Josephus Bradner Stuart was born on July 26, 1787. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in medicine in 1810, but appears to have spent little time in the medical profession. During the War of 1812 Stuart served as paymaster in the 29th Infantry, and after the war was appointed chancellor to the U.S. Consulate in London, where he served from October 1815 until June 1816. He spent some of this period traveling around Europe, including Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, and France.
After returning to the United States, Stuart engaged in several diverse business pursuits, including operating the Walk-in-the-Water , one of the first steamboats on the Great Lakes. Stuart launched the steamboat in 1818, and for the next three years it made regular runs between Buffalo and Detroit. His other pursuits included acting as an agent for William Temple Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, and for Francis Cazeau, a French citizen who presented a claim for Revolutionary War reparations to Congress fpr the period when Cazeau lived in Canada. In addition, Stuart speculated in land in Ohio, ran a saw mill and store in Sandusky, Ohio, and attempted to open a branch of the Bank of the United States in Albany. After 1819, Stuart’s finances took a turn for the worse as the result of the Panic of 1819 and of a series of lawsuits involving him. Stuart and his wife, Ann Leonard, eventually settled in Jamesville, New York, where he worked in farming, distilling, and milling. He was admitted to the bar in 1821, and worked as an attorney until his death on January 28th, 1828.