STEWART, Rev. George B., D. D., pastor of the Market Square Presbyterian church, Harrisburg, Pa., was born at Columbus, Ohio, February 28, 1854. His ancestors have been in America since 1637. On his father's side, they were Scotch-Irish; and on his mother's side, this same strain was mingled with that of the Holland-Dutch. Hence by the law of heredity, Dr. Stewart is justly entitled to the sterling and sturdy qualities he has exhibited in his youth and maturity.
His primary education was received in the public and private schools of his native city, which also afforded him his preparation for college. Other influences besides those of careful domestic training and thorough scholastic tuition and discipline exerted a power over him. The most active and receptive years of his youth were those of the Civil war, and the capital of Ohio at that time was the seat and scene of the most intense and continuous activities in the preparation for and the consequences of the internecine struggle. The glorious flag of the country, either in the fresh folds of the colors of the regiments departing for the seat of war, or on the tattered and stained standards of returning troops, were constantly before his youthful eyes, while his ears were ever assaulted by the stirring notes of the fife and drum, and the stately tramp of the marching soldiers. Press, platform and pulpit were giving utterance to patriotic sentiments, and sacrifices for country and free institutions was the personal and public virtue he heard most frequently and eloquently commended. His ancestors had been in this country for over two hundred years, and hence by blood, birth and training, be became an American of Americans, his heart thrilling with sentiments of regard and reverence for the free and full life which his native country begot and fostered.
When in maturing growth and approaching manhood, he was confronted by the need of making choice of an occupation or profession he could see no calling which offered employment to his gifts and satisfaction for his longings so fully as the sacred office. For this he proceeded to prepare himself by the course of classical and theological study which the Presbyterian Church require of all who enter the ministry. With the class of 1876 he completed the curriculum of Princeton College, after which he spent some time in the study of theology at the young but conservative McCormick Seminary at Chicago, Ill. For the completion of his theological studies he resorted to the older and more liberal seminary at Auburn, N. Y. The Calvary church of the city of Auburn noted the promise of the young student and offered him the pastorate the year previous to the completion of his course. He accepted the charge and remained in the field for seven years, in which his success was so marked that he attracted the attention of the church at large.
The Market Square Presbyterian Church, of Harrisburg, Pa., gave him a unanimous call without knowing him and on the strength solely of the representations of persons whom they deemed competent to judge of his fitness for the pulpit and pastoral work. After a visit of some days to the city, he accepted the call and was installed as pastor, January 2, 1885. The Market Square church was one of the most prominent and important charges in the central part of Pennsylvania. It had in its membership many of the descendants of the Scotch-Irish pioneers who settled this part of the State, it had been remarkably favored in the enjoyment of the services of men of great talent and marked devotion in the pastoral office, the one preceding Dr. Stewart being Dr. Thos. H. Robinson, whose scholarly tastes and attainments, as well as his excellent character had led to his transfer to a chair in the Presbyterian Theological Seminary.
Dr. Stewart’s labors in this important field have been crowned with abundant and most gratifying success. People and pastor are most happily in accord as to the methods and means of church activities, and their harmonious work and worship are delightfully complete and satisfactory. The officers and members, while intensely Presbyterian and most cordially loyal to denominational doctrine and order, are at the same time decidedly of the liberal branch and type, and in this feature are highly gratified with the pastor who shares with them in their denomination preference.
The dominant traits and characteristics of Dr. Stewart are his naturalness, simplicity, earnestness, and devotion in connection with eminent talents as a preacher and as organizer and leader. Even his scholarship partakes of a practical turn, for while his eager search for truth takes him into all fields of investigation, he gathers therefrom only the fruits which nurture spirituality and practical evangelism.
The church under his leadership is thoroughly organized, and is as much a working company as a factory, store or bank, in which every employee has his place and work, and all are united and co-operate to reach a single result. But the organization is not a creed, it is only a means by which the good of humanity and the glory of God are effectually promoted.
Dr. Stewart finds time for work outside of the pastorate. He is a trustee of the College at Princeton, N. J., and of the Wilson College at Chambersburg, Pa. He has also been the president of the Pennsylvania Chatauqua, at Mt. Gretna, for the five years of its existence. He is much interested in the Y. P. S. C. E. and is the chairman of the General Assembly's special committee on this organization.
By his activity, fidelity and good will in his relationships of man, neighbor and citizen, Dr. Stewart enjoys a popularity and influence equal to the regard and affection rendered to him in his ministerial office.
Historical Review of Dauphin County
Transcribed by Becky Tuszynski email@example.com for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.
Date of Transcription: 18 July 2001
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