil War historian and also as cartographer. And who else would know what an Oxford dummy is - could instantly walk to the bookshelf and produce a picture of one? To my daughters Kathy Lesslie, Linda Lesslie, and Judy Lesslie, many thanks for help in tedious data entry for the index and in managing the book subscription list. To Kathy goes gratitude from all of us for having devised the beautifully simple coding system for descendants.
Walter Stewart Clark Officers and Historians, 1982
CHIEF: 3171 William Tinsley Stewart
The peculiar obsession of genealogical research is an aberration that can take over one's very life without warning. There is some indication that it may run in the family. This book owes its existence to an obsession that has lasted for some four generations.
The first historian in our family was Squire John Wistar Stewart, land surveyor, gentleman farmer, and Justice of the Peace of Fairview Township near Fountain Inn, South Carolina. Thanks to Squire Wistar and the task he began, the original American records of the Walter Stewart family are virtually complete. We know our founder, all his seven surviving sons, and his 75 grandchildren. With few exceptions, we know where they were born, where they lived, what they did, whom they married, and when they died. Not many families who have been in the United States for nearly 200 years can make a statement like that.
Who was John Wistar Stewart, and what did he do that was so important? To answer that question adequately, we must go back to his grandfather, Walter Stewart.
This Walter Stewart left us almost no record of himself. Family tradition says that he came to America from County Antrim in northern Ireland. That may well be true. Numerous Walter Stewarts came to America from Ireland. Tradition says he was a weaver. This too may be true. There were many weavers in northern Ireland, some of them no doubt named Stewart. Our Walter Stewart married in Ireland a wife named Mary Ross. So did several other Walter Stewarts. Tradition says he and his wife and two young sons landed at Charleston, South Carolina about 1788. That too may be true, but since the Charleston port records for the time were destroyed in a fire, we may never know. Tradition says our Walter and his wife had three young sons who died in Ireland, all of whom were named William after William of Orange. This tradition is not improbable. The Irish infant mortality rate was dreadful, and William of Orange was indeed a hero among the Protestants of northern Ireland. But we have not proved our family traditions, and it is possible that we never will.
In spite of the uncertainties, we know quite a bit about our Walter Stewart and his family. He came to the pioneer Up Country of South Carolina sometime in the years just before 1790 and settled near the Enoree River in Laurens County, some eight miles northeast of the county seat of Laurens. Here he bought 185 acres of land from a John Templeton. The community Walter and his family settled in came in later years to be known as Bethany, after Bethany Presbyterian Church founded there in 1833.
In the course of time Walter Stewart, Sr. had seven sons, five by the wife who came with him from Ireland - Mary Ross above - and two more by a second wife, Isabel Bobo, whom he married after Mary Ross died.
Walter and his second wife Isabel moved on to new land in Georgia about 1824, leaving behind them four of Walter's grown sons, who had married local girls and settled at Bethany. They took with them the three other sons: James, the fourth son of Walter and his first wife Mary Ross; and Walter and Isabel's own two young sons, Clark Berry Stewart and David Bobo Stewart, both of them children. Walter Stewart, Sr. died in Georgia in 1825, about a year after settling there. Clark, the oldest son by the second wife, later came back to the Bethany community. James and David, the two other sons who went to Georgia with their father, stayed there.
The four older sons - the full brothers Samuel, John, Robert, and Walter, Jr. - lived in Bethany for many years, tending their crops and livestock and teaching their young sons to hunt the plentiful wild game that helped feed their growing families. They named their children after each other; their wives and daughters sewed and quilted together; they went to chopping frolicks on each others' land, borrowed each others' farm tools, and went to Laurens together for supplies of salt, coffee, cloth, and kitchen utensils. They attended church together - first, Duncan's Creek Presbyterian Church some five miles away, then new Bethany Presbyterian Church. In 1833 they mourned and buried Anna Gilliland, Samuel's wife, the mother of his eleven children and the sister of Rachel Gilliland, Robert's wife. They attended weddings and infares for their daughters at each others' homes.
Young Clark, the sixth son, some thirty years younger than his oldest half-brother, returned to Bethany at about twenty, around 1833. Clark was the bookworm of the family. He lived with his older half-brother John and his family for a time, scarcely older himself than some of John's children. He supported himself by teaching school. Without making a great deal of mention of it, Clark kept a diary of his daily thoughts and activities. Later he went to an academy in Laurens to improve his education, then went to Columbia Theological Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He returned to Bethany in 1844 as a Presbyterian minister, soon after marrying one of his young former pupils. Then he too settled down to farming at Bethany, as was expected of a minister in rural areas. After all, preaching only took a few hours on Sunday.
In 1842, one of the five Bethany brothers died, together with his wife about the same time. The fifth of the seven sons, Walter Stewart, Jr., and his wife Sarah Templeton, both barely forty years old, fell prey to tuberculosis, the great killer of the young in the nineteenth century. There were survived by seven young children under the age of eighteen, most of whom were reared by their Templeton grandparents, who lived at Bethany.
Eventually the Bethany community began to be a little crowded. After years of cultivation with no rotation of crops or fertilizing, the land wore out. Whole families began to pull out and "go west" for new land - first to Georgia, then Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, later Texas and beyond. In one year - 1851 - little Bethany Presbyterian Church lost half its 134 members to the outward migration.
Some families, though, saw no need to go so far, not when they had a dozen children and heavy wagonloads of painstakingly accumulated household goods. There was still good land available for three or four dollars an acre no more than twenty miles from Bethany. Not free land, true, but balanced against the cost of four or five wagons and the teams to haul them on a weeks-long overland trip to a homestead state, the price was reasonable.
This land lay along the old Indian Boundary Line, which now separated upper Laurens and lower Greenville counties. The Cherokees had long ago retreated to the mountains of North Carolina. There was a stagecoach stop at the old boundary line now, on the route between the old town of Laurens and the budding new town of Greenville. The stagecoach stop was called the Fountain Inn, after a spring in the yard that gushed out of the ground like a fountain. Settlers had been in the area for years - the Pedens, the Cooks, the Joneses, the Leagues, the Howards, and a good many other families - but there was much of the lush forest and meadowland left, with springs and creeks enough for all. The settlers were willing to sell to new neighbors.
Gradually, families began to move up to the land around the Fountain Inn from Bethany and other little communities in lower Laurens County: the Stoddards, the Gillilands, the Garretts, the Hellamses, the Farrows, the Willises. In 1844 the third of the seven Stewart sons, Robert, moved there with his wife and thirteen children. John, the second son, followed with his wife and nine surviving children in 1851. In 1852 they were joined by Clark, the sixth son, with his young wife and four (later eight) children. Samuel, the oldest, stayed on his father's land at Bethany, but three of his eleven children joined the migration to the new community - his son John and his sons-in-law Isaac Henry and Benjamin Newman and their wives.
The town of Fountain Inn, squarely on the line between Greenville and Laurens counties in upper South Carolina, became in later years the center of a large tribe of Stewarts scattered in homes that dotted the country side around the town. When they came to Fountain Inn, the Stewarts settled in three communities located almost in a triangle about the town, all of them on the little red dirt roads that wound through the cottonfields.
The descendants of John Stewart, second son, spread from his home in what was now the town of Fountain Inn toward the Clear Springs Baptist Church community, about four miles north of town not far from John's old sawmill on North Durbin Creek.
The descendants of Robert Stewart, third son, and of the children of Samuel, eldest son, centered two or three miles southeast of town around New Harmony Presbyterian Church - which, as everybody knew, was the same church as Harmony Baptist Church, except that the two met on alternate Sundays. The Presbyterians and the Baptists were buried cheek by jowl in the same church cemetery, but if you were a Presbyterian you were buried in New Harmony Cemetery. Baptists were buried in Harmony Cemetery.
The descendants of the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart, the sixth son, clustered not far from the church where he was minister for many years, Fairview Presbyterian Church four miles southwest of town.
In the hard years after the Civil War, there was another outward migration from the little communities of upper South Carolina. "Going west" now meant going all the way to Texas, or even to the Indian Territory and beyond. Sometimes whole families packed up and left on the newly-opened railroads that were threading their way across the country, but more often it was a restless son who went, perhaps taking with him a young wife who left her family in tears, knowing she would never see aging parents again. There was hardly a family without relatives in Texas; sometimes they wrote home surprised letters about stumbling across each other in some remote western outpost.
As in the generation before them, some saw no necessity for going so far. The nearby little city of Greenville, now a bustling rail center, attracted some. In the 1880's large cotton mills in Greenville and the nearby communities of Piedmont, Pelzer, Clifton, and Pacolet offered employment and attracted new merchants. Fountain Inn itself was one of the more fortunate communities. In 1886 the Charleston and Western Carolina Railroad passed through Laurens, Gray Court, Owings, Fountain Inn, Simpsonville, and Mauldin on its way to Greenville, insuring the continued existence of farm centers that might otherwise have gone the way of now-deserted Bethany.
By 1900, the sixth generation of the descendants of Walter Stewart, Sr. was beginning to appear on the scene. The ranks of the Stewarts had been thinned by the Civil War, but they were nevertheless a numerous tribe. They all still knew, of course, that they were kin to each other - and to the Stoddards, the Pedens, the Templetons, the Gillilands, the Garretts, the Leagues, the Henrys, and almost any other old Fountain Inn family you could name. Debating who was whose cousin and how was one of the favorite occupations of the older generation.
The older members of the family still knew about the seven Stewart brothers and half-brothers whose Scotch Presbyterian father came over from Ireland and settled near now-defunct Bethany Presbyterian Church in lower Laurens County. Some of them could even name all the seven brothers, even the two who went to Georgia with their father. All the Fountain Inn brothers were dead, but some of their children were left.
Squire John Wistar Stewart, age 54, was one of the grandchildren of Walter Stewart, Sr. The genealogy bug bit Wistar about 1900, some ten years after the death of his father, the sixth of the original seven brothers.
The Rev. Clark Berry Stewart, Wistar's father, had been a man of many parts: longtime pastor of Fairview Presbyterian Church near Fountain Inn, teacher, substantial farmer and businessman, and slaveowner until the Civil War. In addition to a goodly name and estate, he had left his children a remarkable set of diaries, or journals, that spanned nearly fifty years of his long full life. The huge stack of notebooks and ledgers, together with his voluminous correspondence and assorted papers, was kept in the library of his fine old two-story brick plantation home that Wistar and his family now occupied. No one had read all the material his father had left, but there was no real hurry. As long as his journals existed, the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart would never be forgotten.
Getting on in years a bit himself, Wistar pondered the origins and the future of his family. It was the dawn of the twentieth century, the beginning of a new era. The old families were scattering from the Atlantic to the Pacific, all across the vast country of America. The old ties and traditions were being forgotten, and people were beginning to realize it. Just the year before, Wistar's neighbors the Pedens had a huge family reunion at Fairview Church, with people coming from all over the country and even camping out overnight on the church grounds. The Pedens were getting together a family record, writing down everything they knew about their ancestors, and getting together names and dates for all their relatives by family.
The Stewarts needed to do the same thing, Wistar felt. Their roots, too, went back to County Antrim in Ireland, like most of the old Presbyterian families in the area. Beyond that, the Stewarts went back to the noble Stewart Clans of Scotland - they had to. Where else could they have possibly come from? But it was time the Stewart cousins and half-cousins pooled their memories of Walter Stewart and his two wives. They would someday go down in the annals of the family as its American Founders, the link between the O1d and New Worlds. He, Wistar, was one of the younger grandchildren of Walter Stewart, but even he could contribute his memories of things his father had heard from the lips of his own father - the trip from Belfast, the storm at sea that kept them from landing on the shores of Virginia, his disappointment at finding that weaving was women's work in the New World.
In all propriety, Wistar felt, it was the duty and privilege of the older grandsons in the family to take on the responsibility of preserving its heritage. But none of them had stepped forth to do so, and as the oldest son of his father, the sixth son of Grandfather Walter, perhaps it would be proper for him to initiate the effort.
Wistar began the task. Suppose the Stewarts wanted to have a true Gathering of the Clan, one that would include all the descendants of Walter Stewart and his two wives? The Fountain Inn Stewarts were only part of the family; that much he knew. Already they had scattered to Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas - who knew where else? Probably no one person really knew where they all were, but he could go to the families of his cousins around Fountain Inn and find out. And while he was at it, he reflected, he might as well collect names and dates and put the cousins in order by families.
Wistar got a pencil and a piece of paper. First, he needed a list of the heads of the families, his grandfather and his seven sons. And since Grandfather Walter had two wives and two sets of children, he needed to list the first marriage and the five sons by the first wife, and then the second marriage and the two sons by the second wife. Carefully he wrote in the center of the page:
Walter Stewart of County Antrim, Ireland
Wistar stopped. Mary who? He didn't know. She wasn't his grandmother. Isabella was his grandmother. Isabella Bobo Stewart. He was sure of it, because his father's only full brother was named after her: David Bobo Stewart.
He shrugged. Well, no matter. One of his half-cousins would know the name of Grandfather Walter's first wife. He would go on and list the seven sons and their wives. At least he knew all of their names, except for...well, some of the wives. Walter scaled down his plan a bit. He would list his grandfather's sons, beginning with the oldest and working down. After all, how could he be expected to remember everything about them, when some of them moved off or died before he was even born?
Samuel. Samuel was the oldest, and the only one Wistar could remember very well. He remembered quite well when Uncle Sam died; just after the War, about 1866, after Wistar himself and his cousins - or those left, at least - came home. Samuel stayed down at the old Stewart homeplace at Bethany and lived to be an old man, probably longer than any of the brothers, Wistar suspected. Some of Uncle Sam's children lived in Fountain Inn, and sometimes he would drop by to see Wistar's father when he came up to visit. All his children had been dead for some time too, but Land Henry at Owings Station and Cousin John's son Bob Footsy at Lanford Station would probably know where all the grandchildren were, even the ones in Georgia. Samuel's family should be no problem.
John. He could barely remember John. He died when Wistar was a child. John was the second son, the one they always said was born at sea on the way to America. Uncle John was the one his father always thought so much of, Wistar remembered. The two of them went in together and bought some land up toward Clear Springs when they first moved to Fountain Inn, and John had a sawmill on the place. John's sons ran it for years after he died, and then Henry moved up above Greenville and the other two went west. But some of John's grandchildren still lived up at Clear Springs - Laura and her husband John Bradley, for example. They would know where all of John's people were.
Robert. Robert was the third son, the least problem of any of them. He died before Wistar was born, but all of his children still lived over around New Harmony -except for Cousin Clark and his son Walt, who were Wistar's neighbors at Fairview. Cousin William would be the one to contact about Robert's family, Wistar decided. Cousin William was the oldest one left, probably in any of the families. He would remember the most about all the seven brothers and their father.
James. Wistar was not sure that James came next, but he knew he was the one who lived in Georgia. James went to Gwinnett County with Grandfather Walter and Grandmother Isabella when they moved there. Wistar could remember his father talking about Jim taking him and little David to see the Stone Mountain near Decatur before Jim and his wife moved up to Hog Mountain. Uncle Jim had been dead for years. As for whatever happened to his family, Wistar had no idea. Possibly Cousin William would know, since James was his full uncle.
Walter, Jr. Walter was one of the first five sons too - Grandfather's sons by his first wife. He was the one who married the Templeton, and they both died young, before Wistar was born. Wistar's mother was kin to the Templetons; she was the one who always kept up with Uncle Walter's family. One of the sons went out to Arkansas where Aunt Belle Hutchinson lived, and Sam and his sister lived up at Liberty - no, Pauline was dead now. But Sam was at Presbytery last time it met at Fairview - a fine man, Sam. He would know where the rest of the family was.
Clark Berry. Wistar smiled briefly. This one, he knew, was the sixth son, the first child of Grandfather Walter and Grandmother Isabella. Another family that would be no problem. Only six of us left, he mused. Three right here at Fairview, one in Fountain Inn, and two more at Pelzer. A small family, but close.
David Bobo. Wistar himself would have to locate Uncle David's family. After all, he was the seventh son, Wistar's only full uncle. His father used to hear from Uncle David occasionally, every ten years or so. Uncle David finally settled in Alabama, somewhere around Gadsden. Wistar wrote him there when his father died, and Uncle David wrote back just as fine a letter as he knew how to write. He was probably dead by now, but maybe some of the children would get a letter if he wrote again. Uncle David had a son named Clark Berry Stewart. Wistar knew that much, because young Clark Berry was named after his own father.
Wistar was uneasily aware of how many of his cousins had passed on in recent years. Most of them were much older than himself. Perhaps he had best not delay his questions any longer.
One Sunday in January of 1901, he set out from his home in the Fairview community to visit his cousin William Stewart, the 75-year-old eldest son of Uncle Robert and Aunt Rachel Stewart. It was a ten-mile trip by horse and buggy, all the way on the other side of the Harmony community to the Durbin community, where Squire Bill had a grist mill on South Durbin Creek. It was well worth the trip to talk to him, because William was not only Uncle Robert's oldest son and one of the few remaining senior members of the family; he was also married to Rebecca Stoddard, who knew every old family in Laurens County that William didn't know. Confinement to a wheelchair with rheumatism had not dulled Becky's memory in the least. William was one of the few left in the family who were born and raised at Bethany, Grandfather's home for so many years after he came there from Ireland.
Wistar spent the afternoon with William and Rebecca, and came back home with notes on what they told him. They knew most of the names he wanted; and they were pleased with his plans to start a family history and have a gathering of the Stewart family. But he was appalled at how little William really knew about the origins of the Stewart family. When pressed for details, Squire Bill reminded him a bit testily that his own father Robert died when he, William, was but a young man of twenty, and as for Grandfather Walter - why, he never laid eyes on him. He went to Georgia long before William was born. Nor had he ever heard of any Clan that his grandfather might have belonged to. The only Clan he knew anything about came along after the War, long after Grandfather's day.
Wistar sighed. Hopefully his father, somewhere in his journals, had written down what he knew about the family. But first Wistar needed to write up the day's notes, while the complex details of what his cousins told him were still fresh in his mind. He fetched a sheet of lined paper and a pencil, and got out the old envelope he had used to jot down his notes. He wrote:
Grandmother's Mother was a Berry. Think she descended from Nancy Bobo of Revolutionary fame. [Isabel Bobo, second wife]
All in all, Wistar was satisfied with his progress. Now he had the names of both his grandfather's wives, the names of the seven sons and their wives, and even a few dates. The next step was to start on their children - his own brothers and sisters and his innumerable cousins. And then their children! The magnitude of the task staggered him. It was far more than one man could accomplish alone.
But his mind raced ahead. It could be done. Cousin William and his wife were already making a list of their nine children and offspring, and they had assured him that they and all their connections would be pleased to cooperate in his labors. Already the Clan of Stewart had multiplied into sub-clans and sub-sub-clans, but fortunately Nature herself, who presided over such multiplicity, had also ordered the members in her own structure of hereditary progression, so well recognized by the Scottish clansmen of old...an inspired idea came to Wistar. When the Stewarts gathered for their first reunion, it would be no mere unruly gathering of cousins. They would elect a Chief, the eldest and most respected member of the Clan. They would then select seven Subchiefs to preside over the seven Houses of the Clan, each named after one of the seven sons of Walter Stewart. The ancient traditions of the Stewart Clans of Scotland would thus be preserved, to the everlasting advantage of future generations. He, Wistar, would die, but his family was immortal.
It took six years for Wistar to accomplish his goal. The Stewarts were not a family to plunge headlong into enthusiasms and novelty; the matter required all due deliberation. But large family reunions were becoming commonplace; all the old families had flourished and multiplied far past the dimensions of a Sunday afternoon gathering at an old family homeplace. Reunions were held at the family's home church, usually in the late summer or fall after crops were laid by. Patiently, Wistar criss-crossed the narrow dirt roads around Fountain Inn, visiting his kin with his lists of names, dates, and addresses, and his pleas for more. He trained his family in who they were: members of the House of Samuel, the House of John, the House of Robert, the House of Clark Berry. They were impressed. They had not known these matters. They began to look forward to the grand Stewart reunion being talked about among the relations.
Wistar made careful note of the cousins who might volunteer for a Reunion Invitation Committee; already his bulging files of names, dates, letters, addresses and unfinished plans were becoming a bit overwhelming. Finally he settled on three of Cousin William's nephews in the House of Robert: personable Hasting Dial Stewart of the Martins Crossroads community a few miles from old Bethany; Brooks Stewart, mail carrier for the Harmony community; and his neighbor Walt Stewart, already the conscientious secretary of Fairview Sunday School. Walt he immediately appointed temporary secretary in charge of the Walter Stewart Clan genealogical records.
In his spare time, Wistar pored over his father's journals, scanning the closely-written pages for what he needed. It was a monumental task. The thousands of minutely detailed daily entries covered everything - his father's service in the Indian Wars when he was a young man, school and seminary days, courtship, marriage children, ministerial career, the one-room schools he taught, business affairs, farm operations, agricultural experiments, trips to the front lines and military hospitals during the Civil War.
Unfortunately, he had left out the one thing Wistar now wanted to know. Who was this remarkable man, his father? Who was his grandfather? What were their roots back in northern Ireland? And in Scotland? Which of the hereditary Stewart Clans of Scotland was the family descended from?
Finally Wistar gave up, staring gloomily at the one undated page on which his father had made an abortive attempt to record the vital facts of the family's descent. The Rev. Clark Berry Stewart had been a busy man. Perhaps it was just one of those things he put aside to finish later, when he had time. But on the other hand, Wistar suspected, it was possible that his father really knew very little about the Stewart family from which he sprang. By doing a little arithmetic on the information before him, Wistar had found that his father - born in 1813 - was twelve years old when his own father died in Gwinnett County, Georgia on December 2, 1825.
Georgia - Gwinnett County -
Wistar put the page aside carefully, mindful of its value to his growing file of genealogical records. At least he now had his grandfather's date of death. There was no use crying over spilt milk, he reasoned. His grandfather and all his sons were dead and gone, so he would have to do the best he could with the information at hand. Possibly one of the other sons had left some record of the family, if only it could be found.
Meanwhile, preparations for the first Walter Stewart Clan Reunion were underway. Wistar's patience had been richly rewarded. The grand reunion was to be held at New Harmony Presbyterian Church, which for half a century and more had been the traditional church home of most of the Fountain Inn Stewarts outside Wistar's immediate family. The date - Thursday, October 17, 1907, at 10:30 a.m. - had been set weeks ahead of time, so that Wistar and his Invitation Committee could proceed with their work. Cousin William and his brothers Jim and Sam and their sons were preparing little New Harmony Church for the expected overflow crowd. They were building an arbor and an outdoor stand for the ceremonies in the grove of trees across from the cemetery. They planned to decorate the ceremonial stand with red, white, and blue bunting. The church benches, supplemented by split log benches, would be brought outside for seating. After the speeches of welcome, the sermon and the election of the first officers of the Clan, they would adjourn to the long wooden food tables under the trees. The women, of course, could be expected to outdo themselves in delicacies for the occasion.
Wistar and his Invitation Committee had been hard at work. An appropriate announcement of the Walter Stewart Clan Reunion, signed by the four members of the Committee, had gone to newspapers in the area. Brief but impressive handwritten invitations had gone to out-of-state kin in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, even to Oklahoma. A large supply of colorful lapel ribbons had been ordered, to be pinned on each member attending. Each ribbon bore the Scotch thistle - the national emblem of Scotland, and the initials WSC - Walter Stewart Clan. A photographer had been engaged to record the proceedings.
And the crowning work was finished, the one thing necessary to transform a mere family reunion into the first gathering of a perpetual association to be known as the Walter Stewart clan: the Constitution and Bylaws, to be presented for adoption by the cousins, their spouses, and their children over the age of twelve. Wistar scanned his pencilled sheets once more, to make sure nothing was omitted:
The articles of the Constitution and Bylaws covered everything: the name of the Clan, its purpose, its officers - including a Chief and seven Subchiefs - their duties, and proper provisions for their election. Article XVIII, the last, specified two mottoes for the Clan, "God Our King," and "Onward and Upward." Article VIII required the Chief to wear his insignia of rank while presiding over the official sessions of the Clan. The insignia was at hand: Wistar himself had ordered from Scotland an authentic red and navy tartan tam. This was the traditional headdress of the Royal Clan of Stewart, descended from 12th century Walter, Lord High Steward of Scotland and the progenitor of all the Clans of Stewart. As temporary chairman of the first Walter Stewart Clan meeting, Wistar himself would place the tartan tam upon the head of the First Chief - who, if all went well, would be his Cousin William of the House of Robert, as befitted his years and dignity.
The first reunion was a glorious success. So far as is known, no representatives of the House of David - most of them in Alabama or Texas were able to attend, and all efforts had failed to locate any members of the House of James. But the other five Houses were there in force, with a throng of nearly 200 attending. There was no need for anyone to camp out on the church grounds. The homes of the Fountain Inn Stewarts were thrown open to welcome incoming relatives. Buggies and wagonloads of families joyfully descended on New Harmony Church the next morning, bearing overflowing baskets of fried chicken, ham biscuits, potato salad, deviled eggs, choice vegetables, pickles, spiced peaches, pies and cakes of every variety. They fell on each other with glad cries of welcome, children and grandchildren in tow, and at times threatened to drown out the impressive ceremonies of the day. The speeches of welcome were made, the Constitution and Bylaws were adopted, the first officers were elected. William Stewart of the House of Robert was duly elected as the first Chief and wore his insignia of rank for a time. He presided briefly over the remaining necessary business. After that, it is reported, the Chief adjourned the meeting of the Clan to the groaning food tables, and donned his own broad black hat with the remark that it was adequate for his needs.
Wistar brought back fresh treasures from the reunion: new names and dates for the indispensable Walt Stewart, now official Secretary of the Clan. And for Wistar himself, new addresses of distant members of the family. Around the time of the second reunion in 1908 he finally succeeded - how, no one knows - in locating the family of the "lost" Georgia brother, James, whose descendants had spread to Alabama and on to Texas. With the final addition of the House of James, the first American records of the Walter Stewart family were essentially complete.
William Stewart, first Chief of the Clan, died in 1909, and at the 1910 reunion Wistar Stewart was elected as the second Chief. He died in 1914, but lived long enough to preside at the great reunion of 1913, the 100th anniversary of his father's birth. Wistar himself presented a paper on the early life and work of the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart, drawn from his long study of his father's journals. The Rev. Calvin Lewers Stewart, Wistar's brother, presented a paper on his father's ministerial work. Three other papers were presented, the loss of which caused later family historians anguish: "The Stewarts as I Have Known Them in Alabama and Georgia," by R. T. Stewart (identity uncertain), "The Stewarts as I Have Known Them in the Far West," by the Rev. John Calvin Stewart (son of William Stewart, first Chief), and "The Stewarts in South Carolina Up to Date and Prospects for the Future," by William Clark Stewart (also son of William Stewart).
Samuel Turner Stewart of the House of Robert, the youngest son of Robert, served briefly as the third Chief of the Clan, from 1915 until his death in 1917, during the First World War.
The fourth Chief was Dr. Henry Boardman Stewart of the House of Clark, Wistar's brother and the family doctor of the Fairview community for many years. Dr. Boardman served until his death in 1947, a term of office spanning 29 years. Sometime during these years (prior to 1921, according to available records) the crested tam of the Royal Clan of Stewart was put aside as the Chief's insignia of rank in favor of a gold lapel badge bearing the name of the association - Walter Stewart Clan - and the date of its organization, October 17, 1907. The Chief's tam made its last recorded appearance in 1948, when Wesley Brooks Stewart of the House of Robert, son of third Chief Samuel and a member of the original Invitation Committee, was elected as the fifth Chief of the Clan. At this time, it is reported, the tam lay on the pulpit at New Harmony Presbyterian Church as the new Chief took office. He donned the gold badge of office, but modestly declined the famous tartan tam o'shanter.
The Walter Stewart Clan continued to meet through the decades of the twentieth century with almost unvarying regularity, skipping only a year or two during the Second World War because of gas rationing. Sometimes it met at New Harmony Presbyterian Church, sometimes at Fairview Presbyterian Church, and at least once, it is said, at old Bethany Presbyterian Church in lower Laurens County, where Walter Stewart first settled. The annual reunion itself became a family tradition, the focus of the memories handed down over the generations. As textiles and business began to replace the old farm-based economy, the day of the reunion shifted to Sunday, with the Clan meeting in formal session after the church service and before the traditional lavish picnic dinner. Always the formal session of the Clan opened with prayer and a hymn, and was presided over by the Chief wearing his gold badge of office. The mottoes were stated, the attending members were recognized by House, deceased members were reported and memorials were read, and officers were elected and re-elected as provided by the Constitution and Bylaws. Sometimes efforts were made to add to the collective memories of the family, but for a long time no one wrote anything down, aside from an occasional newspaper reporter hunting a feature story.
The family's history was its genealogical records, meticulously kept on beautifully handwritten pages by Walt Stewart, the Clan Secretary. He kept on doing precisely what Wistar had trained him to do which was to accept names and dates passed on to him by members of the family and record them in the ledger reserved for this purpose. When the first ledger began to fill up, he transferred the information to a bigger one. In his last years, feeble and bedridden in his old age, he directed his wife Annie in the same function. Walt's original ledger was accepted by the Social Security Administration as proof of birth in lieu of a birth certificate, and was used for this purpose by various older members of the family for a number of years. Walt had been the Clan Secretary for fifty years when he died in 1958.
The next historian of the Walter Stewart family was Maude Stewart Buford, the daughter of Wistar's brother Twyman Clark Stewart. Maude, born in 1891, was sixteen years old at the time of the first Stewart reunion in 1907. A few years later she married Dr. Joel Buford, a pharmacist in the town of Greer in Greenville County. Over the years Maude became involved in a large variety of civic and club activities. In the course of time she joined the Daughters of the American Revolution, fulfilling their requirements for precisely documented genealogical records. Like Wistar, she was bitten by the genealogy bug. Before long, she was Assistant Secretary of the Walter Stewart Clan. She picked up where Wistar left off, gathering together what was left of his notes on the family and trying to piece them together. Inevitably, she encountered the formidable journals of her grandfather, the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart. Like Wistar, she pored over them in search of new information, extracting the fragments that seemed to shed light on the lives of the original seven Stewart sons and their parents. She uncovered another find: a handful of old letters written to the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart and his wife Katharine Carson Hitch from their Bobo and Hitch relatives in Georgia and Arkansas, some of them relating news of distant Stewarts.
Maude presented her findings to the Walter Stewart Clan at annual reunions over the years. In 1937, she accomplished a major feat: under the sponsorship of the University of South Carolina, the federal Works Project Administration (WPA) financed the typing of the entire manuscript collection of the Rev. Clark Berry StewartÕs journal, from 1836 until his retirement from the ministry in 1885. The typed copy, running to many hundreds of pages, is now preserved in the South Caroliniana Library in Columbia, South Carolina, the historical library of the University of South Carolina.
Maude, who was no typist herself, eventually cast about for some way to preserve her own material in better order. She turned for help to a likely candidate: Nan Stewart, the young widowed granddaughter of William Stewart, the first Chief. Nan, whose husband (her cousin Frank Stewart) had died not long after their marriage, was not only an expert lab technician with the Laurens County Health Department and a good typist; she was also an amateur genealogist who had already started work on the records of her mother's family, the Ballengers. Maude and Nan made an ideal combination: Maude with her concern for preserving the family's oldest records, her contacts with genealogical societies, and her trips about the country on the lookout for some relationship with other Stewart families; and Nan with her passion for names, dates, and facts. They worked together for many years.
After Secretary Walt's death in 1958, no one ever raised the question of what to do with the Clan's genealogical records. Nan had already borrowed them from Walt and had made the first typed copy of them, organizing the nearly 1000 names of descendants and spouses by families in seven looseleaf notebooks, one for each of the seven Houses of the Clan. Like Wistar before her, she was appalled at the magnitude of the task she now set herself: updating the records. She turned for help to her cousin Nell Cook of the House of John. As word of their efforts began to spread, requests came in from various families for copies of their genealogical records, long before the days of electronic copying machines. Nan supplied copies to unknown numbers of families - for a reported charge of $3.00 for many pages of handtyped records. When the requests mounted, she turned for help to her sister Fronde Stewart, a retired nurse who returned to Fountain Inn to live - and to practice her typing skills, as it turned out.
Inevitably, the desirability of publishing the records of the Walter Stewart Clan began to be discussed. In 1967, not long after marrying widower Hilliard McCarter of Fountain Inn, Nan died at age 64, just as she was preparing to retire and devote her full attention to the family records. At the time of her death, they consisted of data on nearly 3000 individuals in about 600 families descended from Walter Stewart, Sr. and his two wives.
The decade of the 1960s will long be remembered as the time of the Vietnam War and change in the fabric of American society. In 1965 Fifth Chief Brooks Stewart, the last surviving member of the Invitation Committee for the first reunion, died at age 96. He had been Chief for 18 years. After Chief Brooks' death, there were gloomy predictions about the fate of the Walter Stewart Clan. Large family reunions were dying out, it was said, and soon the Clan would no longer exist. Attendance at the reunions was down to a handful of families. The younger generation was losing interest.
In 1966, the sixth and current Chief of the Clan was elected: William Tinsley Stewart, grandson of First Chief William and brother of Nan and Fronde Stewart. Chief Tinsley instituted a novelty: members attending the reunion were asked to sign a register and give their addresses. These he passed along to his daughter, Mary S. Lesslie, who mailed out postcards announcing the time and date of annual reunions. Attendance soon rose to former levels, about 100 per year.
Fronde Stewart, the custodian of the family records since her sister Nan's death, died in 1972. In time the seven House notebooks and bulky files of letters, clippings and manuscripts were delivered to Chief Tinsley, who after due deliberation proposed a new office at the 1977 session of the Clan: a Historian, whose duties were to undertake responsibility for the family's genealogical records. His widowed daughter Mary was appointed to the office - her second honor of the year, she having just received a doctoral degree in psychology from the University of South Carolina.
Mary, having accepted the office of Historian in relative ignorance, now pored over the accumulated records of three generations of family historians in increasing awe at what they had accomplished. She reached several conclusions: that it was a miracle that the records had survived intact for so many years; that they badly needed updating; and that they should be printed immediately, before the family got any bigger.
The magnitude of the task staggered her. It was far more than one person could accomplish alone. But her mind raced ahead. It could be done. Already members of the Clan were working on their own copies of the records, some of them trying to keep entire Houses up to date. The thousands of names in the seven Houses could be put on the computer, which could then turn out alphabetical lists and labels for update packets of xeroxed family records, which could be mailed out and returned, then retyped, reproduced, and bound as books...an inspired idea came to Mary. What was needed was a Chief Historian and seven House Historians!
Mary set about the task. The Houses of the Fountain Inn descendants were no problem. Cousins Myra D. Owens and Margaret J. Lott of Fountain Inn agreed to serve as Co-Historians for the House of Samuel. Mary's aunt, Belle S. Henderson of nearby Waterloo, had been keeping up with the House of Robert; she was now appointed the Historian for the House of Robert. Similarly Nell Cook of Fountain Inn for the House of John. Nell gave Mary a piece of welcome news: Lucille S. Jones of Stephenville, Texas, in possession of Wistar's 1908 letter to her grandmother, had traced her family back to South Carolina and was well prepared to serve as Historian for the House of James. Lucille was promptly contacted and appointed. Laurie S. Radford of Chapel Hill, North Carolina agreed to serve as Historian for the House of Walter, Jr., and set about the task of locating long-lost Arkansas cousins. Mary Lou S. Garrett of Fountain Inn, House of Clark, informed Mary that her Greenville cousin, Goldie W. Stewart, had just earned a Master's degree in history by writing a thesis on the journals of the Rev. Clark Berry Stewart; the two of them were appointed Co-Historians for the House of Clark.
The House of David Bobo Stewart, the despair of family historians for fifty years was finally located by a phone call to Gordon, Texas - Wistar's last contact with the family of his only full uncle. There a Clark Stewart answered the phone and listened in bewilderment while an excited family historian in South Carolina went into ecstasies over his name. His son, Clark Henry Stewart, Jr., now serves as Historian for the House of David.
The historians set to work at their various tasks. Matters proceeded apace. Having infected him with the genealogy bug too, Mary took out time to marry her old friend Bill Rawlinson in 1981, then went back to work. The Clan enthusiastically authorized publication of the records at the 1981 reunion, and the final push to meet printing deadlines began. Old pictures, letters, updated family records, and book orders poured in. There were occasional phone calls from surprised families in distant states, wanting some assurance that there were in fact related to this Stewart family who wanted to include them in their family history. New descendants fell out of the historians' mailboxes. Total names in the records shot up to four thousand, five thousand, six thousand ....
One night Mary's phone rang: a call from a recently discovered descendant in the House of John, Lucille Purtell Brook of Falls Church, Virginia. Lucille remembered the Stewarts. Her grandmother, Lydia Sherman Hill, had told her about them when she was a child. She had told Lucille a story she heard from her own grandmother, Eliza Stewart Sherman - oldest child of second son John - who left South Carolina and settled in Arkansas sometime in the years before 1887.
"She said her Grandmother Eliza told her the Stewarts had a plaid they wore on special occasions," said Lucille. "They wore it for years, until the clothes all wore out. And when the clothes wore out, they cut the cloth into little squares, and pinned on a piece and wore that,"
"What color was it?" Mary asked eagerly.
"I don't know," said Lucille. "She didn't say."
But Mary knew. It was red and navy. It had to be!