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Stewart Farm / Memoir of Aura Stewart

This is likely the oldest farm complex on Harsens Island. Harvey Stewart, a brewery and distillery owner from New York State, came to the Michigan Territory in 1810. He served as a guide and messenger to General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812. Stewart, a widower, married Mary Graveraet in 1814. She was the granddaughter of Jacob Harsen, who settled on the island around 1778. Graveraet had inherited 640 acres originally owned by Harsen, but abandoned it during the war. After the war she returned with Stewart and his two sons, Aura and John, and took up farming. In 1849 Aura Stewart purchased 53 acres of the farm and began building this house soon after. In 1876 he wrote his memoirs -- a stirring account of nineteenth-century life on Harsens Island.Aura Stewart was born in New York State in 1804 and moved to Harsens Island at age 12. In 1876 he wrote his memoirs, which were published in the Marine City Gazette and the 1883 History of St. Clair County. Stewart wrote: For many years, I saw but little of Michigan, except that portion bordering on the shore of Lake and River St. Clair. I came from an inland and thickly settled district, and had seen no flowing water save brooks and rivulets; I had seen no forests but in the distance, and though but a boy of twelve years of age I could not but feel impressed with the wild beauty of my new home. The dense and almost impenetrable forests, the magnificent River St. Clair, the countless number of every variety of waterfowl flying over my head or resting and sporting on the bosom of the beautiful waters, the howling of wolves at night, the constantly passing and repassing canoes of the strange-looking Indians, their stealthy tread through the woods and their unintelligible shouts as they passed each other, and last but not least, the merry songs of the French voyageurs toiling at the oar, propelling their boats swiftly over the blue waters—-these were new scenes to me, and called forth my wonder and delight.

Plaque via Michigan History Center

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