John Stewart was born at Londonderry, N.H. in 1745. In 1759, at the age of 13, he enlisted in the French and Indian War, and took part in a fight with the Indians at Oriskany during the same year. He joined Gen. Amherst's forces at Crown Point in the fall of 1759 and was present at the taking of Montreal in 1760. After the war he moved to Bennington, and joined the "Green Mountain Boys" who defended the Vermont people from New York claimants, and at the time of his death was the last of that small band. He later served in the Revolutionary War under Col. Joseph McCracken.
John's father James died about 1753 and his mother remarried. He joined the British army at age 14 in 1759. Severance's Londonderry Stewarts claims that John's father was named Samuel. However Philip Stewart, 6 Sabal Ct., Sewall's Pt., Stuart, Florida stated to me in a phone conversation that this was an error and that his name was James. Philip indicated that James' wife Alice married James' brother Samuel after James died, so this may be the source of the confusion. Severance does mention this possibility (pg. 76) and notes that some feel John came to Colrain, Mass. at the age of five to live with his uncle. Claim that John was a member of the "Green Mountain Boys" is substantiated by a muster-roll reprinted in the book "New York in the Revolution as colony and state." Vol. 1. Albany, N.Y. : J.B. Lyon, 1904 which lists a John Stewart as a member (pg. 62). Another John Stewart is listed as a member of the Second Regiment. The mention of a Captain McCracken in the statement of John's son Ira (below) indicates that John was a member of the Fourth Regiment. McCracken and Stewart are mentioned as members ("New York in the Revolution, ibid., pg. 47 & 53). Apparently he was a member of the Green Mountain Boys before the Revolution, when Vermonters were involved in border struggles with New Yorkers.
The following excerpt from the journal of Sergeant Samuel Merriman, kept from October 7, 1759 to September 8, 1760 (taken from Sheldon's History of Deerfield) gives a feel for daily rigors the young Stewart must have experienced"
"Campt crown point, Oct. 26, 1759.
"friday this day we set out to clean a rode to No. 4, we crost the Lake about Sun set & then campt.
"Satterday the 27 we camp east side of ye Lak upon Mager Hawks Rode; this day we set out to clear ye Rode and cleared as far as two mile Brook and we campt. Nothing extraordinary haped this Day.
"Sabath October ye 28, 1759, this day we marched 2 miles further and then came to a stream and made a brigue over and then marched 2 miles further and then came to a nother large stream and there we campt. &c.
"Tuesday, October ye 30th, 1759. We maid ye great brigue and march 3 miles & then campt.
"October ye 31, 1759, then march 2 miles & then we eat dinner"
(Severance, B. Frank. Genealogy and biography of the descendants of Walter Stewart of Scotland and of John Stewart who came to America in 1718 and settled in Londonderry, N.H. Greenfield, Mass. : T. Morey & Son, 1905, pg. 77-78)
After the close of the (French & Indian) war he moved from Colrain, Mass. to Bennington, Vt. where he joined the Green Mountain Corps., which defended the Vermont people from the New Yorkers, who claimed that region under grants, and at the time of his death, he was the last but one of that little band. The following extract from the life of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Heroes of '76 by Henry W. DePuy evidently refers to him:
"In October, 1769 a number of inhabitants of Bennington were assembled upon the farm of James Breckenridge, in the western part of the town, for the purpose of assisting him in harvesting his corn. While they were thus employed, a number of surveyors came upon the farm, and appeared to be running a line across it. Mr. Breckenridge (James Breckenridge was a former resident of Colrain, Mass., and lived next lot to the Stewarts) and Mr. Samuel Robinson left their work, and entered into conversation with them. The surveyors declared they were acting under the authority of the State of New York. Mr. Breckenridge and Mr. Robinson forbade their proceeding further, stating, at the same time, that it was not their intention to use violence, but merely to protest against the proceeding, for the purpose of preserving their legal rights. Upon this they petitioned the governor and council of New York stating that the commissioners and surveyors had been "violently opposed by sundry persons, and prevented by their threats from executing the trusts reposed upon them." Upon this a proclamation was issued by the governor "for apprehending and securing the principals and ringleaders;" and at the following January term of court at Albany, several persons who had been present were indicted as rioters, and among them was John Stewart. None of them, however, were arrested or brought to trial."
(Severance, B. Frank. Genealogy and biography of the descendants of Walter Stewart of Scotland and of John Stewart who came to America in 1718 and settled in Londonderry, N.H. Greenfield, Mass. : T. Morey & Son, 1905, pg. 78-79).
"John Stewart was born at Londonderry, N.H., Sept. 12, 1745. He told his grandson Homer H. Stuart that having lost his father when he was about five years old he went to Colrain, Mass. to live with his uncle, Samuel Stewart. In 1759, when fourteen, he enlisted in the French and Indian War and marched into the Province of New York, where he took part in a fight with the Indians at Oriskany. His company served under General Jeffrey Amherst and he was with it at the taking of Montreal in 1760. After the close of this war we find him a member of the Congregational Church at Bennington, Vt. and also enrolled in "The Green Mountain Corps," which defended the Vermont people from the New Yorkers who laid claim to Western Vermont under Grants. He took part in the events of the stirring year of 1775, serving under General Montgomery at the second capture of Montreal, November 13, 1775, and serving in the Revolutionary War under Colonel Joseph McCracken. After the war he was addressed as "Captain" Stewart." Whether this title came to him by regular commission or was accorded by courtesy of the day, is uncertain, but judging from his character it is scarcely probable he would, unless really entitled, have allowed its use. Moreover he had a sword - usually the badge of a commissioned officer.
When the Revolutionary War ended, he settled at Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain, where for ten years he kept an inn, called "Mount Independence House." This inn was destroyed by fire in 1794 and he moved to a farm at Burlington, not far from Cooperstown, N.Y.
Between 1806 and 1811 he resided at New Haven, Vt., and from the latter year until his death, July 31, 1829, at Middlebury, Vt.
While Captain Stewart was rather reticent, as a rule, he was less reserved with his grandson, Homer H. Stuart. Occasionally winter evenings, by the large open fireplace, he would relate events of his own childhood and adventures that had befallen him and his brothers in youth and manhood. Often in later years did Homer wish that he had taken the precaution to write down these reminiscences of his grandfather and great uncles in the French and Indian War - with Rogers' Rangers - in the forays of the Green Mountain Corps -- in the Revolution, as well as further West where William Stewart, the companion of Daniel Boone lost his life at the Battle of Blue Licks. But the young, listening to such hearthside narrations, are prone to forget how much personal and family history will pass away irrecoverably with the narrator, and thus it was with him.
Captain Stewart had a distinct remembrance of his aged great-grandmother. He used to relate to Homer her stories of the family's persecutions by "Bonnie Dundee," in Scotland. Tradition in the family states that she (a Forsyth) (editor's note: this would be Jeannette Forsythe) was the widow of Robert Stuart who was born in Scotland in 1655, and died in 1714. She accompanied her son John Stuart, (the proprietor) born in Edinburgh about 1682, to Londonderry, N.H., and survived him. As Captain Stewart was born in 1745, she must have been living as late as 1750 or 1752.
Homer H. Stuart once remarked that the character "Henry Morton of Milnwood," in Sir Walter Scott's Romance "Old Mortality," reminded him of Robert Stuart as portrayed in these tales of Captain Stewart's great-grandfather. For Robert, according to these stories, fought against Monmouth and in consequence was exiled and deprived of his estate. With the tradition of this "lost Stuart estate" Homer was familiar, but merely laughed when urged to seek its recovery. His own good sense told him it was better to serve his day and generation in useful work than to dream of recovering these enchanted lands.
Captain Stewart's sense of honor was keen. A pension was tendered him for his military services, but he replied, "I want no pay for having served my country." The evening before he passed away he sent for his grandson to come to his bedside. For some minutes he silently regarded the young man. Finally he said "Home, I am going to bid you good-by now." Then giving him some good advice as to the course of his life, he tenderly and affectionately pressed his hand in farewell.
Captain Stewart's character commanded the respect of all. Rigidly upright and of unswerving conviction, he was a worthy descendant of his Covenantor ancestor Robert, "a man who would die for a principle of a prejudice" and utterly devoid of fear. After the close of the Revolutionary War the country was for some time in a distracted condition and traveling dangerous. Late one night, passing a dismantled house, he heard groans. He reined in his horse to listen. The sound came from the house. Dismounting he tied his horse and groped into the ruins. Guided by the sound he felt his way down a rickety stairway to the cellar. There two glowing eyes met his own. He stood quietly until the groaning was renewed, and then slowly advanced until his outstretched hand encountered a sheep! The creature had tumbled into the cellar and had been disabled. Into such environment not many men would have dared to enter unarmed.
He attended the lecture of Lyman Beecher when the latter went through Vermont on his temperance crusade, and became convinced that it was morally wrong to use liquor. He was then eighty, and for some years had taken a small glass of Medford rum. He ordered the cask brought out and emptied in the barnyard. Through some oversight its inspiring contents flowed into the pig-sty and soon there was great revelry in the piggery!
Captain Stewart was very hospitable and lived well, having everything of the best. His horses were noted as carefully selected animals. He was an exemplary Christian and a pillar of the Middlebury Church. In person he was somewhat over six feet tall, well built, but not corpulent, abundant white hair, fair complexion and a strong-featured face. His carriage was erect and dignified (Severance, pg. 165-170).
Severance gives further details of his service. "He enlisted April 28, 1759 - at the age of 13 - served until September 24th as one of the garrison at Charlemont; re-enlisted for service in Canada (pg. 77)
In person he was over six feet tall and well built, with abundant white hair and strong featured face. His carriage was erect and dignified, and it was later said that he had resembled the Duke of Wellington during his later years. Capt. Stewart died at Middlebury in 1829. When the Revolution ended, the family moved to Ticonderoga, on the shores of Lake Champlain, where for ten years they kept an Inn, called "The Mount Independence House." The Inn was destroyed by fire in 1794 and the family moved to a farm at Burlington, near Cooperstown, N.Y. Between 1806 and 1811 they kept a general store at New Haven, Vermont, and from the latter year until the present the family has lived in Middlebury. (Private letters of The Stewart family of Middlebury, Vermont. Selected and edited by John E. Stewart, 1968. Sheldon Museum, Middlebury, Vt.)
Severance has his death date as July 30, 1829 but his grave stone seems to say the 31st (EAD)