Monday, July 15, 2013

Theorus Rickenbaugh Stoner (1857-1942)


    A Pennsylvanian by birth, Theorus Rickenbaugh Stoner later migrated to South Dakota, where he gained distinction as a business leader and later served terms in both houses of the state legislature. Stoner was for many years a prominent Mason in South Dakota, and was a past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of that state. While two pictures of him have been located (as have other pertinent pieces of information) his first name varies in spelling, and is recorded as being spelled as "Therous T. Stoner" in a 1921 edition of the South Dakota Legislative Manual. While this is a spelling mistake, a Masonic Report proceeding from 1928 lists his full name as "Theorus Rickenbaugh Stoner".
  Born in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania on October 28, 1857, Stoner's schooling took place in Mifflintown schools and in 1888 removed from Pennsylvania to South Dakota, settling in the town of Lead in Lawrence County. Theorus also married at an unknown date to Ms. Sallie Marie Perkins (1875-1954) and had at least one daughter, Frances, in October 1903. He was for many years identified in the mercantile business in Lead and in 1914 was elected as a Republican to the South Dakota State House of Representatives, representing the counties of Butte and Lawrence. He served one term in the house (1915-1917) and was later elected to three terms in the state senate, serving from 1917-1923. 
   In addition to his service in the legislature, Stoner was prominent in South Dakota Masonic circles for many decades, being anointed as a High Priest in the Golden Belt Masonic chapter in Deadwood in 1903. He served as the Grand Master of the Masonic Lodge in Lead and in 1922 held the post of Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of South Dakota. Little is known on the remainder of Stoner's life, excepting that he died at age 84 on July 3, 1942 in Leeds, South Dakota. He was later interred at the West Lead Cemetery in his native city of Lead. The portrait of Stoner shown above was featured in the 1921 edition of the South Dakota Legislative Manual, Volume 17.

From the 1915-16 South Dakota State Legislative Manual.

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