Many years ago, I was given a newspaper clipping about Captain Stone’s home. I have seen this home three times and been saddened each time to see how it has fallen from its once-loved state. The most recent time was a year ago this past spring. The house is almost completely surrounded by large trees so that it appears to be more of a dense grove than a building.
I recently obtained permission from Chip Hutcheson, publisher of the Times Leader, current newspaper in Caldwell County, to use this clipping in my blog, since “articles that far back are not digitized.”
I hope it provides some interesting information about Captain Stone that isn’t available elsewhere.
Caldwell County Times, Princeton, Kentucky – Thursday, March 22, 1979 (reprinted 13 March, 1980)
In the Neighborhood—
The Home of Capt. Stone
By Ann Kimmel
A little more than two miles out of Fredonia, in Lyon County, stands the long abandoned home of the one legged, politicking, neighboring confederate, the Honorable William J. Stone.
Standing tall against the horizon for more than one hundred years, the two story, red brick (the brick was fired at the Carr Pond in a field less than ½ mile away) house still stands stolidly against the spring rains. The porch has long since fallen into disuse. The doors now sway with the whims of the wind and the jagged windows now reflect a broken sky. Yet the cubicle at the end of the house still surveys the rich lush green of the Fredonia valley. The house itself still stands at attention, as though guarding the church and the cemetery down the lane.
For in the New Bethel Church Cemetery lies the stone inscribed: William J. Stone; A Christian, a Soldier, A Statesman.
It was here, on the homestead, that William Stone was born, on June 26, 1841. And here, he finally came to rest, in 1923. He was one of six children, born to Leasel Stone and Nancy Killen, of the valley. A short distance from the cemetery once stood the New Bethel School where young William Johnson Stone attended fourth grade in 1852. His early education was received in this neighborhood school and later he attended the Q. M. Tyler’s Collegiate Institute of Cadiz.
At the beginning of the War Between the States, Stone enlisted under Captain Wilcox, First Kentucky Cavalry, and fought throughout the war for the Southern cause. Stone fought under General Forrest at the battle of Fort Donelson, was in the battle of Shiloh and the retreat to Corinth. He served for a while under Colonel Lyon with the 8th Kentucky Infantry and was with the celebrated John Morgan when he made his raid into Indiana and Ohio. On June 11, 1864, Stone was made a captain, by John Morgan, because of his proficiency in army tactics and valiant conduct in battle.
In the battle of Cynthiana, Captain Stone was wounded in the leg and taken prisoner by the Federals. Always a Rebel, Stone attributes his recovery, after losing his leg, to the skills of the Confederate surgeon who was permitted to tend the wounded soldiers. The nurse who nursed him back to health was Cornelia Woodyard, of Cynthiana, who was later to become his wife. In 1865 Stone was paroled and returned home to make his home with his parents.
In 1867 Captain Stone began his career in politics. He was elected to the State legislature hoping to actively reconcile the differences between the Federals and the Confederates. He served again in 1875, serving as speaker of the house. In 1883 he represented his district for the third time and was chosen chairman of the Committee on Penitentiaries. Along with General Lyon and Confederate General Simon Buckner, Stone used his influence to secure the location of the new state penitentiary for Eddyville. Always a Rebel, Stone wished to employ many of the southern sympathizers who were morally and financially ruined by the war. Many of the guards at the new penitentiary were Confederate veterans.
Captain Stone was elected to the Forty-ninth congress of the United States in 1884. He defeated the Honorable Oscar Turner, who had served three terms. While serving in Congress, Stone “championed small farmers and businessmen. He felt that “the big bricks threatened the free enterprise of the country.” He was the first congressman to introduce legislature to control the trustism by making their organization illegal. Stone was also the first legislator to introduce legislation to elect senators by popular election.
After retiring from the Capitol, Stone was appointed Kentucky Confederate Pension Commissioner. In 1915 he was elected Major General of the United Kentucky Confederate Veterans of the Kentucky Division.
Until his death, at age 74, Captain Stone was active in business in Lyon County. He was associated with the Citizens Bank of Kuttawa with Ray Whitington (a miller) and Company, and served as president of the Lyon County Farmers Club. For years he farmed over 1,000 acres in the Fredonia valley.
A Rebel to the very end, Stone was often seen stomping around western Kentucky in honor of the Confederate veterans. He was present in Princeton in 1912, along with other veterans, for the unveiling of the Confederate Veterans monument. And, he was seen politicking every year at the Jim Pierce Encampmennt picnic at Kuttawa Springs.
The old homestead looms dark and silent now. Almost silent, except for the sound of someone stomping around in the library. Maybe, if the old house could speak, what stories we would hear of the one-legged, Rebel, Captain Stone.
(copyright Ann Kimmel)