Stone, General David L. (1876-1959)

  • By Duane Colt Denfeld, Ph.D.
  • Posted 8/03/2009
  • Essay 9100
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Captain David Lamme Stone was the builder of Camp Lewis and later returned as a general to command Fort Lewis. He arrived at American Lake, Washington, on May 26, 1917, assigned to build a National Army camp there.  He surveyed two sites, one on the north side of American Lake and a second east of Dupont. The second site provided better road and railroad systems so this became Camp Lewis. Captain Stone would build Camp Lewis and then return in 1936 as a general to command Fort Lewis. General Stone married prominent local woman Anita Thorne (1894-1994) and lived in the beautiful Thornewood mansion located in Lakewood on the shore of American Lake. After he retired, General Stone became involved in local civic activities.        

Early Years   

David Lamme Stone was born on August 15, 1876, in Stoneville, Mississippi. This small town was named for his father, David Stone (1846-1878), who owned a plantation, and two eminent uncles.  At a young age, both his parents died and he moved in with an aunt and uncle in nearby Greenville.

David L. Stone entered West Point and graduated in 1898 as a second lieutenant infantry. His class graduated a few months early for duty in the Spanish-American War.

Lieutenant Stone served in General William R. Shafter’s (1835-1906) expedition to Cuba. His unit, the 22nd Infantry Regiment, then returned to the United States and after a short rest and recovery sailed to the Philippines in January 1899. The regiment battled insurgents and came back to the United States in January 1902. 

Stationed at Fort Omaha, Nebraska, Stone met Helen Hoagland (1878-1929), daughter of a wealthy lumberman. They wed in 1903 in an event that received a great deal of attention since Stone joined nine other others to take their new brides to the Philippines. During this second tour, on October 24, 1904, in a battle with a rebel force on Mindanao Island he was wounded in the arm and returned home.  Following hospital recovery at the Presidio of San Francisco the army transferred him from the infantry to the quartermaster corps.  

Building Camp Lewis

Captain Stone arrived at the Camp Lewis construction site on May 26, 1917. As construction quartermaster, Stone managed the camp construction. First he and a survey team selected the final site from two tentative locations, one on the north side of American Lake and the second east of Dupont.  This second site prevailed as it had better transportation facilities -- highway and railroad.

On June 25, 1917, Hurley Mason Contractors began construction and in 90 days had 1,500 wood-frame buildings ready, along with 105 miles of streets and roads and an effective sewer system. Captain Stone effectively supervised the project and received a promotion to Major.

Among his many innovations Major Stone quickly provided worker housing to reduce travel time and when workers considered a strike he paid a 50 cents a day bonus to workers keeping the project on. Camp Lewis became one of the first camps to open and at the lowest cost, $142 per capita, in contrast to the most expensive, Camp Devens, Massachusetts, built at a cost of $182 per capita.  

With the camp ready to receive 40,000 soldiers Stone received promotion to Lieutenant Colonel and reassignment on December 10, 1917, to Camp Greene, Charlotte, North Carolina as Third Division quartermaster, purchasing the divisions supplies and equipment.

Stone became the Third Division, Assistant Chief of Staff, accompanied the division to France in 1918 and participated in three campaigns. In 1919 he became the American Representative on the Inter-Allied Rhineland Commission. He was actively involved in the rebuilding of Germany and earned high marks for his compassion. His charm extended into his official duties in dealing with the German populace. Stone’s awards included the Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star for gallantry, and Purple Heart. His next assignment brought him home to Omaha. Colonel and Mrs. Helen Stone had three children, two daughters and a son. Helen Stone died in 1929.

Thornewood Mansion and the Thornes

During the 1920s and 1930s, Stone served at Fort Omaha; Jefferson Barracks, Missouri; University of Illinois reserve officer training; and Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He maintained contact with Tacoma friends including Anita Thorne Corse (1895-1994), daughter of Tacoma banker and civic leader Chester Thorne (1863-1927). Thorne built for his family the Thornewood mansion, designed by Kirtland Cutter (1860-1939), on American Lake, Lakewood, Washington. During part of the 1920s its residents were Chester Thorne, his wife Anna (186?-1954), daughter Anita, her husband Cadwallader Corse (1896-1980) and their son Chester (1920-2009), daughter Diana (b.  1926), and daughter Anita. Chester Thorne died in 1927 and in another major event, Anita divorced Corse. In 1935 Anna Thorne deeded the house to her daughter, Anita.        

Brigadier General Stone and Anita Thorne courted and on New Year’s Day 1936, they wed. The private event took place at Thornewood, with the home decked out in flowers and other decorations. Fort Lewis chaplain Major James L. Blakeney (1879-1966) performed the ceremony. Anita Stone’s children, Diana and Anita served as attendants, with son Chester the best man. Following the wedding the couple honeymooned in California before returning to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, where General Stone commanded the 14th Brigade.

General Stone Takes Command

In September General and Anita Stone returned to Tacoma and the general assumed Fort Lewis and the 3rd Division command. They arrived by train and were met at Tacoma Union Station by Anna Thorne, and friends.  An 11-gun salute welcomed him to Fort Lewis. The next month he received his second star as Major General.

During his command, the general placed an emphasis on beautifying the post. Fort Lewis had available a Works Progress Administration (WPA) work force to plant 5,000 trees including a border around the parade grounds. They brought in truckloads of earth and created flower beds, new lawns, and planted rhododendrons and other flowering plants.

The Stone family could have lived at Thornewood, but resided in the commanding general’s quarters. Stepdaughter Diana Corse Titcomb in a June 2009 interview recalled riding horses and playing near the general’s quarters.

General Stone’s tour was cut short for a move to the Panama Canal Zone in February 1937 to direct a huge defensive buildup there. While in Panama he directed a massive defensive buildup and construction program. Anita Stone became ill so General Stone requested a transfer to the United States. He would command the Fifth Corps located at Fort Hayes, Ohio. On August 31, 1940, General Stone retired, having reached the mandatory age. 

Retirement and Civic Activities       

Upon their retirement to Thornewood, the Stones launched a large renovation project to repair deficiencies and upgrade the residence. General Stone (retired) with years of community work experience spoke on civic responsibility and became personally involved. In 1943 he became a Pierce County Commissioner and Chairman serving one-term. Stone also served on the National Bank of Washington Board.

After a long illness, General David Stone died on December 28, 1959. He was buried at the Fort Lewis cemetery. With his illness, Anita Stone had moved to Tacoma, and sold Thornewood.

Remembering General Stone

A few years later, Fort Lewis built a Major General Stone memorial circle in the center of the cemetery. Anita Stone planted flowers and dedicated the circle in his honor. By 1992 the circle was overgrown, so Fort Lewis restored the memorial, installed new plaques, one honoring Stone and a second all unknown soldiers.  Stepdaughter Diana Titcomb attended its rededication on Memorial Day that year.

In 1994 Anita Stone, nine months short of 100 years of age, died and was laid to rest next to her husband.  The modern and well-equipped Fort Lewis Stone Education Center had a dedication on January 23, 1995.  

Thornewood went through changes, becoming a bed and breakfast in 1997.  In 2001 the Stephen King (b. 1947) made-for television movie “Rose Red” was filmed at Thornewood. 

Sources: "David Lamme Stone," typescript biography, Center for Military History, Washington, D.C.; Duane Colt Denfeld interview with Diana Titcomb, June 17, 2009; “Off on Honeymoon,” The Tacoma News Tribune, January 2, 1936, p. 1;  “Takes Over Command,” Ibid., September 22, 1936, p. 1; “Beautifying Fort Lewis,” Ibid., December 5, 1936; “General Stone To Leave Fort Lewis” Ibid., February 11, 1937, p. 6; “Little Greenvillian Played Soldier, Became Commander of Canal Zone,” The Delta Democrat-Times, September 10, 1939, p. 1.  

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