The Stones of Lynche's River

Songs and Stories about the descendants of George and Mary Stone

The Descendants of George and Mary Stone circa 1800

                         George Stone Land Petition - 1820

 

The Excellency General and Lieutenant Governor and Commander in Chief in and over the Island of Cape Breton and its Dependencies

The Petition of George Stone

Most Humbly Giveth

That your Excellency's petitioner is a British Subject, has taken the oath of allegiance - was born in the Island of Newfoundland, is sixty years of age, has a wife and ten children (six of them boys)

That your petitioner came to this island in the year 1800, and has only a small lot in the Bras d'Or of one hundred and sixty acres where he now resides. That having a large family with the failure of crop in his present residence, has little prospect of supporting and bringing them up without the addition of another lot that your petitioner purchased from a Donald Johnstone - the improvements he has made on a lot adjoining your petitioner for eight pounds - fifteen shillings

the same he has occupied for nine years - which he has cut most of his hay having upwards of twenty head of horned cattle with several boys.

In consequence your petitioner most humbly prays your Excellency will be graciously pleased to take his case into consideration and grant him the aforementioned lot who in duty bound will ever pray

 

George Stone

Dated 15th March - 1820 

 

 

Above is a transcript of the March 15, 1820 petition that George Stone signed regarding the need of more land for his growing family. It was this petition and one for his oldest son Jonas that first got us on the trail of the Stones of Lynche's River story. It was in the 1950s in  Halifax and my uncle began his research on the family at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia. Dr. Harvey - the chief archivist - pointed    him in the right direction and he began searching the old land petitions.  He came across this one for George and then another from 1821 for a Jonas Stone - native of New Brunswick. On George's it states he was from Newfoundland. So the initial thought was two different Stone families. This isn't an unbelievable situation as there are many Stone families in Cape Breton and throughout Nova Scotia with no   apparent blood connection. One of the things that distinguishes "our" Stones from others in these parts in that name Jonas. That was the name of the sea captain from Devon who settled for a time at  Trepassey NL. That name has been passed down   through many generations of our family - be it Stone or Shanahan or McDonald or Langley or Harris. It took a bit more digging to discover that the Jonas in the 1821 petition was indeed from Newfoundland, not New Brunswick and was the son of George Stone. It was in another conversation with the late Chester Stone (son of Jonas P) that a connection was made between Newfoundland and Lynche's River. They were at the creek fishing and the question was put to Chester about Newfoundland. His response was that his father had told him that old George Stone's father was a man named Jonas Stone and that he came from Trepassey NL. It was from there that  a combination of old family stories, church and census records, and land records helped bring us along to where we are today...

 

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This is an ever evolving story. We know many of the names and   dates, who they were, who their parents and children were, and    where they settled in their adult lives. Sadly there are many more that we know very little or nothing about, save for their names. Old church records   at Barra Head have vanished, old graveyards are overgrown or bull - dozed over and no markers to say who lies where. All of the fourth generation (my grandfather et al) Lynches River Stones are gone now and with them their knowledge and  stories. We are ever thankful for the efforts of those who have picked up the story from them and passed it along to us.

With the advent of the internet and digital databases and such, we    are very fortunate that we can piece back together some of the  branches of the tree. There are census reports available on line and      at the Public Archives in Halifax. Marriage and birth and death data    is retained in many locales. With all of this comes questions of accuracy. For instance, if you look at the census reports from 1871,   1881 and 1891, in some cases, a person may only age fifteen years    over thirty. Census reporting wasn't an exact science. When asking a fifty year old woman who has seven children how old her second oldest child is, depending on her level of education, she is guessing herself.

What these reports tell us is who the family units were, and the ages and dates become secondary. It tells us where their people came from and what they did. (farmers, seamen etc) So knowing all of this, as   you go through the branches of the tree, keep in mind, it may be off  by two or three years in some cases, or maybe taking an educated  guess in others, by a process of elimination, to determine which Mary Stone born about 1850 was of which parents...

 

 Some Background

 

 George Stone - born about 1759 - and his "Newfoundland Irish" wife Mary Doody, emigrated to the St Peter's area of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia in 1800, leaving Trepassey, on the Avalon Peninsula by ship to Sydney CB. George was the son of Topsham, Devon, UK master mariner and merchant Jonas Stone and his wife Miriam Tucker. Jonas settled at Trepassey in the early 1750s after several    years of transporting small sloops and their cargoes for the Follett brothers, between the UK, Spain and Portugal and Newfoundland.  He likely married in the mid to late 1750s, with George coming along in 1759. George was an educated man, son of a merchant and one of  the few who could read and write at Lynche's River. We don't know how long Jonas and Miriam remained at Trepassey, but there was a decline in the fishery there in the late 1780s and a very good chance that they returned to England in the 1790s. There is also a good chance they both died at Trepassey. George and his brother Thomas Stone were left with the land and buildings of their father. George and Thomas sold off their shares of the family property to their sister Elizabeth Stone Sutton and her daughter Eleanor in the mid to late 1790s. We know not what became of   Thomas Stone. We do know that George married Mary Doody, believed to be from the Mosquito Island area of Newfoundland,   about 1798, son Jonas came along in 1799 and they all packed up and shipped off in the early summer of 1800 for Cape Breton. We know there was a brother Laurence Stone in Trepassey, shipping records   put him on a ship between St John's NL and Dartmouth England in 1802, as a "fisherman" and "native of Trepassey". We also know he   had some land on the Lower Coast at Trepassey. No sign of him after 1802. The early record keeping in that area of Newfoundland leaves a lot to be desired. George also had a brother named Jonas, who researchers believe may have returned to Devon and East Budleigh.

George Stone was a cooper by trade and passed these skills along to many of his sons and they to theirs at the Lynche's River, where    today Stone is still a prominent name. There have been three   reunions in St Peter's, one 1990 and one in 2000 and one in the summer of 2012, celebrating the history of the family.

                                      

Storytellers

 

There were many great storytellers amongst the last few generations   of the family who passed down an oral history of said family and it's many colorful characters. Men like Jonas P Stone's sons James   Chester and his brother - Herbie Lee; Dan B Stone's son Charlie    Stone and Jackie John's son Johnny Jack to name a few. Without    these men, most of what we have today would not be. They are the ones who told and retold their father's and grandfather's stories to    my father and uncles and cousins. 

My grandfather was George Henry Stone, who descended from Old George and Mary's seventh son John Henry Stone (born in 1821). He was born in 1883 at Lynche's River. His father and my great grandfather - James John Stone (aka Jimmy John), passed away May 26, 1897, and  a thirteen year old George Henry remained there until  his mid 20s, helping his mother and family cut the hay and hard   wood and plant the crops. His farm was part of his grandfather John Henry Stone's half of the 1834 grant. Jimmy John, as many sons did, built his house in his father's field, close to the Lynche's River Road. He was born in 1847, married Mary Ann Campbell of Grand Greve in 1877, and along with George Henry, raised Catherine Elizabeth,  Arthur James, Elizabeth, Margaret Ann, and Mary Maude. They lost an infant son named John in Dec of 1891. 

My third cousin, 'Johnnie Jack',  lived next door to my grandfather George's farm with his family, that of John Thomas Stone, who was known around the area (after a sawmill accident) as "One Armed Jack". The house which still stands today was made from two houses. The house of One Armed Jack's father Johnny John and the house of my great grandfather Jimmy John. My grandfather's house was   hauled up the field sometime after he married Charlotte Landry and moved to Sampsonville in 1912. The house of old John Henry and Mary Harris, which stood along the Rockdale Trail some 500 yards to the south of the present house, was hauled down the hill, across the Post Road and to the north on the 1809 grant, to become part of the farm of his son Laurence "Larr" Stone & Catherine Murphy. Larr was a fine cooper and the old building was used as his cooperage. It is long gone now, as are most of the older buildings...

From the first son Jonas and his lines, musicians and storytellers abound. One of the sons of Johnny Peggy and Sarah Campbell, old Jack Stone, or Jack the bridge (the bootlegger) was known as quite    the storyteller. There is no doubt that he passed this along to his nephews Bernie, Bob and Charlie Stone at some point. Bernie - Joseph Bernard (1894 - 1954), Bob - Robert Wilfred (1896 - 1979) and Charlie - Dan Charles Stone (1908 - 1989). Charlie was a fine fiddler, a wonderful man and a great storyteller. The lockmaster Donald "Daniel" Bernard Stone (1860 - 1923) was Charlie, Bernie and Bob's father. Charlie was a half brother to Bob and Bernie as Dan B  married twice - first to Margaret Kyte and after her death in 1903, to Catherine McKinnon from Sydney. Catherine was a cook aboard the Lake Steamer "The Marion" which called in at St Peter's regularly as    it passed through the locks at the canal enroute either for Mulgrave or for Sydney. No doubt the widower Dan B and young Catherine met as a result. Charlie's wife - Eva McDonald - was also a Stone descendant from my great grandfather's line. He passed on his knowledge and love for stories and music to sons and grandsons  alike. Roger Stone, he and I both 1960 births, has picked up where Charlie left off. He was raised by his grandparents for many years and kept the name Stone. Roger and I talk on a fairly regular basis, write  and play music together from time to time and he always has an old saying or story from Charlie to share...

Chester Stone and brother Herbie Lee grew up on Stone mountain with their parents Jonas Patrick Stone and Annabella Shanahan.   Jonas P was a younger brother of my great grandfather Jim and Annabella was a granddaughter of Mary Stone and Patrick Shanahan. Mary was the daughter of first son Jonas Stone and Peggy McDonald. Chester never married and lived in the same house as his parents through their lives and his. He heard all the old stories from both branches of his tree, and shared them with anyone who'd ask. He  was a valuable source of information to my uncle throughout his life time.

 

Names, Names and More Names

One thing you quickly discover in our Stone family history is, there were a lot of similar names through the various branches of the tree. This is not surprising. George and Mary chose names from their families. Jonas named for George's father, Bridget was likely Mary's mother's name - so not surprising she named her first daughter the same. Laurence (1803) was for George's brother, as was Thomas (1815), and Elizabeth (1806) for his sister. Felicity (1802) and Maurice (1817)  are believed to have been named for Kavanaghs who were     influential in the early days of the Stones at Lynche's River. The second generation named their children for their parents and     siblings in most cases. Many Johns or Jacks, Marys, Catherines (Kits), and Georges especially, with a few Laurences, Margarets, Jonases amongst others. But with all the similar names - nicknames or reference names had to be added to sort who was who and from   where - like One Armed Jack, Jonie George, Johnny Peggy, Johnny   the Bridge, Margaret the Bridge, Black George, Kerosene Jonie, Kit George, Kitty Mick, Johnny George, Mary George, Jack Larr and so    on and so on. The main practice was to put the father's name after the son or daughter's to signify exactly who they were. Take George for instance. The pioneer was known as old George. His son became Georgie George or Big George - for some unknown reason, his first  son with wife Mary McDonald was called Black George (maybe he  was dark skinned or maybe because is father was a blacksmith) - his son was George J, who died at sea at age 25. Jonas Stone's son George became known as Jean George after his move to Arichat. But at home he was known as George Jr. My grandfather was Georgie Jim. 

 

Kavanagh and Handley Store Ledgers

 

A great help in clarifying the sometimes foggy early history    presented by church and petition records, was that of the old Kavanagh Store Ledgers at the Public Archives of Nova Scotia and    the George Handley Store Ledger, recently discovered on "E-Bay",   and now safely on display at the Nicholas Denys Museum in  St Peter's. The Kavanagh papers show us that Old George's son was  Jonas and that the two did a lot of business for and with the Kavanaghs, be it fishing, farming, coopering etc. It also is the first to mention the name of son Thomas, who was paid for "mowing" in the late 1820s. It helps clear up the time of death (we believe) for Old George. We know in 1830, his wife Mary was paid a small sum in    cash for George's work as a road commissioner, as he and sons were involved in the clearing of land for that initial rough road, part of which is still home to Stone families today. The Handley register    from the early 1840s paints the picture even better as to other sons    and daughters and granddaughters and in laws of the Stones. The Handley Store (George Handley from Halifax) once stood to the east   of the canal bridge in St Peter's, on the old property of Omar Savoy. The old Savoy barn, still standing, was Handley's Store it is believed,  it was also Maurice Boudreau's Store years ago and the village's first post office. from this old ledger we discover that William and    younger brother Maurice Stone were both fiddlers, as their mother Mary on several occasions bought fiddle string for them. We know  also that daughter Bridget's husband Stephen Boylan was a fine cooper. He trades barrels and staves on several occasions for goods.  We discover that they bought a lot of rum and tobacco, and everyday items like soap, butter, sugar, molasses, straight razors and what not. The two old stores went hand in hand with each other as with the    end of the Kavanagh business in the early 1830s, George Handley stepped in and filled the much needed void. We also discover some    of the hard times in the 1840s with the potato blight and many  starving people, a riot broke out over bags of flours the Handleys had stored at their sheds near the bay - where the canal empties out today. Rations of flour and grain were sent out to all regions of the province and it was doled out to the starving people. Seems the locals couldn't wait any longer for their shares and with the leadership of men like John Brown McNeil and Hans Lindloff of River Tillard,    they broke into the store houses and took what they believed to be rightfully theirs. several of the Stones were involved, but their names we will save for another time.

 

 

Any questions can be directed to davidgstone@bellaliant.net