Biography of Walter C. Stone
Oneida County, NY Biographies





Unless one pauses for reflection he does not realize how potent a force for good or for ill a newspaper can be in a community. The thoughts therein expressed drop as silently into the soil of the mind as the seed into the furrow, and as surely in time spring up and bear fruit. In all of its existence the Advance Journal has been an element for progress and improvement in Oneida county. For many years it showed forth the personal touch and high purpose of Walter Chester Stone, who as proprietor and editor left the impress of his individuality for good in this manner upon his city and county. Handicapped by physical disability in infancy, the things of the mind took strong hold upon him and all through life he continuously advanced, keeping abreast with the best thinking men of the age.

A native of Mexico, New York, Mr. Stone was born December 27, 1847, and in infancy his lower limbs were paralyzed, so that he never walked a natural step. While attending Mexico Academy, thus supplementing his early educational advantages, he went about in a tricycle, the propulsion of which gave him powerful development of chest and arms. When a young man his right leg was straightened and fitted with a steel brace, so that he could walk with crutches, and for forty years he thus went in and out among his fellow townsmen a welcome guest wherever he visited anrd a forecful factor in shaping public opinion and action. His entire life following the completion of his education was devoted to newspaper work. He completed his academical course with high honors in 1867 and then entered the office of the Mexico Independent, its editor, Mr. Humphries, being a warm personal friend. Under his direction Mr. Stone learned the newspaper business and in 1871 by purchase became the proprietor of the Canastota Herald, which he conducted for two years. While a resident of that place he was united in marriage to Miss Sarah C. Hosley, in September, 1872. In June of the following year they removed to Camden taking possession of the building recently known as the Kittrick store. They afterward resided at No. 143 Main street and in 1879 removed to 141 Main street, which was Mr. Stone's place of abode until he was called to his final rest.

Throughout the period of his residence in Camden Mr. Stone was engaged in newspaper work. In July, 1873, he began the publication of the Camden Advance, a small weekly paper printed on a Washington hand press. Eleven years later he purchased the Journal and consolidated the two papers under the name of the Camden Advance Journal. He ever held his paper up to a high standard and no better indication of his courteous and helpful relations relations with his employes can be given than the fact that one of the number had been associated for thirty four years with the paper, another for twentyone years and a third for twenty four years. A job printing office was made a special feature of the business and its able conduct proved one of the features of his success. On the 1st of January, 1909, his son, Benjamin H. Stone, was admitted to a partnership after fifteen years connection with the business as an employe, having in the meantime largely relieved his father of care and responsibility. In addition to his printing business Mr. Stone was a director and secretary of the Camden Opera House Company from its organization and was for twenty years manager of the local exchange for the Central New York Telephone Company. He was also for many years proprietor of a book and stationery store in Camden which set the standard for other establishments of that character. He was always himseli deeply interested in literary, scientific and historical knowledge and his leisure hours were largely devoted to reading and research.

Mr. Stone belonged to Camden Lodge, No. 370, K. P., which he joined on its organization, and he also held membership in Mount Parnassus Council, No. 1180, of the Royal Arcanum. In both of these lodges he held high office. His political allegiance was given to the republican party and he served two years as a member of the village board and two terms as secretary of the board of education, but was never a politician in the sense of office seeking. However, he advocated through his paper those principles which he deemed essential to the best interests of good government, both municipal and federal. For many years he was a trustee and elder of the Presbyterian church and for a long period served as one of the teachers and also as superintendent of the Sunday school. He was particularly faithful to his religious duties and for fifteen years was a member of the church choir. At the time of his demise it was said of him: "His place as an officer of the church will not easily be filled. His wise counsel and encouragement were a strength to those who sought it because it came backed by an unimpeachable character. Instead of consulting a lawyer or minister, many went to him for advice or information on the greatest variety of subjects, and always received the best answer that a clear perception and a ready fund of information could give. He was simple and unconventional in his tastes. Even the garb of deep mourning seemed to him unessential and he wished no sermon and no black clothes in his memory." Mr. Stone found great pleasure in yachting and in his later years spent a few weeks each summer at Bay City, Michigan, in cruising the Great Lakes with his friend, Rev. C. T. Patchell. They were the owners of a yawl rigged yacht, the largest boat of the Bay City Yacht Club.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Stone were born four children: Benjamin H. of Camden, New York; Robert C. of Norwich, New York; Ralph W., who is living in Washington, D. C.; and Mrs. Paul R. Abbott, of Chefoo, China. Mrs. Stone's. sister, Miss Delia A. Hosley, was also for a number of years a member of his household. The family circle was broken by the hand of death on the 22d of February, 1909, when Mr. Stone passed away. Of him it has been written: "Life does not mean for most men what it meant to Mr. Stone. Nor does the average life demand or develop the qualities which were so marked in him. It was a continual struggle against ill health. He had a nerve equal to that of the strongest boy and entered into the preparation for life with a courage and ambition that shames many a more favored mortal. He would wrest from the world all that it could give him. This was the way he got his preliminary education. This was the way he met life everywhere. He won his way. Never asking favor or handicap because of his infirmity, he took his place in the business world and gained not only a modest and substantial success but also honorable place among his fellows. Few can realize the pain and suffering he daily endured. Hardship which would have made a man of less courage give up in despair but tempered him to greater fortitude. It was a noticeable trait that he never made others bear his burdens. He was satisfied to bear his own. He was no complainer. This attitude toward life is no common thing and when it is manifested so signally as in him it is an inspiration to every man. He fought a good fight. As courage was the warp of his life generosity was its woof. Mr. Stone's generosity was not of the showy kind. He never let his right hand know what his left hand did. He was not able nor would he have cared to be known as a lavish giver, but many a family at Thanksgiving and Christmas had opportunity for gratitude oftenest to the unknown benefactor. No good cause failed to make successful demand upon his purse. No applicant for help was ever turned away without assistance and many who were ill or in distress received from an unknown source bountiful and timely aid. He gave more than the Biblical tenth. To all good things in village life he unostentatiously gave and to the work of the church he gave punctiliously as the Lord prospered him. 'Careful in business' he was yet 'fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.'

From:
History of Oneida County, New York
From 1700 to the present time
of some of its prominent men and pioneers.
By: Henry J. Cookinham
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company
Chicago 1912


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