Category Archives: Stewart/Stuart Family

Dr. Ralph Delivered My Mother!

My mother and her siblings were each born in different towns because Grandfather worked for the Western Union and he kept getting transferred.

Doris Priscilla Adams, my mom, was the only one born in Calais, Washington, Maine, where both of my grandparents were also born. I asked her once how she came to be born there.

It was early June 1923, June 7 to be exact, when my grandparents were up in Calais visiting family and friends. Grandmother went into labor and Dr. Ralph was called to deliver the baby.

Dr. Ralph was Grandfather’s first cousin. My great grandmother, Annie Maude Stuart who married Charles Edwin Adams, was the sister of Harry Weston Stuart. Ralph was the youngest of Harry’s children.

Henry (Harry) Weston Stuart was born 17 June 1858 in Meddybemps, Washington County, Maine. He married Nancy Gilman Aldrich on 6 August 1879. She was born in September 1859. They went on to have a big family. Nancy reported in 1900 that she had given birth to eight children, with six surviving.

  1. Mabel Elida, born 17 April 1880
  2. Wallace Newmarch, born 3 March 1882
  3. George Albert, born 17 November 1884
  4. Ina Mae, born 1 July 1889
  5. Bertha Ella, born 25 December 1891
  6. Arthur Walter, born 24 September 1894; died 1896
  7. Ralph Charles, born 14 April 1896

Birth Record – Ralph C. Stuart
Source: Ancestry

Ralph was the baby of the family. His father, Harry, died of stomach cancer in 1911. Ralph was just past his fifteenth birthday. I don’t know when Ralph decided he wanted to become a medical doctor, but after his father died, he apparently went to live with an aunt and uncle for his high school years.

AMA Biographical Record

According to his American Medical Association record, Ralph graduated from Classical High School in Providence, Rhode Island in 1914. His medical school training was at Georgetown College, today Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He graduated with a B.S. degree in 1917, just in time to register for the World War I draft.

Source: FamilySearch

Ralph entered the USNRF, United States Naval Reserve Force, on 14 December 1917 in Washington, DC and remained in the service until 2 September 1920, when he received an honorable discharge in Boston, Massachusetts.

Ralph was first granted a license to practice medicine in Washington, DC in 1921 when he graduated from medical school. Although he returned to Maine, he renewed his license in D.C. in 1937:

Source: WikiSource

Apparently, medical licenses issued in Washington, DC are approved by Congress!

Ralph soon returned to Meddybemps, Maine, where he set up his medical practice. He must have decided that the commute to patients, many of whom were probably living in Calais, was too long (about 14 miles), as on 24 February 1922, he moved his practice to Calais.

On 6 July 1922, he married Ruth Groves. Ruth was born 30 December 1900 in Calais, the daughter of Charles R. Groves and Maud Mahar. Ralph and Ruth had one daughter, Marilyn, born 30 August 1924 in Calais. Marilyn married, had a family and passed away in 2009. I have been in touch with one of her children, sharing family history information.

Calais life was waning by the 1920s and many were moving away. Dr. Ralph closed up his office and on 7 April1926, opened a new practice in Sangerville, Piscataquis County, Maine, about 140 miles from Calais. However, he didn’t move to a larger town, he downsized. Even today, Sangerville only has about 1300 residents.

Calais to Sangerville
Source: GoogleMaps

In 1940, the Stuart family was still living in Sangerville. Sometime between then and 1965, Dr. Ralph retired and moved to Guilford, which is also in Piscataquis County and is just the next town west of Sangerville. It is also a very small community.

Professionally, Ralph served as the president of both the Piscataquis Medical Society and the Maine Medical Association.

I don’t know if he ever retired from his medical practice, as he was only 69 years old when he died in Guilford on 18 September 1965 of scleroderma, a rare disease in which there is a chronic hardening and contraction of the skin and connective tissue,  and malignant hypertension, which is extremely high blood pressure which causes organ damage.

I don’t think I ever met Dr. Ralph, but I wish I had, as my grandmother spoke fondly of him.

Brick Wall Cracked? Robert Nelson Stewart & Eliza Augusta Grass

I really believe that sometimes the ancestors are up there guiding us down a research path. Last night, I dreamed about Robert Nelson Stewart, younger brother of my 2X great grandfather, Charles Augustus Stewart. This morning, my first task was to take a new look.

Robert Nelson Stewart has been a thorn in my side for years, as I have both his birth record – 31 August 1826 – and his marriage record to Eliza Augusta Grass – 16 March 1860 – both in Charlotte, Washington County, Maine, but I have never been able to find him in a census record, or any other kind of record for that matter. Eliza was the daughter of Israel Grass and Eliza Howland. The Grass progenitor was Jacob Grass, a Loyalist.

Today, though, I do believe I’ve found a chink in the brick wall. One of my favorite search tricks is to enter just the surnames of parents in the FamilySearch records search engine. Sometimes, the names are too common. Stewart certainly is, but Grass is much less so, so I tried that combination. Only one hit came up:

Death Record of Pethias Ellsmore Beach, 1935
Cranston, Rhode Island

Pethias’s parents were given as “Unknown Stewart” and “Unknown Grasse,” Pethias was evidently a female, born c1870, married to one Louis M. Beach. She was definitely the right age to be a child of Robert and Eliza and, living in Rhode Island, there was a New England connection. Many Maine residents moved to Massachusetts or Rhode Island at one point or another in my family. Later, I was able to complete her birth date as 17 July 1870, New Brunswick, Canada.

I knew “Pethias” was going to be a tough search because the name had that mangled look to it, so I tried Louis M. Beach. Up popped a marriage record for “Pethiar” E. Stewart and Lewis M. Beach on 6 September 1887 in Calais, Maine. That made me realize I was probably on the right trail because Charlotte is a very tiny town near Calais.

Next, I checked a book on my reference shelf,  Vital Records from the Eastport Sentinal of Eastport, Maine 1818-1900, edited by Kenneth L. Willey (Picton Press), and found that Pethiah (New England accents frequently add an R to the end of words – I grew up answering to Linder) was listed in the book, but as “Petdar” Stewart marrying Lewis M. Beach on 6 September 1887, but with one extra clue – both were residents of Vanceboro, like Calais located in Washington County, and about 30 miles north of the city of Calais. It lies right on the Canadian border.

All of these pieces were beginning to make sense. The Stewart family had migrated from Sussex, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada before 1820, but I knew there were still family ties in New Brunswick. I had always suspected that Robert had moved across the border, but I couldn’t find him in the 1861, 1871 or any other Canadian census.

Next, I checked for Pethiah Stewart in the 1880 census index, but, not surprisingly, nothing came up. Vanceboro is a small town, so I decided to browse the pages. I hit double gold with this one:

“Pathia Roach,” adopted daughter of James H. Roach

First, in Household #20, we have James H. Roach, 64 with wife Eliza, 37, stepson Israel D. Stewart 17, born Maine, plus Clara E. Roach, aged 12, Pathia Roach, aged 10, listed as adopted daughters of James and both born in New Brunswick. Five doors away, we have Israel Grass, 76, and wife Eliza, 68, both born New Brunswick. I think I’m on to something here. 🙂

My next step was to check my favorite Canadian source – PANB, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. They have one search engine that searches all their databases.  I got a couple of hits here, too:

Newspaper Announcement of Pethiah’s Marriage

The second hit was a surprise:

Death Announcement of Elerdey Stuart Roach

Elerdey, or actually Elerda, is an uncommon given name, but it is a girl’s name. This little girl is identified as the daughter of Mrs. Eliza Roach. She died in Vanceboro, aged 10 years, 8 months and 15 days. this provided me with both the name of another Stewart child and also the detail that Eliza was remarried and living in Vanceboro by 7 December 1875, the date of Elerda’s death.

Next, I checked to see if there was another marriage for Eliza, James Roach was almost three decades older than her. Up popped one hit:

Eliza Roach – John McNutt Marriage

Lastly, I checked for a Vanceboro death record:

Eliza McNutt, Death Certificate 1921

Eliza outlived three husbands, assuming that Robert died and they didn’t divorce. That is one loose end I need to search for in land and probate records in New Brunswick, Canada.

I can now reconstruct a family for Robert Nelson Stewart and Eliza Augusta Grass. Robert was born 31 August 1826, Charlotte, Washington, Maine and apparently died between October 1869 (the time when daughter Pethiah would have been conceived) and 7 December 1875 when Eliza is called Mrs. Roach. He most likely died before 1871 when Pethiah said she moved to the U.S.

Eliza was born on Christmas Day, 25 December 1843 in New Brunswick, Canada. She died on 12 January 1921. She married (2) James H. Roach, probably 1870-1875 in New Brunswick, Canada (3) John McNutt, 30 December 1896, Vanceboro, Washington, Maine.

Robert and Eliza had the following children:
1. Israel D., born c1863, Maine; died after the 1880 census.
2. Elerda, born c23 March 1865, based on her age of 10 years, 8 months and 15 days at death; died 7 December 1875, Vanceboro, Washington, Maine.
3. Clara E., born c1868, New Brunswick, Canada; died after 1880 census
4. Pethia Ellsmore, born 17 July 1870, New Brunswick, Canada; died 16 August 1935, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island; married Lewis Milford Beach, 6 September 1887, Calais, Washington, Maine. According to the 1900 census, Pethia had given birth to three children, only one surviving. She immigrated to the U.S. in 1871. One child who died young was daughter Luella Irene, born 21 December 1895, who died 22 March 1896, in Cranston, Providence, Rhode Island. Son Everett Francis was born on 6 January 1888 in Vanceboro, Maine; died 12 February 1949, Providence, Providence, Rhode Island. He married a lady named Jenny, also born c1888, but it appears that they had no children. The third Beach child is unknown, but Pethiah has no living descendants today.

If Robert and Eliza have descendants today, they would be through son Israel or daughter Clara E., neither of whom have been found after the 1880 census. Like their parents before them, they may have crossed the border and lived their lives in Canada.

Loyalist Walter Stewart & Elizabeth Briggs, Fishkill to Sussex Vale

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.

New York Metro Area
Source: Bing Maps

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.

Fishkill to Poughkeepsie
Source: Bing Maps

Notice the hamlet of Myers Corner, about midway between Fishkill and Poughkeepsie. That 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 200acres and lived at Penobsquis, it is likely that his Salmon River land grant was considered part of the Sussex area.

Sussex Vale, Kings County, New Brunswick
Source: Google Earth

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. Catherine died in Calais, Maine on 30 December 1888, as reported in the Eastport Sentinel newspaper.

John Stewart-Catherine Carlisle Marriage, 1814
Source: FamilySearch

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 Stover-Mary Stewart Marriage, 1814
Source: FamilySearch

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?

Walter Stewart-Catherine Miers, 1814 Marriage
Source: FamilySearch

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!).

John Preble-Ann Stewart Marriage, 1819
Source: FamilySearch

Both signed their names and, again, it say married with consent of parents. No further records have been found for Ann.

John Preble-Sarah McCready Marriage, 1825

Both signed their names. Sarah was apparently under the age of consent.

Leave a comment if you recognize anyone in this family!