Lucy Jacobs Stewart: Midwife extraordinaire of Liberty, Missouri February 28, 2022

Lucy Jacobs Stewart (1850s – 1939) is part of a long tradition of midwifery in Missouri and among many guiding hands in the tapestry of life in Liberty. Neighbors sent for Granny Stewart, as she was called, to assist laboring women. We do not know how many babies she caught, but she was a trusted member of the community and was consulted on a variety of family issues, at a time when 50% of births in the United States occurred at home, assisted by a midwife.

Lucy was part of the first generation of Black Missourians to start a family outside the bonds of slavery. The oldest of six children of Albert and Sarah Jacobs, she raised her family with her husband John S. Stewart on Main Street in Liberty, Missouri. They put their children through school, even though they had not been to school. Two of their six children were still living in 1900: Taylor, a day laborer like his father, and Daisy, a domestic worker.

Lucy and John moved to South Street and later to South Missouri Street. Their wages allowed them to own their home, mortgage-free, at each location. Unlike their white neighbors on South Missouri Street, they continued to work into their senior years. Throughout their lives, the children of the neighborhood were attracted to their loving home.

Lucy outlived her husband by 12 years. Her younger sister, Mary McShears was with her when she died on a cold February morning in 1939, at the age of at least 85. Generational wisdom was passed down through Lucy and elders like her.

Credit: Painting by Brianna Lewis



    Flyer for the March 27, 2022 event in Liberty, Missouri to honor the life and legacy of Lucy Jacobs Stewart



    Press announcement about the March event



    Watch the recording of the March 27, 2022 event on “Midwives and Maternal Health in African-American Communities: Then and Now.” It includes a reenactment of the life of Lucy Jacobs Stewart.


    Tribute by the artist of the painting to honor Lucy Jacobs Stewart, which painting has gone on tour.


    “Special Delivery” sculpture by Willie Grant Lyles or W. L. Grant.



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    Kellie Houx April 3rd, 2022

    “Midwives, maternal health part of discussion during Women’s History Month,” by Kellie Houx for the Courier-Tribune newspaper, March 30, 2022

    LIBERTY — Papyruses found in ancient Egypt related to midwifery included instructions for calculating the expected date of confinement and describe styles of birth chairs. Bas reliefs in royal birth rooms at Luxor and other temples also attest to the heavy presence of midwifery in the Egyptian culture.Kim Lartey, who founded the Baobab Tree Midwives & Doulas in early 2019, was part of a discussion Sunday, March 27, at William Jewell College honoring “Midwives and Maternal Health in African-American Communities: Then and Now.”

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