George Swayne Stewart, manufacturer and attorney-at-law, was born in Dubuque, Iowa, March 25, 1866, but soon
thereafter his parents returned to the historic old Colonial house, 6 Church Street, Norwalk, Ohio, where Mr. Stewart
and his family still reside.
His father, Gideon Tabor Stewart, was born Aug. 7, 1824, at Johnstown, N. Y., of Scotch-Irish descent. His grandmother,
Elizabeth Ferguson Stewart (daughter of Dr. Thomas Ferguson of Stewarttown, Ireland) a noted educator and scholar
of her day, opened the first English school and academy at Schenectady, N. Y., which continued under her auspices
until it was merged into Union College. His mother, Petreshe Hill, was a daughter of the distinguished divine and
Revolutionary patriot, Rev. Nicholas Hill. The Hill family came to Schenectady from Londonderry, Ireland, at about
the beginning of the 18th century. Henry Hill, grandfather of Petreshe, was a prominent citizen of Schenectady,
and for his patriotic utterances, was arrested and so cruelly maltreated and tortured by the British soldiers,
that he died in less than a year after, near the beginning of the Revolution. Inspired by his patriotism, and to
avenge his death, his two youthful sons, Nicholas and Harry, entered the Second New York Regiment. They were with
Washington at Valley Forge and Yorktown, and remained until his army was disbanded in 1783. Then, for the first
time, they returned to Schenectady. Nicholas, completing his studies, entered the Christian ministry. He lived
on his beautiful plantation by the Mohawk, to the advanced age of ninety years, greatly honored and beloved by
his church and country. Petreshe Hill was a sister of the celebrated lawyer, Nicholas Hill, Jr., who had the largest
private law library and most lucrative practice of any lawyer in the United States. Appleton's Cyclopedia of American
Biography says of him: "He was appointed State law reporter in 1841, and became one of the best special pleaders
in the State, taking part in over three-fourths of the cases on the docket of the Court of Appeals during his active
practice." At his death, in 1859, his life-size portrait, as standing in the act of addressing that court,
was placed in its rooms by the Bar of the State. She was also a sister of the eminent lawyer John L. Hill, who
was leading counsel for the defense in the famous Tilton vs. Beecher case. She had four sons, who followed the
example of her two brothers, sought the legal profession. The first was Merwin Hill, who graduated with honors
from Union College, but died preparing for the bar. The second was James Ferguson, who graduated at Oberlin College,
went with early settlers to California, and was one of the oldest lawyers of San Francisco when he died in 1893,
leaving a son and grandson, who are worthy members of the bar of that city. The third was Alexander Adams Stewart,
prosperous merchant of Columbus, Ohio.
The fourth was Nicholas Hill, who was both scholar and lawyer, and acquired fame as an educator, being at the head
of the principal educational institutions in the state of Florida, at Quincy, where he died in 1858. The fifth
was Gideon Tabor, whose mother died in his infancy. As a boy he was brought by his father to Birmingham, Ohio,
near Oberlin, at which college he obtained his education and began the study of law, which he completed at Columbus.
He engaged largely in newspaper work, as editor of the Norwalk Reflector, Dubuque (Iowa) Daily Times, and as part
proprietor and publisher of the Toledo Blade and Commercial. He was an ardent supporter of the Union, opposed slavery,
was active in the Whig and Republican parties. Gideon Tabor Stewart called "The Father of the Huron County
Bar" was admitted to the practice of law Aug. 14, 1846, and became a law-partner of Jairus Kennan. Mr. Stewart
occupied first rank in his profession, and his ability was recognized throughout Ohio, and, in fact, beyond the
confines of the State. Originally he belonged to the old Whig Party, and was opposed to slavery. At the commencement
of the Civil War, he became a Republican; but at the close he passed into the Prohibition party, where he remained
and was always one of its most earnest and conscientious workers. He was fifteen years a member and four years
chairman of its national committee. He was unanimously nominated by three State conventions of the party in Ohio
as its candidate for president of the United States, but each time declined to be a candidate for that office.
He was at one time the candidate for Governor of Ohio, and nine times its candidate for judge of the Supreme Court
of the State. He was one of the founders and first officers of the Whittlesey Academy of Arts and Sciences at Norwalk.
He was one of the organizers and directors of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad Company.
His wife, Abbie Newell Simmons was also descended from old pioneer stock. One of her ancestors Moses Symonson,
landed at Plymouth, Mass., November 21st, 1621, having sailed from Leyden, Holland, on good Ship Fortune. Her great-grandfather
lives in Rehobath, Bristol County, Mass., owned large mills here, which were burned by the British during the Revolution,
but afterwards rebuilt. He served as Captain in the Continental Line during the Revolution and was an influential
figure in military affairs.
Mr. and Mrs. Gideon Tabor Stewart were married March 30, 1857, and had four children: Mrs. Francis A. Powers, (flee
Mary Abbie) who was born April 27, 1858, died June 24, 1924, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, Norwalk; Charles
Hill, born Nov. 6, 1859, a resident of Cleveland for the last 40 years, interested in real estate and law; Harlon
Lincoln, born Dec. 12, 1861, attorney at law, Panama City, Fla.; and George Swayne, the youngest of the family.
George Swayne Stewart was educated in Norwalk schools and at Oberlin College. He later studied law in the office
of his father, Gideon Tabor Stewart, and was admitted to the Ohio Bar March 3, 1888. He began his career in Norwalk
as an attorney at law, and was associated with his father in the practice of law. Later he became interested in
the manufacturing business which was incorporated as the G. S. Stewart Company, of which he is president. The principal
products are cedar chests, screens, decorated furniture, and wholesale lumber. The G. S. Stewart Company factory
occupies a block close to the business center of the town and is the largest employer of labor in Norwalk.
Mr. Stewart has always been a Republican in politics. He is a Mason and Knight Templar, a member of the Shakespeare
Club, Norwalk Country Club, and Plum Brook Country Club of Sandusky. He and his family are Episcopalians and for
many years Mr. Stewart has been a vestryman in St. Paul's Episcopal Church.
Mr. Stewart has always been a leader in civic activities in Norwalk and an ardent supporter of all great social
movements, such as Prohibition and Woman Suffrage. He was an indefatigable worker for the dry cause and was chairman
of the Huron County Dry Committee in the campaign preceeding the fall election of Nov. 7, 1918, which finally enrolled
Ohio in the dry column.
Mr. Stewart helped to organize Norwalk's Memorial Hospital, and has been a member of the hospital board of directors
ever since. He was one of the organizers of the local Kiwanis Club. He is a member of the library board and vice
president of the Whittlesey Academy of which his father was one of the founders. During the World War he was active
in the Red Cross and Liberty Loan Drives.
Mr. Stewart married Cora Taber, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. B. C. Taber of Norwalk, Jan. 10, 1893. She died Sept.
28, 1893. In 1899 Mr. Stewart married Marguerite Morris Rice of Chester, Pa., who was born in Wilmington, Del.
Mr. George S. Stewart is a man of high ideals, earnest purpose, energetic, genial disposition, kindliness of heart.
He is fond of life and sees it whole. He is possesed of the saving grace of humor. His merry, hearty laugh is contagious.
His fondness for sport takes him on his holidays into the open, and makes him a rare raconteur of experiences with
rod and gun. He is a lover of nature in her various moods. He is a keen business man, whose probity, conservatism,
far-sightedness, unselfishness make him a man trusted, followed, honored. He is definitely domestic in his habits,
and is never happier than with his family. He stands for the best things in his community.
Mrs. George Swayne Stewart, nee Marguerite Morris Rice, was born in Wilmington, Del. Her father, John V. Rice,
Esq., was a well known lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania and Delaware Bars, and a descendant of the ancient
and noble family of Ap-Rhys of South Wales. Her mother, Sarah Lowe Rice, was descended from the Lowes of Talbot
County, Maryland. One of the incorporators of the Virginia Colony, 1609, was Vincent Lowe. His descendants owned
large estates in Talbot, Calvert and St. Marys Counties. From this family are also descended Charles and Daniel
Carroll of Carroliton. General J. Oliver Bradford, maternal great uncle of Mrs. Stewart, was first Paymaster General
of the Navy. General Bradford, close personal friend of Commodore Farragut, was on his staff when the United States
Fleet made its tour of the world. He was also with Commodore Perry at the opening of the port of Japan, 1854.
Mrs. Stewart inherited from her mother marked musical ability which she displayed at an early age, and before long
made the pipe organ her special subject of study under the tutelage of David Wood and other noted musicians of
Philadelphia. She soon became a member of the American Organists' Club of Philadelphia and her recitals were musical
events. She is now a member of the American Organ Guild, Cleveland Chapter.
On Dec. 27th, 1899, she married George Swayne Stewart, at the home of her brother, William Lowe Rice, Esq., Lowe
Ridge, Euclid Heights, Cleveland, Ohio. In a few years her increasing responsibilities as mother of three small
children led her to join a Child Study Club of which she became the first president. From the activities of that
Club the Kindergarten movement with equipment was started in Norwalk, which afterwards was incorporated in the
public schools of the city. She then became president of the "Child Conservation League."
The natural sequence of her interest in childhood and its conservation led her to espouse the Suffrage Cause where
greater opportunities were sought for women in their work of conservation. With the full sympathy and cooperation
of her husband, Mr. George S. Stewart, whose father, Gideon Tabor Stewart, had been one of the ablest protagonists
of progres sive movements in Ohio, the Stewart Colonial home was the first to be opened to the propagandists of
the suffrage cause, and Mrs. Stewart became the first vice president of the Huron County Equal Franchise League,
raising more than the County's quota of names in the petitions for the vote. Mrs. Malcolm Patrick and Mrs. Stewart
represented Huron County in Columbus when the petitions were presented at the State House. Fifty years before this
Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony had been entertained in the Stewart home by Gideon Tabor Stewart. In 1899 he greeted
there Carrie Chapman Catt, Anna Howard Shaw and Harriet Taylor Upton. Mrs. Stewart has since been made a life member
of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association.
When the war broke out Mrs. Stewart served as first Huron County Chairman of the Woman's Committee, Council of
Nationa1 Defense under Mrs. George Zimmerman of Fremont and Miss Belle Sherwin of Cleveland, and organized a unit
in every township of Huron County.
The League of Women Voters was the fruition of the achieved suffrage cause and Mrs. Stewart was made director of
the Thirteenth District of the Ohio League of Women Voters from its beginning to 1924. ("Her District was
known at the State Office as the best organized District in Ohio.") She was next unanimously elected Director
at Large of the State League in 1924 in place of Miss Belle Sherwin, and since 1926 she has been a trustee of the
State League. For the year 1928-9 Mrs. Stewart was president of the Norwalk League of Women Voters, and has served
as finance chairman, raising the League's quota almost every year since its inception.
Mrs. Stewart has been a delegate to nearly every State Suffrage Convention, in Dayton, Lima, Cleveland, Columbus,
Cincinnati, etc. She was elected Ohio delegate to the National Woman Suffrage Association in Philadelphia, 1912;
St. Louis, 1919; the Jubilee Suffrage and League of Women Voters Convention in Chicago, 1920; to the National League
of Women Voters Convention in Cleveland, 1921; National League of Women Voters Pan-American Convention in Baltimore,
1922; National League of Women Voters Convention in Buffalo, 1924; Richmond, 1925; and Louisville, 1930.
But with all Mrs. Stewart's outside interests and activities, her family, her husband, her four daughters, Elizabeth
Bradford (who attended Vassar and the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts); Margaret Morris (graduate 0f the Columbus
School for Girls and Wellesley College); Anne Ide (graduate of Columbus School for Girls and also student at Wellesley
and Antioch College); Patricia Hill (now a junior at Bryn Mawr); and her one son, George Swayne, Jr., (fifteen,
and preparing for Princeton where his father's cousin, Dr. George Black Stewart is senior trustee) have always
come first. With their interests and future at heart has Mrs. Stewart thrown her heart and soul into the great
causes with which she has been identified. None could be more proud and more appreciative of her activities than
is each and every member of her family.
History of North Central Ohio
Embracing Richland, Ashland, Wayne,
Medina, Lorin, Huron and Knox Counties
BY: William A. Duff
Historical Publishing Company
North Central Ohio Biographies
Names A to C
Names D to G
Names H to K
Names L to P
Names Q to S
Names T to Z
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