Stewart Family Reunion

Some walked, others flew, and most drove their cars to the Stewart Family Reunion on Sunday, July 2, 2000, at the Stewart Cemetery on McBrayer Road in Clearfield. Some 200 descendants of William Charlie and Mary Polly Crank Stewart from ten states gathered to recognize and celebrate the 200th anniversary of William’s birth. During the celebration, a plaque was unveiled by Mrs. Ethel Stewart Crager of Clearfield and the family’s unofficial matriarch at age 89. The plaque recognizes William and Mary and their children who were early Rowan County pioneers. William Stewart was the son of Alexander Stewart and Catherine Sheets. Alexander had been born in 1755 in Galloway, Scotland to William Stewart, a son of the Fifth Earl of Galloway. Alexander came to America in 1773. He fought in the Revolutionary War. Seven years after their marriage, Alexander and Catherine’s only child, William Charlie, was born in Knox County, Kentucky in 1800.

A program was presented by Stewart’s descendants. Ms. Sarah Stewart Godwin read a poem about her grandmother. John Carter read a poem by noted Appalachian poet, Albert Stewart, that was a tribute to Albert’s father. Bob Sloan, a local writer and poet, read selected works he had written about the family. Dr. Ivan Stewart recounted the life of his father, Alexander Thomas Stewart, who had been married to Cora Wilson Stewart, before he moved to Powell County and married Ivan’s mother, Clemma. Local historian, Fred Brown, presented a short talk on the importance of family in understanding the community’s history.

The Stewarts have had an important role in the history of Rowan County. In 1821, William, married Mary Polly Crank. Mary Polly, born in 1804, was the daughter of James and Ellandor Taylor Crank. Both her parents came from families that had long lived in America. Her grandfather, John Crank, fought in the French and Indian War in 1758 and served in the Revolutionary War and received several hundred acres in Washington and Russell Counties, Virginia for his services. Mary’s mother, Ellandor Taylor, was descended from a distinguished Virginia family, the Taylors. One cousin Zachary Taylor, was elected President. Sarah Knox “Dimples” Taylor, Ellandor’s cousin and the daughter of President Zachary and Mary Taylor married Jefferson Davis. Another cousin, Frances Taylor, married Ambrose Madison, and was the grandmother of President James Madison.

In the late 1830's, William and his family moved to Perry County, which later became Letcher County and then Knott County. He built a cabin on Ball Creek and remained there just above the mouth of Roaring Branch until sometime during the Civil War when he moved to Rowan County and settled along the Triplett Creek near Morehead and Clearfield. Three sons, James, Alexander and William G., came with him. His daughters, Sarah, Lou Annie and Margaret, also moved to Rowan County. After moving to Rowan County, William Charlie was elected a Justice of the Peace of Rowan County. William Charlie and his wife, Mary Polly, are buried in the Baldridge Cemetery which is located between Triplett Creek and U.S. Route 60 about a mile west of Morehead on Baldridge Cemetery Road.

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