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Early Settlers – Silent Land Cemetery, Ford County, Kansas

Thomas B. Stewart was an early settler and Civil War veteran.

Thomas Byers Stewart was born on January 20, 1828, in West Virginia. He was the 7th of 10 children born to David and Jane Byers Stewart. On May 10, 1854, Thomas married Theresa VanVoorhis (1827-1876) in Pennsylvania. Nine children were born to this union. Theresa passed away and is buried in Pennsylvania.

In March of 1878, Thomas brought eight of his nine children to Spearville. Their ages ranged from nine and 22 years old. The family settled about three miles northwest of Spearville. The oldest son remained in Pennsylvania studying to be a minister.

Thomas was involved in the growth of Spearville. He served as a postmaster and was the first mayor of Spearville in 1885.

In 1889, Thomas married Rebecca VanVoorhis, a sister of his first wife. Their final years were spent in Spearville. T.B. died on March 2, 1900 and is buried in Silent Land Cemetery. Rebecca passed away five years later is and buried next to her husband.

At the bottom of T.B. and Rebecca’s headstones it reads: “Jesus said the hour is coming in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice and shall come forth they that have done good unto the resurrection of life.”

Of the eight children who accompanied their father, Isaac Van (1856-1936) was the only one to remain in Spearville.

Note: Thomas’ grandson and I.V.’s son, Tom Stewart, was a member of the 6th Marines during World War I (1914-1918). It was his unit that joined the Allies in turning back the Germans last offensive of the war. As they marched to Paris, American, French, and British troops met the Germans at Chateau-Thierry. In the end, the Allies won, but at a cost. An estimated 300,00 soldiers lost their lives with 168,000 belonging to the Germans.

During the battle, Tom Stewart was wounded by a fragment of shrapnel and was poisoned by mustard gas. He was sent to the hospital and survived.

Note: West Virginia became a state on June 20, 1863. Before that date, it was still a part of Virginia. Virginia was a border state prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. When the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, fourteen counties in northwest Virginia did not want to secede. They sided with the North throughout the war.

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