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Silent City 2017 - Historian Mike Watson as William Stewart

2017-10-03 - Columbia Cemetery, 315 Campbellsville Street, Columbia, KY - Photo by Ed Waggener,
Adair County Historian Mike Watson portrayed William Stewart (1830-1904) in the 11th Annual "Silent City Cemetery Tour" Celebration on an absolutely perfect, Monday, October 2, 2017. Some 65-70 were in attendance. Mr. Stewart, a "read" lawyer, was four times Adair County County Attorney, but was always appointed, never elected. - EW.
William Stewart, Attorney, Farmer, Confirmed Bachelor--

William Stewart, son of John and Elizabeth Slater Stewart, was born at Columbia on 18 October 1830, died 14 July 1904 with heart failure at his home, near Columbia, with burial in the Columbia Cemetery, alongside and near his parents and siblings. He did not marry. William, who read law and was admitted to the Columbia Bar in May 1853, was a gifted attorney and practiced at the Columbia Bar for many years.

He was a local office holder, serving as Adair County Attorney on several occasions, and was Clerk of the Kentucky State Auditor's Office during the administration of fellow Columbian ,Governor Thomas Elliott Bramlette. He was also secretary to the Honorable James Speed while Speed was Attorney General of the United States, serving under President A. Lincoln.

While serving as county attorney, Stewart was noted for his vigorous and effective prosecuting before the Court. Considered a fine orator, his command of the English language was second to none, his speeches interspersed with wit and humor, "...[his] wit was scathing and his satire scathing." He continued his practice until age and failing health caused him to retire. During his lifetime he was, like most men of the day, a farmer and continued in that occupation until just prior to his death. A Baptist, he was a long-time member of the Columbia Baptist Church. Considered a natural mathematician, he was known to solve complicated math problems to steady his nerves.

William Stewart volunteered for service in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was Sergeant Major in 13th Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, having enrolled in Company B on the 23rd day of September 1861 at Columbia, and mustered into service on 1 January 1862 at Camp Hobson. He was quickly transferred to Field & Staff, on the day of enlistment. He was discharged on 16 April 1862 on a Surgeon's certificate of disability, from the field at Shiloh, Tennessee.

A physical description of Stewart, from his medical discharge gave the wrong age, as "25" years, born Adair County, 5 feet 7 inches, fair complexion, blue eyes, light hair, a lawyer, and "has been delicate all his life and the continued exposure in camp has caused continued ill health so much so that he is utterly unfit for duty." He was later a pensioner.

"An effort at one time was made to introduce barbed wire fence in the county [Adair], but it met with little favor... There has been a prejudice to its use except in a modified form. This may be due in part to a remark made by Wm. Stewart, Esq., upon his inspection of the first one built in the county. After giving it a critical examination, he said, 'Well, it may keep the stock inside, and the stock outside from getting in, but my judgment is that the wires can never be put close enough together to keep the man out of h--- who would build such a fence.' Following this the man took down the fence, and no one has used it since except as a top wire, or in connection with woven wire of plank." --"Sketches of Adair County" Number 30, by Judge Herschel Clay Baker, Adair County News,28 August 1918

"Do You Remember...The time when Steve Humphress sued a man in the county for tying some brush to his (Humphress') horse's tail, causing him to run off, getting hurt? Mr. Wm. Stewart was employed to defend the suit. In arguing the case, Mr. Stewart's point was, that his client had nothing to do with the horse running. That he tied the brush, but left it to the horse to choose his own gaits. He won." -"Do You Remember?," Adair County News, 7 March 1922

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