Friday, February 27, 2015

Memories of Minerva

On my travels here and there I always carry a camera and keep an eye open for additions to my collection of "Tree Shaped Tombstones".  I ran across this interesting specimen in the little town of Turtle Lake, Wisconsin.

It is a nice bit of craftsmanship, of the style I refer to as a "stack of logs".  They seem to be more common in areas where the timber industry was once prominent.  Something about this caught my eye.  Sometimes it is the little details that are just a bit off that stop you.  Did you notice it?

OK, maybe not.  But I spend a lot of time with these and was struck by how rare it was to have a woman listed alone on one.  Like, pretty much never.  There were some other Stewarts buried nearby so my initial whimsical thoughts of a spinster schoolmarm or of a frontier "soiled dove" gone legit did not seem to be likely.  So I did a little research.

The full text can be found HERE.  But the story is this.

Minerva (nee Owrey) Stewart was living in Crawford County, Pennsylvania when she gave birth to her son George in 1865.  Four years later her husband died.  Apparently she was an indomitable woman, as she packed up her little family and moved to the still wild and rustic environs of eastern Iowa in 1869. Later, in 1878 they moved to Wisconsin, settling eventually in Turtle Lake township.  George was by then all of 14 years old and started working in the local lumber mills.

George prospered by the standards of the day, in 1885 he had enough money to buy 40 acres of land to clear for a modest farm.  I assume that Minerva spent her final days there, and when she passed away her son - perhaps recalling both her strength and his time in the sawmills - sprung for this swell monument.

Minerva Steward, Pioneer and Good Mother.

No comments: