The Presbyterian Cemetery

The Extraordinary Life of James M. Steuart: from Soldier to Postmaster, a Legacy of Service


In the annals of American history, there are families whose stories resonate with dedication, valor, and service. One such family is the Steuart family, a prominent clan of 11 children whose legacy is defined by their contributions to various spheres of life. At the forefront of this family’s remarkable narrative is James M. Steuart, a man whose journey through war, business, and community service left an indelible mark on the tapestry of the United States.

A Journey of Bravery and Dedication

Born in 1826, James M. Steuart’s life was destined for greatness. His journey began during the Mexican War, where he demonstrated his bravery and commitment to his country as a soldier. His selfless actions during this conflict set the tone for the rest of his life, characterized by service and unwavering dedication.

Venturing to California: Conquest in the Business World

After the Mexican War, James embarked on a new adventure in the vibrant state of California. There, he found success in the business world, showcasing his prowess not only as a soldier but also as a savvy entrepreneur. His ability to adapt and thrive in various domains solidified his reputation as a versatile individual with an unyielding spirit.

The Civil War: Leadership in Turbulent Times

The outbreak of the American Civil War beckoned James M. Steuart back to his homeland. He answered the call by assuming the role of Captain of Company E, 17th Virginia – a regiment comprised of volunteers from various counties. James’ leadership skills and military experience proved crucial during this tumultuous period, underscoring his dedication to his comrades and his country.

A Servant to the Community

James M. Steuart’s commitment to service extended beyond the battlefield. His role as Captain in the Relief Hook and Ladder Company exemplified his dedication to his local community. His presence not only helped safeguard the neighborhood but also served as an inspiration for others to give back to their communities.

Post-Civil War Contributions

Even after the Civil War’s end, James M. Steuart’s service did not wane. He held the prestigious position of Official Postmaster for the United States House of Representatives from 1876 to 1880. His role in this capacity exemplified his continued dedication to public service and his ability to transition seamlessly between roles for the greater good.

Eternal Rest and Shared History

The legacy of the Steuart family, including James M. Steuart himself, endures in their final resting place. In Alexandria’s Presbyterian Cemetery, in Section 42, plot 60, these individuals, including James’ grandparents Thomas and Eleanor Tretcher, find eternal peace together. This sacred ground stands as a testament to their interconnectedness and shared history, preserving the memory of their significant contributions to their community and nation.


The Steuart family’s story is one of sacrifice, valor, and a deep-rooted commitment to service. James M. Steuart’s journey, from soldier to entrepreneur, from community servant to postmaster, paints a vivid picture of a life dedicated to bettering the world around him. As we remember the legacy of the Steuart family, let us also draw inspiration from their example, knowing that the echoes of their contributions will resound through generations to come.

Died October 7, 1880
Loved and mourned

Sources of Information

Wallace, Jr., L. A. (1990). 17th Virginia Infantry. H. E. Howard, Inc., Lynchburg, Virginia.

Pippenger, W. E. (1992). Tombstone Inscriptions of Alexandria, Virginia: Volume 1. Family Line Publications, Westminster, MD, and Heritage Books, Inc., Bowie, MD.

Miller, T. M. (1997). Biography of Captain James M. Steuart. The Alexandria Chronicle, 5(3), Alexandria Historical Society, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia.

Dahmann, D. D. (2022). The roster of Historic Congregational Members of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. Unpublished.

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By David

Hello. My journey has taken me through various paths, from owning businesses to delving deep into the annals of history. For many years, I dedicated myself to researching and leading tours of Civil War Battlefields, bringing the past to life for those eager to learn.

In 2015, I assumed the role of Superintendent of the Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium within the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex in Alexandria, Virginia. This cemetery holds a profoundly special place in my heart. It's owned by the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, where I was baptized and raised, and my parents are laid to rest. It's also the place where I will one day be buried. This responsibility allowed me to assist families during pivotal moments and opened a unique avenue for me. Most Saturdays, I lead tours within the complex, combining my passion for teaching history with the stories of the 35,000 souls resting there. To further share these narratives, I established this blog focusing on the lives and tales of those buried in Alexandria.

In addition to my work at the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, I am honored to serve as a dedicated Board member of the Alexandria Historical Society and the Lee-Fendall House Museum. I am a Northern Virginia Cemetery Consortium member dedicated to preserving endangered cemeteries throughout the region, representing the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex.

If you're intrigued by history or curious about the stories that shaped Alexandria, I invite you to join me on my tours, read my writings, or connect with me on Facebook or Instagram.

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