By Kaily Carson
George and Joseph Timmons were born to William and Margaret Timmons in 1849 and 1850. Sometime after 1855, William and Margaret split, leaving her to care for their children on her own. By June 1857, George and Joseph were in the care of the Children’s Aid Society. The oldest daughter likely stayed with her mother, and at this point, we are not sure what happened to the youngest child.
Later in June 1857, George and Joseph were taken on an orphan train to Albion, Michigan, where both boys were taken in by Simeon and Martha Stone. While we don’t know exactly what their time in the Stone’s home was like, both boys adopted the last name Stone as their own, suggesting that they were probably treated well and considered themselves part of the Stone family.
George enlisted in the military in 1863, at just fourteen years old. He served in the Civil War as a drummer in the Michigan Company D, 1st Sharpshooters Regiment. Drummer boys did not typically engage in battle directly, but George’s obituary stated that he “carried a musket when the occasion demanded.” At the end of the Civil War, George left military service, but was known by his friends from then on as “General” Stone. He married Kitty Rice in 1870, and they had at least one child together. Joseph married Ellen Turner in 1875, despite the disapproval of her family. The pair had two children, Gertrude and Charles.
For a few years, George and Joseph ran a grocery store together in Michigan, and both brothers were active Freemasons. Eventually, the brothers moved apart, with George’s family staying in Michigan, and Joseph’s family moving to South Dakota and later California. George served as auditor general of the state of Michigan and commander of the department of Michigan Grand Army of the Republic (a fraternal organization for Civil War veterans).
George died suddenly at age 72 during an Armistice Day celebration where he marched and played the drum. George requested that he have the American flag spread over his coffin, and be buried with his silver and gold drum and wearing his Grand Army uniform. His Civil War general said of him, “he served his country with courage and marked distinction and has shown the same worth and honorable success in private business and high official station.” His brother Joseph died a decade later in 1931 at age 81.
George and Joseph are two examples of boys who came from difficult circumstances but who made the best of the lives they were given. They found a good home and grew up to serve their county and communities well. They each raised families of their own, and today, their descendants carry on their legacy.