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Charles W. Stone    

STONE, CHARLES W., was born in Groton, Middlesex county, Mass., on the 29th day of June, 1843, and was the eldest of the three sons of Warren F. and Mary (Williams) Stone. His mother was of Welsh extraction, and her ancestors had settled in this country during the early years of its history. His father, who was of English descent, and whose ancestors were related to General Nathaniel Green, of Revolutionary fame and were pre-Revolutionary inhabitants of Massachusetts, was a carpenter by trade, and though of feeble health, was distinguished by a strong, clear, and active mind. The year prior to his death, in his forty-second year, he was a member of the Legislature of Massachusetts. He had a keen appreciation of culture, and to his tendency to intellectual occupation, and his early words of inspiring encouragement, is due much of the success that has waited on his son, the subject of this sketch. The boyhood and youth of C.W. Stone were passed on a farm with his grandfather, with the exception of one year, during which he worked at the trade of his father. At an age when most boys have no thought for the morrow, he conceived an ambition for a liberal education, and determined to obtain it, notwithstanding the somewhat straitened circumstances of the family, and his own delicate health. He prepared for a collegiate course at Lawrence Academy, and in 1860 was sufficiently advanced to enter the sophomore class at Williams College. In order to supplement his limited means, he taught in a private family, sawed wood, and did other "chores" during college terms, and, free from debt, was graduated in 1863 in the section of first ten in a class of fifty. Soon after his graduation he became principal of the Union school at Warren, Pa., and in March, 1865, relinquished that position to accept that of superintendent of common schools of Warren county. In the fan of the same year he was chosen principal of the academy at Erie, but this situation he resigned in November, 1865, and went to Mississippi in company with F. M. Abbott and Colonel A. P. Shattuck, both of whom afterward became prominent cotton planters in that State. At the close of December, 1866, he returned to the north, and having been admitted to practice law in the courts of Warren county, on the first day of January, 1867, entered into partnership with his present partner, Judge Rasselas Brown. This partnership has now continued longer without interruption than any other law partnership in Warren county. In 1868 he was elected school director and served nine years; the last three as president of the board. He was also for three years a member of the borough council.

So soon were Mr. Stone’s abilities known and appreciated, that as early as the fall of 1869 he was elected to the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, from the district composed of Warren and Venango counties. Unlike too many men in public life, he did not look upon the position as an honor merely, a sinecure, but a trust which demanded the best of his talents and endeavors. He was a prominent figure in his first session in the Legislature. A movement, led by Senator Lowry, of Erie, in the Upper House, and Representative, Ames, of Titusville, in the Lower House, was initiated for the formation of a new county to comprise Eldred, Southwest and half of Spring Creek townships in this county and portions of Venango and Crawford counties. Mr. Stone and J.D. McJunkin, from the Venango district, opposed the measure, and Mr. Stone made a powerful speech against it, which materially aided to produce its defeat. The effort was complimented throughout the State in the press, even the opposition bearing witness to its force and effect. The struggle was a very severe, laborious, and exhaustive one to Mr. Stone, but it was the occasion of his re-nomination and re-election in the fall of 1870, without an opposing nominee, the Democratic party paying him the high compliment of not putting an opposing candidate in the field. The honor was well deserved, for the division of Warren county would have deprived it of some of the richest portions of its territory, and would have injured Warren by making Titusville the county seat of a new and rival county. Although at the beginning it seemed destined to be regarded as a local question, it engendered such a fight as to assume the proportions of a State question. The odds against which Mr. Stone and his confrere contended may be partly appreciated when it is stated that the victorious party were led by two young men in their first term against political veterans.

An important feature of his labors in the session of 1871 was the part he took in a measure to protect the harbor of Erie. In consequence of a communication from the United States secretary of war to Governor Geary, relative to depredations said to have been committed upon the Peninsula protecting and forming the harbor at Erie, and thus endangering the harbor, a committee of five was appointed to investigate, and Mr. Stone was made chairman. The committee made two elaborate reports, which undoubtedly operated to save the harbor from destruction, and restore the Marine Hospital (now the Soldier’s Home) property to the State.

At the expiration of the second term in the House of Representatives Mr. Stone returned with renewed energy to the practice of law, from which he had been drawn by the press of public duties. But he was not long permitted to enjoy his retirement. In 1876 he was chosen to a seat in the State Senate, and took his place in the beginning of 1877. In that body he served as chairman of the general judiciary committee, and while taking a leading part in all its deliberations was recognized as the special champion of the interests of the oil-producing sections of the State, and, as in the Lower House, was esteemed very clear, able, and impressive in debate. Perhaps his ablest effort was his speech in support of the free pipe bill, in the winter of 1878. The bill was then defeated, but has since been passed and is now in force. In 1878 he was brought forward as the best candidate for the position of lieutenant-governor of the State. The opposition in the convention was but nominal, the vote standing 182 against 59, and in the subsequent election he was chosen by a majority of 23,250 votes. He served with distinguished ability from January, 1879, to January, 1883, the entire term. The importance of this office, which is of recent institution in Pennsylvania, is at once apparent from the following section of Article IV, of the new constitution of the State:

"Sect. 13. In case of the death, conviction, or impeachment, failure to qualify, resignation, or other disability of the governor, the powers, duties, and emoluments of the office, for the remainder of the term, or until the disability be removed, shall devolve upon the lieutenant-governor." It also provides that he shall be ex officio president of the Senate and member of the board of pardons. It fell to him to preside over the joint assembly during the protracted contest for election of United States Senator, which resulted in the selection of John I. Mitchell, and though he was called upon to make more rulings than were ever before or since made in a similar assembly, not one of his rulings, either in the Senate or joint assembly, was ever reversed or even appealed from, a statement which cannot be made concerning any other lieutenant-governor in the history of the State. During that contest Mr. Stone had the general support of the press of northern and northwestern Pennsylvania for the senatorship, but he declined to enter the field.

It is a custom for the Senate, at the close of each term of its presiding officer, to extend him a vote of thanks. This vote may have meaning and it may not, but there can be no mistaking the sentiment that impelled the Senate, at the close of Mr. Stone’s term, in 1883, by the co-operation of every member of both parties, to present to him a gold watch of superior workmanship, bearing the following inscription:

"Presented to the Hon. Charles Warren Stone, lieutenant-governor of Pennsylvania, January 16, 1883, by the members of the State Senate for the sessions of 1879, 1881, and 1883, as a testimonial of their high regard and great esteem for him as a public officer, and for the impartial and faithful performance of his duties as president of the Senate." To the heavy gold chain, which was presented with the watch, is attached, as a charm, a miniature gavel with diamond settings. The presentation address was made by Senator John Stewart, since the independent candidate for governor, to which Mr. Stone feelingly replied.

In 1883 Mr. Stone was one of the three commissioners that located the United States public buildings at Erie. In 1884 he received the unanimous support of the delegates from Warren county for the congressional nomination for this district, though he made no canvass in the other counties. In 1886 he was strongly urged from Warren and Erie counties to go into the fight, but declined, in January, 1887, however, he was appointed by Governor Beaver as secretary of the Commonwealth, a position which he fills at this writing.

Notwithstanding his activity in political affairs, Mr. Stone has borne his share of the labor and received his share of the honor in business and social life. His standing as a lawyer is attested by the fact that he is president of the Bar Association of Warren county. In recent years he has engaged to a considerable extent in lumbering and oil operations in the Clarendon field and elsewhere. Although in rather more than comfortable circumstances, he has not accumulated so much property as he is commonly accredited with, having made it a rule, as well as possessing the inclination, to spend all that is necessary for his own enjoyment, or that of others, as he "goes along." He is a member of the State Historical Society, and since its origin has been prominently identified with the Warren Library Association. His ability as an orator is recognized throughout the State, and he is in demand, not only during political campaigns, but on Independence Day celebrations, and like occasions.

On the 30th of January, 1868, Mr. Stone married Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Moorhead, of Erie, Pa. They have six children— Grace Mary, Annie Isabel, Ralph, Warren, Elizabeth Moorhead, John Lyon, and Clara Rebecca. He has two brothers, both residing in the city of Bradford, Pa. One, R. B. Stone, is a prominent lawyer; the other, George F. Stone, is city superintendent of schools.

History of Warren County: With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers, J. S. Schenck, Syracuse, NY: D. Mason & Co., 1887.  More Warren County History Books  Search Hundreds of 1880s-1890s Pennsylvania County History Books for biographies and historical information on your ancestors.  View the book page images on line and print them out for your genealogy file!  Free Access to the old history books - plus birth & death records, census images and ALL other records at

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