Friday, May 27, 2016

Sells Out Laundry Business

Westerly Public Library Scrapbook #3, 2016
kindly located by Barbara Fallon

Sells Out Laundry Business
March 22, 1927

My family business has has many names (Westerly Laundry, Westerly Steam Laundry, Victor Laundry, Victor Cleansing Company) over the operating years from 1890 until my grandmother sold it in the early 1970s. 

This small newspaper article from the archive newspaper scrapbooks gives me additional evidence for my timeline that I have been building for several years. Some of the gaps occur because I have had to track my great grandfather, Charles E. Stewart and his sons, my grandfather, Evans Stewart and my great uncle Dudley Wheeler Stewart as to where they lived through three New England States (Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island). 

Great uncle Dudley W. Stewart (1891-1943) wasn't talked about much in my family. My mother called him the Black Sheep of her father's family and quite honestly, I have no real hard evidence that he did anything to deserve this label.  A veteran of World War I, Dudley served for Rhode Island, worked hard all his life, married and had no children. It has been up to me to find out about his life and tell his story. He died in 1943 before I was born and it was his gravestone that made me ask about him. 

In this article, I have learned that the laundry business in Westerly, RI was "sold out" to Dudley in 1926. I learned that my great grandfather was at this time only associated with his son, my grandfather and that there was an obvious split in how my great grandfather felt about his sons. I was suspicious of this when I tracked my great grandparents from their marriage in Massachusetts back to Connecticut where in 1890 the Westerly Laundry was founded. Since we have no 1890 federal census to go by, I turned to the first record I could find, the 1892 Westerly, RI City Directory. 

The Genealogical and Biographical Record (published in 1905) gives a biography of my Stewart family right down to great grandpa Charlie and it reads as if he wrote the section himself. It was a miracle find for me and made me keep going with this research.

This article (probably from The Westerly Sun) states that the business was started 36 years prior to the writing which confirms that 1890 is the correct date. This pinpoints the date where Dudley is on his own as proprietor or manager and fits into the migration pattern of my grandfather and great grandfather to the Cranston and Providence, Rhode Island area.

Dudley's marriage to a local woman is only recorded in my family Bible and may be part of the "black sheep" attitude. She is not buried with him but she is buried with her family in North Stonington, CT where she lived many years after him. I never met her and she didn't die until 1982. 

I am still stuck trying to find the 1930 census for Dudley and Stella. The 1940 census tells me that they lived in the "same house" in 1935 on a farm in North Stonington. Just writing this blog post made me realize that they might have moved in with her family. (update! her father is widowed and living alone)

There is always more research to do, isn't there? Thank you Barbara for finding this great article. 

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