Ellison Durrough Stone
By the time of his death, Ellison Durrough Stone (1835-1905) had earned the title of “the most universally loved man in the city of Athens.” Trained as a printer, Stone became the publisher of both the Southern Cultivator and the Athens Weekly Chronicle. As an ordained minister of the Methodist church, he worked to establish several churches and Sunday schools, He served as the chaplain for Cobb’s Georgia Legion during the Civil War.
Born near Monticello on June 11, 1835, Ellison Durrough Stone was the son of devout Christians John W. Stone and Mary Pulliam Stone. As a young boy, he obtained work as a printer for the Athens Southern Whig. The training he received while employed at the Whig established the basis for his future career as a printer and publisher. Later, he worked for the Augusta Republican newspaper and The Christian Index. In 1855, he returned to Athens to serve as the foreman of the Athens Banner, a position he held until the outbreak of the Civil War. After the war, Stone worked for the Southern Cultivator until 1878. He then purchased The Athens Weekly Chronicle. In 1889, Stone launched the Evening Chronicle, which eventually merged into the Athens Banner.
Stone felt the call to religious service while working as a printer. In 1856, he founded the Union Sunday School near the Athens Factory. He established the Oconee Street Sunday School the following year. This Sunday school ultimately became a part of the Oconee Street Methodist Church. In 1858, the Athens First Methodist Church licensed him as an exhorter. With the onset of the Civil War, he blended faith and duty by serving as chaplain for Cobb’s Georgia Legion. Following the war, Stone earned his minister’s license and continued to ascend the religious hierarchy. The church ordained him as a deacon in 1869 and as an elder in 1873. Devoutly Methodist and eager to spread the Word, Stone executed these religious services at no charge.
Stone married Mary McKenzie on March 3, 1859. Mary died in 1874, and the widower Stone married Emma C. Bradford of Clarkesville on December 20, 1877. She and four children from his previous marriage survived him after he died of apoplexy in May, 1905. The Athens Weekly Banner dedicated a full-page tribute to Ellison Stone and called him “the most universally loved man in the city of Athens.” The title proved well-earned. So many people planned to attend his funeral -- including his Sunday school of 100 children and the Cobb-Delony Camp of Confederate Veterans -- that it was held at the Athens First Methodist Church instead of the smaller Oconee Street Methodist Church of which he was a member. The Athens First Methodist Church proved too small as well, as hundreds of people poured around the church so that they might hear the service from outside the building. In honor of his “un-broken service to God and the other citizens around him,” many Athenians donated money to construct the Ellison D. Stone Chapel on Baldwin Street to better serve his Sunday school.