Dr. Rev. George Washington Stewart

 George was born on the 16th (or middle) day of May, A.D. 1833, in Monroe County, Tennessee, within ten miles of Knoxville.  (His birth was contemporary with the First Jubilee of American Acknowledged Independence:  and of the great meteoric Phenomenon known as “the falling of the Stars.” And with the origin of Mormonism; Nullification; and the Centennial of Free Masonry in the United States: On these accounts it is a remarkable epoch in History.


His religious culture and training was almost solely the work of his mother, and was begun in earliest infancy: for he cannot remember when he learned to pray.  By the time he was eight years old, the whole bible was indelibly written in his mind and heart.  This was not done so much by his own reading, as by the words of his mother: who had told him every bible story over and again, until bible men and things were as familiar to him as household words.  Thus the seeds of life were abundantly planted in his warm young heart, so that they might have almost an even start with the seeds of corruption inherent in his fallen nature.  From the age of eight to that of twelve he read the New Testament

His mother trained him to trust God.  And to believe that god holds the lighting in his fist, and rules the whirlwind, and ride upon the storm, and calms the raging sea; and causes the eclipses of sun and moon, and the signs in the heavens, and sends the plague on men, as the cold frost that cuts down the flowers of the field. Therefore he has no fear of these; but counts them as the display of God’s power: and is never better pleased than to see an almost continuous flash of lighting, and hear the majestic thunder roll through the concave of heave; and he has never been alarmed, or fled to a cave, at the sweeping tempest or whirling cyclone; but amid all the terrible displays of God’s providence he feels a more sacred nearness to god- his mothers’ God.

George’s book-education was begun by his mother, at home.  He was taught upon the most complete system of object-teaching he learned to read in a  hymn-book, at home *without learning to spell first:)  and could read and write the first day he went to school: and he writes the same hand yet; and has never changed his hand-write in life.  George attended the first school ever opened in that district (in 1814) which was a loud school: and he is thankful for the loud school: for no confusion could confuse him.  He could think, read, write, or count, in the midst of any kind of noise or din.


He soon became the best speller in the school, just by hearing the scholars spelling aloud: and never in life has studied a spelling book:  but, he appreciates the fact that good spelling, is at the foundation of Literature. Twelve months schooling, was all that he ever had.  And in that incredibly short time he became first-rate in spelling, Reading, Geography, Arithmetic, Penmanship, and English Grammar.  He has had a certificate of scholarship ever since he was sixteen years old, and always marked perfect (or nearly so) on the first five branches mentioned; but never was more than a good Grammarian; and yet he would not sell what knowledge he had of Grammar, for millions of pieces of gold; because, by it he was better enabled to investigate and understand Holy Scripture.


One night when only George and his mother Amy were at home alone, she saw a light dancing on the ceiling overhead, and called, and awakened, and asked him what it was?  He was not frightened; but looked at it attentively, and then answered, “Mother, There is a blaze of fire somewhere.”

        She replied, “I covered the fire all up, and hung up quilts on a row of chairs before the fire-place; and there is no lamp or candle”.

               “Well, it is a blaze of fire reflected upward from the water in the bucket that sits on the floor.”

       “Then, the fire must be overhead?”

                 “No; the light is reflected downward from the looking glass.”

        “Then, where is the light?”

               “It must be in the fire-place; though I can see none by looking in that direction.”

        “Are you sure there is light in the fireplace?”

               “Yes; as sure, as logic is true.”

They arose from their beds, and found a blaze (as of a candle) coming up through the ashes in the fire-place and thus the mother discovered that George possessed a philosophic mind and she directed his (home) education to the study of Philosophy.  After this he tore up an old worthless watch, to find where, and what was the motive power.


His curiosity to pry into everything, or his inordinate thirst for definite knowledge; and that full and perfect understanding of first causes, shows that his intellect was of the most penetrating character:  and his mental vision of the keenest, clearest, and most profound order. Having, early in life, entered upon a systematic, and thorough course of self-education, drill, and discipline, he made a scholar of no contemptible order, and far better than most college graduates; for one part of his system was to go to the bottom of everything.  He was a Philosopher. Although he was a book-worm, and devoured everything he could get hold of to read—even novels.


Not satisfied with such attainments as he had made at the common school; he determined to continue his education at home, without a teacher.  After studying Natural Philosophy; he then mastered Astronomy, and Algebra, without any living teacher. He studied Ancient and modern History: and Civil Government.  He studied and practiced Phrenology; also drawing and painting portraits, and pictures. 


Young George left home at the early age of sixteen.  (After teaching as an Assistant) his first public School was in the winter of 1850 near Utica in Livingston Co. Mo., and the poor little boy did remarkably well; taking his scholars entirely through Arithmetic and English Grammar in three months.  He went home with his packets full of silver; and made a good us of it by paying for his fathers’ farm in the spring of 1850.


Then he applied for a public School in Ray co. Mo, Bailor Jacobs Dist.  He was examined by Judge G.W. Dunn, Edward A. Lewis, Editor; and Doctor Henry Garner, all three College Graduates, and received a Certificate of high grade, high percent, which he has had renewed nearly every year since.  He followed school teaching for several years as an exclusive business.  This gave him the means to buy books, and the opportunity to study them.


Having made up his mind to be a Doctor of Medicine, he undertook a vast work of studying Human Anatomy, and Physiology, as Physicians do; and he accomplished this work in six years. He studied Medicine with Dr. J. E. Stone, at Knoxville, Mo.  Who was a graduate of McDowell’s College, St. Louis, in the years 1849 to 1854 In 1854 he removed and took up his residence in Mercer County.  In 1855 and 1856 he practiced Medicine being located at John H. Stewart’s *. (* Now Modena) he practiced Medicine two years, and then quit both the Study, and practice; because he was compelled to do so, on account of his health. In August 1856 he had two congestive chills, which came so near killing him that he had to wholly abandon the practice of medicine.  He did not regain good health for many years.


He never derived much benefit from attending church: although he was a regular attendant. The Ministry was weak and ignorant, and far more sectarian than religious.  Their teaching was so shallow that he never got, from them, a thorough understanding of any one bible doctrine.  Yet he feels under a great debt of gratitude to the visible church for their social fellowship, love, and prayers, and he expects to meet his brethren in heaven.  He attended the meetings of all denomination of Protestants. 


“Mother”, said he, “Why are there so many different denominations  there is but one God, One Christ, one Holy Ghost, and one Bible, and but one Church described in it; and the bible speaks the very same words to everyone who reads it?” “True my son; but I cannot tell why there are so many sects; but we will hope that you will be wise enough to know one day".


His religious reading was just what he selected himself; and extended to all the popular religious literature of the day.  A wagon-load of religious books was piled into his mind; and he had a memory of the best class.  His knowledge of religious matters was like an Encyclopedia.  Truly he was supplied with abundance of food for the mind.  He feels need to return his most sincere thanks and gratitude to the American Tract Society for their un-sectarian Literature.  One of their books called, “Nelson on Infidelity “decided him to be a Christian, (not an infidel.)  Without any excitement, this turning-point was reached, and forever settled; and he never did reconsidered it.


On the sixth day of September 1849, he claimed Conversion, and seemed to experience a change of heart at a camp-meeting, and at the age of sixteen years publicly confessed his faith in Jesus Christ, and united with the Methodist Episcopal Church, at Knoxville; and was baptized by sprinkling, and partook of the Lords Supper. He was deeply in earnest in confessing faith in Christ. In name he remained a Methodist for about Sixteen years; but was no benefit to the church.






                                      George Washington Stewart 


In the fall of 1851 he took a trip west on the Great Plains, and was gone more than three months.  In the spring of 1853 he first came to Mercer County, and taught his first Mercer County School at Salem School house, and his second term at high point School house.  He subsequently taught in Dec 16 1854 an in Feb 16 1855.  Then he returned to Ray County and taught School there.  On December 16 1854 he bought the N W of S E quarter of Section 35 S 64 R 25 for one dollar and twenty five cents per acre.  And on February 16 1855 he entered one hundred and sixty acres adjoining it on the east, at seventy five cents per acre.  In 1856 he laid out the town of Modena. Here he made a farm and built a farm house a quarter of a mile south of Modena.

His First Marriage On the 27th day of August 1857 he was married to Miss Elizabeth Maria Riley.  The ceremony was performed by a Justice of the Peace.  She was nineteen years old: five and a half feet high: weighed on hundred and twenty pounds.  She had large jet black eyes, black hair, and exquisitely beautiful penciled eye-brows.  She was a wife six months, then an invalid with consumption until she died.  Her tombstones are yet to be seen in the Union Baptist Churchyard ( At the time of this writing in 1911). “ That picture I can ne’er forget.” Maria’s body, washed, and dressed for the Tomb, Laid in our house one night cold, dumb, and ivory pale, with the Holy Bible at her head.


In 1858 he went into the Drug and Grocery trade, at Modena.  He built a good Store-house, and continued in the mercantile business for about Twelve years.  In every department of business he thoroughly trained himself.  He never took any counterfeit money, although there was abundance of it passed, but he was so well posted that he could always detect it.  He kept a magnifying-glass to examine paper-money.  He soon learned that the important point in the mercantile business is to know how to buy goods; for goods well bought are half sold. Therefore he nearly always went in person to Chicago, St. Louis, and other cities to select and purchase goods.  And we may remark here that traveling is a great means of education, by observation: and that he was still a student. He became acquainted with the customs and manners of our American Cities, as well as meeting foreigners from every part of the world; and among them he saw the Prince of Wales, Edward VII, in St. Louis in Sept. 1860 at the Great Fair, where he married Miss Harriett Morain Vanderford the daughter of Eli Vanderford and Christina fee .  She was nineteen years old, five feet six inches high, and weighed on hundred and forty pounds.  She was considered to be one of the most beautiful women in the land; for she was the very picture and embodiment of health.


A soldier George was only called out into active service twice during the war; for about a month each time.  Someone had to look after the old folks, and the families, so George, sold Dry Goods, and kept the Post Office at Modena, and read a Daily Republican Newspaper during the war.  Once he went to Ray Co. Mo., and once to Chillicothe. He served them as first Sergeant Company F or H. 44th Regiment Enrolled Missouri Militia.  This was in the year 1864.


George, began to teach a Bible Class, of six Scholars, at his district school house, in 1888, and eventually had a class of a Hundred & Thirty Thousand Bible Readers! He has traveled, mostly on foot, with the Bible, about 75 thousand miles, He died February 1, 1911


He was the father of…

I.              Eli Stewart born January 20, 1861 had issue see below.

II.             Lillie Stewart

III.            Charles Stewart

IV.            Luther Stewart

V.             Columbus Stewart

VI.            Allie Stewart

VII.          Lucy Stewart

VIII.          Frank Stewart


Source Citation: George W. Stewart

Year: 1850; Census Place: District 75, Ray, Missouri; Roll: M432_412; Page: 323; Image: 83.

Year: 1860; Census Place: Madison, Mercer, Missouri; Roll: M653_633; Page: 0; Image: 309.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Madison, Mercer, Missouri; Roll: M593_792; Page: 102; Image: 205.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Medicine, Mercer, Missouri; Roll: T623_874; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 117.


                                   Eli Stewart

Eli Stewart was born January 20, 1861 in Modena, mercer county, Missouri.  He lived in Missouri for his entire life as a farmer. He married Mary Ellen Thomas the daughter of David Lorenzo Thomas and Armina Cox April 15, 1888.  Eli died on September 25, 1929.

He was the father of…

I.      Dr. Virgil Stewart, born February 20, 1889 in Grundy, Missouri, Had issue, See below.

II.     Lulu Mable Stewart born September, 1891.

III.    Mary Agnes Stewart born April 23rd, 1882.

IV.    Elva Jane Stewart born May 12, 1894.

V.     Irene Stewart born July 11th, 1896.

VI.    Edith Marie Stewart born October 16th, 1898.

VII.   Nora Felice Stewart, born November 14, 1900.

VIII.  Harriet armina Stewart born May 17, 1906.

IX.    Margaret Maggie Pauline Stewart born April 27th, 1907.

X.     Verna Ellen Stewart born December 6, 1908.

XI.    Charles Elden Stewart born August 6, 1914

Source Citation: Eli Stewart

Year: 1870; Census Place: Madison, Mercer, Missouri; Roll: M593_792; Page: 102; Image: 205.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Franklin, Grundy, Missouri; Roll: T623_857 Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 49.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Franklin, Grundy, Missouri; Roll: T624_783; Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 48; Image: 225.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Franklin, Grundy, Missouri; Roll: T625_916; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 48; Image: 225.


                                Dr. Virgil Stewart

Dr. Virgil Stewart was born on February 20, 1889 in Grundy, Missouri.  Virgil traveled to Montana in the year of 1912.  He boarded at the house of blacksmith Bill Kleiman, while teaching a short term of school in the snowy mountains, south of Moore, in Central Montana.  He traveled to Montana to take advantage of offers of free land.  He filed a homestead near sand springs in Dawson County in Eastern Montana.  During this time he delivered mail on route between sand springs and Sumatra, the nearest railroad town, 49 miles away.  Virgil carried the mail in a little wagon pulled by a team of horses, and he made the trip twice weekly. Virgil began the study of dentistry around this time, and later became Dr. Virgil Stewart practicing dentistry in Hobson, Montana. He married Violet May Weaver daughter of Scott Weaver and Alice Campbell on August 6, 1915.  He died in 1967.



                                               Dr. Virgil E. Stewart

He was father of…

I.     Calvin Stewart born 1918 drowned 1939.

II.    Scott E Stewart born January 25, 1920 died September 1, 1988 had issue.

III.   Alice Stewart died 2007 




                                            Scott E. Stewart 1920-1988





Source Citation:  Dr, Virgil Stewart

Year: 1910; Census Place: Springfield Ward 2, Greene, Missouri; Roll: T624_782; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 25; Image: 135.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Franklin, Grundy, Missouri; Roll: T623_857 Page: 16B; Enumeration District: 49.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Mitchell, Garfield, Montana; Roll: T625_971; Page: 1B; Enumeration District: 119; Image: 640.

Year: 1930; Census Place: School District 14, Garfield, Montana; Roll: 1256; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 13; Image: 464.0.

Registration Location: Dawson County, Montana; Roll: 1684110; Draft Board: 0.

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