Researching The Jackson County Stewart Family

By David Stuart - 2000

I believe "Stewart" was the original way to spell our name, but due to Isaac Stewart, Sr.'s, death in 1909, and for some unknown reason, his sons spelled their name both ways. Probably, they thought "Stuart" was more Scottish than "Stewart." My dad, Isaac, Jr., always thought he was Scottish.

My research indicates that Isaac, Sr. was probably born in Northern Ireland in January 1855, because after researching birth records at St. Catherine's in London, England, I found no records indicating that he was born in present-day England. It is assumed that he may have come from Derry or Coleraine in Northern Ireland, which was part of England at that time.

In 1994-95, I contacted two of my dad's cousins, Irene Stuart Johnson and her sister, Ellen, both in their 80s, living in Corbin, Kentucky. They are the daughters of my dad's half-brother, William Robert Stuart.

According to their account, in 1866 or 1867, Isaac, Sr,. left England at the age of 11, as a stowaway on a boat headed for New Orleans. They also said that their dad, William Robert, stated that Isaac, Sr., had auburn hair and was of average height and weight.

Isaac, Sr., lived in Bond, Rockcastle County, Kentucky (now Jackson County). There are no records of how or when he arrived in Rockcastle County, or his age at that time. According to marriage records from Rockcastle County, there was an Isaac Stewart, who was a witness to several marriages in 1877 and 1880.

Other records indicate that he was a schoolteacher, cabinetmaker, and lumber dealer. It is assumed that he had a good education for that time. His first wife was Elizabeth Poke, who was from North Carolina. They had four sons: William Robert, Charles Arthur, Frank, and Thomas. William Robert was born May 1884 in Tennessee. He lost a leg in the coal mines. He became a merchant in Corbin, Kentucky, and he died at the age of 45. Charles Arthur "Red" was born June 1885 in Bell County, Kentucky. My dad, Isaac, Jr., said that "Red" was a revenuer, chief of police, and fire chief of Pineville, Kentucky. He was lung-shot while shooting dice at Four Mile, Kentucky, and he later died of lung problems. Little is known about Frank and Thomas. It is said that they were killed by someone during a feud. My father, Isaac, Jr., never mentioned them, so I did not know they existed until last year (1994), as I was doing this research.

Irene and Ellen relate that Isaac, Sr., returned to England, but the time cannot be determined. He did come back to this country through Pitt County, North Carolina. He must have met Elizabeth Poke at that time. He returned to England a second time, and when he came back to the U. S., he found that his wife, Elizabeth Poke, had died. Irene Stuart Johnson said that he had gone back to Northern Ireland. Isaac, Sr., then married Elizabeth Jones, my grandmother. Elizabeth Jones was born May 1867 in Tennessee. She was 22 years old at the time of her marriage. She was 33 during the 1900 census. They had four sons, who were born in Bell County, Kentucky. Grover C. was born May 1896 and was never married. He was murdered by a mine employee, as he went to the mines to get his pay. The mines were going on strike. David F. was born August 1899. He never married, and little is known about him. My father, Isaac, Jr., was born July 1908, and died in 1974. He was a coal miner, a restaurant and pool hall owner, assistant chief of police, and state highway foreman. Elizabeth Jones died shortly after Isaac, Jr., was born. Isaac, Sr., was shot to death when he went to get his son, Isaac, Jr., a pair of shoes in around 1909.

According to the 1910 census, Isaac, Jr. lived with William Robert Stuart, and he later lived with his other half-brother, Charles Arthur "Red." It is not sure how old he was at these times. He moved out on his own when he was about 12 years old. He worked in the mines to support himself.

Isaac Stewart, Sr., may have come to the U. S., leaving Derry or Coleraine, Northern Ireland, in 1866-67. His father's name was Alexander.

I would appreciate any other information on this family. Please write to: David Stuart (Stewart), 702 Hacker Drive, London, KY 40743.