Who Was Alfonso Stewart?

Picture of Alfonso Stewart found on page 128 of Fred Miller's book "Images of America: Tuscarawas County Ohio", 2000.

If you’re like me you thumb through Fred Miller’s book Images of America: Tuscarawas County Ohio, published in 2000 by Arcadia Publishing, a lot. I love just spending some time seeing the county as it once was. On the last page of the book is an image of men who served as patrolmen in the Southside community of Lockport. Two of the men are identified, so I decided to find out more about one of them.

Andrew Stewart (1822-1874) arrived in Ohio from his native Pennsylvania before his marriage to Tuscarawas County resident Julia Couts (1824-1904) sometime around 1840. There is an Andrew Stewart that appears on the 1840 census for Washington Township that is the correct age to be Andrew, and, he is recorded as having a female of the same age range living with him. Ten years later, Andrew and Julia appear on the 1850 census record for Washington Township, living next door to Julia’s brother’s farm.

Andrew worked as a farm laborer on nearby farms while he and Julia raised a large family of nine children. One of those nine children was their fourth child, a son named Alfonso Stewart (1851-1916) who was born in August 1851. It is worth noting now that Alfonso’s first name appears a number of ways in the historic record: Alphonse, Alfonse, Alfonze, and even Alonzo. Later records indicate that Alfonso never learned to read or write, so likely spent his youth working side by side in the fields with his father.

  • Andrew Stewart and his family, including Alfonso, as they appeared in the 1860 Census. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • The area of Salem Township, Tuscarawas County, where Alfonso Stewart grew up. (Source: ancestry.com)
  • Andrew Stewart's death recorded in the county records, March 1874. (Source: familysearch.org)

The Stewart family lived primarily in the area around Newcomerstown in Salem and Oxford Townships from the 1850s until the 1870s. Andrew Stewart contracted a fatal case of typhoid fever in the spring of 1874. After his death, Julia moved the family to the nearby town of Glasgow and the eldest sons took on the role of supporting the family. Alfonso married Louisa Reidenbaugh (1852-?) but the marriage was short lived as Alfonso was recorded as being a widower in the 1880 census. It was also in that census where Alfonso was recorded as having moved on from farm work to working on machinery for the railroad.

Alfonso’s occupation was often listed as “engineer” or “stationary engineer” and at that time this meant that he worked on and operated machinery, possibly steam-driven but not necessarily. This skill was in great demand in New Philadelphia at the end of the 19th century as many manufactories and mills operated in the city at that time. Alfonso and Alice moved, along with his growing family of seven children by 1900, to the southside of New Philadelphia then known as Lockport. The family purchased a house on the 400 block of South Third Street, south of the river, and Alfonso worked at a steel plant in the city.

  • Alfonso Stewart and Alice Stonebrook's marriage recorded in the Tuscarawas County records, August 1885. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • The Stewart family recorded in the 1900 Census for New Philadelphia. (Source: familysearch.org)
  • A composite of two 1926 Sanborne Fire Insurance Maps giving the general location of the Stewart home on South 3rd Street on the southside of New Philadelphia, Ohio. (Source: loc.gov)

Perhaps in order to earn a little more money, or perhaps he felt the need to serve his community, Alfonzo took a part-time job as a patrolman for Lockport. It was in this capacity that he was photographed around 1900, along with three of his fellow patrolman. In it, the mustachioed and uniformed Alfonso stands holding his nightstick behind his shoulders. It would be interesting to know if this is the only photograph of Alfonso Stewart that has survived. Further search of physical records might provide more details on Alfonso’s time as a Lockport patrolman at the turn of the 20th century.

Aflonso and Alice Stewart continued to live on the southside for the remainder of their lives, raising a total of eight children there. During the summer of 1910, Alice become ill and her illness lasted several months until her death in February 1911. Alfonso lived only five more years after the Alice’s death, dying in May 1916 at the age of 64. Days before his death, knowing that death was coming, he sold his home on the southside to a son for $1. Alfonso and Alice Stewart are buried in East Avenue Cemetery in New Philadelphia.

  • Alfonso Stewart and his fellow Lockport patrolmen from "Images of America Tuscarawas County Ohio" by Fred Miller, p. 128.
  • The rough modern location of where the Stewart home stood in the early 1900s. (Source: google.com)
  • Alfonso Stewart's death reported in the local newspaper, using the incorrect first name Alonzo, May 1916. (Source: newspaperarchive.com)
  • Alfonso and Alice Stewart's headstone in East Avenue Cemetery, New Philadelphia, Ohio, 2011. (Source: findagrave.com)

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© Noel B. Poirier, 2023.


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