Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Two Obituaries of John Wilson Stewart

My husband's 2nd great-grandfather passed away on July 5, 1907, in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Like many of our ancestors, his obituary appeared in the local newspaper (Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 6, 1907) and included the basic information about his death and family:

"John W. Stewart, 73 years old, a well-known resident of McKeesport, died yesterday morning at the McKeesport hospital from injuries received Thursday when he was struck by a street car. The following children survive: M. Wilson Stewart, a Pittsburgh attorney; J. Boyd Stewart, a physician, and Scott M. Stewart, of McKeesport. A brother, Henry Stewart, 75 years old, has been ill for the last six months, and is now in a critical condition at his home in East Eleventh street, McKeesport."

However, I was lucky to find another, more extensive obituary in Google Books, which appeared in Pittsburgh's Presbyterian Banner on August 22, 1907. This one even provided a description of his character and appearance!

Pittsburgh Presbyterian Banner Newspaper

"STEWART--At McKeesport Hospital, McKeesport, Pa., July 5, 1907, John W. Stewart in his 73d year.
Mr. Stewart was born within the present limits of McKeesport, on September 9, 1834. He was married in 1862 to Miss Elizabeth Gamble, of Kiskiminetas, Armstrong county, Pa., who died in October, 1899. Three sons survive him: M. Wilson, J. Boyd and Scott M.
Mr. Stewart came from strong Presbyterian stock. Seven ministers of the Presbyterian Church were close relatives of his mother. Hamilton Stewart, his father, was a pioneer in organized religious effort in McKeesport, and one of the earliest ruling elders of the First church of this city, which office he held 41 years, or until he was called to rest. What may have been the first temperance society west of the mountains was organized in the First church in 1829, by Hamilton Stewart and two others. Henry, the surviving brother of our subject, is the oldest ruling elder of the above church. He was ordained in 1873.
John W. Stewart was a life-long member and for 36 years a trustee of the First church. He was secretary of the board of trustees when he died.
In his treatment of people he was genial and unassuming. His sympathy for the sick and unfortunate was marked. The man's heart beat true. Little did he lecture about right living, but himself lived right, as nearly as men can. So he endeared himself to those who knew him well and commanded the respect of the community.
Mr. Stewart was a man of dignified bearing and fine presence. A full flowing beard, almost white, added to his venerable appearance. While he usually wore a thoughtful look, his face beamed with pleasure when he conversed with friends. He much enjoyed a social talk.
At the time of his death Mr. Stewart was a trustee and treasurer of McKeesport Hospital, where he died, as a result of an accident which befell him on July 4. Much of the man's time was devoted to the interests of this institution. He was also a member of the McKeesport Chamber of Commerce, where, among other great questions, he strove for pure city government. Our heavenly Father has taken this dear brother home."

As you can see, obituaries may vary in each publication, so it may be worth your time to look at each newspaper published in the area to see if there are variations that give you some additional details about your ancestors.

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