I am fortunate in that my parents and grandparents took photographs and preserved the photos of the generations before them. My paternal great-aunt Margaret Steward (1888–1975) was the genealogist of the Steward and Beeckman families, and she was careful to identify the sitters in family photos whenever she could. Through her efforts, I have three photographs of the Steward Homestead in Goshen, New York, from the 1850s. These pictures show different collections of Stewards, Whites, Le Roys, and Mariés, the parents, siblings, and other kin of my great-great-grandparents, John Steward and Catharine Elizabeth White.
The one of my great-great-grandparents and their three children (above) is the easiest to decode. My great-grandfather is the youngest child in the photo, carefully hovering over his toy cannon, still a family heirloom more than 150 years later. His older brother, John, is dressed for play, unlike Campbell in his velvet dress and lace collar. Between them, holding a straw hat, is Harriet Le Roy Steward, the family beauty. After her death in 1872, her widower (Augustus Van Horne Stuyvesant) took their three children, the youngest only a year old, to live with Mrs. John Steward’s mother on West Twenty-first Street in New York: four generations of Whites, Stewards, and Stuyvesants lived under one roof for more than thirty years.
The next photo, taken the same day (note Aunt Harriet’s hat and John and Catharine Steward’s clothes), shows a larger group, and includes my great-great-great-grandmother, Harriet Banyer Le Roy (1797–1885), from 1816 Mrs. Campbell Patrick White. (She is shown in profile, leaning against her daughter Ann White and next to Catharine White Steward.) I am more confident about the women in the picture than the men, as Aunt Margaret wasn’t so sure herself: the three mysteries are the elderly gentleman seated at left, either Campbell Patrick White or John Steward’s uncle Gabriel Steward, both of whom died in 1859; the man in the cravat, standing at center left, identified as Daniel Jackson Steward (1816–1898), John’s brother; and, between his White nieces, Harriet White’s brother Goldsborough Le Roy Banyer (1802–1866). The women in the photograph share a family look, as they are (from left) Catharine Steward’s sisters Cornelia Le Roy White (1825–1911, seated), Mary Martha White (1822–1903, standing in the doorway), and Ann White (1820–1914, behind her mother).
As I look at the photo, it occurs to me that the fellow with the cravat, who does not particularly resemble Uncle Jackson Steward (see the final photo below), might actually be John Campbell White (1817–1904) – which would account for all of Campbell and Harriet White’s surviving children circa 1859.
The third photo in this series might date from 1856, as that was the year in which Rachel Young Steward (1829–1865) married Camille Marié (1826–1886). But what is most interesting about this photo is the grouping of the family servants, all of whom – save for the Jarvis youth – are identified on the back of the image. They are (from left) Mary Jarvis, Silvester Jarvis, Charles O’Fake, Jarvis child (seated), Betsy Mann, John Steward’s aunt Sally Steward (1779–1859), his half-sister Rachel Steward Marié, her husband Camille Marié, Charlie Laws, Uncle Jackson Steward, and Charlie Steward. (In 1860, Sylvester Jarvis, 48, a farmer, was living in Goshen with his wife Mary Ann and five children; Mary Ann’s mother, Sarah Low [Laws?], was also a member of the household.)
My great-great-grandfather was more or less ruined in the Crash of 1873, at which time the Steward Homestead passed to Uncle Jackson Steward. My grandfather grew up in a house next door, built by his father (Campbell, the boy in the lace collar), but after college he moved to Boston, married my grandmother, and hardly ever returned to Goshen; the Steward houses were demolished in the 1960s. (During the 1950s, my great-uncle John Steward wrote regretfully of the family’s dispersal: they were now “All far from Goshen, which I, at least, regard as home.”)
In these photographs I can trace family likenesses. The Stewards were fair and redheaded; the Whites were pale with blue-black hair. Harder to know, at this late date, whether the elderly men shown in the second photo were Campbell White and his brother Henry or Gabriel Steward and Le Roy Banyer – and there is probably no one left who could identify them!