Grand Sires

William Anderson Stewart

William Anderson Stewart

Given the choice to attend Princeton or travel around the world, William Anderson Stewart trotted off to New Jersey to start his freshman year around 1910. A week later he called home to say he was sailing eastward from New York to Europe to begin an adventure that shaped this family’s good fortune. In Ceylon he met Mr. Ashbey who was looking at tea. Whenever they got back to Chicago they got the work done to open Stewart and Ashbey Tea and Coffee Company in 1913. This year is 100 years of serving what was advertised as the best coffee. Bob Stewart is the third generation running the company today. His brothers are gone.

Ernest Fremont Tittle

Ernest Fremont Tittle

Here is Ernest Fremont Tittle. The Preacher. The Icon of the family. The late Pacifist. Passed in 1949. I just finished reading “How Shall They Hear Without a Preacher” by Robert Moats Miller, PhD.. Dr. Miller uses over 500 pages to describe the context of history and my grandfathers controversial interaction with it during his life starting in 1885. Published in 1971 by the University of North Carolina Press, I have tried to read this biography ever since it was released. “There are no accidents” is my motto. And, reading the book now rather than any time sooner was most fortunate. I read it as a peer rather than a grandchild hiding behind his father’s leg staring at this man in the kitchen at 1810. I saw him. I never knew him. Certainly, I was never held by him nor my grandmother. We did not do that stuff in our families.

I won’t regurgitate the book. Let’s just say that I hung this portrait on the wall in my home office until that day I looked up and saw a smile. “You are smiling you son of a bitch!” I said out loud. I knew then that I had made an emotional transition. That was about 10 years ago. When we remodeled the house in 2004, the picture went into the closet and I came out of an emotional straight jacket.

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One thought on “Grand Sires

  1. I once told friends the Donna and Porter Gardner that I thought our grandfather selfish in that he was told to stop preaching, but chose the pulpit over his family. They were shocked, this of course, was on the couples married by Ernest. Maybe if he has lived he would have softened to grandchildren. But throughout our life we had his grand image over our heads. It was always hard at Luddington when younger people would come up and say how much they loved him, and me who never had a chance.

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