Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Church-Stewart Legend

The following story regarding the Stewart's arrival in the New World is taken from the Church family archives, which you can read here.

If true, the story likely relates to Lt. William Stewart's father as Lt. William Stewart would not have been born yet. Note, the reference to British soldiers would fit with our recent DNA analysis suggesting that the Stewarts were British and not Scottish as has long been assumed. One problem with the story is that the forebears of Sarah Church, Lt. William Stewart's wife, are fairly well documented and descended from Garrett Church, who arrived in the New World in the 1630s as an indentured servant.

The Legend of the Church/Stewart Origins

(excerpts from Descendants of William Steward of North Stonington, Connecticut by Roger Steward)

...Also provided by Beverly Skalisky from Sharon Patchett is this uncertain but interesting account of the Steward family's American beginnings:

Two British sailors who had been pressed into service jumped ship along the New England coast in the 1660's and lived with the Indians for a time to avoid being caught. According to Frank Church (Petersburg, NY) the two sailors, Church and Stewart, formed a bond of friendship and swore the two families would always be closely associated.

No hard evidence but Frank's mother lived to a ripe old age and his grandmother lived to be 103, so the stories may have been handed down. (Ed. note: Frank Church's mother Fidelia Glines died at 39. See story below.)

Frank also mentioned elsewhere in this work. His mother was Fidelia M. Glines, and his grandmother was Patience Ann Stewart, who lived to be 103 years, daughter of John Steward, who lived nearly 85 years. Given that Patience's grandfather Lemuel Steward moved his family from Petersburgh, NY to Grafton, NY in 1796, while his first born, John Steward, did not make that move until about 1805, it may be that John Steward was raised by his grandparents, Eliphalet Steward and Elizabeth (Church?) or at least remained very close to them. This tradition could easily have first been handed down to Frank Church.

The second of the Dutch and English wars from 1663-1667, in which England took possession of New Amsterdam (now New York) in 1664, provides an historical foundation for the Steward/Church family legend of the two impressed seamen. The fact that Scotland took no part in this war imples the Scottish sailors, who willlingly served in the Dutch fleet, had first been impressed by the British, so there may have been both impressed Scottish and British seamen deserting along the New England coast. - Roger Steward, page 1-5

...Among the hand-written papers provided at the North Stonington Historical Society on Sept, 26, 2000, was further reference to to Elizabeth "Church" wife of Eliphalet Steward:

"Eliphalet Stewart's wife is only known as Elizabeth - thought by Frank Church that she was Elizabeth "Church" -- From footnote on page 2 of Lt. William Stewart's group sheet, Oct. 4, 1979, written by Mrs. Morgan (Dorothy) Stewart.

Believing this name to be correct, Frank Church of Petersburgh, New York may have been the original source of this assessment. - Roger Steward, p. 2-3

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