Philo Penfield Stewart
Philo Penfield Stewart

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

Prominently identified with this interest [stove manufacturing] for many years in Troy was Philo Penfield Stewart, a notable man, - not only the inventor of the stove bearing his name, but a mechanic, teacher, missionary, founder of a college, reformer, and philanthropist. Born in Sherman, Conn., July 6, 1798, during his minority he attended the Pawlet, Vt., Academy, and learned the trade of harness making. He early consecrated his live to Christ. At the age of twenty-three he went to Mississippi as a missionary to the Choctaw Indians. In 1832 he went to Elyria, Ohio, and during his residence there, planned and assisted to found the Oberlin College. In 1836 he traveled through the New England States in the behalf of that educational experiment. Subsequently, after a short visit to his old home in Vermont, he went to New York City, and while there, ending many privations and hardships, invented the celebrated "P. P. Stewart Summer and Winter Cooking Stove." Fixing on Troy as the place for their manufacture, he removed thither, and commenced their production and sale, first through the first of Starbuck & Co., and later the house of Fuller, Warren & Co. For years he studied to improve his won invention. At that time the stove was small; he made it larger, and enlarged the oven, and finally, after many discouraging failures, added the improved reservoir and "back-closet." It was not until 1859 that he obtained a patent for his "Large Oven and Air-Tight Cooking Stove." This perfected stove was a success, and had a wonderful sale, - over nine thousand stoves in thirty years.

During his residence in New York City he became actively associated with the Abolition leaders of the day, - James G. Birney, John G. Whittier, Theodore Weld, and others. He loved liberty with an intensity that knew no abatement; tyranny and slavery found in him an implacable foe. Notwithstanding the wonderful success of his stove, he never acquired wealth: he gave constantly to charities, and helped friends beyond their reasonable claims for assistance. He was for years a deacon of the Congregational Church in Troy, and ever contributed freely to its support. He died Dec. 13, 1868. He was a remarkable man and a true Christian. His death was sincerely mourned by all classes of society. His remains were conveyed to Pittsford, Vt., and there consigned their final rest among his relatives.

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