Robert Stewart was born near New Bern, NC in 1748. His father told him that years before the family had moved to Cumberland County, NC and then to Wilkes County, GA. Robert married Nancy Holloway in 1772 in Columbia County, GA. He was drafted as a soldier into the Revolutionary War and was involved in several battles or skirmishes. He attained the rank of Lieutenant and served at a small fort on the Broad River towards the war’s end.
In 1784 Robert was granted 200 acres of land in Wilkes County, GA and in 1785 the State of Georgia granted him 287 ½ acres in Greene County, GA. He died December 8, 1835 in Pickens District, SC. The names of his and Nancy’s children were William, Elizabeth, Mary, Robert Jr., Abraham, Sarah, and Nancy.
William Stewart, the oldest, was born in 1766. He married Nancy Birt and they moved to Monroe County, MS around 1820. He died in Monroe County in 1870, reputedly 104 years old. Their children were Moody Birt, John Robert, Frank, Lafayette, William Jr., Anderson, Washington, Ardella Birt, Telia, and James.
Moody Birt Stewart, son of William and Nancy, was born in SC in 1813. In 1835 he married Catherine Yocumbe Crosby from Indiana. He accumulated several thousand acres of land in Monroe County along the Tombigbee River.
When President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, Moody Stewart freed his 59 slaves and gave each of them 100 acres of farmland. He died in 1885 in Monroe County, MS and is buried there. The children of Moody and Catherine were Jonathan Lafayette, Sarah, Mary Susan, Leonard Crosby, Argus (CSA) (killed July 11, 1863 at the Battle of Jackson, MS), Ophelia, Rowena, and Mary Caroline.
Jonathan Lafayette Stewart, oldest child of Moody and Catherine, was born June 4, 1835 in Monroe County, MS. He was sent to school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He finished school in 1857 and on graduation day, married Emily Mildred Cave, daughter of Dr. Hudson and Delia Barber Cave.
Jonathan and Emily moved to Clinton in 1864 where he began the practice of law. He soon became Headmaster of the Clinton Female Academy and served there for a number of years. Later he became an ordained Baptist minister.
He was a very versatile and successful man. He organized the Warsaw-Clinton Railroad Company, which was later taken over by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
In 1876, Jonathan served in the North Carolina State Senate and declined an appointment to serve on the NC Supreme Court. He was also considered for the first presidency of the then-new North Carolina State University in Raleigh.
After his wife’s death, Jonathan married a second time to Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett and moved to Raleigh, where he lived for the last four years of his life. He died in 1920 and was buried in the Clinton Cemetery.
He and Emily’s children were William Belfield, Mary Caroline (never married), Margaret (married Dr. Henry J. Battle), Janerio (married James T. Murphy), John B. (never married), and Rena L. (married Lauch A. Bethune). One child, by his second wife, was named Betty.
William Belfield Stewart, son of Jonathan and Emily, was born August 20, 1858. He attended the University of North Carolina and married Julia Robinson Bizzell of Clinton, daughter of Dr. Henry Arthur and Celestial Robinson Bizzell of Clinton. William was engaged in the lumber business and farming. He was elected to the NC House of Representatives, was a Sampson County Commissioner, and served as Chairman of the first Sampson County Board of Education. His second wife was Florence Hubbard. He died in 1911.
Children by William and Julia were Henry Lafayette, Hugh Belfield (married Lottie Bacon), and James Andre (married Mary Black). A child was born to William and Florence and was named William Jonathan.
Henry L. Stewart, son of William and Julia, was born December 21, 1885. He attended Bingham Academy in Mebane, NC and married Annie Jewell Ashford, daughter of Colonel John Ashford and Betty Faison Hines. He was engaged in banking, insurance, and retail hardware. He served as Mayor of Clinton as well as a number of civic and community positions, including Master of the Masonic Lodge. He died January 4, 1960. Children were Henry L. Stewart, Jr. and Mrs. Julia Bizzell Stewart Robinson Dixon.
Henry (Hal) L. Stewart, Jr., son of Henry and Jewell, was born July 19, 1919. He attended Campbell College and the University of North Carolina. He served in the Army Air Corps during WWII and was discharged in 1945 with the rank of Major. He entered the retail hardware business in 1945, which was co-founded by Henry, Sr. in 1911. Hal served as a member of the Clinton City Council and was involved in numerous civic activities. He was always a strong proponent of the development and progress of downtown Clinton. In 1945, he married Doris M. Butler, daughter of Byron and Mamie Butler. Children by Hal and Doris were Elizabeth Anne (Beth) and Henry Lafayette III (Hank). Doris died August 2, 1984 and Hal died June 6, 1997.
*From the Sampson Heritage Book, 1984