NEW MAPS HAVE BECOME AVAILABLE and BOOK EXCERPT
STEWART HOMESTEAD, (SAMMONSVILLE), JOHNSTOWN, NY 1787
I recently was given the link to a site that has satellite maps that are much clearer and show much more detail than Google Earth. (Thank you, Kevin) The first map is a close up of the Northwest corner of the second map, showing the location of the House, Barn, Milk House and Spring House foundations as we found them in 1993 and 2000 visits. The maps in the book were old Tract maps from research at the Planning Department of Fulton County. They did not give a good perspective of the location of the buildings on the farm, nor where the farm was located in relation to the Villages of Johnstown and Sammonsville.
STEWART HOMESTEAD, SAMMONSVILLE, NY
The original purchase was one hundred acres in 1787 by Robert Stewart I. The Village of Sammonsville is to the right on the road less than one half mile. His son, William later purchased an additional one hundred acre parcel nearby.
AN EXCERPT FROM STEWART: HEATHER LOST (PAGE 75)
So how did Robert and Jane accumulate enough cash to buy their way to the U.S.? I think, based on the timeline of this family, there is a logical conclusion. They were married in 1778. In 1779 Alexander was born, in 1780 Catherine, followed in 1781 by John. The family oral history reported that our ancestor James, the next in line, was born in Scotland. However, only three children were listed by name as leaving Glen Lyon by both Dobson and Whyte in 1786. James was born 20 Aug 1786. Therefore there was five years between the birth of number three, John Robert, and James. If Robert and Jane abstained from their marriage intimacy for that period they may have saved enough to buy passage to the U.S.
The alternative was not very good. They had to leave Scotland. If they stayed it would mean a radical change in their lives with no guaranty of any life for them. For that matter, life at all. Most of the families living in the Jacobite centers of Scotland had been forced to leave and many were executed as traitors after the ’459. Others were shipped to the penal colonies in America and Australia. Some of the more dependent became fishermen on the coasts with the help of their Laird. There could only be so many fishermen to be able to derive a living from that way of life. Others were shipped to the new world, self-indentured for terms of five, ten or more years, where they struggled working to pay off their cost of the ship’s voyage. The Lairds could no longer afford nor did they need their army of tenants to defend them. They, too, were poor and were struggling to get by raising sheep. Sheep needed pasturage on land that the tenants were occupying.
Perhaps in 1781 right after the birth of John Robert . . . this dialog may have occurred.
ROBERT AND JANE STEWART GET READY TO LEAVE SCOTLAND
Jane (formal) and Jean (pet name) are synonymous at this time.
“Jean darlin’, I’ve just talked to my brothers Donald and Dugald. They are getting money together to take their families to America.”
“What are they going to do when they get there?”
“Well, Jean, they have talked to families of some of cousin David’s men who have received letters from over there. They were able to actually buy land with very little cash and something called a mortgage. It’s similar to our Croft agreement with Foss, only they really own the land when it’s paid.”
“Just a minute Robb, I need to feed wee Johnnie.” Some rustling of clothing and then contented sucking noises. Jane then says, “Yes, but how did they save enough money to buy their passage on the ships and then still have some for land? We have three bairns and if we are to have more then we cannot save any thing at all.”
Robert looked somewhat depressed, “Well, I hadn’t thought of that. I don’t know.”
Days later they were together and again thinking about how to go to America. This time she was nursing John, “We are feeding and clothing our wee bairns now from our income with a little left over. How long would it take to save enough for ship’s passage and land?”
Robert screwed up his face, counting on his fingers several times, he said, “Probably ten years if we are careful. If we have five or six more bairns maybe never.” He even looked more depressed than before. Although he smiled as Jane detached John from her ample breast and put him down in his bed to sleep. Perhaps he was seeing the only benefit for him if they stayed in the Highlands
“Robb, suppose we had no more bairns for a while, then how long would it be? After three, we both now know how they came about.”
He sputtered and walked around the room four or five times. “About five years, six at the most. We know what this means. Do you really think we can?”, he said.
“Sometimes it would mean sleeping on the floor, swimming in the River Tummel or even just going somewhere else for a little while.”
They loved each other dearly and that intimate act was sometimes all they had to keep their lives on an even keel. “Jean, love, I don’t know if I can.”
“Perhaps if we help each other we can do it.”
Thus, later, it was decided that Jane and Robert would remain dormant sexually for a time. It turned out to be about five years to be exact, a long, long, long time. They both had reservations about their decision. Asking each other again and again, “Can we really do this?”
They, two lonely people, lived from day to day. Sometimes when the going was very dim they sought solace in each other. Soon, “Jean, we had better find something else to do or we will be right back where we started,” he said.
Usually a soft reply, “Aye, Robb, I love thee more than ever, we can do it.” Then off to some work or to walk out into the cool night.
They persisted thus until they thought they might talk to Cousin John Stewart, the Laird of Foss, about leaving even though they didn’t think their savings were quite enough.The pressure was on Foss who, even though a cousin, was being strongly influenced financially to clear out his tenants and pasture sheep. Money was a problem for him, tenants did not bring in enough revenue and the need for defense was gone now that the English were in complete control. After the usual formal greetings, Robert opened the talk with the great respect he felt for his cousin, “Jean and I are getting ready to leave if your Lordship would allow us to do so.”
John beamed. “Aye, Robbie, I have been hoping you would come to me soon, I have watched you grow into manhood and you have a fine family.” It seems he had been quite worried how to broach the subject with this family, for most of his tenants were cousins, uncles, brothers who were dependent on him for their living. These were families that he rented land to and their rents barely paid his tack. He had been a witness at Alexander’s wedding in ‘43. He had a twinkle in his eye for he knew of Robert and Jane’s promise to each other. “I have been aware of your hardship in trying to save coin for the trip to America. As my cousin you and Jean are very close to me, I promised your father before he died I would see to it that you would get out of here some way, not tied to some monied man who wants to make more money from your sweat. So, here is what I have to offer you, it is nearly the same I gave to Dugald and Donald when they left a year ago. I can return the balance of your yearly tithe and I will pay you for your house and barn.”
Now Dugald and Donald were also John’s cousins and Robert’s half-brothers and they had written to Robert they had land and knew how to get more for Robert and Jane. What’s more, they knew how much cash the land would cost. “Uncle John, you have just completed our dreams, we will now be able to leave here midyear if I can arrange passage, . . . thank you.”
With that he dashed out of the house. Robert covered the mile or so from the Foss Manse to his house in record time. Shouting the last 100 yards, “Jean, Jean, we can go, we can go!” They leapt into each others arms in their happiness.
“Oh, Robbie, I am so proud of you, it has been so very hard, hasn’t it?”
Later that night there was no walking in the cold night or finding something else to do.
STAY TUNED . . .