My Woman Warrior: Pioneer Mother Catherine Adeline Stewart Murphy Mosier

The impetus for this blog post was my writing challenge to resurrect one of your women warriors. A woman in your tree whose story lies hidden in the names, dates and places. I have spent the last few weeks on Catherine. I offer this as an example of what is possible to resurrect a woman in your tree. This is a recounting of all that I have been able to stitch together, that may be revised later. If you have any doubt what battles our womenfolk endured, give it a read. All heroines deserve to be remembered.

To the Pioneers–Who blazed the way, braved the elements, forded streams, repaired cabins on the storm swept prairies; the spacious landscape their only scene by day; the tinkling cow bell in the distant corral and howling wolves the only sounds at night; But who, with brave hearts and willing hands, defied the wilderness and in after years transformed it into fruitful fields and caused it to blossom like the rose…

Dedication from A History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt 1906

In my tree Catherine has always been an intriguing ancestor. She is my 2nd great grandmother, part enigma and part icon. [She is mother to Frank, the husband to Lulu of a Soprano’s Aria. We all have people in our trees that call to us and Catherine calls to me. For many years I have sought a photo of her, but to date none has been forthcoming. There were two things about Catherine, told to me by my great aunt, her granddaughter Jessie MOSIER MILLER, that surprised me. First, that she owned a Hotel in Nebraska. And second, a family legend— that she was descended from the Royal STEWARTs and had received an inheritance of $3,000 and a book of family history of the STEWARTs from a Scottish lawyer. This was a woman with a story!

Royal Stewart Plaid

So how much of a life can we give back to Catherine? When Catherine Adeline STEWART was born in Columbus Ohio, 20th of November 1828, she was the second child of Andrew J STEWART, age 42, and Sarah “Sally” RUTAN STEWART, age 25. They married just 3 years earlier in Urbana, Champaign Co, Ohio, on the 21st of April 1825. An intriguing age difference, yet neither had been married before. Andrew J STEWART was born in Connecticut, the son of a Revolutionary War veteran and Sarah RUTAN was born in Maryland. Both of their families were early pioneers of Ohio. At the time of Catherine’s birth the total population of Columbus, Ohio was less than 2,400 souls. It was at the time on the edge of a forested wilderness.

Columbus Ohio—First State Office Buildings from The History of Columbus Ohio by Osman Castle Hopper 1920

Catherine’s parents were blessed, first with her older sister Eliza in 1826, then Catherine in 1828. Then another daughter Delilah follows in 1832. Then in 1835, the long awaited son George. He is followed in 1837 with another daughter Ann. Somewhere along the line brother George dies. Then the 2nd of February, 1843 in Van Buren, Iowa, Catherine’s father Andrew J STEWART dies. Her mother Sarah is left with four girls and she is 5 months pregnant. Catherine is but 14 years old, likely helping out with her younger siblings. That same year her older sister, Eliza (17) marries, on the 17th of June and three days later their brother, Andrew Jackson STEWART is born. Likely, Catherine is there to help and support her mother, now being the oldest child in the household. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a brother and a father to death, and a sister to marriage and welcome a new brother in the space of a few months. Was her mother despondent? Stressed? With her older sister gone did Catherine willingly take on the role of mother’s helper? We cannot know the answers but we can guess at the turmoil.

Three years later in Van Buren County, Iowa Catherine’s widowed mother Sarah, marries Ezekiel BENJAMIN, a blacksmith the 20th of June 1846. Hopefully bringing some stability and support to her family. To this union one child is born, a daughter, Elizabeth Hester BENJAMIN about 1847. At the age of twenty Catherine leaves her parent’s household and marries at Keokuk in Lee County Iowa John W MURPHY, a boatman from Ireland on the 29th of May 1849. How did they meet? Was she attracted by his accent, his warmth? Was she hoping for a life of romance and adventure? She is but twenty with a whole life ahead of her. I wonder about her dreams and aspirations.

The Wild Prairie from a History of Van Buren County, Iowa 1878 Western History Company

By 1850 Catherine is listed on the census in Dist 29 of Lee County, Iowa with her husband John and a son John A listed as 9 months old. By my calculations Catherine may have become pregnant just after she wed. In any event John Jr arrives about February. By October tragedy strikes again when Catherine’s step father Ezekiel dies after an illness of 6 days. According to the 1850 Mortality Schedule of unknown cause, however there was a Cholera epidemic sweeping through Keokuk at the time. So at the young age of 22 Catherine has lost a father, a step-father and a brother. Her mother is now twice a widow at 47.

In the 1850 census Catherine is living next door to her mother Sarah and her five siblings. Undoubtedly, a source of financial and moral support for her mother. We do not know what happened next but Catherine’s life and her mother’s seem to be following parallel paths riddled with tragedy. Catherine’s husband, John W Murphy dies. As a boatman he may have died of illness or an accident. He may be the John Murphy who died 23th May 1854 that is buried at the Third Street Cemetery in Dubuque, Dubuque County, Iowa. What we do know is she is a widow by 1854 when she marries 29 October, a widower, John Wesley W. Mosier in Lee County Iowa. In any event, her new husband John was previously married to a Pamela Overton 16th of May 1850 at Keokuk. Pamela died about 1853, and her mother died in 1851. [I am beginning to think this area was particularly hard hit by illness.] Perhaps wisely, the family moves 90 miles north to Iowa City, Iowa where their first daughter is born the 17th March 1855. Catherine’s grandfather Daniel Bertine STEWART dies the 20th Feb 1858 in Rome, Athens, Ohio. Since her father had already died, her grandfather makes his children his heirs. How much she received I am still researching. By 1860 the family has moved 240 miles west and is settled in Council Bluffs, Pottawattamie Iowa where John is listed as a Farm Laborer and Catherine a housewife. Did they move following farm employment opportunities? Was it for land? There is no Real Estate listed but their personal estate is valued at $100. There are 4 children in the family; the oldest John A Murphy 10, Catharine’s son from her first marriage, Sarah 4, Charles W 2 and Albert 6 months.

Meanwhile by 1860 her mother Sarah, now 59 and 4 children have moved to Scioto, Montgomery County, Iowa. The value of her Real estate is $500, and personal Estate $300. Where did her money come from? There is no occupation listed for Sarah but her daughters Sarah 25, and Audria 22 are domestics and her son, Andrew J is listed as a Farm Laborer. Her youngest Elizabeth BENJAMIN is now 13. How she came to move there is not known, but I suspect she followed her sister there. April 13, 1861 a Mortgage is entered between John W Mosier and William Plummer and wife in Section 22 of Washington township for 40 acres with an assign by Hiram Whitney. I do not know who William Plummer’s wife is in 1861 but he marries Catherine’s sister Sarah Ann STEWART 23 Oct 1862 in Montgomery county. This Mortgage recorded 12 Dec 1863. I suspect this maybe the property occupied by Catherine’s mother in 1860 and it may be where John and Catherine first live in Montgomery County.

1875 Atlas of Iowa the property would be about where the N of Washington

In 1862 a daughter Anna is born, followed by twin daughters Luella and Louisa born in 1866. Two years later Franklin Stewart MOSIER [my great grandfather] is born near Milford. Catherine now 42, and John have a total of 9 children, one from Catherine’s first marriage and a set of twins! [Catherine’s mother was a twin as well.] Can you imagine this family arriving in covered wagons and living in same while they construct a log cabin. Maybe they stayed with Catherine’s mother Sarah while building their cabin. The first house in Milford was built in 1857 and the first schoolhouse in 1876. Although Milford is the town nearest to them its Post Office is named Grant. Ten years later in 1870, we find Catherine and John MOSIER in Douglas Township, Montgomery County, Iowa near Milford about 7 and a half miles north of her mother Sarah BENJAMIN. I am going to quote liberally from the History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt to give you a flavor of what life was like back then:

“The first habitations were the covered wagons or the ‘Prairie schooners,’ where the immigrant resided until a cabin could be built—parlor, kitchen, bedroom combined. Outside of the wagon cover was the great ‘withdrawing room.’ The furniture was a camp kettle and a few tin dishes on the inside; and the implements of husbandry on the outside were a breaking plow, axe, ox-yoke and chains.”

History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt 1906 pg 39
Example of a cabin in Montgomery County, Iowa

A further description from the history:

“The first permanent habitation of the early settler was built of round logs, the space between the logs being filled in with split logs, the space between the logs being filled with split sticks of wood called “chinks,” then daubed over, both inside and out, with clay mortar. The floor was commonly made of puncheons or split logs with the smoothest side turned upward. The roof was made by gradually drawing in the top to the ridge pole and on cross pieces laying the clap-boards which, being three or four feet in length, instead of being nailed were held in place by “weight” poles lad on them reaching the length of the cabin. The fireplace, about six feet in length, occupied one end of the single apartment and was situated in a projection…”

History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt 1906 pg 41

By 1870 Catherine’s sister Audria has married Hortense Elson and has moved to North Bend, Nebraska. Her mother Sarah has left Sciota, and is living in North Bend as well. Sarah was likely following her sister, Delilah Rutan STEWART who married James H. Graham and together they were among the first settlers of North Bend arriving in 1857. [The Andreas History of the state of Nebraska by William G Cutler 1882 North Bend] Meanwhile the 1870 census records John W.W. Mosier as a farmer and the value of his Real Estate is $3,200 and personal estate as $1,225 so the family has done well! It makes me wonder if the family legend of an inheritance is true? In 1871 John and Catherine have a son Willie J who dies quite young. Then in 1872 at the age of 44, Catherine gives birth to a son Walter. In late 1874 Catherine at age 46 gives birth to a daughter Fannie. Sadly, Fannie dies in January of 1875. John W.W. MOSIER owns 160 acres in Sections 7 of Douglas Township.

The view below and the map below it are from the Atlas of Iowa 1875.

Milford Montgomery Co, Iowa 1875 Atlas of Iowa Montgomery County

This is the parcel shown on the above map as it appears today.

The parcel as it looks today from Google Maps

“The cabin usually consisted of one room which answered all purposes. Upon entering one would see suspended rings of dried pumpkin and a string of red peppers, while aver present rifle and powder horn were in a convenient place ready for use. Sometimes a loom might be seen; the wife, or mother, busily weaving cloth to be made into garments for family use.”

History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt 1906 pg42
From the History of Montgomery County Iowa

“In well-to-do families the ‘loft’ was in evidence, and if not used for the storage of ‘traps,’ took the place of the modern spare room. This apartment was approached by a ladder secured to the wall… When prosperity overtook them a double log-cabin was erected or, as was more usually the case, another cabin Built beside the old one with a space or hall between them and the entrance to the new structure being from the hall.

The articles in the kitchen corresponded with the room ane were few and Simple, a ‘dutch oven,’ a skillet or long handled frying pan, an iron pot or kettle were usual utensils. “

History of Montgomery County, Iowa by William Wallace Merritt 1906 pg 42

Just months after the death of Fannie, John and Catherine’s eldest daughter Sarah, marries John Parks Norcross the 4th of March 1875 in Montgomery Co, Iowa. Catherine’s first grandchild, Walter Hamlin Norcross is born the third of January 1877. Sadly Walter dies seven months later, the 17th of August of the same year. A month later Sarah dies at the tender age of 22, on September 25, 1877, due to complications of childbirth. Sarah and her son, Walter, are both buried at Grant Cemetery near Milford (Grant P.O.), Montgomery County, Iowa. If you draw a line 1.6 miles due west from this cemetery you will run into Catherine and John’s farmstead. Also buried here are Catherine and John’s children Willie and Fannie.

History of Montgomery County, Iowa 1881 pg 560

So Catherine in just a few years has lost two children herself, saw her eldest daughter married, her first grandchild, Walter, born and then they Sarah and Walter die! I wonder how you get through such losses. And yet with 8 children and a husband to take care of life goes on. On February 17th 1878 her son Charles W MOSIER marries Mary Belle FIGGENS at Montgomery County, Iowa. A year later on the 19th of February they give Catherine a new grand-daughter Clementine. In 1880 the family is still in Montgomery County, Iowa now listed in Sherman Township which is West of Douglas.

By 1885 Montgomery County Iowa is left behind and they move 110 miles northwest to North Bend, in Dodge County, Nebraska, following her mother Sarah, who had moved there fifteen years prior. My great aunt Jessie believed that John and Catherine lived with her sister Sarah, and her husband Tance Plummer, in North Bend and she spoke of a photo she had of their house which is where she believes she was born. She mentions a blacksmith shop run by John and the Cathey Hotel run by Catherine, and a farm and house outside town where they lived before the children began to marry.

In May of 1885 the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Railroad was building a branch to run Northwest from Fremont, Nebraska through what became Dodge, about 25 miles north of North Bend. The Village of Dodge was laid out and platted in August of 1885. Less than a year later the estimated population of Dodge was 554. The Fremont Weekly Herald 29 July 1886 lists the school teachers in North Bend among them are Louisa, Ella and Emma MOSIER. In the same paper we find John and Catherine’s grandson Guy son of Charles Wesley and Mary Belle MOISER has died.

Fremont Weekly Herald 29 July 1886

John and Catherine, following the opportunity move to Dodge. I found this wonderful newspaper clipping that proves Catherine did indeed own a hotel! Catherine’s middle initial is A for Adeline. Her son Albert is but sixteen, so I believe this is Catherine [needs more research but Dodge County Deeds have not been microfilmed].

Fremont Weekly Herald 17 Feb 1887

In addition the 1890-91 Nebraska State Gazetteer is this description of Dodge Omaha: J. M. Wolfe & Co., Publishers :

DODGE – Is a village of 450 inhabitants in the northwestern part of Dodge county, on the Scribner and Oakdale branch of the F E & M V Ry, 36 miles from Fremont, the county seat.  It is located in a very rich farming and stock country, being mostly settled by Germans and Bohemians.  This is a lively trading point and is making rapid strides in improvements, several new stores and residences having been erected in the past year.  A splendid brick school has been built at a cost of $13,000.  There are three grain elevators here having a combined capacity of 58,000 bushels and shipping on an average 90 car loads per day during the season.  A splendid full roller system flouring mill located here assists in the consumption of the surrounding products.  The Dodge Advertiser is the local journal and is edited by Mr G W Rosa, one of the early settlers of Dodge.  The financial interests of the community are well taken care of by the Farmers State Bank, which has a paid in capital of $15,000 and authorized to $60,000.  There are two hotels, as also two splendid church edifices, namely, the Catholic and the Congregational.”

Among the Dodge Businesses listed we find Mosier J W Mrs, prop[ietor] City Hotel. And among the farmers Mosier J W, Dodge. Am interesting reimbursements from the County to J.W. Mosier for board and taking care of Ed Steven wick with the measles $12.40 that appeared in the Fremont Weekly Herald 3 November 1887. My guess is that John applied for the reimbursement but the “taking care of” was provided by Catherine at the City Hotel. On the 23 Jan 1889 The City Hotel and Catherine hosts the marriage of her daughter Emma Medora Mosier to Edward Beesom Kelly. A few months later note the second item. “The interior of the City Hotel has been re-painted and re-papered.

North Bend Argus 29 Apr 1890

Catherine must have been kind to the reporter as she makes it into the paper quite a bit. The 17th of April she appears in the North Bend Argus : Mrs J.W.. Mosier, of Dodge was in the city [North Bend]. Business must have been good and I am certain this life appealed to her. Catherine always strikes me as an independent woman. I have a letter from one of my great aunt’s to another and she mentions two hotels. And my great aunt Jessie told me about the Cathey Hotel in North Bend, although I can find no mention of it in North Bend or Dodge. There was the North Bend Hotel built in 1870 and a City Hotel in North Bend built in 1876. It is possible she owned or operated a hotel in North Bend before moving to Dodge. Catherine’s son Frank [Franklin Stewart MOSIER] marries my great grandmother Mary “Lulu” Paden at Fremont, Dodge County Nebraska, and this is most notable for the fact it wasn’t held at the hotel and that neither party had family present. Next Spring more news of the City Hotel.

North Bend Argus 22 May 1890

In the North Bend Argus for May 22 1890 Dodge: “We would advise the farmers to plant no corn until Mr Mosier discards his fur cap which will be May 25th.” This lovely bit of news from June about Catherine’s sister-in-law she has not seen in twenty years is Frances Merla STEWART wife of Catherine’s younger brother Andrew Jackson STEWART. The railroad makes such visits more likely.

North Bend Argus 12 Jun 1890

In the North Bend Argus 3 July 1890 “Mr Mosier, our mail carrier, completed his four years’ contract yesterday for carrying Uncle Sam’s package from North Bend to Dodge.” Interestingly my aunt wrote ” Grandpa used to help the farmers and was also a RFD mail man.” Furthermore she wrote, ” Grandpa ran the stable [livery] and I am sure Grandma ran the hotel. Their three girls, were school teachers and they built a big house for their mother and themselves in North Bend” [ I suspect this was closer to Dodge]. The North Bend Argus reports 17 July 1890 “A gloom of sadness overhangs our town caused by the supposed kidnapping of little Walter Mosier, who it is thought has dropped into unworthy hands.” There is no more mention of wee Walter—yet another loss. This is followed by the birth of another grandson Albert Edgar MOSIER born to Mary Lulu and Frank MOSIER. He is their first grandson to survive. Another marriage ceremony at the City Hotel lightens the heart on the 21st of October, Anna C Mosier marries WIlliam Townsend. Lovely details about the gifts. Note that gifts are given separately by Mrs J. W. Mosier [Bedroom Set] and J. W. Mosier [Center table lamp]. The other gifts are from her siblings. I suspect that Catherine may have been living at the hotel and John W. at their farm, that at this time they had separate lives.

North bend Argus 23 Oct 1890

The City Hotel continues to be mentioned in local news for Dodge. A sample room is a hotel room in which salespeople display merchandise for the inspection of buyers for retail stores. Probably quite a lucrative arrangement.

North Bend Argus 19 Mar 1891

Catherine’s mother Sarah RUTAN STEWART BENJAMIN 88, dies the 8th of June 1891 near, North Bend, Dodge, Nebraska, USA. Unfortunately the North Bend Argus issues are missing from the same time frame as I expect we may have learned a bit more.

18 June 1891 Fremont Weekly Journal

Frank and “Lulu” MOSIER give Catherine and John another grandson the 25th of August 1891. Sarah BENJAMIN’s children gather to remember their mother in September.

4 September 1891 North Bend Argus

In the Fremont Daily Herald for 21st of November 1891 “Mrs J.W. Mosier left Tuesday for a visit with her daughter, Mrs Anna Townsend ar Casbeer, Ill.” [Kasbeer] Catherine’s daughter gives birth to a child who dies in 1891 so I wonder if this is the purpose of Catherine’s visit. Later in the month the 27th of November daughter Emma, gives birth to a daughter Katherine “Kitty” Kelley in Monroe, Nebraska. In 1892 there seems to be a shift away from local news tidbits in the paper, so there is an absence of information. However, in January of 1893 daughter Anna gives birth to a son Walter Roy Townsend. Son Frank’s wife Lulu brings a grand-daughter Jessie Ella the 30th of March 1893 and finally daughter Emma has added another grandchild on May 6th Dessa Louisa Kelley. So now Catherine has 5 living grandchildren! In 1894 Catherine gains to more grandchildren, Ira E Mosier, born the 7th of June to her son Charles W. MOSIER and Charles William BARRETT born the 27th of June to her daughter Louisa. On the third of February 1895 Audrey Eileen is born to Lulu and Frank MOSIER making a total of eight living grandchildren! For a change things seem to be going well. And then:

Dodge Fire 18 September 1895 Fremont Tribune

The business portion of the city [Dodge] is wiped out completely, four blocks square, an area of sixteen blocks, was completely destroyed with the exception of three buildings.”

Fremont Tribune 18 Sep 1895

The fire which swept over the business portion of this town yesterday afternoon made the most complete wreck of it that was ever suffered by any nebraska town.

18 September 1895 Fremont Tribune

Dodge was treated to a deluge of fire and nearly every house in the city was destroyed. The damage is over $100,000. The fire started at 1:50 p.m. in a small shed containing hay connected with the livery barn of William Neuveman, The wind was blowing a gale from the southwest, causing the fire to spread with inconceivable rapidity, and in thirty minutes the entire business portion of the town was destroyed.”

Ponca Grit 26 Sept 1895

The loss of the City Hotel to J.W. Mosier is listed as $2,000 with no insurance. Over the next year a total of 67 lawsuits are filed against the railroad for allegedly starting the fire but testimony shows that it was caused by a discarded cigar. The suits are dismissed. Although this snippet suggests that the Hotel will be rebuilt there is no evidence this happened.

Dodge Criterion 27 Sep 1895

In 1896 Catherine is approaching her 68th birthday it appears she has moved to Morse Bluff which is across the river from North Bend and she is ill.

27 Sep 1896 Dodge Criterion Last item

I wonder whether she ever saw him again once he left in 1872. Catherine’s youngest son Walter married Altene Shelton 14 March 1899 at the Shelton farm in Colman, South Dakota. This brief item below in 1899. John W breaks a collar bone in a fall!

23rd May 1899 Fremont Herald

So we can assume that John, if not Catherine are living in North Bend at this time. It may be that Catherine has already moved to South Dakota. On the 1900 census [22 June] we find Catherine living with her son Walter and his wife Altene MOSIER at Lake View, Lake County South Dakota. Catherine is listed as married but no John W.W. and I have not been able to locate him. Then August 7, 1904 disaster strikes again when Catherine and John’s son Albert D MOSIER dies in a freak accident when the Missouri Pacific Flyer train from Denver Colorado was crossing the Dry Creek Arroyo bridge near Eden Station 8 miles north of Pueblo Colorado. A flash flood wave passed over the trestle shearing off the front half of the train and dragging the people in those train cars to their deaths.

The Weekly Gazette 11 Aug 1904

Catherine’s oldest child John Murphy who has lived in California for 34 years dies the 16 Dec 1906 of heart disease at the age of 56. He is the 4th of her children to die prematurely. I can’t help but wonder if Catherine ever saw him again once he left for California in 1872. Also in 1906 Catherine’s son-in-law Walter became a manager of the Rosebud Indian agency of the White River District which is located 13 miles south of Reliance South Dakota. In 1911 when land first opened up to homesteaders he bought land and John W Mosier took a quarter section just north of his at the same time.

On the 1910 Census Catherine is listed in her own household, in a home she owns in Hudges Precinct, Perkins County, South Dakota. She is listed as married 54 years and as having 12 children but only 8 living. Two died very young Fannie and Willie and then her grown sons Albert in the flash flood on the train and John MURPHY of early heart disease. Right next door is her daughter Louisa Ella “Louella” and her husband Marion BARRETT. Louella and Marion had no children. Meanwhile John W. MOSIER is living in Lyman County, South Dakota listed as “widowed” and 84, although Catherine is very much alive. He owns his own farm and is a farmer on an Indian Government Farm with his son Walter F MOSIER next door. So it appears that Catherine and John have been living apart for some time. And it seems Catherine is an independent woman with her own means. Catherine is no longer living near her son Walter but John W is. Catherine makes a brief appearance in Lulu’s dairy Friday Feb 27, 1914  “Got letter from Grandmother Mosier.” At the time Lulu is living in San Francisco with Catherine’s son Frank. On the 20th of February 1915 Catherine’s husband John Wesley W. MOISER dies in Reliance, South Dakota. He is 88 and his death certificates states he died of “Old Age”

In this sad clipping later that year, we learn Catherine’s daughter Luella is hit by lightning. No doubt mother Catherine was there to nurse her daughter Louella back to health.

The Madison Leader 12 July 1915

This directly from my correspondence with my great aunt Jessie,

” When Grandma was not well and papa went to see her. And she rallied until papa arrived and she recognized him. While he was there she grew weaker and passed away. The card was written April 4, 1921. And he said, she died the night before so that would be the 3rd of April.”

Jessie MOSIER MILLER correspondence to the author

What this tells me is in spite of any other faults Frank may have had, he loved his mother. Catherine was 92 when she died having saw a very long and challenging life. I have not been able to locate a death notice or a death certificate for Catherine.

Yet we still have a couple of big questions to answer. Was Catherine a descendant of the Royal STEWARTs? Well we have YDNA thank for the answer to that question. The first of the line of Scottish Royal STEWARTs was Walter Fitz Alan (1110-1177) was appointed High Steward of Scotland under King David I. His descendants became Hereditary High Stewards of Scotland, and the 4th High Steward, Alexander Stewart (1214-1283) was the first to use STEWART as his surname. King Robert II of Scotland (grandson of Alexander Stewart) via Alexander Stewart’s younger son, Sir John Stewart of Bonkyl all carry the YDNA marker: S781. Descendants of Alexander Stewart (1675-1742), Ballymena, Antrim to Voluntown, Connecticut which include Catherine’s father and grandfather also carry the marker S781, so we know that part is true as confirmed by YDNA tests of their patrilineal male descendants. The part about the Scottish lawyer is, as yet unproven. However, we do see a quite substantial change in the families net worth between 1860 when they had no property and $100 in personal property and 1870 when their real estate was valued at $3,200 and personal estate at $1,225. What we do have of the historical record suggests that Catherine had her own estate which she used to purchase the City Hotel in Dodge and her home in South Dakota. I for one am inclined to think there is some truth in the family legend. We know the money did not come from her immediate family since her father died in 1843 and her grandfather in 1858. This is a mystery yet to be resolved.

But before we lay Catherine to rest I want to add another detail from my great Aunt Jessie which always gave me pause. It was that she was buried with her son who had died, near Red Oak, Iowa. This turned out to be only part of the story. Catherine died in Lemmon South Dakota which is just miles from the border with North Dakota. It was her wish that she be buried with her children near Milford which lies 500 miles away. And that wish was granted. This is a photo from Google Maps of Grant Cemetery near Milford, Iowa. When I found this I found it oddly comforting.

Grant Cemetery near Milford, Montgomery County Iowa from Google Maps

And below is her gravestone adjacent her two children Willie and Fannie and not far from her daughter Sarah and grandson Walter. We may think that the way Catherine survived was to harden her heart against the many losses she suffered but her desire to be buried with these children lost in 1871, 1875 and 1877 is testament to something different. Catherine is my woman warrior because she had so very many losses in her life but she soldiered on, and yet she never forgot those she left behind.

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
Mrs C. A. MOSIER adjacent graves of Willie J and Fannie MOSIER Grant Cemetery, Milford, Iowa by Barbara Butcher

For now I will close with a poem from someone with a local connection, Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894). Robert and his bride Fanny honeymooned here in the Napa Valley in May of 1880. It seems only appropriate that a fellow Scot is quoted here.


Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Catherine Adeline STEWART MURPHY MOSIER 1828-1921 Montgomery Co, Iowa by Barbara Butcher

Kelly Wheaton © 2022 All Rights Reserved.

6 Comments on “My Woman Warrior: Pioneer Mother Catherine Adeline Stewart Murphy Mosier”

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