Thursday, September 01, 2016

Earl M. Stewart and his LaGrange scholars

Yesterday's post was about the LaGrange Dramatic Co.'s 1895 presentation of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," featuring a photo of the cast given to the Lucas County Historical Society during 1979 by Kermit G. Stewart. Stewart, of Alexandria, Virginia, was a son of Dr. Earl Minor Stewart, who was teaching LaGrange School scholars during 1894-95, was a cast member and most likely directed the production.

Kermit Stewart also sent along this photograph --- of his grandfather's Lagrange students during 1894 with the school house in the background. At the time, country school students generally were offered three terms a year --- shorter (eight-week perhaps) terms in the spring and fall which older boys tended not to attend because they were busy on the farm with planting or harvest; and a longer winter term, 10 to 12 weeks, which generally had the most students, including older boys. This photo most likely was taken during the fall term, although I can't be sure of that.

As with the other photo, Dr. Stewart meticulously numbered each student, keyed to a list of names pasted to the back. Both of these images will enlarge in new windows if you want to link names and faces. Stewart is the bareheaded young man standing to the right of center.

Earl M. Stewart was born July 7, 1871, in Muskingum County, Ohio. During 1893, when he was 22, the young man decided to head west --- over the objections of his parents (he was an only son). He landed in Lucas County, where family friends and former neighbors in Muskingum County already had settled.

After working five months as a hand on a farm in the Derby area, he attended a two-week teachers' institute in Chariton, took the examination and was issued his licence to teach by Carrie Allen, then county superintendent of schools and herself a native of the LaGrange community. He taught the LaGrange school for two years, 1894 and 1895, then returned on a break from medical school to teach the spring term of 1897, too.

After graduating from Central Medical College in St. Joseph, Missouri, during 1899, he enrolled at the College of Physicians and Surgeons in Baltimore, then returned to Derby to practice briefly before settling finally in Nebraska where the remainder of his life was spent. He died Feb. 2, 1943. 

If you'd like to learn more about Dr. Stewart, go to this page, maintained by his grandson, Hugh Stewart. But be warned that the birth year given for him here is 10 years off and that confuses the narrative a little.

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