JOHN STONER


From History of Dane County, Wisconsin, publ. by Western Historical Company, Chicago, 1880, page 522-523

JOHN STONER. Mr. STONER was born in Washington County, Md., on the 25th day of December, 1791. When a child, he was taken to Adams County, Penn.; from this place he went to New York City, and soon afterward to Buffalo, when that place was comparatively new. The family leaving Buffalo, settled at Fairport, five miles east of Willoughby, on the lake shore. Here his father died, when, with his mother, he returned to Pennsylvania and learned the cabinet-making trade. Soon after, the war of 1812 broke out, when he enlisted as a private and at the close of the term of his enlistment he was discharged. He then went to Ohio, was married, and settled in Euclid, eight miles east of Cleveland, where he resided twenty-five years. With a small piece of land, upon which he grew his bread, and working industriously at his trade, he managed to obtain quite a competency for those days, but, his family increasing faster than his dollars and his acres, he was obliged to seek for a wider range for his field of labors, and conceived the idea of seeking a new home in the then "Far-off west."

Husbanding his means, a portion of which he invested in a span of horses and a wagon, he started, with his wife and family of seven children, for Madison, the capital of the then Territory of Wisconsin, and after a tedious journey of just four weeks, through a new and almost wilderness country, reached his destination on the 6th of September 1837. His wagon was about the first that came from Janesville to Madison. Janesville then contained but one solitary log cabin, and was occupied by JANES himself. The course to the capital was marked by blazed trees, a party of Government surveyors having just before run a line between the two points.

Mr. STONER found but three or four log cabins in Madison. Aside from women and children (few, indeed), the population of the place consisted of but twenty-five or thirty persons, most of whom were employed as laborers on the capitol. Milwaukee and Galena were the points from which provisions must be obtained, and, as the wife and babies had not learned to live without food, Mr. STONER was obliged to procure it. He concluded to go to Galena, and on foot he started. At the head of Lake Mendota, where the village of Pheasant Branch now is, he struck the military road which led off into the lead mines, and from there he found a wagon track to Galena. Arrived there, he purchased a yoke of oxen and a wagon, and his provisions. Pork was $36 a barrel; butter, $1 a pound; sugar, 75 cents; and everything else in proportion. Returning to Madison he was caught in a heavy fall of snow. When the storm abated, the snow was so heavy that he was unable to travel, and he camped several days and nights, subsisting himself and team as best he could. On reaching home he found a new-born son, which was the first male child born in Madison, and which he at once christened "Madison," in honor of the place.

In 1838 he entered 240 acres of land on what is now called "Stoner's Prairie," a few miles southwest of Madison, in the present town of Fitchburg, the prairie taking his name. Leaving his family in town, in order that his children might have the benefit of a school, he kept "bach" on this farm, more or less, for seventeen years; the fist few years his land was without fences, he being annoyed only by deer and wild geese. Finally he sold his farm for $15 per acre; within a year thereafter the same land was worth $50.

In the spring of 1863, his faithful wife, who had shared his pioneer life, died. His family having grown up, he felt alone in the world. Restless and uneasy, the pioneer spirit revived, and, taking his old sorrel mare, which he had owned when a colt twenty-two years before, and his only grandson, a lad of fourteen summers, he set out for Colorado Territory, where his son Madison had made a home four or five years before. The next year he returned to the "States," going back the same season - coming and returning with the old mare. In 1865 he came again to Madison, returning the same year, after visiting Ohio. He had two daughters, who were married, but they died a few years after, of consumption, as well as two unmarried daughters. His son George W. STONER, is still a resident of Madison. Mr. STONER was a good man, honored and respected by every one. On the 11th of January 1872, he died at his residence in Madison, in his 80th year.


Transcribed and contributed to this site by Carol

 

 

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