Throughout the past decade, fast food restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses have come to dominate the busy corner of Stones Crossing Road and State Road 135.
But 125 years ago, there was a single building that dominated that part of the county. Elijah “Old Man” Stone made that intersection a center of commerce when he built his general store.
Stone and his contributions to Johnson County are now commemorated with a historical marker erected on the site of his former trading post. The marker was unveiled Thursday during a small ceremony at the site.
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“It’s a way of connecting people with the past. How many thousands of people drive down Stones Crossing Road and don’t know what it means?” said David Pfeiffer, director of the Johnson County Museum of History.
Stone moved to Indiana from Ohio in 1816. He eventually made his way to Johnson County in 1859.
He owned a farm in the county in addition to his work making boots and shoes. By 1890, he had established his general store along Three-Notch Lane, which is now State Road 135, Pfeiffer said.
The store became an important meeting place for the area and a center of activity for that part of the county. Due to its influence, the population of the small community known as Stone’s Crossing grew from 30 people in 1880 to 115 in 1894. Stone’s Crossing even had a post office from 1874 to 1905.
The marker, which tells the story of Stone and his town, was paid for by the estate of Geraldine Bagby. The Greenwood resident was a distant relative of Stone and arranged for the memorial through her will, Pfeiffer said.
Janet Stone, a White River Township resident, and her cousin Howard Peters of Trafalgar both appreciated that the historical marker was being raised in the area. Elijah Stone was their great-great-grandfather.
“It’s great that Geraldine wanted to do this. It was a good thing to do,” Peters said.
The Stone farm had been just north of the site of the general store. Both Peters and Janet Stone had been raised on the property. Peters’ mother used to worry about him riding his bicycle down to the store, even though hardly any cars ever drove in that area.
“I could ride all the way down here and never see a passing car,” Peters said. “Your odds were good that you could walk out to the mailbox without looking either way and not get hit.”
At Thursday’s ceremony, Bagby’s neighbors, Stone’s family members and local history buffs all gathered around to see the placard revealed. For them, it was a chance to celebrate a little bit of their community’s history together.
“Being able to connect the community to the family that lived here and why it’s called that is really important,” Pfeiffer said.