The Stoneman Family



The Stoneman Family

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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. 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
at Fredericksburg
Pensioner of Mexican and Civil Wars

Kate Stoneman

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.

Other Stonemans

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, 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.