Thursday, May 5, 2016

Clues to the Stone Family Mystery

Left:  Horatio Stone, sculptor; Right:  Horatio Gates Stone

Last week's blog, "The Wandering Paths of History," posted 4-28-2016, introduced American sculptor Horatio Stone and raised the question of whether this famous sculptor was related to my husband's ancestor, Horatio Gates Stone.  I posted their pictures side-by-side on face book and asked people to comment on whether they perceived any family resemblance.  Thank you to everyone who joined in the fun of studying their images and offering your opinions.

Here are some of the replies:  JJM:  "Sure look like the same person to me."  AML:  "They both have the similar pose, posture and piercing eyes."  DGS:  "Nose, brow, and hairline are certainly similar."  VB:  "The eyes, mouth and nose."  VA and LDF simply replied:  "Yes."  CSW spotted the same things I noticed:  "Oh my goodness, yes!  Don't you think so?  Their nose and eyes look very similar as does the shape of their faces."

In past blogs I have written about the responsibility of a writer to establish limits to separate history, narrative history, and historical fiction.  It has been my challenge to determine whether I want to tell Isaac Werner's story to satisfy scholars or general readers, and my attempt to do both was not a complete success.  Using this family mystery just for fun, join me in deciding which standard my research about these two look-alikes sharing the same name would meet, if I were to write a story about them.

Jackson, Washington, NY
I started with the information I had.  Dr. Horatio Stone, the sculptor, was born in 1808 in Jackson, Washington County, NY and Horatio Gates Stone, my husband's ancestor, was born in 1812 in Moriah, Essex County, NY, so I was curious to learn how close their birth locations were.  As it turned out, they were born in adjacent counties.  Their ages and the close proximity of their births make it seem more likely that they shared a family relationship.  Both counties are on the eastern border of New York State, with both adjacent to Vermont. (See images.)

Moriah, Essex, NY
I assumed that because of his well-known reputation as a sculptor  information about Dr. Horatio Stone would be easy to find, but that was not the case.  I did learn that in a Memorial to Dr. Stone written soon after his death that "his first large work in sculpture was a monument to his mother."  The images on the monument were specifically described as being "four figures--the angel and the three women at the sepulchre."  I found a picture of the stone of Nancy Fairchild, wife of Reuben Stone which has been identified as the sculpture by Dr. Stone.  From Nancy Fairchild's monument and research on I identified Dr. Stone's parents as Nancy Fairchild and Reuben Stone.  My own family genealogy records confirm that Horatio Gates Stone was the son of Abraham (or Abram) Stone and Eunice Haskins, so I hoped to use the two fathers to find a common ancestor.  
Reuben was born in about 1771 in Massachusetts, but Abraham was born that same year in Elmira, Cheming County, NY.  Their fathers were certainly of the same generation, but with a common birth year and birth places in different states, it seemed unlikely that they were brothers.    If you know your geography, Massachusetts also abuts the eastern boundary of NY State, just below Vermont, so the possibility of a family relationship of some kind remained reasonable.

I tried to go back another generation, but I could not establish with certainty who Reuben's father was.  However, I did notice that Abraham's father Peleg Stone died in 1779 in Arlington, Bennington, Vermont, and two of Abraham's siblings died in that place on the same day in 1799.  The key in this observation was that Nancy Fairchild was born there in 1788, as was Nancy's brother in 1785 and her sister in 1790.  Although I had not placed Dr. Stone's family in the same community as my husband's ancestors, I had discovered a common location of Dr. Stone's mother and my husband's ancestors.

In short, I have certainly discovered several interesting clues but not enough information to validate a definite family connection.  If I lived close enough to wander through the old cemeteries in Moriah, Jackson, and Arlington, I suspect I might find more clues to solve this riddle.  All that I can say is that I found nothing to discourage the possibility of a family connection!
Searching family records has been a significant part of my research about Isaac B. Werner and his neighbors.  Because I live in the same community, it has been possible for me to examine gravestone inscriptions, search courthouse records, and even interview descendants of Isaac's acquaintances. 

No comments: