Family groups

I was struck by a couple of points Penny Stratton made in her recent ICYMI post on managing a project including lots of images: “Select photos showing family groups” and “Include images of homes.” I happen to be particularly rich in photos of both types!

The very large family group photo at left was taken in Goshen, New York, in 1857. It shows the extended family of my great-great-grandparents, John Steward[1] and Catharine Elizabeth White, and includes Mrs. Steward’s mother, Harriet Le Roy White.[2] Mrs. White was born in 1797 and died in 1885; she is one of the earliest ancestors for whom I have an photograph. (It seems possible that her husband, Campbell Patrick White, born as long ago as 1787, is also shown in this group.)

The Steward Homestead, in front of which the Stewards and Whites are posing, passed out of my great-great-grandfather’s hands during the 1870s.

My great-grandfather, Campbell Steward,[3] is the little boy at the center of the group. He was born in 1852, and lived into my father’s childhood. He is shown at right with my uncle — his grandson — in front of the house he built with my great-grandmother following their marriage in 1885. By 1930, the date at which my uncle was old enough to pose with his grandfather, this house — just up the road from the Homestead — had long been home to the Stewards’ five children and four grandchildren.[4]

My grandfather, Gilbert Livingston Steward,[5] drove an ambulance in Italy during the First World War. He is shown here with a friend, identified in his album simply as “Ivy,” during a short leave in 1918.

To close the circle, here is his eldest son and namesake, Gilbert Jr., greeting guests at his wedding reception in 1951. With his sister-in-law one one side, and his bride on the other, Uncle Gil is shaking hands with his maternal grandfather, Charles Fanning Ayer (1865-1956); my step-great-grandmother greets Aunt Sally.

Over the 94 year span of these photos, young Campbell grows up until in old age he is pictured with his grandson; twenty-odd years later, Gil is himself a married man. The family resemblances — perhaps best seen in other photos than these — are fascinating, but what these images do convey is at least five generations of the Steward and White families in momentary contact, on a summer day in 1857 or 1918, a snowy day in 1930, and a fine day for a June wedding in 1951!


[1] John Steward (1814-1901) was married to Catharine Elizabeth White 1841-67. John Steward is at right, seated on the step; his wife sits above him, facing the camera.

[2] Harriet Banyer Le Roy was married to Campbell Patrick White 1816-59. Mrs. White sits next to her daughter Catharine Steward, in profile; her husband might be the man at left, with a white cravat, facing the camera. The other people in the photo are likely all of the Whites’ surviving children and Steward grandchildren, along with one servant in the doorway.

[3] Campbell Steward (1852-1936) married Margaret Atherton Beeckman in 1885.

[4] Both the Steward Homestead and the Campbell Steward house were torn down during the 1960s.

[5] Gilbert Livingston Steward (1898-1991) was married to Anne Beekman Ayer 1927-47 and to Victoria Tytus Coolidge in 1951.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

5 thoughts on “Family groups

  1. Wonderful description of family photos. I inherited a ‘ton’ and have used them to solve ‘mysteries’ and create some new ones. ‘Uncle Ty” had a middle name of Whitney and was a sibling of my great-great- grandmother. Also found out about baseball playing in the Aeolian company team events!

  2. Quite a wealth of images there — thanks! My third great grandfather paid an Internal Revenue tax during the Civil War — on a photography business. Sadly, nothing appears to have survived…

  3. “I happen to be particularly rich…” is a nice, tactful way to put it !!

    My “family archives”, literally, include photos in albums, shoeboxes, etc. of family posing on porches, in yards, having harvest lunches in the field, and so forth, from both my and my late husband’s kin. I wish I could decide which Family Book to file them into.

    It seems like these people were tourists in their own home territories — or they loved that new invention, the “kodak” and never got over the thrill of it….(sigh)

    Now, at age 83, I am feeling a tad desperate to find someone to assume the future reign of custodian for this treasure trove.

  4. Great compilation of treasured family photographs with excellent genealogical information. So interesting even if I am not related to your fine family! I enjoy your blog entries tremendously!

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