Israel Stone – Ruin and Recovery

As described in A Journey to Ohio – Part 2, the family of Israel Stone encountered dangers and difficulties as their party traveled from Rutland, Massachusetts to Marietta, Ohio in the autumn of 1790. The story of Israel Stone helps us to understand why this family and others made the strenuous journey, even knowing the difficulties they were likely to encounter both during and after. It also illustrates how the Northwest Ordinance and the Ohio Company of Associates provided a solution, at least for some, to the problems described in the story of Rufus Putnam and Daniel Shays.

Israel Stone was born on April 15, 1749 in Rutland, Mass. Rufus Putnam, who was eleven years older than Israel, moved to Rutland in 1780. However, the two men almost certainly had prior acquaintance. Both joined the Massachusetts militia on April 19, 1775 — the day of the “shot heard round the world.” Both subsequently served as officers in the Continental Line, Rufus Putnam at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and Israel Stone at the rank of Captain.

After the war, Israel Stone had financial difficulties. Like most of those who served in the Continental Army, what pay he received had been in Continental script, which had depreciated heavily. In 1786 he was forced to sell his Rutland farm to pay debts. He took a three-year lease on a farm that, according to his son Benjamin, had poor and worn out soil.

“Although Mr. Stone and his family were industrious and of good abilities, yet, by a combination of causes, he become straitened in circumstances. But he and his wife and children had the enterprise, resolution and fortitude, without property, and nothing to rely upon but a kind providence, good friends, and their own energy, to emigrate to Ohio, where they arrived safe. It might with propriety be said, if they had not wealth, they were a valuable acquisition to the new State.”

–from A history of Rutland: Worcester County, Massachusetts, from its earliest settlement, with a biography of its first settlers.

In early 1789, after quitting the leased farm, Israel set out for Ohio. In order to have accommodations during his absence, his large family was obliged to separate, with the oldest son Sardine hiring himself out and most of the other children going into the homes of other families until they could all come together again in Ohio.

Israel Stone reached the Marietta settlement in April, 1789, where he contracted with General Rufus Putnam to clear land at Belpre for eight dollars a day plus the right to occupy it for three years after it was cleared. In August or September of 1789, the Ohio Company directors also provided Israel with a loan of $20. To assist with the work of clearing and building, Israel’s son Jasper came to Ohio in the summer of 1789 in the company of Captain William Dana and family. Israel’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth, also came to Ohio in 1789 with Benjamin Miles and family. Lydia and the rest of the children came in 1790 with a party led by Rufus Putnam.

Although he did not yet own land, Israel’s fortunes began to improve.  He acquired cows and hogs, which not only provided milk and meat for his family, but also could be traded or taken to market more readily than corn or produce.  He was able to purchase one ox calf in the fall of 1791, and a second in the following year.  It took several years to raise and train these oxen to work as a plowing team, but the investment would increase future crop productivity.

While the move to Ohio provided opportunities, it was not without challenges and hardships.  One constant challenge was preventing the loss of livestock.  To better protect his cows from attacks by wolves or raiders, Israel kept them on an island in the Ohio River.  This required regular trips across the water for milking, which explains why the thirteen year old Israel Stone Jr.  learned how to handle a canoe.  Sadly, during a solo journey in April of 1791, the boy fell from his canoe and drowned before help could reach him.  Then, in October 1792, just eight months after the February birth of daughter Harriett, wife and mother Lydia Barrett Stone died from illness.  These were difficult losses, but the family stayed together and worked to improve their situation and that of their community.

In April of 1792, Congress granted the Ohio Company of Associates 100,000 acres that became known as the Donation Tract. This grant allowed the Ohio Company to offer free land to individuals who were willing to settle, plant crops, build a residence, and also to keep and be ready to use a weapon for defense of the community.[1]  In 1793, Israel Stone received 100 acres of land in Donation Tract Allotment 2.  His sons Jasper and Sardine also received 100 acres each. The Stone family were the first to take up residence in this allotment, which came to be known as Rainbow.

In 1794, Israel’s son Sardine purchased and brought the first sheep to Rainbow. In 1795, Israel planted pear trees from seeds sent from Massachusetts. In 1796 he married Mary Broadhurst, widow of William Corner.  In addition to their son, born in 1897, Israel helped to raise Mary’s children from her prior marriage, along with his own children from his prior marriage to Lydia.

With help from Rufus Putham and the Ohio Company, Israel Stone was able to recover from his financial ruin, become the proprietor of his own farm, and provide for a large family. He died on July 13, 1808 and was buried in the Rainbow Cemetery where his grave is marked with a memorial to his Revolutionary War service. He was survived by his wife Mary and by eleven children who would all go on to marry and have children of their own.  In 1810, the pear trees Israel Stone had planted fifteen years earlier began to bear fruit.



Andrews, M. R., & Hathaway, S. J. (1902). History of Marietta and Washington County, Ohio, and representative citizens. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co.

Cutler, J. P., & Dawes, E. C. (1890). Life and times of Ephraim Cutler. Cincinnati: R. Clarke & Co.

H.Z. Williams & Bro. (n.d.). History of Washington County, Ohio: With illustrations and biographical sketches.

Ohio Company (1786-1795), & In Hulbert, A. B. (1975). The records of the original proceedings of the Ohio Company. Marietta, Ohio: Marietta Historical commission.

Reed, J., & Bartlett, D. (1879). A history of Rutland: Worcester County, Massachusetts, from its earliest settlement, with a biography of its first settlers. Worcester: Reprinted by Tyler & Seagrove.

Stone, B. F., & Lambert, J. V. (2017). Reminiscence of an early pioneer in the Ohio country: The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Stone, Sr. 1782-1873 : complete and unabridged, from a manuscript written by Benjamin Franklin Stone, Sr. Chillicothe, Ohio: Ross County Historical Society.

[1] This action was taken after the January 1791 attack by Lenape and Wyandot warriors on a squatter settlement at Big Bottom. The movement of troops from Fort Hamar to Cincinatti in 1790 had left the Ohio Company settlements with no ready military protection during the Northwest Indian Wars that commenced around that time. The Donation Lands were intended to act as a buffer to protect settlements to the south. They also may have discouraged further settlement in the area by squatters.

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