Photograph of the Week – Evelyn May Stewart of Kingston, NJ

In this sweet photograph Evelyn May Stewart (1919-2008) is posing on the wrecker that her father, Benjamin Albert Stewart, had recently purchased for his garage in Kingston, Middlesex County, New Jersey. Taken in the early 1920s, Evelyn, also called Stewie, is clearly the little princess of her domain. On another photo taken the same day her mother, Maude Eisenberger Stewart, wrote on the back, “My dear little Evelyn”. She was adored by both her parents, but Evelyn always commented that she had been a daddy’s girl.

The Stewarts were Scotch-Irish and had come to Chestnut Level, Lancaster County, PA in the early 1700s from Northern Ireland. The Eisenbergers were from Germany and had also come to Lancaster County around the same time. When Maude married Ben she was living in Columbia, Lancaster County and he was living in York Haven, York County. Ben’s mother, Olive Albert Stewart, had died when he was five years old. He was told that she had been murdered in York Haven when she was only 24. Later, in another posting, I’ll go into the search my sister and I did to help Evelyn learn how her paternal grandmother had died.

Evelyn shared many memories of growing up in the little hamlet of Kingston during the Depression years. Her father worked seven days a week at the garage, and also took out the wrecker all times of the day and night to tow in cars for repairs.  Any spare time he could be found fishing, quite often in the boat he named after his daughter, the Evelyn May. Her mother had a big garden, canned vegetables, favored Pennsylvania Dutch recipes, and made home brewed root beer and dandelion wine. She also found time to make sandwiches for the poor homeless men that lived by the railroad in the shanty town. A seamstress that lived next door on Academy Street made Evelyn’s clothes. Maybe she made this cute outfit in the photo.

Evelyn had two younger brothers and they followed their father into his trade, but Evelyn continued her education after graduating from Princeton High School. She graduated from Beavers College with a degree in Home Economics, and then went on to Yale University earning her Masters in Nursing in 1944. She had married a local boy, Thomas Barnes, from Kingston, near Rocky Hill,  before going off to Yale. He was in the Army during World War II, so she used her free time to study to be a nurse. They had two children. She worked in the nursing field until retiring in 1997. She was the Director of the Somerset Handicapped Children’s Treatment Center in Bridgewater, NJ for 42 years. Evelyn May Stewart and Thomas Barnes are buried in the Kingston Methodist Cemetery.

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