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Biographical Sketch

Benjamin Hansford Stewart, 1843-1932

Source: From the Burnet Bulletin, Feb. 1936

(This sketch of the life of Mr. Stewart, one of the early settlers of Burnet County, was written by his great grandson, Odell Burch. Mr. Stewart died March 24th, 1932.) [Photo of Benjamin H. Stewart]

The entire Mahomet community was thrown into sadness on March 24th at 8:15 P.M. when the word flashed over the wires that Benjamin Handsford Stewart was dead. He had been sick for several days and all was done for him that loving hands and medical skill could do, but to no avail. God was calling for him to join his beloved wife, who having proceded him in death a few years past.

Only those that were closely associated with him during his five years of blindness know how sweet, patient and kind he was.

He would ask his daughter Miss Sallie, who took care of him so faithfully, if he was cross to her, saying, "If I am I don't intend to be."

It always seemed like he lived in a little world of his own. He took God into his life and was blessed abundantly. He was the father of ten children: 4 sons and 6 daughters; 27 grandchildren, 1 step grandson, 40 great grandchildren and 2 great great grandchildren. All were at the funeral except a few of the grandchildren. All his children, grandchildren, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law loved and respected him, for he was a loving father unto all. Not one unkind word did I ever hear one of them utter against him. Many are the happy hours that the little children spent around his fireside, when he and his beloved wife had all the family home for the bounteous Christmas dinner, that being his custom as long as he lived. I let my thoughts travel back to childhood, what pleasant memories do I behold. There was the barrel of [unreadable] red apples and other things to please the children. A long table groaning under the weight of the many good things to eat. It seems to me like the good old hospitality shown in the home is passing away.

He was always so loving and kind to his wife. He was a very industrious man, always busy at something. After his eye sight became so bad, I have seen him get down on his knees so he could see to hoe the grass out of his yard. He took great pride in keeping his home neat and clean. He was a well-read man on the bible and other subjects. After he became blind he said he would sit and think over what he had read and stored up in his mind in his early days. During the 88 years that he lived here on earth he saw more great things invented than has ever been invented in that length of time [unreadable] the world stood: such as the automobile, airships, telephone, radio and many others. What a wonderful age for man to in and now pause for a moment and think what progress he saw in travel--from the ox cart to the airplane.

He was born April 22nd, 1843 in Overton County, Tennessee, came to Texas in 1861 in a wagon train. His father settled in Williamson County, lived there about 10 months, then came to Burnet County and bought a place. When they came to Texas the Indians were on a reservation. Yellow Wolf and War Whoop were Indian chiefs of the Comanche tribe, and often visited in the home of his father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. J.G. Stewart.

The Indians were friends for a few months, but soon afterwards went on the warpath and the Stewarts and other early settlers had to keep a sharp look out for the next 20 years.

In 1862 he enlisted in the Confederate Army. He was stationed at Austin for about three months, then moved to Tyler, in Smith County, after which he was moved to Arkansas, where he finished out his twelve months. Though he was in the army a year, he was never in a battle. He was sick almost all the time and at the end of twelve (12) months he was given a permanent certificate of disability. He was strong when he went into the army, but it looked like every disease that came along, he took it, and was soon so weak that he was unable to wait on himself much, much less fight for his country. After obtaining his release, he returned to his home in Burnet.

Bob Cates was Sheriff of Burnet County in 1878. He resigned and in less than one hour Mr. Ben Stewart was appointed to take his place. He led an active life in enforcing the laws and collecting taxes.

When Mr. Stewart was a little boy, he didn't have a light to study and read by. There were no schools when he came to Texas, so all the education he received for a few years was what he obtained by reading at home. In the evening he would go out and bring in a large heap of dead sumac. He would pile it on the fire so as to have a bright light to read by. He would pile on more sumac as it would burn out.

Imagine how many boys of today would be willing to go out and gather in brush to make a light to read by at night so as to obtain an education. Still some of the young people whine and complain about hard times with all the modern conveniences.

He did not have many books and he soon had them read through many times.

When he was about fifteen years of age he went to visit his brother, Max Stewart in Kimble County, Texas. Max Stewart's mother-in-law, Mrs. Hill, a widow, lived with him and his wife. She soon saw that young Ben was very intelligent. Her husband had bought several sets of books before he died. The books were sets of English History, Mathematics, and several others. They were counted very valuable in those days because books were scarce and hard to get, especially of this quality. Mrs. Hill was very proud of these books, but she saw how much they would benefit the bright eyed intelligent boy, Ben Stewart. She thought it would be a good kind deed so she gave the books to him. He was very proud of them and when he returned home he carried them with him. It took quite a while for him to complete them, and by that time he had earned money enough to buy more books. So this is the way he obtained his education.

He was married June 30th 1863 to Miss Hattie M. Allison. She came from Oceola, Missouri.

Mr. Stewart taught school at what is now known as Briggs, Texas, but was then known as Gum Springs. He then moved to Florence, where he was a worker in a woodshop for a year. From Florence he moved to Gabriel Mills, on the North Gabriel Creek, where he ran a corn mill for a little over a year.

In 1868 he bought a place about nine miles east of Bertram. He and his wife moved on it and there they lived and reared their family. His wife died February 5, 1928. Miss Sallie, his only daughter at home, took care of him after his wife's death.

Mr. Stewart was converted and joined the Progressive Christian Church in 1870, living a very devoted life to his God until his death. He became a member of the Mount Horeb Masonic Lodge in 1868. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite.


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