The experiences of life on the western frontier are thoroughly familiar to Grant Stewart, who followed mining and railroading in the early days and is now engaged in the cement contracting business at Watsonville. His activities along construction lines have brought him a wide acquaintance in northern California, and his is the record of a self-made man whose life from early boyhood has been one of unremitting industry. He was born March 18, 1868, in the old mining town of You Bet, high up in the Sierra mountains, in Nevada county, California. His father was one of the pioneer miners of this state and subsequently migrated to Virginia City, Nevada, where he spent the remainder of his life.
When but ten years of age Grant Stewart started to work in the mines of Virginia City and later learned the machinist’s trade in the shops of the Southern Pacific Railroad at Sacramento, California. He worked as a locomotive fireman for that corporation and was advanced to the position of engineer. He ran one of their engines from Sacramento to Virginia City and also worked as an engineer on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad and the Bodie & Benton Railroad in Mono county, California, the last named being a logging road. He likewise followed mining all over the state of Nevada in search of the precious metal, but fortune eluded him.
In 1894 Mr. Stewart abandoned railroading and located in Salinas, Monterey county, California, where he learned the carpenter’s trade under L. V. Grant, later serving an apprenticeship to the trades of brick mason and plasterer under a Mr. Johnson, a contractor. For twenty-nine months Mr. Grant was engaged in cement construction work on the Spreckels sugar factory in Monterey county and then embarked in business for himself as a cement contractor. He has laid many miles of sidewalks, curbs and gutters in Salinas, Monterey, King City, San Luis Obispo, Watsonville, Sacramento, San Jose, Berkeley and Los Angeles, California, and also in Reno, Nevada, and his name is stamped on all of his work, which is first class in every particular. He has been a resident of Watsonville for about nine years and by able management and conscientious, efficient service has built up a business of extensive proportions, employing a force of about twelve men. He has had broad experience in construction work and for eleven years was superintendent of road and highway building for the Granite Rock Company of Watsonville. Mr. Stewart has been awarded many important contracts and the most notable examples of his skill are afforded by the Monterey County Bank building, the Monterey county court house, the latter of which he remodeled, the Ford and Jefferson blocks, all situated in Salinas; the Santa Cruz public library; a garage in Gonzales; the Ordway block in Monterey; and a concrete building for the St. Francis school near Watsonville, which was recently completed. He is also the owner of valuable real estate in San Jose, Alameda and Watsonville.
Mr. Stewart’s first wife died in 1913, and in 1917 he married Mrs. Margaret Morgan and they now make their home in Watsonville. He has reared eight children and now has five grandchildren. John and Samuel Stewart, who were born of the first union, are assisting him in business. He also has two stepsons, Jack and George Morgan. The conditions of his early youth aroused his self-reliance and developed a strong and vigorous manhood that has enabled him to cope with the problems of life and find for them a ready and accurate solution. He has wrought along enduring lines and is justly honored for his unswerving integrity and genuine worth.
Source: History of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, California : cradle of California’s history and romance : dating from the planting of the cross of Christendom upon the shores of Monterey Bay by Fr. Junipero Serra, and those intrepid adventurers who accompanied him, down to the present day. Chicago: S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1925.