Charles Provost/Stone

Contributed by Gary Curry

The first record of Charles Stone is the 1860 US Census, which records him as a twenty-year old Carder in a Pittsfield Woolen Mill.  Since he came to Pittsfield from Quebec, it is probable that he could not speak English very well and was not able to read or write.  The next occurrence of Charles is the record of his service in the Civil War with the 31st Mass. Infantry, Company A from December 15, 1862 to September 15, 1865.  The regiment organized and initially trained at Fort Seward, Pittsfield, on the grounds of the Pittsfield Agricultural Fair Grounds, under General Butler and was later moved to Fort Chase, Lowell.  The regiment was deployed to Louisiana and fought battles in Louisiana, Florida, and Alabama.  He was wounded during his second year of enlistment and mustered out in Mobile, Alabama on September 15, 1865 and returned to Boston, Mass. where he was discharged.  He, later in life, filed for pension benefits under the name of Charles Provost and Charles Stone.  His wife Mary filed and received widow’s benefits after his death under the name of Charles Stone.

Charles married Mary Geneva Beauchaine on February 23, 1867, the 17 year old (born January of 1852) daughter of Louis Beauchaine and Catherine Gilbert of Canada (see Beauchesne, Beauchaine, and Bouchane outline).  The marriage was at the French Church, and was recorded in Pittsfield as Charles Provo and Mary J Bouchan, both born in Canada.  The 1870 U.S. Census records both Charles and Mary as being married, living in Pittsfield, with no children (Child, Stone died 2/21/1869) with the last name of Stone.  Charles is working in a woolen mill and Mary is keeping house.

The November 1874 birth of their son William in Hartford, Conn. indicates that for a time the family lived in Hartford.  The family moved back to Pittsfield, because Charles is listed in the 1877 Pittsfield directory as living in the Stearnsville section of Pittsfield (West Pittsfield). According to the Pittsfield Street Directory, the family continued to live in Pittsfield except for a short period around 1887 (birth of son Arthur 10/28/1887), when they lived in Lenox, Mass.  In the 1880’s, Mary’s brother Edmond Beauchaine was a blacksmith working in Lenox, which could account for Charles’s time in Lenox during the late 1800’s.

From 1874 until 1892, Charles and Mary had nine children of which seven were born in Pittsfield.  The exceptions are William (11/23/1874), Hartford, Conn. and Arthur (10/28/1887) Lenox, Mass.  The seven others are: George (8/15/1878), Mena (8/26/1880), Joseph (7/28/1882), Elizabeth (7/11/1884), Ann (9/17/1888), Edward (8/19/1890) and Laura (1/24/1892). Of the nine children four of the births were recorded as Stone (George, Joseph, Elizabeth and Laura), one as Provost (Ann), one as both Stone and Provost (Edward) and three are unknown (William, Mena and Arthur).

The 1900 Census recorded Mary Stone as living in Pittsfield, as head of household with eight children living with her.  William is a carpenter, Mena is a spinner in the woolen mill, Joseph is a day laborer, Elizabeth is a spooler in the woolen mill and the remainder of the children are in school.  At this time, George is in the Army fighting in the Philippines.  Husband Charles Stone is a carpenter, not living with the family, but is living in a boarding house.  On the 1910 Census, Mary is recorded as head of household with just Arthur and Laura living with her.  Again, husband Charles is recorded as retired, living in a boarding house.

Charles Stone died in his favorite rocking chair of a stroke on 9/26/1910.  His obituary states his name as Charles Stone leaving a wife (no name) and all the children and places they were living.  It also stated that he was from St. Vincent de Paul, Canada, which is the first and only indication of his birthplace.  His death was recorded with the city and lists him as Charles Prevost.  On the 1920 census, Mary Stone is listed as head of household with her son Arthur and daughter Anna living with her.  Mary died on 6/3/1928 and in her obituary, it lists her name as Mary Provost Stone, widow of Charles Stone with the names and places of residence of all the children.  Her death was recorded as Mary J. Provost Beauchane Stone, wife of Charles Provost Stone, born in Middlefield, Mass.  The birth place of Middlefield is incorrect because Mary did not immigrate to the US until the late 1850’s, as indicated on all previous records of her and her family members.  When the family first came to the U.S., they settled in Middlefield.  Charles, Mary, and daughter Laura are buried together in St Joseph Cemetery, Pittsfield.

Of the nine children, it was recorded that two married as Stone (William and Mena), one as Provost (Anna Marie), and one recorded Stone, but the newspaper announcement stated Provost (Joseph) on the civil record.  The others either remained single (Arthur and Elizabeth) or it is unknown how they married (George Edward and Laura).

The name Stone was used on the death records of three of the children (William, Elizabeth and Arthur).  Provost was used along with the married names for five of the children (Joseph, Mena, Anna Marie and Laura).  At this time, it is unknown how George and Edward were recorded.

Most likely the original name was the French spellings of Prevost or Provost.  Charles probably changed the name to Stone because it was more in line with the predominantly English names in Pittsfield at the time.  The name Provo on the marriage record could have been caused by a transcription error in either the hand writing of the name or in how the name sounded as spoken.  Since they were married in the French Church, if record of their marriage can be found a more precise spelling may have been recorded.  The fact that Charles and other family members kept using the Provost name on some formal documents indicates that they did not want to lose the family heritage.

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