Stone family 2016 reunion, by the numbers
Who came the farthest: Jeff Cays, Arizona and Matthew Cays, Alaska
The oldest: Bev Howard, 84
The youngest: Bailey Hagberg, 3 months
Puritans seeking religious freedom. Revolutionary War patriots supporting independence. Pioneers homesteading in the hardscrabble forests and rocky soil of the Olympic Peninsula.
Ancestors all of the Stone family of Sequim which just celebrated its 110th annual family reunion at the Sequim Prairie Grange on June 25. Last year, 98 attended and at its century mark in 2006, an estimated 200 Stone descendants assembled for the picnic’s tradition of fried chicken, potato salad, deviled eggs, baked beans and local strawberries plus games, races and good conversation. This year, 81 Stone descendants continued the observance.
Second cousins Don Stone, 82; Bonnie Hagberg, 76; and Gregg Stone, 75, along with Don’s wife Pat, 80, gathered before the reunion to share an encyclopedic knowledge of their family’s heritage.
According to family legend, their reunion is the longest running continuous family reunion in Washington. Every year since 1907, the descendants of Nathaniel Stacy Stone have celebrated his birthday of June 28, 1848, with a family get together — the first with 18 in attendance.
At 42, Nathanial Stone was the founding father of the Stone family in the Northwest, coming with his wife Althea and five children from Michigan in 1890. The older children, Stanley, Fannie, Jessie, Ruth and Leroy were born back east and the youngest Ellsworth, was born in Port Angeles. As pioneers, they settled on Lost Mountain.
“They were all able to have land — that was the reason they came in the first place. This was the last place in the United States to homestead and there was land to be had,” said Pat Stone, immersed as much in family facts as her husband and his cousins.
“You used to be able to see the old (homestead) foundation,” said Gregg Stone, a fourth-generation descendant of Nathanial. “They couldn’t make a living by farming so they chopped wood and sold it.”
“Until they got irrigation (1895-1896), nobody farmed,” Pat added. In 1905, Don’s grandfather homesteaded in the area of North Sequim Avenue.
In the early 20th century Stone descendants continued logging but also became dairy farmers through Sequim’s dairying heyday from the 1930s-1950s when there were some 200 dairies in the valley, including Gregg’s family. There are only two today.
The cousins said it’s important to them — and hopefully younger generations of Stones — to continue to catch up yearly and share their family history.
“I’m proud of the fact that we still gather and enjoy each other as much as we do,” said Bonnie. “Many of us never see each other otherwise. It shows respect for elders to go to the reunion.”
“We’ve got a big family in the area and I want them to learn more about the family,” Don said, to which Pat added, “I hope people reading this ask themselves why they’re not doing this. I just think it’s important to know where their family came from and to know their ancestors built this country.”