The Stoneman family is a very distinguished and remarkable family. Beginning with George Stoneman, Sr., the Stonemans inhabited Busti. In 1810, George Stoneman settled on Lot 16. He later married Catherine Rebecca Cheney and had eight children: George, Byron, John T., Rebecca, Kate, Charlotte, Mary Jane, and Richard. George Stoneman, Sr. was a prominent lumberman and for many years, he was justice of the peace.
Major General George Stoneman, Jr.
General Stoneman Jr retired colonel of the United States Army and ex-governor of California, was born August 8, 1822.
When attending school at Jamestown Academy, he was a successful competition for the vacant cadetship then existing at West Point, and the appointment was accordingly presented to him by the Honorable Staly N. Clark, the member of Congress from that district. George Stoneman entered the Military Academy on July 1, 1842. His personal associates esteemed him as a generous-hearted companion. His roommate was T.J. (Stonewall) Jackson.
Our country was at war with Mexico when the class of 1846 graduated, and Brevent Second Lieutenant Stoneman, of the First Dragoons, began his active field career. He marched across the country to California where he assisted in securing California to the United States. Afterwards, in recognition of his services and distinguished character, George Stoneman, Jr. was elected chief magistracy of the state.
Having become a major of the First Cavalry, he was called to Washington to aid in the preservation of the union. During the Civil War, Stoneman was appointed to the head of the Third Army Corps. Soon after, he was promoted to the ranks of Major-General of Volunteers. At the battle of Chancellorsville, Stoneman effectively held of Confederate forces with his “raids”. He continued to be a driving force of the union army and was extremely successful in his endeavors.
After the war, General Stoneman commanded different departments and districts until 1871 (when he was retired as Colonel of the Twenty-first Infantry and Major-General of Volunteers) and settled on a ranch near Los Angeles, California. In 1882, he was elected Democratic Governor of the State of California by a large majority. He also helped to form the constitution of that state.
General George Stoneman, Jr. died in 1894 while visiting a daughter in Buffalo, and was buried with full military honors in the Lakewood Cemetery. The inscription on his tombstone reads:
Chief of Cavalry
Army of Potomac
Commander Third Army Corps
Pensioner of Mexican and Civil Wars
Major General George Stoneman, Jr. Quotes
“Lieutenant Stoneman was an universal favorite with all of the officers, and likewise beloved by the private soldiers at Los Angeles; as instance when a detachment was ordered out of scouting or other purposes, the men all wanted to go if Lieutenant Stoneman was in command.”
Mr. J.C.L. Wadsworth, of Los Angeles, 1847-48
“General Stoneman encountered and overcame, as far as it was possible continued and vexatious obstacles arising from the great deficiency of Cavalry arms and equipments, and the entire inefficiency of many of the first regimental officer appointed.”
General McClellan’s Report
“He was of a most genial and sociable disposition and his memory will always be honored in California. General Stoneman was one of the earliest Companions of the Loyal Legion, and he proudly wore Insignia No. 30, having been elected a Companion of the First Class in the Commandery of Pennsylvania, October 4th, 1865. He was No. 166 in this Commandery, having been transferred to California, January 4h, 1883. Another of our old Commanders of 1861-65 has gone to his well-earnedrest, ripe in years and of unsullied reputation; for many years past he has been a great sufferer from disease contracted during the War and to him death was a welcome release. We drop a tear upon his grave as we mourn the passing away of a gallant soldier and good man. We sympathize deeply with his bereaved family and relatives; the consciousness of his great services to his country must be their consolidation.”
The Commandery of the State of California.
WR. Smedberg, Bvt-Lieut-Col., U.S.A. Recorder
“Stoneman and his Cavalry were part of my command, Army of the Ohio, although acting directly under Sherman at the time of the raid in which Stoneman was captured. As the capture included a considerable part of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Ohio, there was not in the field remaining any appropriate command for Stoneman, and it was mainly to show my appreciation of his merits, notwithstanding his misfortune, that I sent him to represent me at Headquarters of the Department. This was done with General Sherman’s concurrence.”
JM. Schofield (Lieut-General)
“You may order such an expedition. To save time I will send a copy of this to General Stoneman, so thathe can begin his preparations without loss of time, and can commence his correspondence with you as to these preparations. As this expedition goes to destroy and not to fight battles, but to avoid them when practicable, particularly against anything like equal forces, or where a great object is to be gained, it should go as light as possible. Stoneman’s experience in raiding will teach him in this matter better than he can be directed. Let there be no delay in the preparations of this Expedition, and kee me advised of its progress.”
Very respectfully your obedient servant.
U.S. Grant, Lieutenant-General
Kate Stoneman was born on the Stoneman farm in Lakewood in April 1841. Pursuing her ambition to graduate from a teacher’s college, Kate left Busti for Albany in 1864 to attend the New York State Normal College. While a student there, she worked as a copyist for the state reporter of the Court of Appeals. She graduated in 1866 and began a teaching career that spanned 40 years. She taught one term at Glen’s Falls Seminary before moving on to her alma matter, the State Normal College, where she served as teacher of Geography, Drawing and Penmanship.
In the early days of her teaching career, Kate took an interest in woman suffrage, temperance and world peace movements. She and other women formed a society called the Woman’s Suffrage Society of Albany.
An educator by day, the revered teacher spent her evenings and weekends studying law. After three years of diligent study, Kate made up her mind to take the New York State bar examination. She was aware that only one other woman had previously taken the exam and had failed.
Kate Stoneman made history by passing both the writing and oral examinations. But, because of the times, she was refused admission to the bar because she was a woman. The reason given by the three Supreme Court justices who denied her admission were “No precedent,” “No English precedent,” and “No necessity.”
In late May, 1886, Kate visited the governor and the secretary of state who signed a bill that would allow her to practice law. The next morning, on the day of the Supreme Court adjourned, Kate went before the justices with the signed bill and was duly admitted to the bar.
Following her admission to the bar, Kate attended Albany Law School. The first woman to graduate from that institution, she received her Bachelor of Laws degree in 1898.
Kate Stoneman passed away on May 19, 1924, and is buried in the Albany Rural Cemetery.
Kate Stoneman Quotes
“To have taken an active interest in the three greatest reforms within a century and to have seen them come to fruition is to have worked out a life history of more than ordinary significance.”
Geraldine Murray, Kickerbocker Press referring to Kate Stoneman
“The New York State legislature was in session then under Governor Hill. It was late [in the session] and at any day the legislature, as well as the Supreme Court, might adjourn. But suffrage workers and educators took up my cause and within a day a bill had been passed through both houses, with hardly a dissenting vote. That same afternoon, we visited the governor and the secretary of state and they signed the bill. The next morning, on the day that the Suprem Court adjourned, I went before them, presented the signed bill and was duly admitted to the bar.”
Clara Stoneman married Gilbert D. Harris, 1864-1952, of Chautauqua County. Mr. Harris graduated from Cornell University in 1886. In 1933 he became Emeritus Professor of Cornell University in the Department of Geology. In 1932 he had founded the Paleontological Research Institution of Ithaca, N.Y. He was a member of various geological surveys and conducted scientific expeditions chiefly in the southerly states and in Venezuela and Trinidad. He was for several years State Geologist of Louisiana. They had one daughter, Rebecca Stoneman.
Bertha Stoneman had a Ph.D. in Botany from Cornell University. Then she joined the staff of the Huguenot College in Wellington, South Africa. She wrote a widely used textbook on Botany and later became president of Huguenot College. She died there in April, 1943, in a small home she had built at Bain’s Kloff, Wellington, after she had retired in 1933 and which she called “Stonemansion”. After World War II he ashes were brought back to Lakewood Cemetery and placed near her mother as she had wished.
John T. Stoneman
John T. Stoneman, born in 1831, married Caroline W. Southland, 1833-1902, daughter of another pioneer family in Town of Busti. They moved to Iowa where he was twice senator of that state and judge of the Iowa Superior Court.