Woman of the Century/Eliza Daniel Stewart
STEWART, Mrs. Eliza Daniel, temperance reformer, known as "Mother Stewart," born in Piketon, Ohio, 25th April, 1816. Her grandfather, Col. Guthery, a Revolutionary hero, moved to what was, in 1798, the Northwest Territory, and settled on the banks of the Scioto, and on a part of his estate laid out the town where the future "Crusader" was born. Her mother was a gentle, refined little woman of superior mental ability. Her father, James Daniel, was a man of strong intellect and courtly manners. From her maternal ancestor she inherited her fearlessness and hatred of wrong, and a determination to vindicate what she believed to be right at any cost, and from her father, who was a southern gentleman in the sense used seventy-five years ago, she inherited her high sense of honor. These characteristics, toned and enriched by a religious temperament and a warm, genial nature, fitted her to be a leader in all movements whose purpose was the happiness and uplifting of humanity. Her child-life was shadowed at the age of three years by the loss of her mother. ELIZA DANIEL STEWART. Before she had reached her twelfth year, her father died, and she was thrown upon her own resources, and prepared herself for teaching. At the age of fifteen she made a profession of religion, and at once became prominent as an active worker in the church. At eighteen she began to teach and was thus enabled to continue her studies, and she took her place among the leaders of her profession in the State. After years of efficient work in her chosen field of labor, she was married, but her husband died a few months afterwards, and she resumed her work as a teacher. Some years later she again took upon herself the duties of wife and the care of home. In 1858 she became a charter member of a Good Templar Lodge organized in her town, and she has always been a warm advocate of the order. About that time she delivered her first public temperance address, before a Band of Hope in Pomeroy, Ohio, and continued thereafter to agitate the temperance question with voice and pen. When the booming of cannon upon Sumter was heard, she devoted her time to gathering and forwarding supplies to the field and hospital. At length she went south and visited the soldiers in the hospitals. From them she received the name "Mother" that she wears as a coronal, and by which she will be known in history. The war ended and the soldiers returned, many of them with the appetite for drink, and everywhere Was the open saloon to entrap and lead them to destruction. Her heart was stirred as never before, because of the ruin wrought upon her "soldier boys" through the drink curse, and she tried to awaken the Christian people to the fact that they were fostering a foe even worse than the one the soldiers had conquered by force of arms. The subject of woman's enfranchisement early claimed her attention and received her full endorsement. Removing to Springfield, Ohio, her present home, she continued to agitate those subjects from the platform and with her ever vigorous pen. She organized and was made president of the first woman suffrage association formed in her city. On 22nd January, 1872. she delivered a lecture on temperance, in Springfield, which was her first step in the "Crusade" movement. Two days later a drunkard's wife prosecuted a saloon-keeper under the Adair Law, and Mother Stewart, going into the court-room, was persuaded by the attorney to make the opening plea to the jury, and to the consternation of the liquor fraternity, for it was a test case, she won the suit. It created a sensation, and the press sent the news over the country. Thereafter she was known to the drunkards' wives, if not as an attorney, at least as a true friend and sympathizer in their sorrows, and they sought her aid and counsel. Her next case in court was on 16th October, 1873. A large number of prominent women accompanied her to the court room. She made the opening charge to the jury, helped examine the witnesses, made the opening plea, and again won her case, amid great excitement and rejoicing. She had written an appeal to the women of Springfield and signed it "A Drunkard's Wife," which appeared in the daily papers luring the prosecution of the case, and served to intensify the interest already awakened. She also, with a delegation of Christian women, carried a petition, signed by six-hundred women of the city, and presented it to the city council, appealing to them to pass, as they had the power to do, the McConnelsville Ordinance, a local option law. Next, by the help of the Ladies' Benevolent Society and the cooperation of the ministers of the city, a series of weekly mass-meetings was inaugurated, a which kept the interest at white heat. Neighboring cities and towns caught the enthusiasm, and calls began to reach Mother Stewart to "come and wake up the women." On 2nd December, 1873, she organized a Woman's League, as these organizations were at first called, in Osborne, Ohio. That was the first organization ever formed in what is known as Woman's Christian Temperance Union work. Soon after she went to a saloon in disguise on the Sabbath, bought a glass of wine, and had the proprietor prosecuted and fined for violating the Sunday ordinance. That was an important move, because of the attention it called to the open saloon on the Sabbath. Then the world was startled by the uprising of the women all over the State in a "crusade" against the saloons, and Mother Stewart was kept busy in addressing immense audiences and organizing and leading out bands, through her own and other States. She was made president of the first local union of Springfield, formed 7th January, 1874. The first county union ever formed was organized in Springfield, 3rd April, 1874, with Mother Stewart president. She then organized her congressional district, as the first in the work, and on 17th June. 1874, the first State union was organized in her city, her enthusiastic labors throughout the State contributing largely to that result, and because of her very efficient work, not only in her own, but other States, she was called the Leader of the Crusade. In the beginning of the work she declared for legal prohibition, and took her stand with the party which was working for that end. In 1876 she visited Great Britain by invitation of the Good Templars. There she spent five months of almost incessant work, lecturing and organizing associations and prayer unions, and great interest was awakened throughout the kingdom, her work resulting in the organization of the British Women's Temperance Association. In 1878 she was called to Virginia, and there introduced the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the blue-ribbon work. Two years later she again visited the South and introduced the Woman's Christian Temperance Union work in several of the Southern States, organizing unions among both the white and the colored people. Age and overwork necessitated periods of rest, and she utilized these seasons of breakdown in writing her book, "Memories of the Crusade," a valuable and interesting history. She now has ready for the press her " Crusader in Great Britain," an account of her work in that country. She was elected fraternal delegate from the National Woman's Christian Temperance Union to the World's Right Worthy Grand Lodge of Good Templars, which met in Edinburgh, Scotland, in May, 1891 That gave her the pleasure of again meeting many of the tem|>erance friends with whom she was associated in her work fifteen years before, and also the satisfaction of noting the progress of the cause in the years that had intervened.