Browse Day by January 9, 2006

The Railroad Car Works and Machine Shops, De Soto, MO, c. 1880

Having information such as obituaries and brief accounts of family history passed from generation to generation on scraps of paper may not seem like much, but with the internet as your library, you can still construct a semblence of the life of one of your ancestors.  Take my great, great, grandfather, E.T. Stone who I’ve been blogging about.  From his obituary, I know where he was born, who he married, what he did, and where and when he moved.  From there it’s possible to research one or all of these facts, and with some time and luck, possibly discover more details about their lives and times. 

In the case of Grandpa Eli, as once of his occupations, his obituary record states:

“In 1882 he moved to De Soto, Mo., where he was engaged as a machinist.  in 1886 he was transferred to Belmont, Mo. where he served as foreman of the machine shops.”

After a short time of internet research, I came across a publication of Godspeed’s History Of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford & Gasconade Counties, Missouri, published in 1888, by The Goodspeed Publishing Co., Chicago, which had been uploaded to  In the chapter entitled “Towns and Villages“, there’s a short history of the city of De Soto, Missouri, it’s “early years” (relative to 1888!), it’s official corporation as a city, and it’s occupational makeup.  In particular, there’s a brief account of occupations pertaining to railroads, which Grandpa Eli was engaged in:

“The buildings of these shops, which are very extensive, covering several acres of ground, were erected in 1879 and 1880, and were put in full operation in 1882. In the “car works” department 150 men are employed, and the pay roll amounts to $8,000 per month, and in the “machine shops” department 250 men are employed, and the pay roll amounts to $14,000 per month, thus making the total number of men employed 400, and the total monthly pay roll $22,000. In addition to the men employed in these works there are about 150 road engineers and firemen who reside in the city. In these works passenger and freight cars of first-class workmanship are built from the ground up. From twelve to fifteen passenger cars and from five to six hundred freight ears are run through the car shops for general repairs each month, entailing an expenditure of about $5,000. The principal work in the machine shop consists in repairing locomotives, entailing an expenditure of from $10,000 to $12,000 per month. A great many of the employes have their homes in De Soto, and are interested in the welfare of the city. The officers in charge prefer to employ such men as come to De Soto to live instead of the transient class…The railroad machine shop and the business portion of De Soto and some of the residences are located in the valley, while the schoolhouse and the churches and the greater portion of the finest residences are located on the heights west of the main business street. On the whole the location of the city is romantic and pleasant. Standing on the heights, by the schoolhouse, one obtains a magnificently grand view of the city in the valley beneath: and of the residences and native forests on the hills surrounding. De Soto, with its population of from 3,500 to 4,000, is certainly a pleasant place in which to live.”

Eli and Ursula met and married in Syracuse, NY in 1875, then 7 years later moved to the St. Louis area, where Eli worked as a machinest, and later, the foreman of a machine shop.  I don’t know if he was a machinest in Syracruse; I don’t know how and why they chose to make the big move to Missouri.  But a few generations of Eli’s decendents remained in the St. Louis area, calling it home and making their mark.  My mother, who was Eli & Ursula’s great granddaughter was born and raised in St. Louis, as were her father and mother.  So I have some relatively deep roots in St. Louis, a city through which I’ve only passed through once. 


Eli Thompson ("E.T.") Stone Obituaries, 1938

I was given two newspaper clippings with E.T. Stone obits.  I do not have the source for the second obit. The transcriptions are below:

From the Jefferson County Republic, De Soto, Missouri, Thursday January 27, 1938:

Old Time Printer Passed Away Monday

Eli T. Stone, Former Owner of “The Advertiser”, Died in Hospital of Mexico, MO.

It is indeed with regret that this paper must record the death of one of De Soto’s old citizens, Eli T. Stone, ho passed away in the hospital of Mexico, Mo., Monday morning at 6 o’clock after a short illness.

Mr. Stone was a pioneer citizen of De Soto, having lived here for many years, during which time he engaged in his profession as a machinist in the railroad shops and worked at the printer’s trade as an avocation.  He operated the large wheel lathe in the shops until the railroad strike in 1922, when he entered the printing business as a full-time occupation.  He started the publication of “The Advertiser”, a free circulation paper several years ago, and it was successful from the start.  Advancing age, however curtailed his ability to solicit business and he sold his interests to H. W. Harris a few months ago.

Mr. Stone was a man of very firm convictions and while gruff and seemingly petulant at time, was nevertheless, well liked and highly respected for his sound thinking.

Shortly after his retirement, he went to Laddonia, Mo. to be with a daughter, Mrs. Harry Grainger and family but an old injury in which he suffered a broken ankle began giving him trouble and he was taken to the hospital of Mexico, where the limb was amputated.  Blood poisoning developed and his advanced age, 82 years, were measures against his recovery.

The funeral services were held at the Congregational Church of this city wednesday afternoon after which the remains were laid to rest in the City Cemetery.”

Obituary Of Eli T. Stone

Eli Thompson Stone was born in Augusta, Oneida county, N. Y., Oct. 29, 1856 and died at Audrain Hospital, Mexico, Mo., Jan 24, 1938 at the age of 81 years, 2 months and 26 days.

When twelve years old he moved with his parents to Syracuse, N.Y.  There he grew to manhood and married Ursula A. Davis on Aug. 11, 1875.  To this union was born six children, one of whom preceded him in death at the age of twelve years.

In 1882 he moved to De Soto, Mo., where he was engaged as a machinist.  in 1886 he was transferred to Belmont, Mo. where he served as foreman of the machine shops.  After five years he returned to De Soto where he spent the remainder of his life until two months ago.

His recent years were spent in the priniting business.

Early in life he united with the Congregational church where he took an active part until recent years, his special interest being the choir.

Those surviving are his wife, three sons, Walter C. Stone, St. Louis, C. Bennett Stone, Pacific, Mo., Frank K. Stone, Independence, Mo., tow daughters, Mrs. Harry G. Grainger, Laddonia and Mrs. Geerald R. Williamson of Quincy, Ill., twelve grandshildren, seven great grandchildren, one brother and one sister.

Two months ago the deceased moved with is wife to Laddonia, Mo.”