Today I write about Libbie Logan Stewart who was the daughter of Ellen Logan, the cook for the Peaslee family both during and after slavery. You can read about Ellen at this post Ellen Logan – Louisville, Kentucky.
Libbie was born into slavery in 1863 in Louisville, Kentucky. Alice Norcross Cane describes her thus in her book Slightly Historical. “She (Libbie) was smart and capable and almost white. She and her little brother, from their likeness to a Northerner stationed in the neighborhood, were evidently his unacknowledged children.“
“By early 1862, Louisville had 80,000 Union troops throughout the city. … By May 1862, the steamboats arrived and departed at the wharf in Louisville with their cargoes. Military contractors in Louisville provided the Union army with two hundred head of cattle each day, and the pork packers provided thousands of hogs daily. Trains departed for the south along the L&N railroad.” Louisville, Kentucky, in the American Civil War
In 1870 six year old Libbie lived with her mother Ellen, her siblings and the other servants in the two-story building in back of the Peaslees. In 1873 when Libbie was nine years old, her mother and newborn baby died in childbirth. It was not rare for girls as young as this to act as nursemaids, usually with an older person to oversee them. Perhaps those were Libbie’s duties. By the time she was sixteen in 1880 Libbie was literate. She continued to work for the Peaslees until her marriage to Frank Stewart, a coachman, in May of 1886. They married at the house and Alice remembered it in Slightly Historical:
“She was married from our house to the coachman of the Henning family. A hack drawn by two horses took them away the night of the wedding. This was the first wedding my sisters and brother and I had ever witnessed and was, for us, a big event. … Libby made her home one we enjoyed visiting. She kept it apple-pie condition. Her tiny front yard was ablaze with flowers and she herself was always neat in appearance.”
Libbie and Frank moved to their home at 1958 Sixth Alley. There Libbie had a yard full of flowers. They never had children. Frank continued to work as a coachman until 1908 when he became a butler. Libbie did not work outside of the home until that same year when she is listed as a laundress in the city directory.
The next year she began working at the Louisville Girls High school where she continued working for the next six years. Frank also began to work as a janitor. During this time they rented their house on Sixth Alley, eventually moving to another rented house on Levering Street Rear where Frank continued to live until his death at 71 years in 1928. Libbie remained there and worked as a domestic until at least 1935.
She died suddenly of a heart attack on October 24, 1942. She was 79 years old. Both she and her husband are buried in Louisville Cemetery. Louisville Cemetery was incorporated by several prominent black citizens in 1886.
I found my information in “Slightly Historical” by Alice Norcross Cane; in census, marriage, death records and Louisville city directories on Ancestry.com, familysearch.com and rootsweb Kentucky death records. Also helpful was the Wikepedia description of Louisville during the Civil War.