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Stewart, Alexander

Birth: 1755, Ireland
Death:  March 17, 1839, Vienna, Trumbull County, Ohio
Burial:  Seceders Corners Cemetery, Liberty, Trumbull County, Ohio

The name Alexander Stewart appears in historical records as a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Vienna Township. Two Alexander Stewarts appear in early Vienna Township records. The elder Alexander was born in Ireland in 1755, married in Pennsylvania in 1778, and died in Vienna on March 17, 1839. He and his wife Mary (1759-1821) are buried at Seceders Corners Cemetery in Liberty Township, Trumbull County, Ohio.

Their son Alexander, Jr., was born on October 30, 1791, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and died on September 10, 1873, in Vienna. This man married Mary Bailey (1795-1870) in 1818. The earliest record of his residence in Vienna is in the 1820 Federal Census, citing six members in the household, two of whom were over the age of 45 and may have been the elder Alexander and his wife Mary.

It may have been the elder Alexander who in 1816 purchased for $1923 a large piece of land containing 641 51/100 acres (larger than one square mile) from Pennsylvanians Thomas and Jane Hannah.[1] In an 1874 map of Vienna Township, members of the Stewart family owned land in the southeast corner of Vienna Township, along Sodom-Hutchins (now Hutchings) Road south of Woodford's Corners, along Warner Road south of Payne's Corners, and along Smith-Stewart Road.

The Stewart farm was the site of at least five mines sunk during Vienna's coal boom. This land was divided amongst several of the Stewart children. Two of the Stewart houses still stand on Warner Road, 1 1/2 miles south of Payne's Corners.

Underground Railroad

No written contemporary evidence documents the Underground Railroad, a secret organization of men and women willing to aid slaves from the 1820s through the 1850s in their flights to freedom in Canada. At the end of the nineteenth century, Ohio State University historian Wilbur H. Siebert began collecting materials on the Underground Railroad. These materials are now housed at the Ohio History Connection in Columbus, Ohio.

Alexander Stewart appears in several letters in this collection. He is also referred to as "Mr. Stewart" in an 1894 publication entitled From Dixie to Canada, written by H. U. Johnson and published in Orwell, Ohio. In a chapter dedicated to the successful escape from slavery of a Virginian named Uncle Jake, Stewart's abolitionist stance is cited. The date of Uncle Jake's escape is not offered, but other information dates this event to before 1836.

Traveling from Youngstown to Warren, Uncle Jake is pursued by slave catchers and sought refuge in a "little wagon shop" owned by a "Pennsylvania Dutchman named Samuel Goist." There Uncle Jake hid until nightfall.

That evening Uncle Jake received an ample supper from the larder of good Mother Goist, and was then placed in a wagon under a cover of straw and conveyed close to the house of a Mr. Stewart near the corner of Vienna, whom rumor had pointed out to the honest Dutchman as one of “dem aperlishioners.” Here he was bidden “goot py,” and soon found his way to the cabin indicated, whence in due time he was forwarded to General Andrew Bushnell, a prominent anti-slavery man south of the centre of Hartford (p. 91).

What is known is that slaves' escape routes in Trumbull and Ashtabula counties were the major north-south routes to Lake Erie (Routes 45, 46, 193, and 7 today).

Sources
Johnson, H. U. From Dixie to Canada: Romances and Realities of the Underground Railroad, Volume 1. Orwell, Ohio: H. U. Johnson, and Buffalo, NY: Charles Wells Moulton, 1894.
Wilbur H. Siebert Collection (1840-1954), Ohio History Collection, Columbus, Ohio.


[1] In 1999, the original Stewart house and barn were in ruin, the result of age and a tornado: Fred L. Martin and James Bradley, "A Genealogical History of Vienna," in Vienna, "Where We Live and Let Live": Town 4, Range 2 of the Connecticut Western Reserve (Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 1999), pp. 47-48. The discussion of Alexander Stewart in this volume contains errors caused by the confusion between the father and son of the same name.