Mayor of Harveysburg, Ohio
A Noted Educator Among the People of His Race
Prof. J. W. Stewart is the son of Jackson Stewart who came to Ohio from Virginia. He was a farmer and a land owner in both Clinton and Warren Counties. He came to this state early in life and was married to Caroline Jackson who was also a Virginian and lived in Fayette County, Ohio. They lived for a long time near New Burlington, Ohio. To them eight children were born. Only two are now living. Charles who was a teacher for a number of years is now a measurer and lumber inspector in the McDougal cabinet factory in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The subject of this sketch, Prof. J. W. Stewart was born in Chester Township, Clinton County, Ohio, July 18, 1843. He worked with his father on the farm until he was 22 years old. After accumulating quite a little fortune, he and his father engaged in the grocery business in Xenia, Ohio. On Arpil 18, 1866, he was married to Virginia Singleton of Harveysburg, the only daughter of Bushrod and Malvina Singleton ~~ Mr. Singleton is still living and although 85 years old is well land hearty.
In his manhood, Mr. Stewart's opportunity for an education was quite limited, but seeing the need of better schools among his race, he carried his books to the field and while his horses were resting, he began the preparation for the profession of teaching. His wife was an excellent scholar; she often said to him, notwithstanding the valuable assistance she gave him with his studies at night, "John, you will never be able to teach school."
He continued in his studies in this manner, and after he had pursued a short course of study at Wilberforce University, he was employed to teach the colored school at Harveysburg. This was the first colored school organized in the state of Ohio for colored children. He taught this school for ten consecutive years. It grew so rapidly in interest and numbers that after two years of labor the Board of Education employed an hesitantly to help him with the work. It was in this school that several of his pupils were prepared for teaching. Some of the brainiest men and women of the race received their elementary training in this school.
Early in the fall of 1885 he resigned this position and moved to Topeka, Kansas, with a view to farming, but later became a principal of one of the city schools. Not being very favorably impressed with farm life in Kansas, he returned to Ohio, and resumed teaching in Lebanon, Ohio. The school was soon mixed and the colored teachers were not retained. He was next found as principal of the school in Sabina, Ohio. After teaching in Sabina one year, he was tendered the principalship of the colored school in Wilmington, Ohio. He had charge of this school fourteen consecutive years. It was while principal of this school that he obtained great results from his labors. He raised the school to a high standard of efficiency and prepared a large number of boys and girls for high school, college , and the profession of teaching.
After teaching thirty consecutive years, he again went back to farming, but finding that the long career as a teacher had unfitted him for the work on the farm, he resumed teaching in Harveysburg ~ the very school he had taught almost a quarter of a century ago. He experience a very successful and profitable year's work, and no doubt the coming year will unfold to him results that will be gratifying to himself and the patrons.
Mr. Stewart is public spirited and an urgent worker in all things that tend to the betterment of the communities in which he has lived. In politics and on all public questions he has always been found on the right side. He has acted as judge and clerk of elections in both county and state. He is now the mayor of Harveysburg. Professor Stewart has a family of nine children, six of whom have been teachers. Two are now in the mail service.