Wednesday, July 3, 2013

George Nelson Stone, born July 17, 1839

George Nelson Stone was born in Stark, New Hampshire.  When he was three years old, his parents with their three sons and five daughters moved to Lowell, Massachusetts.  At ten years old, he was office boy for a year for Benjamin F. Butler, who was a successful attorney in Lowell. 

 Benjamin F. Butler

Later he attended the Centreville Academy, then secured a position at a mercantile establishment in Boston on a small salary.  He later moved to Rhode Island.

He was 21 years old when the Civil War began.

In 1861 he was the proprietor of a small hotel in Georgia, and a member of a military company that tendered its services to Governor Joe Brown, a leading secessionist.  Stone quickly closed up his affairs there and returned North.

Stone married Arvilla Willard, of Boston, Massachusetts, on May 20, 1861.  They eventually had three daughters: Maud, Mary and Eleanor. 

Sketch of Fredericksburg Attack by Alfred Waud
Stone was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant on September 4, 1862, and was mustered into Company B with the 7th Rhode Island Infantry. Soon after, his regiment participated at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
Sketch of Fredericksburg Attack by Alfred Waud

Stone became a 1st Lieutenant on January 7, 1863 and was transferred to Company F. His regiment was then ordered to the Western Theatre to participate in the Vicksburg Campaign. 


On May 2, 1863, he was promoted to Captain of Company H.  He and his regiment also fought in the battles of Jackson, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, North Anna, Poplar Spring Church and Hatcher's Run.

Battle of Spotsylvania
When the war was over, Stone was mustered out with his regiment on June 9, 1865.  He went to Colorado where he engaged in mining, and lost all his savings.  He then went to work in Cincinnati, at Chamberlain's foundry.  He earned about $8 a week there.

Maud S.
Stone organized the Park Driving Association, and became its president in 1875.  He was the owner of several racehorses, among them the great Maud S., named after his oldest daughter, Maud Stone. William H. Vanderbilt purchased her for $21,000, and she broke world records seven times from 1880-85.

Currier & Ives print showing
William H. Vanderbilt driving his team
Maud S. and Aldine
With the money received for Maud S., he accumulated enough capital to acquire stock in the Bell Telephone Company, purchasing when it was going at the lowest figure and keeping it until it had attained more value.  In 1878 he became a director, and, in 1882, president and general manager. 

Stone’s second home in Cincinnati, designed by Samuel Hannaford, was built about 1880 at 3025 Observatory Road. 

Family photographs of Arvilla Stone and their daughters
Arvilla Stone died of typhoid pneumonia in December, 1886, at the age of 43. Stone later married Martha Evans Harrington, a widow.

Martha Evans Harrington Stone
The Stones lived at 405 Oak Street in Cincinnati with four servants (a waitress, a maid, a cook, and a laundress). This second home, by Samuel Hannaford & Sons, built in 1890, was in the neighborhood of Vernonville, located on a corner lot. Hannaford's design featured a round turret at the house's most prominent corner and a large gable on the house's front. Built with an asymmetrical floor plan, two-and-a-half stories tall, it was built of limestone with a stone foundation and an asbestos roof. The walls were built primarily of large ashlar blocks that formed massive lintels.

George Stone's House
405 Oak Street
Cincinnati, Ohio
Stone was director and one of the largest owners in the street railway, gas, and coke companies; a member of the Queen City, the Commercial, the Business Men's, the Picadilly, the Avondale, the Cuvier, the Clifton Golf and Riding clubs, and also of the Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Command of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion. He had served the city as a councilman, alderman, and member of the Board of Education.

At the beginning of March, 1901, at five P. M., he called his assistant manager and his secretary into his office, and said: "I am going to California tomorrow. This is the first vacation I have taken since I came to the telephone.  I want you to wire me once a week if everything is right here and at home. You run the old machine and don't let me know anything. I shall be gone thirty days.  I have got my tickets arranged and I am going to get away quickly because I am afraid if the doctors know that I am going they'll stop me."

Then he had a short gasping spell and said: "I have a terrible pain right in there," pointing to the right side of his abdomen. At the suggestion of a friend he sent down stairs and secured a drink of brandy.

He put on his overcoat and laughingly excused himself to some of the lady operators as he bumped into them when leaving the elevator.  Walking up the street with a number of friends, he said: "I am a little worried about my stomach, but I never felt so happy and satisfied as I do tonight on leaving for a good, long rest."

Stone's death occurred at his home on March 8, 1901, from septicaemia following appendicitis.  He was 60 years old. 

George N. Stone Gravestone
July 17, 1839 - March 8, 1901
 He was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery beside his first wife.  
George Thayer
The funeral service was conducted on Monday, March 11, 1901, by the Reverend George Thayer, a Unitarian minister.

Stone  Monument at Gravesite
He was survived by his widow and three daughters.  

His daughter, Maud Stone Cary, died in 1903 at the age of 37.

His widow, Martha Stone, went to New York where she lived in the Plaza Hotel. She had no children by either marriage. 

In April 1912, Martha Stone was travelling in first class on the RMS Titanic after a year’s stay abroad with her stepdaughters.  She was awake in bed when the Titanic struck the iceberg. She slipped a kimono over her night dress, put on her slippers, and went out into the corridor. She asked a crew member if they had struck an iceberg. "Yes, " he said, "but there is no danger. Go back to bed and to sleep." He told her they had stopped to see what damage there was and that there wasn't any danger. She went back to bed and never received a warning. She got up and dressed and stepped out into the corridor, where the daughter of the woman across the hall came running down the corridor, telling her to put on her life preserver and that they must get into the boats.

Mrs. Stone and her maid, Amelia Icard got into lifeboat 6.  Denver millionairess  Margaret "Molly" Brown was the most prominent occupant of all the women in the lifeboat.  Robert Hitchens, a quartermaster, was put in charge of Lifeboat 6, along with lookout Frederick Fleet.  When the Titanic sank, Brown and several others urged Hitchens to turn around and rescue some of those in the water.  Hitchens refused, ordering the men to stop rowing and telling the passengers: "There's no use going back, 'cause there's only a lot of stiffs there."  The cries for help soon died away. Brown asked Hitchens to let the women row to help keep them warm.  When he refused, she threatened to throw him overboard. He protested and swore at her, but others told him to shut up.  She took charge of the tiller, prompting the American press to dub her subsequently the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown.

Mrs. Stone's role in the boat was to stand on the plug, which she did for seven hours. Another woman waved the only lantern they had in the boat for seven hours. Relations between those aboard were strained throughout the night.  Mrs. Stone was sharply critical of how the Titanic crew handled the dilemma they faced that night.  Lifeboat 6 eventually found and tied up to Lifeboat 16 after Titanic sank.  It was one of the last to be rescued by the Carpathia, at 8:00 am.

Life Boat 6
Martha Stone died May 12th, 1924.  In her will she bequeathed a large sum of cash and other personal possessions to Amelia Icard who had been her maid on the Titanic. Her ashes were returned to Cincinnati and buried in Spring Grove Cemetery beside her second husband.

The Stone House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, due to architecture that makes it important statewide, along with most of Hannaford's remaining buildings in Cincinnati.

The Captain George Stone house at 405 Oak Street, across from the Vernon Manor Hotel, became a center for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which continues to host meetings at the property.

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