Isham Stewart (Noxubee County)
State House: 1870-1873
State Senate: 1874-1877
Born: April 10, 1810 in Virginia
Died: January 15, 1893
Besides serving in the state legislature, Stewart was a delegate and signer of the 1868 Mississippi state constitution, as well as a member of the Noxubee County Board of Supervisors. He is buried at the United Methodist Cemetery in Macon.
On the 1870 census, he is listed with “State Representative” as his occupation, and the value of his real estate is $500. His son Charles’ occupation is listed as “Jailor.” On the 1880 census, he is listed as a “Ret’d Politician.” His son Thomas is a teacher.
As seen in the 1870 newspaper clippings below, son Charles was involved in some incident whereby he played a prank and was charged under the new law meant to curtail the activities of the Ku Klux Klan. I am still researching this incident.
Isham Stewart, a poorly educated but intelligent native Negro, became a powerful leader in the eastern portion of the state, and even survived the revolution of 1875 as member of the senate from Noxubee, Kemper, and Neshoba counties.
(Vernon Lane Wharton, The Negro in Mississippi, 1865-1890, 1965)
Isham Stewart, the leading negro of the county, was here, and I went to him and told him he had influence with the negroes and ought to stop such a demonstration. He said he would go to Brooksville, but he was afraid; that if he went up there in the excited condition of the country, his position being known, he was afraid the white men would shoot him. I told him I would go with him if he would go and make the negroes go home; that I understood the white people had assembled to keep the negroes from burning the town. . . . [W]e went up within a mile of Brooksville, and all along the road we were passing armed negroes. Isham turned back all we passed.
(James H. Rives, in Testimony Taken by the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs in the Late Insurrectionary States, 1871)
Memorial on Find a Grave
Letter from Isham Stewart to Blanche K. Bruce, 1872 (requires subscription)