Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Solon K. Stewart (1883-?)

Journalist, Soldier, Author
Born June 1883, Brackettville, Texas
Died ?

Solon Kelly Stewart was born in Brackettville, Texas, in June 1883. His father, Solon Stewart (1853-1923), was a Maryland-born lawyer and a member of the Texas legislature in 1881-1883. His mother, Laura Georgia Grimshaw (1858-1929), was a housewife. Solon K. Kelly worked as a clerk and by 1905 as a reporter in San Antonio, Texas. In 1909, he traveled to London to marry. I don't know why he would have gone so far afield to find a wife, but it's worth noting that his mother's father was born in England. In any case, Stewart returned to the United States in time to be counted in the 1910 census with his young wife, Nesta.

Solon K. Stewart enlisted in the Canadian army during World War I and served in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He returned once again to his home country in August 1919 and was counted in the 1920 census, but by then tragedy had struck: Nesta Stewart was gone. That was the time of the Spanish Influenza. I wonder if she could have been carried away even before her husband might see her again.

Sometime in the early 1920s, Stewart made the transition from journalist to magazine writer. The FictionMags Index lists his credits (except for the last story):

  • "A Question of Authority" in Brief Stories (Aug. 1922)
  • "The Contract of Corporal Twing" in Harper’s (Feb. 1923)
  • "Un Regalo" in Brief Stories (June 1923)
  • Untitled biographical piece in Brief Stories (Sept. 1923)
  • "Threads" in Brief Stories (Jan. 1924)
  • "At Horkasitas" in The Danger Trail (May 1926)
  • "Roy Bean and the 'Jersey Lily'" in Ace-High Magazine (June #2, 1926)
  • "The Mexican Cargador" in The Danger Trail (June 1926)
  • "Bagdad-on-the-Tigris" in The Danger Trail (July 1926)
  • "Darmie, Wolf" in Ace-High Magazine (Aug. #2, 1926)
  • "A Bagdad Adventure" in The Danger Trail (Aug. 1926)
  • "The Mystery of the Silver Greyhound" in Clues (Nov. 1926)
  • "Bibi Love" in Oriental Stories (Apr./May/June 1931)

That index also lists two stories by S.K. Stewart. I think it's safe to assume they were Solon K. Stewart's work as well:

  • "The Roar of a .45" in Action Stories (Nov. 1925)
  • "Offshore Love" in Love Story Magazine (July 5, 1930)

"The Contract of Corporal Twing" appeared in Harper’s in February 1923 and in The Best Short Stories of 1923. That success would have been reduced by the death of Stewart's father, Solon Stewart, in March 1923, only a month after the publication of the story and coincidentally the month Weird Tales made its debut. Stewart's mother died in 1929. So in a period of a decade or so, Stewart saw at least eleven stories and articles placed in American magazines while losing his wife, his father, and his mother. The last story I have found for him is "Bibi Love," published in Oriental Stories in the April/May/June 1931 issue of that companion magazine to Weird Tales.

In a letter from Robert E. Howard to Tevis Clyde Smith, dated about March 1931, Howard wrote: "He [Harold Preece] also wanted to take me around and introduce me to Solon Stewart, the solitary writer, but I didn't have the energy." That letter and the story in Oriental Stories are the last two mentions of Solon K. Stewart that I have found. I don't even know the year of his death. Solon K. Stewart's parents were buried in San Antonio. Their house at 114 Cedar Street is part of the King William Historic District in that city.

Solon K. Stewart's Story in Oriental Stories
"Bibi Love" (Apr./May/June 1931)

Further Reading
An Internet search for "Solon K. Stewart" and "Solon Stewart" will turn up a few items of interest, especially an account of the McNeil train robbery of May 18, 1887.

Solon K. Stewart's byline appeared on the cover of Oriental Stories in the Spring Issue, 1931. The cover artist was Donald von Gelb.
Text and captions copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley

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