Previous Next Pioneers & Immigrants Exhibit Page Home Search
Record 174/261
Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum
Enlarge Image
Admin/Biog History James Stewart (occasssionally misspelled as Stuart) was born in Scotland circa 1816. He married Helen (Ellen) Edward in Scotland on September 20, 1839. The couple immigrated to the United States and settled in Oshkosh, Wisconsin by 1856. A James Stewart purchased a farm in Vinland Township on September 1, 1849. James owned a farm outside of town, but was working as a painter by 1857. The couple had seven children: James E., born July 8, 1841; Robert, born June 4, 1843; William, born July 11, 1845 and died in Scotland the same year; Alexander, born August 13, 1847; Magdelina, born February 25, 1850; Emillie Jane, born April 11, 1853; Ann Eliza, born April 13, 1856; and Edgar, born in 1859. Son James E. served in Company B, 21st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War and rose to the rank of Captain. He later moved to Chicago, ILL. James Stewart was living in Oshkosh in 1870 with his family and owned Real Estate valued at $3500. He owned a shop on Merritt near Main Street and resided on Jefferson. In 1876 he was still working as a house painter, paper hanger, and glazer. By this time the spelling of his name had changed from 'Stewart' to 'Stuart'. None of the family is found in the Oshkosh City directories after this year. In 1880 he was still working as a painter and living in Ripon, Wisconsin with his wife Elen; son Edgar R. (a merchant Tailor) and daughter Anna. In 1900, his widow Helen is living with her married daughter Annie and her son Edgar in the 12th Ward of Chicago, Illinois.
Classification Archives
Collection Small Collections, People
Dates of Accumulation July 27, 1856
Abstract Letter from James Stewart in Oshkosh, Wisconsin to his Uncle in Scotland:
It is written on the back of "F. C. Messinger's News Letter Sheet" dated June 1856, which contains local Oshkosh news.

Oshkosh, July 27, 1856

Dear Uncle,

I received yours of date 25th June. I was happy to see by it that your health has been so good for the last twelve months. You will no doubt think me very careless in not writing you before this time. I duly received yours containing one of the [money] orders I sent you. We was all much disappointed on receiving the intelligence of you not coming here. We was looking for you arriving here every day for 2 weeks before I received your letter. The boys went every day to the steam boats when they land here, thinking they would meet you, but they came home always very much disappointed. We was almost certain you would come, and I had arrangements for you. I intended to put you on my farm, and had made up my mind not to let it out anymore, but I thought if you would I would engage a man to work it and you would be there to look after as people in this country need a looking after. I had bought a yoke of cattle the day only before I received the letter of yours not coming. I paid 100 dollars for them. They were a yoke of dark red cattle 5 years old and you could not know one by the other. I have them still on my farm. I let it out on shares last fall to a Welsh man. He knew very little about farming and less about driving cattle. He spoiled my cattle very bad this last spring and I was very ill pleased about them for they were a yoke of very tractable cattle. I drove all my firewood with them last winter when the snow was on the ground when sleighing was good. They were as easy [to] drove as a span of horses. I could go out to my farm a distance of 7 miles in two hours. I think I will not let out my farm any more. I think I will hire a man in the Fall to plow what he can and sow only wheat and oats, and I can hire to cut them in the harvest. I have got considerable stock on my farm. I have 11 head of cattle now and I have bought a mare and colt about 10 weeks ago. She is a very fine animal, beautiful bay, 7 years old, and very gentle. The smallest of my children could go up to her and drive her and do anything with her. The colt is a very handsome creature of the same color as the mother. It is rather small, but it was a twin colt, the other one died. It was larger than this one.

Oshkosh, 21st March, 1857

Dear uncle,

You will see by the above lines that I commenced to reply upon receipt of yours. I can not make no apology for being so careless in not writing you before the time. I need not say I could not get time, though I have always been full of business. I must own that I have been very ungrateful towards you, but I trust you will forgive me for the past and I will not be so careless in writing hereafter. I am happy to inform you that we are in the enjoyment of good health, except Helen. She has been sick for some time, but thank God she is a good deal better and able to be about again. There has been no great change…

[A 1 ½ inch section of the letter is missing here]

…eption of the eyes…light blue eyes, Magdalena …last Fall and both of them and Alexander had the Measles. They were very sick with both diseases, but thank God they got over them very well and is all in the enjoyment of good health now. Helen has not been very well for the last twelve months, but thank God there has been nothing very serious occurred amongst us. We have enjoyed better health on the whole here than we did in Scotland. I have had a stock of good health for the last five years. I may say I have never had one day of sickness with the exception of a little touch of rheumatism that I have in my hip joints last summer, but I have got clear of them again. Dear Uncle, we indulge in the thought of seeing you here yet if you are surer of health and strength to stand the journey. I was very sorry that you could not get out. I was surprised that no one would take you to New York, for the [money] order I sent you was good as Gold. I could have sent you the [money] order to have been drawn in Scotland, but it was to save you of trouble changing your money when you arrived at New York. We was a little afraid of the time that Jane would act as she did when it came to the time to [depart?], but all I can say is if she had come out here she could have had a good comfortable living all the rest of her life time. I think she might have been happy to get away from the misery. She has had many a miserable day and she wants to stay in misery all the rest of her life. Many a one would be happy to get the means to take them here. We do not blame you for not coming, but we was very sorry you did not come. There is nothing on Earth [that] would have made Helen and me more happier than to have had you here and likewise to make you comfortable the remainder of your life. If you thought you could stand the journey I would send you the means to bring you out here this Summer. If there was anyone coming out that you knew you could count, come with them, but I am afraid you could not come alone. My brother wrote me about two years ago for information about the place as he intended to come out. I wrote him a letter containing all the information I could, but he never wrote me again. I suppose he is afraid to leave dockside. If you could get him persuaded to come out here you could perhaps come with him. He should come on account his business is good in this place. I trust you will write me on receipt of this letter. Let us know how you are and if you would come here if the means were placed in your reach to bring you here. We would like to have you here and care for you. I have my horse still. If you were here you could ride about in a carriage at pleasure. I keep her for nothing but pleasure and ride round within my leisure time….

[Section of the letter is missing. It may have never been finished and never sent or was a first draft.]
Category 8: Communication Artifact
Legal Status Oshkosh Public Museum
Object ID SC618.5.4
Object Name Letter
People Stewart (Stuart), James
Stewart, Helen Edward
Subjects Pioneers
Emigration & immigration
Title Letter
COPYRIGHT INFORMATION ~ For access to this image, contact

NOTICE: This material may be freely used by non-commercial entities for educational and/or research purposes as long as this message remains on all copied material. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit or other presentation without the permission of The Oshkosh Public Museum. © 2005 Oshkosh Public Museum, All Rights Reserved   
Last modified on: December 12, 2009