Overview - William Charlie Stewart


You're Welcome, Willie Stewart 1791

Chorus.-You're welcome, Willie Stewart,
You're welcome, Willie Stewart,
There's ne'er a flower that blooms in May,
That's half so welcome's thou art!

Come, bumpers high, express your joy,
The bowl we must renew it,
The tappet hen, to go bring her ben,
To welcome Willie Stewart,
You're welcome, Willie Stewart, &c.

May foes be strang, and friends be slack
Each action, may he rue it,
May woman on him turn her back
That wrangs thee, Willie Stewart,
You're welcome, Willie Stewart, &c.


by Robert Burns


            At the time of his fathers’ death in 1835, William Charlie was thirty-five years old and had been married to Mary Polly Crank for fourteen years. Four of their children had been born including this writer’s great-grandfather, Alexander, who would have been thirteen at the time. William’s family was living in Knox County at the time of Alexander’s death but left for Perry County (now Knott County) shortly after his mother’s death in 1842 and then moved to Rowan County in 1862. The members of William Charlie's family were active Republicans. As Republicans during the Civil War in Kentucky, a slave holding state, it is fair to assume that they were abolitionists and thus William may not have owned slaves as did his siblings.


            William Charlie's and his family's strong identification with the Republican Party contrasts sharply with many of Alexander’s other children and grandchildren who supported the Confederacy and by inference, the Democratic Party. Despite the facts that he was born in Kentucky and his wife was from Lexington, Abraham Lincoln received 1,364 votes in Kentucky when he ran as the Republican nominee for President in 1860. This was less than 1% of the votes cast. Although Kentucy was devided over whether to secede from the Union, voters were united in their dislike of Lincoln. Thus, to be a Republican in Kentucky at this time was to go against the grain. Thus for the Stewart family, like many others, the issues of slavery and the Civil War may have contributed to a split among the family and to William Charlie's decision to leave Knox County.

            Moreover, it is not particularly surprising that William Charlie may not have been close to his siblings since he was from a different mother and generation than his older brothers and sisters. His brother Charles was born twenty-one years before William Charlie. Charles died when William Charles was only nine. Isaac was eighteen years older than William Charlie. Euphemia was closest in age to William Charlie but she was eleven years older than he. Due to these age differences, William Charlie was probably not close to his siblings and thus had no trouble settling away from them.


Family history reflects that William Charlie liked to hunt. He was a teacher and dabbled in law and held public office after moving to Rowan County. Leonard Stewart recalled his grandfather Jasper stating about his father, William Charlie that "Charlie was a great hunter, but not tight like his father, and not so rich. Grandpa said if his dad got without meat and had only one cow or one brood sow he'd kill them for meat."

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