Category Archives: Stewart/Stuart Family

Life on Meddybemps Lake, Maine – 1910

My 2X great grandparents, Charles Stewart and Elida Ann Hicks, owned a small farm and lived out their married lives in the village of Meddybemps, Washington, Maine. I’ve visited Meddybemps once and it has remained a small, rural area near Calais.

In spite of its small population, a traveling photographer was passing through about 1909 or 1910 and took a number of photos of homes and summer camps owned by the locals.

I’ve been fortunate enough to purchase three of these photo postcards online.

The first one I found was the summer camp of Charles’ and Elida’s son, Harry. Harry married Nancy Aldrich and I was fortunate to meet their daughter, Bertha, who told me so much about the family.

Here is the Stuart camp (Elida changed the spelling of the family name from Stewart) on Meddybemps Lake:

The second postcard was of John Stillman Bridges and his wife, Sarah Amanda Gardiner, sitting on chairs in front of their Meddybemps home:

I’ve now added a third photo, which shows the Bridges camp, also on Meddybemps Lake:

The postcard was mailed to “Miss” Jane Clapp in July 1910 to 70 Front Street, Weymouth, Massachusetts. I thought it would be easy to identify Miss Clapp since 1910 is a census year. However, I found two married Jennie Clapps, but no single Jane or Jennie living there.

John and Sarah Bridges were the parents of George Edwin Bridges, who married Ina Mae Stuart, daughter of Harry Stuart and Nancy Aldrich.

Unlike today when buying lakefront property in many places, land on Meddybemps Lake was inexpensive and many families in the area spent much of the summer enjoying the lake.

I feel quite lucky that not only have I become the keeper of these fun photos, but that I have family ties to the people in the pictures.

Maternal Branches in My Family Tree: Annie Maude Stuart (1874-1940)

This year, I ‘ve decided to begin a new project featuring the women in my family tree, beginning with my great grandmothers.

So often, their stories are lost or are just seen through the lives and accomplishments of the men in the family and historical context is often ignored. Four factors influenced the lives of everyone, regardless of when or where they lived – political, social/cultural, economic and religious events impacted lives, whether in small or big ways.

This series will talk about the lives of my female ancestors on both sides of the family tree, as perhaps seen through their eyes, although the posts won’t be written in first person with some commentary about historical context.

What was American life like in the latter portion of the 19th century?

America was at peace, with the Civil War ending and President Lincoln assassinated long before Annie was born. The Spanish-American War was in the distant future for young Annie.

Three of my four great grandmothers were named Anna. Each has a very different life story.

Today, you’ll meet the first of my two maternal great grandmothers, Annie Maude Stuart.

Maria Kacsenyak and Anna Murcko, whose life stories were told in January, represent my paternal Rusyn family tree, and their lives were somewhat similar.

My two maternal line great grandmothers led very different lives from the Rusyns and even from each other, given that one was born in Maine of Loyalist ancestors and the other was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark.

My maternal tree is almost exclusively colonial New England, although there is a bit of Danish, Swedish and Dutch mixed in.

Annie Maude Stuart was the youngest of eight children born to Charles Augustus Stewart (later Stuart) and Elida Ann Hicks on 24 June 1874 in the small farming village of Meddybemps, Washington, Maine. Meddybemps was a “suburb” of the “big” city of nearby Calais.

Annie apparently was sensitive about her age, perhaps because she was older than my great grandfather. My grandmother told me my grandfather was unsure of when his mother was born because Annie was quite secretive about it. In spite of Annie’s efforts to hide her age, her birth is recorded in Meddybemps.

As with my Rusyn family, Charles and Elida Stuart had more than their share of heartache, as they buried three of their children when they were just toddlers. Another son, although married, was only 31 years old when he died and a fifth child, also a son and married, died at just 54 years of age. Therefore, Annie’s mother outlived five of her eight children.

Annie would have been unaware of her young siblings’ deaths, given that she was born after the three of them (Permelia, Felicia and Carey) had passed away. In addition, her oldest brother, Wallace, married when Annie was three years old and her second eldest brother, Harry, married when she was just five years old. Therefore, at home growing up with Annie were her sister, Melissa, and brother, William.

Annie’s father, Charles Stewart, was the grandson of Loyalists who fled New York for New Brunswick, while her mother Elida Hicks’ grandfather was a pre-Loyalist, whose family left Rhode Island for New Brunswick, Canada in the 1760s.

Charles and Elida were first cousins, as their mothers, Catherine Carlisle and Abigail Carlisle, respectively, were the children of Loyalist Robert Carlisle, which was not an uncommon event in Canada at the time, but which I’ve rarely seen in Maine records.

Meddybemps was, and remains, a farming community. Its greatest population ever recorded was 297 during the 1860 census. By the 1880 census, it was down to 172 persons and in 2014, there were 151 residents. Its fewest number of inhabitants was recorded in the 1970 census – with only 76 souls living there.

Annie, therefore, grew up on her parents’ farm, doing typical chores, like milking the cows, collecting eggs and working in the house with her mother. Farming life was apparently not for Annie, as she much preferred the Calais city and social life.

She did have an opportunity to attend school, as the 1940 census indicates that she completed 8th grade.

I have no idea how my great grandparents met, but on 21 September 1898, Annie married Charles Edwin Adams in Worcester, Worcester, Massachusetts.

It’s possible that both had left Maine for economic opportunities in the Massachusetts factories. Or, it is possible that they were just very, very short term Worcester residents.

It was a bit unusual for the time, but Charles was 2 1/2 years younger than Annie. He was 21 and she was 24 years old.

I was unable to locate their marriage record, thinking they had probably married in Calais, until, on a whim, I looked in Massachusetts. Charles’ occupation was shoe cutter and Annie was a bookkeeper.

I asked my grandmother why they went all the way to Worcester to get married. I could understand the Boston area, but Worcester was almost 50 miles east of Boston. She told me they went to Massachusetts to marry because Annie was already expecting my grandfather when they married and by marrying in Massachusetts, no one would be the wiser. Given his birth date on 3 May 1899, that would be true.

My grandfather, Vernon Tarbox Adams, was the only child of Charles and Annie Adams.

It is also possible that Charles and Annie had lived and worked in Worcester, a big city, married and then returned to Calais, since Charles wasn’t any more inclined to continue in the family boat building business than Annie was to spend her life on a small farm.

In any case, Annie and Charles were back home living in Calais in 1900 with extended family members. In the house were Charles’s parents, Calvin and Nellie Adams, Charles’ younger sister, Pearl, Charles and Annie and my grandfather, Vernon.  Charles was again working as a cutter in a shoe factory, but Annie was at home.

Annie, from family accounts, loved her mother-in-law, Nellie, and was very close to her.

By 1910, the extended family was a bit different. At home were Charles, still a shoe cutter, Annie taking care of the house, my grandfather Vernon and Elida Stuart, Annie’s widowed mother.

In 1914, Annie’s mother, Elida, died, and by 1920, Charles and Annie were once again sharing a home with Charles’s parents, Calvin and Nellie.

Although Annie was fond of her in-laws, I tend to think she was a bit of a social climber, too. She most definitely wanted nothing to do with farming but there’s also no doubt that she was a hard worker and enjoyed the finer things in life.

Calais was in its heyday in the late 1800s. The harbor was busy with boat building and lumber shipping. Stores in town were flourishing and there was a lively interaction with Canadian friends and family who lived across the International Bridge.

Annie would have had an active social life. She was a member of Calais Congregational Church and likely spent time calling on friends, as they would have done at her home.

Annie’s and Charles’s economic circumstances had changed dramatically by the advent of World War I.  They were now living in their own home on “The Avenue,” the most prestigious street in Calais and it was due to Annie’s business acumen.

Annie had opened her own ladies’ accessories shop and Charles was the store manager.

Annie is the lady in the dark dress behind the counter. On my own visit to Calais, I was on Main Street, trying to figure out which storefront had been home to Annie’s shop. A woman was walking along the street with her elderly mother.

We chatted a bit and I asked her mother if she knew which store had been Annie’s. She not only remember the shop, but had fun memories of looking at all the beautiful items for sale when she was a teenager. That made my day!

Annie’s life was soon to abruptly change. Although my grandfather was her only child, and her marriage to Charles was precipitated by her pregnancy, they appeared to love each other and my grandfather grew up in a happy home.

Annie likely worried as World War I dragged on and Vernon, her only child, turned 18 years old in May 1917. Vernon did enlist in the U.S. Navy, but was at boot camp in Massachusetts when the Armistice was signed.

With the war worry long behind her, Annie was quite in shock when Charles got sick one day, rapidly worsened, and died of a strep infection the next day on 24 January 1922. Charles had just celebrated his 45th birthday a couple of weeks earlier. the discovery of penicillin was still several years away and Annie was suddenly a widow.

Annie was very fond of her mother-in-law, Nellie (Tarbox) Adams and I believe they continued to live together until 1927, when Nellie also passed away.

Annie closed her business before 1930 and also sold the house on Calais Avenue. By 1935, her health was failing and she left Maine to live in Ridgewood, Bergen, New Jersey with my grandparents, aunts and mother.

Annie died in Ridgewood on 10 September 1940, but she was laid to rest with Charles, Calvin and Nellie Adams in Calais Cemetery. She was enumerated in the 1940 census, even though the census taker didn’t arrive until 24 September. His directions must have said “Who was living in this house on XXX day?”


Charles, Vernon and Annie Adams
c1916

Annie was remarkable for her time. While she grew up in a self-reliant farming family that was in comfortable circumstances, she wanted a different life for herself. She extended her 8th grade education enough, likely by self teaching, to be working as a bookkeeper at the time of her marriage. Annie later had the skills to set up her ladies’ accessories shop and successfully manage the business, with Charles’ help. Remember, his stated occupation was shoe cutter in the local factory – a shoe cutter cut the leather needed to shape the shoe – so he didn’t necessarily have the knowledge to run a business,

Not many ladies owned their own business in the 1920s. Annie was a remarkable woman.

 

 

 

Stewarts of Dutchess County, NY, Pre-Revolutionary War Era

Finding pre-Revolutionary War records relating to my Loyalist, Walter Stewart, has been a frustrating experience for years.

Therefore, I am trying a different approach, collecting ALL the Stewart records I can find in Dutchess County, New York in the 1700s up through the Revolutionary War.

In spite of the fact that Stewart/Stuart is not an uncommon surname, it isn’t often found in Dutchess County in the 18th century.

Here are the bits and pieces I’ve been able to cobble together:

Walter Stewart, my Loyalist ancestor, was born c1750, reportedly in Scotland although I’ve never been able to prove it. He married Elizabeth Briggs on 3 March 1774 in The Flats, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York. His marriage is recorded in the records of the Dutch Reformed Church. Walter is found on the 1783 muster roll of the Loyal American Regiment, where he served under Colonel Beverly Robinson and sailed to Canada in the fall 1783 fleet. Walter settled in Sussex, Kings, New Brunswick, Canada, where he spent the rest of his life, passing away c1820.

It is believed that Elizabeth Briggs had no surviving children, if any at all, and that all of Walter’s known children were born in New Brunswick, Canada.

Walter is said to have been a farmer, like his brothers, but I’ve found NO land records for Stewarts in Dutchess County in the right time period.

However, in Canada, Loyalist James Stewart settled in Nashwaak, York, New Brunwick. He was born c1750 and died 1 June 1837. He married Catherine (reportedly Jones) in 1772 in New York, but no record in New York has been uncovered. Widow Catherine Stewart filed for a war pension in Canada c1837 and gave the particulars. James Stewart also served as a corporal under Colonel Beverly Robinson in the Loyal American Regiment.

It is very likely that James is a brother of Walter’s. Besides military service in the same regiment, a distant cousin of mine through Walter Stewart shares DNA with descendants of James. When she notified me about the shared matches, I checked my distant cousins and I, too, share DNA with James’s descendants.

I’ve been able to build families and descendants of Walter and James, but today’s goal is to share pre-war details.

Therefore, I will move on to Isabella Stewart, possibly the widow of a Henry Stewart, who lived in Dutchess County, New York by the 1770s.

This was a Patriot family, given that Isabella’s reported son, William, is in the DAR Patriot Index.

William Stewart was born 23 June 1738, in Scotland, and died on 10 March 1788 in the North East portion of Dutchess County, New York. Like Walter Stewart, William’s marriage record is found in the Dutch Reformed Church. He married Catherine Rowe on 3 December 1771.

I don’t want to read too much into the fact that Walter and William married just over 2 years apart in the same church. That area was heavily settled by German and Dutch immigrants and it may be that the Dutch Reformed Church was the closest church in which they could marry.

William and Catherine had five known children:

1. Catherine, born 16 January 1774, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York; died 26 November 1848, Milan, Dutchess, New York; married William Hermans. This couple is in the DAR Patriot Index.
2. William, born 9 September 1778, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York and baptized on 1 November 1778 in the Reformed Church.
3. Isabella, born 9 October 1780 and baptized on 2 November 1780, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
4. James, baptized 15 September 1782, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
5. Henry, married Phebe Sherrill and is in the DAR Patriot Index.

Isabella’s second son, James Stewart, was born c1755. He married Mary Rowe, 30 November 1778, The Flats, Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, New York.

James and Mary were the parents of four known children:

1. Henry, born 13 May 1779, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
2. John, born 9 December 1780 and baptized 28 October 1781, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
3. Isabella, born 5 December 1872 and baptized 23 January 1785, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.
4. William, born 19 September 1784 and baptized 23 January 1785, Rhinebeck, Dutchess, New York in the Reformed Church.

There is one more Stewart marriage found in the Dutch Reformed Church records. John Stewart married Mary Granier/Grennier on 25 December 1778 with the notation that both lived in Fishkill, Dutchess County.

This couple left the area and their only known children were baptized at the 1st and 2nd Church in New York City:

1. Margaret, born 29 September 1783 and baptized 14 December 1783.
2. Charles, born 19 February 1786.

Nothing further is known about this family.

Land deeds for Stewarts in Dutchess County have eluded me so far. I don’t know if they were tenant farmers or if they might have received land grants that I haven’t been able to track.

However, Clifford Buck published Dutchess County, NY Tax Lists: 1718-1787 in 1991. There are no copies of this book near Tucson, but I have to thank my longtime genealogy buddy, Nancy Maxwell. She is the genealogy librarian at the Grapevine Public Library, where a copy of Buck’s book resides. She very kindly looked up Stewart entries for me. I was not surprised that there are not many:

  1. Stewart, James, Rhinebeck Precinct, Feb 1747-Jun 1747
  2. Steward, John, Rhinebeck Precinct, 1769
  3. Stewart/Steward, William, North East Precinct, 1771-1779
  4. Steward/Stewart/Stuart, Abraham, Jun 1768-1771, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
  5. Steward/Stewart/Stuart, Thomas, 1777-1779, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
  6. Stewart/Steward, William, Jun 1769-1770, Nine Partners/Crum Elbow Precinct
  7. Stewart/Steward, Thomas, town of Clinton, no year but probably 1787

I am quite sure that William in the North East Precinct from 1771-1779 is William who married Catherine Rowe and died in 1788 in the North East Precinct.

Probate records haven’t been of much help either, Aside from Catherine (Rowe) Stewart administering the estate of William in 1788, no new clues have been found.

If you have Stewarts in Dutchess County, New York and can add to my knowledge about them, I’d appreciate a comment. 🙂