Barney Stone: Preacher, Soldier, Teacher

When Barney Stone, a famous Noblesville resident, traveled to Gettysburg to hear Franklin D. Roosevelt speak in person, it was the happiest day of his life. He was 91 years old at the time. Later, he explained that standing on the same ground where Lincoln delivered his great speech was a sacred moment for him, and he added that he was grateful to the great nation that freed him from the chains of slavery.

Actually, Barney Stone‘s slavery was ended by Barney Stone himself. When the Civil War broke out in his area, he chose to run away rather than be killed, as hundreds of other black slaves were to prevent them from joining the Union army. And join the Union army is precisely what Barney Stone did. He was 16 at the time.

In his autobiography, Barney talks about the Union soldiers he spent time with, how they took an interest in him and taught him how to read and write. After the war, he continued studying, teaching himself for several years. Shortly, he received a calling to preach the Gospel, and he did so faithfully for the next 69 years, until his death in 1942. He was then 95.

Barney Stone led an exemplary life, teaching black children to read, preaching to various congregations, farming, marrying and fathering five children. He became a high-profile figure in Noblesville society, as a member of the Masonic Lodge and the Knights of Pythias, a circuit court bailiff, and a staunch republican. He was instrumental in the creation of around seven churches. He lived to see his daughter Beulah graduate from Noblesville High School and go on to college.

Barney worked hard all his life in the cause of his people, to uplift and support them wherever he could find a way. He was the last black Civil War veteran in the county to die, and when he did, it took the people gathered at his funeral in Noblesville, Indiana three hours to say all they wanted to say about their friend, mentor and brother.

Online autobiography of Barney Stone:

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