History of Roy Stewart

by

Shane Stewart

 

On the southern shores of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, inCanada, lies the smallest Province of Canada, Prince Edward Island. PrinceEdward Island has a maximum length of 143 miles and a width that variesfrom 45 miles down to 3 miles. It is divided into 3 counties, namely, Kings,Queens, and Prince. Farming and fishing have always been the main occupationsand way of living. It is said that this Island is cherished by thousandsas it is or was the home of many North American's who have had grand-parentsand great grand-parents that have migrated from there. They migrated tothe "Great Northwest," as they called this area, in the UnitedStates in search of a better way of life and to escape the hardship povertyof the Island.

This is where my grandfather was born on April 17, 1894. His father was Donald McDonald Stewart who was a farmer on this island. His mother's maiden name was Annie Yonker. She worked as a tailor andwould sew up suits for men. Grandpa spent his early life on the Islandwith his three sisters and two brothers. His mother died when he was ayoung boy. His dad remarried and he always said he just never got acquaintedwith his new mother so at the ripe old age of fifteen he left home leavinga note, boarded a freighter bound for the United States and was on his way. This was in the spring of 1906. My father relates to me how his dad oftentold him how lonesome he was after he left home, kept thinking of his dadand brothers and sisters at home and if he was really doing what he wantedto do. He never forgot how pretty the Island was in the spring when theapple trees blossomed there.

He landed at McPherson, Manitoba and there he met an elderlycouple looking for some young fellow to help them. He had to eat and inorder to eat he had to make money. This seemed to be a good place for astarter, he thought, so he went to work for them. Grandpa stayed at thisplace for four or five years.

Grandpa arrived at the border, crossed into the UnitedStates, and here he found his brother, Bruce, as many of the older residentswill remember him by. There seemed to be quite a family here of "Islanders"as he became more acquainted. He secured work here, dad says, he thinkshe worked on the Hill farm for the next few years.

Grandpa was not working all the time though as he had hiseye on a little red headed girl that lived just north of Humboldt on a farm. He married this girl on November 19, 1913. She was the former Anita Diamondand today is Grandma Stewart. They lived in a little house in Humboldtfor a short time then bought a quarter of land two and a half miles southwestof Humboldt and there they engaged in farming and the raising of their family. Grandpa and Grandma raised eight children, two, a boy and an infant girldied before his death.

My dad tells me this is where they spent childhood. Grandpawould always have him and his brother, Glen, herding cows or sheep on apony or helping hay or some other farm chores. He remembers Grandpa asalways liking horses and trading horses. Horses were the main thing usedfor power then so they were a pretty important thing. My dad related anincident to me that one day his Grandpa and one of his best friends, ErnestGill, another Prince Edward Island boy, had been seeding grain on a pieceof ground one spring day. My dad and his brother, Glen, had just carriedlunch out to them so as they were eating lunch, Grandpa and Mr. Gill startedtalking about the horses and it all led up to a horse trade. They unharnessedone horse from each outfit, left the collars on and switched horses on thespot. Dad says this is one of many horse trades he remembers.

Grandpa drove the kids to school in Humboldt, with horsesand a covered sleigh or open wagon in the summer if it was wet. He alwaysenjoyed this as he would get paid for it, all the children were broughtto school this way, and then he would get the chance to have a good visitwith someone in town, too. One of his favorite pastimes was playing cards,so the bus drivers could get together in the restaurant and have a few gamesof rummy while the kids were in school.

Dad tells me that things were not too rosy all the timewhen Grandpa was on the farm. The drought of the thirties caused a lotof poverty and hardship on the farmers. He had a field of wheat one yearhe can remember that looked so nice all summer, then when Grandpa went tocut the field and bundle the grain, it was nothing but rust. He had toburn the field to plow it.

As I said before, Grandpa loved to play cards in his pastimeso well, Dad says he can remember many winter nights when they would hitchup the team while Grandma bundled up the kids and they would go over toone of the neighbors, the Oscar Blagsvadt, Hugills, or the Eastons. Theywould play cards, fix lunch for everyone, and then make the drive back homein the horse and sleigh. The biggest worry was that the sleigh would tipover in the dark with the kids in it but dad never remembers that happening. Grandpa was in his best humor when the neighbors would come to visit them,too.

About 1931, Grandpa traded a whole flock of sheep he hadto Mr. Vic Clow of Humboldt for a house in Humboldt. He then rented thehouse to a friend for a few years. After a while, Grandma put the pressureon him saying that a bigger house would be better so they moved into Humboldtwhere the County Commissioner, Mrs. Johnson now lives.

A tragedy struck after this while he was mowing grass forthe railroad. He got blood poison in one arm which caused him a lot ofsuffering and after over a year or more of trouble he lost partial use ofhis right hand. In a year or so, Grandpa decided he would go back to raisingsheep so he bought some land east of Humboldt and kept his sheep there. He would have Grandma pack him enough food for a week or so and spend histime watching his sheep and batching by himself. The summer he did this,his old friend Mr. Gill would go up to see him and they would spend theevening planning a trip back to their old birthplace. Grandpa's sisterswere always urging him to come home for a visit. This trip never happenedfor them as shortly after Mr. Gill was killed by the Great Northern Trainas it was going north early one morning. Dad says he will always rememberthe sorrow that came to Grandpa's face the morning he learned of the accident.

Well, it was time for Grandpa to do some more trading. So, he sold his west farm and bought one by Humboldt. Grandma and Grandpadecided to sell their house in Humboldt and buy one in Hallock. He thendecided he would like to operate a restaurant so he bought one in Hallock. He had just started to operate it when another accident occurred. He wasinvolved in a car accident this time. He barely made it through this onebut after six months in bed was up and around again. He rented out therestaurant and went back to stock.

Grandpa had another weakness besides playing cards andam told often this is one he really enjoyed. He never liked to miss anauction sale and since he went to so many he would always buy a lot of thelittle things, junk as most people call it. Dad says he doesn't know wherehe ever put all the junk he bought at sales but he had a small farm eastof Hallock and there he put it. One could go there almost every day andsomeone would be there either buying pigs or some of this junk that theyknew he would have from the sales. This he really enjoyed and the longerthese people stayed and visited and dickered with him, the better he likedit. About this time, he developed a liking for a new hobby and that wasplaying pool in Blade's billiard parlor. Here, he was at his best withhis friends, as there were always a group of men his age there.

Grandpa was never one to travel far but he and Grandmatook a trip to Oklahoma to see their youngest son while he was stationedin the army there. They also spent one winter in California. He was askedby a reporter in California how he liked the west and he replied, "Ilike it fine and was enjoying himself but Home was where his heart was"and that was in Northern Minnesota.

My Grandpa was of Scotch-Irish descent. I am told he reflectedit very well in his moods, too. He had generally a very jolly nature andjovial manner about him. He had a very quick temper and showed it on manyoccasions as most people do but he lost it and forgave almost as quick. He had quite a few accidents during his life and some were almost his last. On March 2, 1960, Grandpa was taken to the hospital following a cerebralhemorrhage. He passed away on March 27, 1960 at the age of sixty-five yearsold. I do not remember Grandpa but he must have been a fine man while helived.

Bibliography

Stewart, Hilson, Humboldt, Minnesota, Interview, January17-21, 1974

Stewart, Mrs. Roy, Hallock, Minnesota, Interview, January17, 1974

Steed, Mrs. Amelia, Hallock, Minnesota, Interview, January21, 1974

Swan, Mrs. Laverne, Hallock, Minnesota, Interview, January20, 1974elia, Hallock, Minnesota, Interview, January21, 1974

Swan, Mrs. Laverne, Hallock, Minnesota, Interview, January20, 1974