John Steward

Richland Co., Ohio


Biographical Information

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John Steward

source:  Richland Shield & Banner:  20 August 1892

Only a few of the present generation in this section remember John Steward formerly a prominent resident of Washington township.  Mr. Steward was a remarkable man in many ways.  He was a rough and hardened pioneer, yet withal was one of those sturdy intellectual giants who are occasionally found out of their latitude, as he evidently was when he came to his county.

He was born near Washington, W. Va., Nov. 4th., 1787, and died in Washington Township in 1866.  He was married in 1809.  In 1815 he emigrated to this county, settling in what is now Washington Township.  In the following year Washington Township was organized and Mr. Steward gained the distinction of being the first Justice of the Peace in the township, a very considerable office in those days when Congressmen and State Senators practiced law before 'Squires.  Mr. Steward served his township in the capacity of a Justice of the Peace in all about 22 years and only quit then because he absolutely refused to be a candidate again.

Mr. Steward was appointed county surveyor in 1816 and served the county in that capacity for 18 years.  In 1820 or '21 he was appointed by the Legislature to fill a vacancy in the auditor's office and in the fall of 1822 he was elected by the people and served in that capacity for 8 years. 

The above short sketch is given simply to give the reader an idea of the accomplishments and influence of such a man as 'Squire Steward, as he was familiarly called.  Naturally in the country neighborhoods what he had to say carried a great deal of weight with it.  Mr. Steward, in his older days, was very fond of attending the "last day of school" and enjoying the frolics of the youngsters, telling them stories of his early life in the county.  The teachers knew him for miles around and when he was present he was always requested to say something and he never refused to respond.  Mr. Steward always had great faith in Young America and his favorite story was substantially as follows, as related to the SHIELD by a middle-aged man who heard it often:

In the early '20's when Mr. Steward was chopping wood in front of his farm house late one afternoon in February a young man, a wanderer, came along and asked him if he could stay all night.  Mr. Steward replied that he never turned any one away hungry and he should remain with him that night.  After supper the host engaged the young man in conversation and learned he was about 20 years of age and had no home.  The young fellow was bright and eager but, unfortunately, unable to read or write.

In the morning the young man chopped a quantity of wood an was about to start on his way when Mr. Steward asked him if he would remain and assist in doing the chores until spring.  The boy eagerly assisted and remained until about the middle of April.  During the evenings Mr. Steward taught the young fellow to read and write and when he departed the wanderer promised to write.  He did so frequently. 

Mr. Steward would always get his audience worked up to great interest at this point and would conclude with "And the next time I saw the young man he was the Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio, and was elected, Hon. Wm. Shannon, who was afterwards also Governor of Kansas.  That shows, boys, that there may be [a] future President in this room."  The story always had the desired effect and stimulated the country school boys to greater efforts and enabled them to overcome seeming impossibilities, as some of the professional gentlemen of this city will testify.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010