This week, I contacted administrators at Washington College, alma mater of my third great-grandfather, William R. Stuart to make arrangements for a visit. I found out that Stuart went to Washington College while reading his obituary written by his friend and fellow Washington College alum, Ezekiel Chambers. Chambers and Stuart grew up together in Chestertown, MD where Washington College is located. The college website boasts a picture of Chambers and describes him and his family as important pieces of the college’s legacy. My third great-grandfather and Chambers would have been among the college’s earliest graduates. The two went on to serve in the Maryland State Senate together.
According to their website, Washington College, founded in the early 1780s was the first college chartered in the new nation. Our first president, George Washington was founder and patron of the institution which says it’s committed to a broader understanding of our country’s history. I’m so looking forward to traveling to the college this fall and seeing the places my grandfather may have roamed and studied which no doubt shaped his opinions and prepared him for a career in the Maryland State Senate. Until I can get to the college itself, I’ll be following their Poplar Grove Project blog.
Poplar Grove is an historic home in the area and students from Washington College found a treasure trove of letters and other papers in the attic there a couple of years ago. Under the direction of history teacher Adam Goodheart, and in conjunction with the Maryland State Archives, the Poplar Grove Papers have since been archived. And guess what? In the index for the Poplar Grove collection on the State Archive’s website, there is mention of a William Stuart. Professor Goodheart tipped me off to my ancestor’s possible connection with the papers when I contacted him to make arrangements to visit their college. I’m not sure if it’s my William Stuart, but I’ve already started going through the archived material available online to find out. I’ll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, you can listen to the story of Washington College’s students finding the Poplar Grove papers on NPR.