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People of Van Buren County | Stuarts settled on 160 acres north of town

Benjamin Othed Stuart was born Dec. 15, 1829, in Buncombe County, North Carolina, and he married Marinda Avalin Godfrey in Morganton, Fannin County, Georgia, June 16, 1861.

Benjamin lived in Gilmer County, Georgia, in 1850, and in Fannin County, Georgia, in 1860. He moved near Atlanta, Georgia, in March 1862, then to Lounden County, Tennessee.

On Sept. 27, 1863, he enlisted in the Union Army and was mustered in to Company B, 11th Reg’t Tennessee Cavalry. He was sick in Maynardville, Tennessee, in 1864, and was transferred to CO. L 9th Reg’t Tennessee Cavalry in 1865. He mustered out on June 23, 1865.

He had a daughter born in 1869 in Arkansas, so he brought his family to Arkansas about that time. He is listed on the 1870 Census for Van Buren County, Griggs Township. In June 1882 Ben received a Homestead Certificate for 158 acres in Township 11, which was north of Clinton.

An article was printed in the Van Buren County Democrat on Oct. 25, 1918, which explains some things about this homestead. The title of the article is “Old Stewart Homestead Sold for Benefit of Heirs.” Here is the article:

“The old ‘Stewart’ homestead, a tract embracing 160 acres and situated on the mountain north of town, was sold by commissioners of the Chancery court Saturday pursuant to a decree in a suit for partition. Three forties of the tracts were bought by S.K. Patton, Jess Watkins purchased the remaining 10 acres. The 160 acres sold for approximately $250. The place was settled some 30 years ago by ‘Uncle Ben’ Stewart, father of Mrs. Kate Thompson, where with his family he passed something like 20 years. Some 15 years ago, because of failing health upon the part of his wife, he abandoned the place and moved to town. While buildings have since gone to decay, and much of the cleared land is now covered with a growth of small bush, there is ample evidence and will be for a century to come, that ‘Uncle Ben’ was a man of great industry. Some of this evidence is to be found in a substantial, neatly constructed rock fence enclosing a goodly portion of what was once the main field. Riding across this homestead, and the same is true of many other abandoned homesteads throughout the county, one cannot but feel impressed with the magnitude of this wasted energy and what it would have meant to civilization for generations yet unborn if it could have been conserved and directed in channels of a permanent character. Compared with other settlements in the county 30 years is not much of a span of time, but conditions then as contrasted with those of today is beyond the comprehension of men now of mature years. In those days the high cost of living was something undreamed of. Labor was cheap and time plentiful, while manufactured material such as woven wire, was beyond the reach of the average ‘homesteader’ then 50 miles from a railroad. ‘Uncle Ben’ and his good wife both passed to their reward more than a decade since but they left their impress on the county, not only for industry but along other worthy lines; that must commemorate their memory for many years yet to come.”

Benjamin and Marinda had seven daughters: Louisa Kezia born Georgia 1862; Nancy Miriam born Georgia 1863; Catherine Elvira born in Georgia 1866; Aseneth Cumi born in Georgia 1867; Artey Exemine born in Arkansas 1869; Delila A. born in Arkansas 1871; and Altha Loretta born in Arkansas in 1873.

Benjamin had a hip and leg injury from a battle with a mule so he applied for a pension and received it in 1898. Both he and Marinda died in Van Buren County but it is not known where they are buried. Benjamin died in November 1908. Their daughter Catherine Elvira married Benjamin Harrison Thompson who was also an early resident of Van Buren County.

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