I wrote about Walter Stewart last year, but this post is from a slightly different viewpoint and has some additional pieces of information. Walter and family is going back on my “to do” list for Salt Lake City because there must be some records buried somewhere in New York and/or Rhode Island for the Stewart-Briggs family.
With all the information I have about Loyalist Walter Stewart, my 4x great grandfather, you wouldn’t think that he was a brick wall, but he is, and so is his wife, Elizabeth Briggs, who he married on 3 March 1774 in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County, New York on the cusp of the American Revolution. The marriage record even added that they were both residents of Fishkill at the time.
Fishkill is not very far north of the New York-NewJersey-Connecticut metropolitan area, which was a hotbed of Loyalism during the war. I am not sure why Walter and Elizabeth would have traveled up to Poughkeepsie to get married, which is about 14 miles away. That was quite a distance to go in 1774.
The hamlet of Myers Corner, about midway between Fishkill and Poughkeepsie might be a clue to be followed up on a bit later in this story.
There is no documentation to support an exact year of birth or death of Walter or Elizabeth. However, assuming that this was a first marriage for each, Walter was likely born somewhere around 1750 and Elizabeth perhaps a few years later, around 1753.
I have searched in years past for Stewart records in the black hole of New York history in the decades before the American Revolution with no success. The Briggs family, however, seems to have had a steady presence in Fishkill, but the suggestion is made that they were part of the Briggs clan from East Greenwich, Kent County, Rhode Island, which produces the opposite effect of there being way too many of them to sort out an Elizabeth who removed to Canada at the close of the war.
Walter Stewart left few records in his lifetime. His marriage record is the only record in the United States that I have found for him. He first appears in New Brunswick records on 29 June 1786 when he and 42 other applicants each received 200 acres of land on the Salmon River in Kings County, New Brunswick. The only other name on that list that might be familiar is Peter Stover.
It is not known whether the Stewarts remained on the Salmon River for very long or exactly where the land was, but by 1800, Walter and his family were settled in their final home in Sussex, also in Kings County. Sussex is a small town that was established in 1783 by Loyalists. Given the long narrow shape of Kings County and Grace Aiton’s statement, below, that Walter Stewart received 200 acres and lived at Penobsquis, it is likely that his Salmon River land grant was considered part of the Sussex area.
Grace Aiton wrote a book about Sussex’s history, The Story of Sussex and Vicinity, published in the middle of the 20th century. Her short blurb provides most of what is known about Walter Stewart:
Walter Stewart and Peter Stover
Grace Aiton’s book
Notice it mentions Walter and his brothers, but I have never seen any documentation for that statement. One James Stewart is mentioned in a memorial petition and he was probably Walter’s brother, as Walter’s children would not have been old enough to be a witness unless Walter was considerably older than thought and he had a previous marriage with children.
Loyalist List Entry
Even Walter’s children are not well documented. He likely had perhaps as many as five children older than the ones I have compiled because of the 1774 date of marriage. He does seem to be the only Stewart living in Sussex at the time so early marriage entries are presumed to be for his children:
John, born about 31 July 1785, New Brunswick (age at death reported in the Eastport Sentinel newspaper) Canada; died 28 November 1869, Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine; married Catherine Carlisle, 28 December 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. This Stewart family lived in Charlotte, Washington County, Maine in the 1820s and 1830s, but moved to Bridgewater, Aroostook County, by 1840.
William, born in June 1789, documented in an 1810 land petition in which he stated he was 21 years old in June of that year and wished land near that of his brother, Walter; died April 1869, Mars Hill, Aroostook County, Maine; no marriage record has been found for him.
Mary, born about 1792, New Brunswick, Canada; died 26 July 1857 in Harwich, Kent County, Ontario, Canada; married Elisha Stover on 16 August 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. Remember Peter Stover, Loyalist noted above? It is likely that Elisha was his son. This idea is supported by an 1812 land petition for William Brown, Elisha Stover and Peter Stover and a further petition in 1815 for William Brown, Elisha Stover, Peter Stover Sr. and Peter Stover Jr., all in Kings County. The Browns might have be related by marriage as the 1851 census shows Mary Brown and her household, including a son named Peter, only a couple of doors from the Stovers in Howard, Kent County, Ontario, Canada. Elisha was born about 1797 and died after 1851, possibly in Harwich or Howard.
Elisha signed his name, Mary signed with her mark. It says they married with consent of parents, but Mary was older than Elisha according to the 1851 census. It may be that only he was under 21.
Walter, born about 1795, New Brunswick, Canada; died 1868 in Cardwell, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada; married Catherine Myers, 26 March 1814, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. Remember Myers Corner that I pointed out on the map showing the route from Fishkill to Poughkeepsie? Myers Corner was named for John Myers, a Dutchman, who purchased land there in the first half of the 1700s. Could Catherine be a daughter or grandchild of that John Myers?
The both married with consent of parents, so Walter was under 21 years of age. Both signed with their marks.
Ann, born about 1800; married John Preble, 30 June 1819, Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada. Ann may have died soon as there is a John Preble, born about 1800, marrying Sarah McCready on 9 June 1825, also in Sussex. Sarah died on 31 January 1842 in Sussex, according to an online tree (which I treat as a clue, not a fact!).
Both signed their names and, again, it say married with consent of parents. No further records have been found for Ann. Second wife Sarah was apparently under the age of consent.
Leave a comment if you recognize anyone in this family!