Ira Stewart (1779-1855) is the patriarch of one of Middlebury’s great family dynasties, whose contributions to both town and the College continue into the 21st Century. The son of John and Huldah (Hubbell) Stewart., he was born in Pawlet, Vermont, July 15, 1779.
Ira started a mercantile business with his brother Noble in New Haven, Vermont., before relocating to Middlebury in 1810. The business prospered and after Noble died of fever in 1814, Ira carried on the business alone. As a prominent citizen of Middlebury he was elected to both houses in the State Legislature, serving two terms in the State Senate. He was elected a Trustee of Middlebury College in 1819 and served in that capacity until his death in 1855. On October 29, 1814, Stewart married Elizabeth Hubbell, with whom he had three children Huldah Hubbell, a daughter who died in infancy, and sons Dugald (Class of 1842) and John Wolcott (Class of 1846), both of whom studied law. John W. went on to a distinguished career serving in both houses of the Vermont Legislature, as well as Governor and State Senator. With his marriage to Emma Battell (granddaughter of his mentor Hon. Horatio Seymour, daughter of Phillip Battell and Emma Seymour Battell, and sister of Joseph Battell), John W. Stewart merged three great Middlebury families, the Seymours, the Battells, and the Stewarts. Stewart Hall at Middlebury College and the Stewart-Swift Research Center at the Sheldon Museum in Middlebury commemorate the legacy of Ira Stewart and his progeny. Stewart died in Middlebury on Feb. 15, 1855.