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History of Benjamin Franklin Stewart

The earliest account we have of our branch of the Stewart family is of my great, great grandfather, Samuel Stewart and his family, living in Williamstown, Mass., where he was born about 1750. In 1773, he married Mary Hendricks, daughter of Daniel Hendricks. To them was born eight children, four sons and four daughters. About 1785, Mary Hendricks Stewart died and he married Jerusa Judd who bore him two sons.

At this time Stephen Scott and family lived in Williamstown. Both the Stewart and Scott families seemed to be pioneers by nature with a tendency to move westward. In the year 1800, the Scott family and a part of the Stewart family moved to West Virginia and settled on the banks of the Ohio River. Here the families were united by the marriage of Philander Barret Stewart and Sarah Scott, May 21, 1801, Sarah being just past fifteen years of age. The same year Philander Barret and his bride, accompanied by the Scott and Stewart families, crossed the Ohio River and made a home in Jackson Township, Monroe Co., Ohio. Here they lived happily together for twenty-four years and here their twelve children, four sons and eight daughters, were born, Benjamin Franklin Stewart, the subject of this sketch, being one of them, was born October 22, 1817.

The family were greatly blessed in a financial way for those early times, having a mill and a well improved farm, but reverses came. Philander Barret went security on a note for $2000.00 to set one of his brothers up in business. His brother failed and Philander Barret had the note to pay. Shortly after this, he was drowned in the Ohio River trying to save others. Many less heroic women would have been crushed under this double calamity. Not so with the noble and proud spirited Sarah. Being a woman of great hope, courage and unbounded energy, she sold part of the farm and paid the debt and she and the children with their united efforts managed the farm for four years. Then she sold it and moved with her family to Illinois. She and two of her brothers joined together and built a flat boat and boated 1,000 miles down the Ohio river. They traveled across the state of Illinois. Franklin was eleven years old when the journey was made. What a delightful trip for a boy of that age, filled with a love of adventure and just enough changes to make it interesting. There were twenty persons in the party, mostly children. As he was only six when his father died, he had but slight recollection of him. Owing to the circumstances of his widowed mother and the meager facilities for school in those days and but few opportunities of studying under a teacher, as he had to work to help support the family, but owing to his ambition and desire for knowledge, by self effort, he obtained a good education.

About three years after settling in Illinois, the Richardson family arrived from Cumberland, Kentucky and settled near the Stewarts. The Stewart and Richardson children became companions and grew to maturity together. In 1837, these families were united by the marriage of Franklin Stewart and Polly Richardson. Soon after their marriage, the bridal pair migrated to Van Buren Co., Iowa. Here the Gospel found them and Polly yielded to its teachings and was baptized shortly after. But as Franklin was interested in politics, he deferred being baptized until three years later. On the day of his baptism, he was ordained an Elder. After they were baptized, the spirit of gathering took hold of them and they soon joined the exiled Saints at Keg Creek, Iowa, where Franklin was ordained a Seventy, April 6, 1847, by President Brigham Young. Shortly after this he started West with the pioneers under the leadership of Brigham Young to find a place of refuge for the exiled Saints. He was one of the seven men left out of the pioneer company at Platte River, in the midst of danger and in an Indian country, to ferry over the families of the Saints who followed that year.

Here they joined A. O. Smoot’s company and came to Utah, arriving in Salt Lake September 27, 1847. November 23, 1849, he, in company with Parley P. Pratt and forty-eight others went to explore the southern part of Utah. On this trip they necessarily encountered many hardships and privations. In March, 1851, he moved with his family to Payson where he lived for years and where he was recognized as a leading person in spirit, religiously, temporally and politically. There was eight children born to this couple, five lived to maturity. September 6, 1851, he married Elizabeth Davis as a plural wife who crossed the plains and had been closely associated with President Joseph Smith, coming to Utah in 1840. She bore him 10 children, seven who reached maturity. He also married Rachel Davis who bore him one child, a daughter, born April 27, 1862. He was set apart as counselor to Bishop J. B. Fairbanks of the Payson Ward, February 9, 1863 and served two terms of two years each.

In 1865, he, with his brother, A. J. Stewart and others, laid the foundation of a town which was named Benjamin in his honor, thus fulfilling a prophecy made him in a Patriarchal blessing given by John Smith in 1847. At this place he located with his families and in 1871 he was appointed to preside over the place, which position he occupied at the time of his death.

By nature he was a promoter and was interested in many enterprises for the building up of the country. His active and useful life was brought to an untimely close by being killed with lightening at Benjamin, June 22, 1885. The funeral services were conducted under the shade of a fine grove of trees that he had planted himself.

He was a gentle, kind and indulgent husband and father, was just and generous to a fault. There was never a cloud, but what was a silver lining to him. His great hope, courage and cheerfulness were as a ray of sunshine to all who came under his influence. In his disposition he was wonderfully tender and sympathetic and nothing that added to the comfort and happiness of others was any trouble to him, but service to others was a real joy and pleasure.

Owner/SourceChristie Smith -
Linked toSCOTT Sarah (Sally); STEWART Benjamin Franklin; STEWART Philander Barrett

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