Thomas J. Stewart came to Norristown from Ireland at the age of 1. He attended the Norristown Public Schools and later a Philadelphia business school. As a youth, he exhibited great penmanship skills and as a result, was chosen to be secretary of almost every organization with which he was connected. In 1868, he opened a writing school in Norristown at 126 and 1/2 Main Street. At 16 he inlisted in the 138th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers for service in the Civil War, but the war ended within a few months. Returning home, he joined the National Guard and rose steadily through it ranks, until in 1895, Governor Hastings appointed him Adjutant General of the State Guard. Succeeding governors reappointed him to the office until his death in 1917. He had a quick wit and a gift of eloquence and was in great demand as a speaker by Republican politicians in their campaigns. In 1885, he was elected to the State House of Representatives and in 1886 he was elected for the first of two terms as Secretary of Internal Affairs. General Stewart died suddenly in Harrisburg on his 68th birthday, September 11th, 1917.