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Local Author Sherry A. Burton Donates Statue in Memory of Two Brothers Who Rode the Orphan Train to Michigan

Author Sherry A. Burton traveled from Sandusky to Concordia, Kansas, with her husband, Don for the June 2nd unveiling of the bronze statue she donated to honor the memory of two orphan train riders. Having witnessed a similar unveiling last year while in Kansas to receive the prestigious Charles Loring Brace Award for the historical accuracy of her books, Burton knew she too wanted to donate a statue. She also knew that statue would honor the memory of George and Joseph Timmons Stone, two brothers who rode the orphan train to Albion, Michigan to find new homes. Sherry shares the boy’s story during her Orphan Train Lectures and wanted to share their story with visitors to Concordia.
George and Joseph Timmons were born to William and Margaret Timmons in 1849 and 1850. Sometime after 1855, William and Margaret split, leaving her to care for their children on her own. By June 1857, George and Joseph were in the care of the Children’s Aid Society. The oldest daughter likely stayed with her mother, and at this point, we are not sure what happened to the youngest child.
Later in June 1857, George and Joseph were taken on an orphan train to Albion, Michigan, where both boys were taken in by Simeon and Martha Stone. While we don’t know exactly what their time in the Stone’s home was like, both boys adopted the last name Stone as their own, suggesting that they were probably treated well and considered themselves part of the Stone family.
George enlisted in the military in 1863, at just fourteen years old. He served in the Civil War as a drummer in the Michigan Company D, 1st Sharpshooters Regiment. Drummer boys did not typically engage in battle directly, but George’s obituary stated that he “carried a musket when the occasion demanded.” At the end of the Civil War, George left military service, but was known by his friends from then on as “General” Stone. He married Kitty Rice in 1870, and they had at least one child together. Joseph married Ellen Turner in 1875, despite the disapproval of her family. The pair had two children, Gertrude and Charles.
For a few years, George and Joseph ran a grocery store together in Michigan, and both brothers were active Freemasons. Eventually, the brothers moved apart, with George’s family staying in Michigan, and Joseph’s family moving to South Dakota and later California. George served as auditor general of the state of Michigan and commander of the department of Michigan Grand Army of the Republic (a fraternal organization for Civil War veterans).
George died suddenly at age 72 during an Armistice Day celebration where he marched and played the drum. George requested that he have the American flag spread over his coffin, and be buried with his silver and gold drum and wearing his Grand Army uniform. His Civil War general said of him, “he served his country with courage and marked distinction and has shown the same worth and honorable success in private business and high official station.” His brother Joseph died a decade later in 1931 at age 81. George and his wife, Kittie Rice Stone, are buried in the Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing, Michigan.
Among those in attendance at the unveiling was George’s great-great grandson, Steve. Steve and his family made the drive from California to attend the short ceremony. Having them there for the unveiling was super cool and made the dedication even more special.
Home of the National Orphan Train Museum, Concordia, Kansas, is fondly referred to as The Orphan Train Town. There are many other statues honoring the memories of the children who rode the trains sprinkled among the town. This playful statue is #44 and the first located in Hood Park.
Sherry A. Burton is the author of The Orphan Train Saga, a historical fiction series that revolves around the orphan trains. There are currently five novels in the series, with a sixth book due to be released later this year. Sherry’s saga and Orphan Train Lectures are endorsed by The National Orphan Train Complex. To learn more about Sherry A. Burton and her books visit her author website at

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