Big thank you from

Garden City Founder'S Body Stolen And Held For Ransom


handles from the casket of A. T. Stewart. S27/729COFFIN handles are not the type of ornament with which many people would wish to adorn their homes.

However, the set in this photograph have particular historical significance as they were attached to the casket of Alexander Turney Stewart, the Lisburn man who went on to found a New York business empire and the suburb of Garden City.

The casket and Stewart's body were stolen from New York following his death in 1876 and taken to Canada.

They were only returned on payment of a ransom by his widow who then had the Episcopal Cathedral in Garden City constructed and her husband's remains interred within its walls.

The story of Mr. Stewart's life which began at Lissue in 1801 was outlined in the Star recently to coincide with the borough's 'Stars-and Stripes' Festival.

The coffin handles are now in the possession of Mr. William Carlin from Switzerland who last visited Northern Ireland in 1987 with his wife Louise in a bid to trace the genealogy of his Stewart ancestors in the Magheragall / Derriaghy area..He and his sister Betty found the handles among their father's belongings when he died in 1966 and the discovery prompted him to begin research into his family's history.

With the help of friends and relatives in the area Mr. Carlin found the home of Mr. Stewart's grandfather John Turney during his 1987 visit. This still stands at Lissue.


At the time he made every effort to ensure the preservation of the dwelling.

He contacted the Ulster American Folk Park about the matter and spoke to a number of influential people.

However, sadly his wife became very ill and his local friends have been unable to trace someone they regard as 'a brilliant historian' in order to let him know interest has once again been generated in the story of A.T. Stewart.

Indeed, a new portrait of Mr. Stewart was unveiled at a ceremony in Lisburn Institute last Friday evening.

The unveiling was performed by Jane Benton Fort, Consul General of the United States of America.

During the evening those present were addressed by both the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the 'Friends of A.T. Stewart' group Mr. Griffith Black and Lisburn Institute Principal Alister McReynolds.

A talk was also given by the President of the Historical Society of Garden City Ani Robertson and music was provided by Derek Bell of the Chieftains.