The Stone family saga

This is the tale of a Clovesville family whose name has faded from the Catskills because the men who carried it left to find their fortunes and meet their destinies more than 130 years ago.

They were the Stones: John, William, George and Rutson, sons of Caroline and Robert. Their father died in 1849 at the age of 47, leaving a 40 year old wife and 9 children, from infant twins, Rutson and Jutson, to eldest son Augustus, 19. Caroline apparently maintained a store to support the family, which was scattered at the coming of the Civil War.

John Finkle Stone was 21 when he enlisted as a musician in the Regular Army’s 5th Infantry in 1857. He was sent to Washington Territory, then New Mexico Territory where he spent most of the war years, before being posted to Kansas, mustering out in 1867. Some sources say that after his discharge he became U.S. Marshall and was later appointed Collector of Customs for the District of El Paso Del Norte and relocated to Tucson, Arizona. He helped organize the Apache Pass Mining Company in 1868 to develop the Harris Lode Gold Mining District near Fort Bowie. On October 5, 1869, he boarded a stage for Tucson with a driver and a four-soldier escort. All were killed that day in an Apache ambush near Dragoon Springs. His body rests in the cemetery at Fort Bowie, a National Historic Site.

Clovesville native John Stone's burial place in Arizona. The "Col." title was honorary, and the term "supposed to be" shows some uncertainly about his remains, which were reburied here a year after his death an Apache hands in 1869.

Clovesville native John Stone’s burial place in Arizona. The “Col.” title was honorary, and the term “supposed to be” shows some uncertainly about his remains, which were reburied here a year after his death at Apache hands in 1869.

William Henry Stone joined the Army as captain of Company G of the 144th New York Volunteer Regiment. Born in 1841, he was just 21 when he led the Middletown-raised company off to war in September of 1862. A little more than a year later, he succumbed to chronic dysentery contracted in camp. He had managed to get home to his mother, who we can assume nursed him until he passed away October 17, 1863. He is buried in the Clovesville Cemetery.

William’s younger brother George saw active duty after enlisting in the 14th Cavalry in June of 1863. Seven months later, he was captured at the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana during the Red River campaign, and spent six months interred in the Confederate prison, Camp Ford in Tyler, Texas, until the following November, when he was exchanged. In the same month he was appointed a captain in the 18th New York Cavalry, became ordnance officer of the Department of the Gulf, and commanded the San Antonio arsenal from September, 1865 until June 1866 when he was mustered out of service. After the war George Stone was a civil engineer on the Union Pacific Railroad until its completion in 1869. The following year he went to California, and worked on a number of railroads as superintendent or contractor. In 1901, he organized the Pacific Portland Cement Company, and had a comfortable life with wife Annie Burr Jennings, and their three daughters. He was California state chairman of the Republican party, and prominent in San Francisco, where he died in 1915.

Rutson Stone was born Oct. 21, 1848 in Clovesville. His twin, Jutson, evidently died as an infant. Rutson was left at home to be with his mother as one by one, all his siblings departed or married. The 1870 Middletown census said he worked in a print shop. He was 21, his mother was 61. In 1878 she died, leaving Rutson free to roam. He followed big brother George to California, where he was a surveyor in San Francisco in 1880, a clerk in 1888, and a “papermaker” in Lynwood in 1890. He and wife Annie had two daughters and a son, Robert, who does not appear to have survived to adulthood.

We don’t know what happened to her eldest son Augustus, but between 1849 and her own death in 1878, Caroline endured the loss of her husband and five other boys – one an infant, one in the Civil War, one to Indian attack and two more to the siren song of California. Unless Augustus raised a family somewhere, there were no boys to carry on Robert Stone’s name, though his daughters married local men and left descendants who remain in these parts today.

You can learn more about this family at the Living History Cemetery Tour of the Clovesville Cemetery June 29 when Caroline will be portrayed, and at the Historical Society of Middletown’s Civil War exhibit at the HSM Hall July 4-August 31, where John, William and George Stone will be profiled.

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