Biography of Hiram Swain Steward

Hiram Swain Steward, a retired business man of Skowhegan, Maine, was born in this town, August 7, 1827, son of Josiah and Nancy (Webb) Steward. On both paternal and maternal sides he comes of long lines of New England ancestry. Solomon Steward, of Rowley, Massachusetts, his great-great-grandfather, who was born about 1700 and died in 1788, is said to have served under Captain Harman at the taking of Norridgewock. The children of Solomon Steward were: Benjamin; Solomon, Jr.; Phineas; Daniel; William; Jacob; and Mary.

Daniel Steward, the fourth son as here named, great-grandfather of Hiram S. Steward, was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, in 1735, and moved to Lunenburg, Massachusetts, about 1750. He died in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in June, 1802. In 1756 he was married to Mary, daughter of Abraham Ireland. She died in Norridgewock, Maine, January 30, 1818. They had eleven children, namely: Daniel, Jr.; Benjamin; John; Amasa; Amherst; Stephen; Thomas; James; Mary; Sally; and 13etsey.

Daniel, Jr., who was Hiram S. Steward’s grandfather, was born in Lunenburg, Massachusetts, October 3, 1758. He removed to Canaan, Maine, in 1775, and in 1784 he located at Skowhegan Falls in the town of Norridgewock. Both he and his father served in the Revolutionary Army. About 1780 he was married to Rachel Kemp. She was born August 21, 1761, and died October 18, 1839. He died September 15, 1840. The following is a brief record of their children: Polly, born March 8, 1782, died January 4, 1861; Daniel, born November 16, 1783, died May 7, 1858; Thomas P., born in February, 1787, died in February, 1837; Josiah, who was born September 19, 1789, died October 16, 1865; Eli, born in May, 1792, died in May, 1842; Eber, who was born May 17, 1796; Benjamin, who was born December 28, 1801, died February 15, 1892; and Sally, born August 21, 1804, died April 7, 1886.

Josiah Steward, the third son and the father of the subject of this sketch, was a lifelong farmer of Skowhegan. He was a member of the Christian church. His wife, Nancy, was a daughter of Christopher Webb. She lived to be about fourscore years of age. Twelve children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Steward, and eleven of them attained maturity. Four of these are now living: James, who is seventy-five years of age; Hiram Swain, whose personal history is given below; Sylvanus B., a retired farmer; and Franklin, a farmer of Skowhegan.

Hiram S. Steward acquired his early education in the common schools of Skowhegan. He learned carriage-making with Thomas C. Ross, of this town, and in 1849 went to California, making the voyage in a sailing-vessel, going around Cape Horn. During his stay of three years and a half in that State he worked at carriage-repairing and blacksmithing. He remained in Skowhegan for three years following his return, and was the pioneer in oilcloth manufacture here. A stock company was formed, in which the principal shareholders were A. and P. Coburn, S. D. Arnold, Benjamin W. Norris, and Osgood Sawyer; and business was conducted in the name of Norris, Coburn & Co. for five years. A factory was erected in 1854, and was in operation until 1863. Mr. Steward, however, returned to California about 1857, and was engaged there in sheep-raising for three years. He then travelled extensively for three months in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. He finally located himself at Waterloo, the county-seat of Black Hawk County, Iowa, and, purchasing a lot of sheep in Michigan, let them out to the Iowa farmers. Wool at that time was selling at a dollar a pound. Mr. Steward also was engaged in milling at Waterloo, where he owned and managed a grain elevator, also a grist and flour mill. Here he remained some four years.

In 1865, returning to his native State, he brought with him a quantity of flour, and started a wholesale business, which he managed successfully until 1872. It was a new enterprise in this part of the country, and Mr. Steward had little competition to contend with. In 1872 he built the Island Mills, which were under his management for twenty-two years, and which he still owns. Mr. Steward has a fine farm, and since his retirement he has found much pleasure in agricultural pursuits. He was a charter member of the Skowhegan Water Works Association.

Mr. Steward cast his first Presidential vote for Zachary Taylor in 1848. He was Selectman of Skowhegan a number of years, and was chairman of the board in 1880. Elected on the Republican ticket to the State legislature, he was in the Ilouse in 1879 and 1880, serving on the Committees on Interior Waters, Legal Affairs, and Railroads. He was made a Mason in 1849 in Somerset Lodge, No. 34, but obtained a demit when he went West, with the intention of joining a Western lodge. This, however, he neglected to do, and he failed to renew his connection with the home lodge on his return.

Mr. Steward has been twice married. His first wife, who died after the birth of two children, was Caroline, daughter of Constantine and Cynthia White. The present Mrs. Steward is her sister, Cynthia. Their father’s grandfather, John White, Sr., was one of the early settlers of Skowhegan, coming here from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, about 1773; and his wife, Mrs. Mary Whitney White, daughter of Samuel Whitney, was the first school teacher in this town. John White, Sr., of Fitchburg and Skowhegan, was a lineal descendant of the immigrant John White, who was at Salem, Massachusetts, in 1638, and in 1653 was one of the planters of Lancaster, Massachusetts.

John White, Jr., Mrs. Steward’s grandfather, came to Skowhegan with his father, being at that time a boy of nine years. He was a farmer. Constantine White was engaged in manufacturing shoes and also in farming in this town for a number of years. Mrs. Steward’s maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Olive Moor, was the daughter of Major John Moor by his wife, Peggy, daughter of Colonel John Goffe.

John Moor was the son of Samuel and Deborah (Butterfield) Moor, of Litchfield, New Hampshire, then called Naticott. He served in the French and Indian War and in the Revolution. At the battle of Bunker Hill he was Captain of a company, and was promoted to the rank of Major.

By his first wife Mr. Steward has one son, Frank R., and one daughter, Alice; by the second he has a son and a daughter, John W. and Mary A. His sons carry on the business at the Island Mills. Frank R. Steward married Bertha Farrand. John W. Steward married first Nettie B. Frost; and after her death he married his present wife, whose maiden name was Agnes Safford. Alice Steward is the wife of Willard B. Steward, a dry-goods merchant of Skowhegan; and Mary A. is the wife of Edward W. Heath, of Waterville.

Source: Biographical review: containing life sketches of leading citizens of Somerset, Piscataquis, Hancock, Washington, and Aroostook counties, Maine. Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1898.

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