A Small Stewart Mystery Solved

I have been working on my Stewart line for quite some time now. It’s just been a consistent series of roadblocks from the moment go. One of the smaller mysteries I had was that of my 4th great aunt, Cynthia Stewart. After the 1880 census, she just sort of popped off into oblivion and I couldn’t find her anywhere. No death date, no burial info, nothing at all – she was a literal ghost to me for eons.

I had tracked her with her parents, John and Minerva Stewart, in Zanesville, Muskingum County, Ohio through the 1850-1870 censuses. On 1 November 1871, she married Jacob Hamelback in Muskingum County.1 Cynthia and Jacob had a honeymoon baby, Hilda A., born on 22 August 1872 in Hopewell, also in Muskingum County.2

By the 1880 census though, Cynthia is living back with her parents in Mount Sterling in Muskingum County, having reverted back to her maiden name and claims to be widowed.3 However, Jacob is not dead at all and can be found with his parents, also in Mount Sterling, listed as divorced.4 Their daughter Hilda is missing from both censuses, having presumably died in between her birth in 1872 and the 1880 census but I’ve not a death record for her. Hilda is missing from a list of survivors in Jacob’s 1931 obituary.5

For the longest time following the 1880 census, I could not find Cynthia. Three of her siblings died in 1925 and 1926 and she was absent from their obituaries so I assumed she had passed by 1925. Turns out, my assumption was correct. I recently joined the Muskingum County Genealogical Society and was able to find in their files that on 18 August 1881, Cynthia married a man named Alva James.6 This is particularly intriguing as Cynthia’s sister, Sarah, married a Sylvester James.7 In several censuses, Sylvester appears with his parents and a younger brother named Alva. Before I jump to make that connection though, there was also another Alva in the same county, about the same age so I have to investigate this possibility more thoroughly when I have some free time.

Cynthia James’ probate death record for 8 Oct 1893 from Muskingum County, Ohio.

After discovering her newly married surname, I discovered that on 8 October 1893, Cynthia died at age 45 from heart failure.8 I have found no death notice or obituary in the paper for Cynthia but I did find corroborating but sad news involving Alva. On 29 September 1895, The Times Recorder newspaper reported that Alva went missing.9 After collecting his wages, it appears he left his house in the middle of the night, leaving everything behind. Neighbors speculated that he had become distraught after Cynthia’s death and that he likely “committed suicide.” I have not found any notice in the papers to say if Alva ever was found or returned on his own.


From The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) 29 Sep 1895, Sun • Page 5

So while I was glad to be able to bring Cynthia’s chapter closer to a close and shore up some mysteries surrounding her, I still have a few more left to pursue. I’d like to know where she and Hilda are buried. (Her first husband, Jacob, is buried in Newark, Ohio, a county away from Muskingum but Hilda does not seem to be with him there.)10 And I’d really like to know what happened to Alva James just out of idle curiosity, the poor man. Just heartbreaking!


SOURCES CITED:

1 Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-2013, Jacob Hamelback-Cynthia A Stewart, 1 November 1871; image 233 of 325, Family Search (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XZC7-5MJ : 10 December 2017); citing “Marriage, Muskingum, Ohio, United States,” Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society; FHL microfilm 865143.”

2 “Ohio, County Births, 1841-2003,” page 106, line 32, for Hamelback, Hilda A; image 86 of 210, Family Seach (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XDBQ-GVL : 9 March 2018); citing “Birth, Muskingum, Ohio, United States, county courthouses, Ohio; FHL microfilm 910156.”

3 1880 U.S. census, Muskingum County, Ohio, population schedule, Hopewell Township, Mount Sterling, p. 30 B (written), enumeration district (ED) 159, sheet 120-B, dwelling 9, family 10, John Stewart; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 March 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1454.

4 1880 U.S. census, Muskingum County, Ohio, population schedule, Hopewell Township, Mount Sterling, p. 33 (written), enumeration district (ED) 159, sheet 121-A, dwelling 11, family 12, Francis Hamelbach; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 March 2018), citing National Archives microfilm publication T9, roll 1454.

5 “Jacob A. Hamelback,” The Newark (Ohio) Advocate, 14 December 1931, p. 13, col. 5; Newspapers.com, (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 16 November 2017).

6 “Muskingum County Marriages 1881-1897 (sorted by brides),” p. 139, for Cynthia Stewart-Alvah James; Muskingum County Chapter Ohio Genealogical Society, Zanesville, Ohio.

7 “Muskingum County Marriages 1865-1880 (sorted by brides),” p. 136, for Sarah Stewart-Sylvester James; Muskingum County Chapter Ohio Genealogical Society, Zanesville, Ohio.

8 “Muskingum County Deaths 1893-1908,” p. 108, for Cynthia James, 8 October 1893; Muskingum County Chapter Ohio Genealogical Society, Zanesville, Ohio.

9 “A Mysterious Disappearance,” The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio), 29 September 1895, p. 5, col. 1; Newspapers.com, (http://www.newspapers.com : accessed 19 April 2019).

10 Find a Grave.  Find A Grave, database with images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 18 April 2019), memorial 193000010, Jacob Arthur Hamelback (1845-1931), Cedar Hill Cemetery, Newark, Licking County, Ohio, contributed by P Jill Moore.

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