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Harrison Tone family
 

 

Harrison Tone


Harrison Tone (1836–1901)

According to Harrison Tone’s obituary in the Denison Sunday Gazetteer, January 20, 1901, he was an 1859 graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, where he studied under Horace Mann, the famed champion of public education. Three years later, Tone took a second degree and “in the spring of 1862 entered the service of the Sanitary Commission, distributing supplies to the sick and wounded [Civil War] soldiers and remained with the army until the close of the war, during which time he distributed millions of dollars worth of goods.” He married Frances E. Brown of Syracuse, New York, in 1864, and came to Denison in 1872. The couple had three children: Harry, Lawrence, and a daughter, Isie May. Harry and Lawrence inclined toward the theatrical, operating the BrooksTone Opera House, the BrooksTone Movie Theater, and the BrooksTone Air-Dome. Isie May was a music teacher and an invalid who never married. She was said to be most devoted to her father. Mrs. Tone died in 1898.

Harrison arrived in Texas in 1872 from Cleveland, Ohio, as the secretary and advance agent for the Denison Town Company. His assigned tasks were to direct the surveyors who were laying out streets and to conduct the sale of lots in the new townsite. Once these things were accomplished, Tone needed a new job. The Town Company office initially served as a place where mail was dropped off and picked up until a separate post office was created in 1873 (in the 100 or 200 block of West Skiddy—now Chestnut—Street). Harrison Tone became deputy postmaster. According to Maguire, “He liked being deputy so much that he spent $500 and $600 of his own money to make the post office building more presentable.”

The enterprising Harrison found that abstracts of title had not been issued by the Town Company, and he formed Tone Abstract Company to perform this service. The Denison Daily News of April 20, 1875, carried an advertisement for “Tone & [J. T.] Munson, Dealers in Real Estate and Collection Agents. Abstracts of Titles furnished for the City of Denison and Grayson county. Correctness Guaranteed. Office in Wallace Building, No. 212 Main Street, Denison, Texas.” Harrison also managed to write a short memoir of Denison’s first year. Tone Avenue was named for him.

It was said that Harrison Tone wrote more deeds than anyone else in Grayson County. He was renowned for his phenomenal memory, for his “sweetness of character that made him the most popular, the most loved man who has ever lived in Denison,” and for his gratis work obtaining pensions for Civil War soldiers and their families. He served Denison as mayor and councilman and was “a devoted friend to the public schools.” Jack Maguire, in Katy’s Baby, calls Harrison Tone “a charter citizen and the town’s first historian.”

In the spring of 1900, Harrison Tone took his daughter Isie May Tone, on the advice of her physicians, to live in Des Moines, Iowa, “as they thought, to make their future home among friends and relatives” there. After several months of Iowa’s “rigid [frigid?] climate,” however, the pair returned to Denison, where Harrison spent his final days.

The obituary writer B. C. Murray recalled of his friend, “He was an eloquent, fluent talker. No public man in Denison, either before or during his time, was more capable of entertaining an audience than H. Tone. . . . He was a thinker. From under the dark shadows of restless, intellectual doubts, which come to all men who read and think and reason, he never could exactly see his way clear to a future life. Like Ingersoll, he hoped and let the matter rest there.” At the time of his death on January 12, 1901, Harrison lived at 120 West Gandy Street.

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Denison Press
13 Oct 1937

Denison
62 – 50 – 35
Years Ago
by Dulce Murray

13 Oct 1887
One of the most daring robberies that has taken place in the city was perpetrated about noon Wednesday at the residence of H. Tone, on Gandy street.  Mr. Tone and daughter Miss Isie left the home at 11 o’clock , failing to fasten the front door, and returning about an hour later Miss Isie saw a boy run out of the back yard and jumping the back fence, made off.  Suspecting something wrong, she turned back and saw the boy join another boy on the corner and the two strike out for the northern part of town.  Returning to the house the  father and daughter found that Mrs. Tone’s room had been entered and the dresser drawers ransacked.  A plain gold ring, a cluster diamond ring valued at several hundred dollars and eighty dollars in money stolen.  The officers were put on the trail of the thieves and at 2:30 p.m. Office Stoneman arrested two boys answering the description given by Miss Isie.  They were brought to jail and subsequently identified by Miss Tone.
Nothing was found on the boys, but by questioning them one of the boys confessed and in company with Officer Simms, went to where the plunder was concealed and unearthed it for him.  Mrs. Tone rewarded the officers by giving them $35.  The boys were 12 and 15 years of age and had only arrived in Denison from Kansas City on the morning in question.

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“Harrison Tone” (photo caption), Denison Herald, July 4, 1976: “Tone Abstract Co., now Denison’s oldest established business, was founded by one of the city’s most prominent early citizens. Harrison Tone helped lay out the first streets here, sold the first city lot, was elected one of the first city councilmen, and opened one of the initial business firms in Denison. He died in 1901 after suffering a stroke during an address to members of the Grand Army of the Republic.

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"1873 – Harrison Tone, at his own expense, opened the first post office in Denison and installed locked mail boxes and other equipment. He served as postmaster for the first year at a salary of $1." [Source: Donna Hunt, "Right here in Grayson County, some firsts for Texas," Herald Democrat, December 20, 2012]

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“Real Estate. H. Tone. J. T. Munson. Tone & Munson, Dealers in Real Estate and Collection Agents. Abstracts of Titles furnished for the City of Denison and Grayson County. Correctness Guaranteed. Office, 215 Main Street, up stairs. Denison, Texas.” [Source: Denison Daily News, September 23, 1876]

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Excerpt from Theater Row: Movie Palaces of Denison, Texas, by Billy Holcomb (Denison: Denison Heritage Inc., 1999), Chapter 10

Harry and Lawrence Tone were sons of Harrison Tone, whom Jack Maguire in Katy’s Baby calls “a charter citizen and the town’s first historian.” Harrison arrived in Texas in 1872 from Cleveland, Ohio, as the secretary and advance agent for the Denison Town Company. His assigned tasks were to direct the surveyors who were laying out streets and to conduct the sale of lots in the new townsite.

Once these things were accomplished, Tone needed a new job. The Town Company office initially served as a place where mail was dropped off and picked up until a separate post office was created in 1873 (in the 100 or 200 block of West Skiddy—now Chestnut—Street). Harrison Tone became deputy postmaster. According to Maguire, “He liked being deputy so much that he spent $500 and $600 of his own money to make the post office building more presentable.”

The enterprising Harrison found that abstracts of title had not been issued by the Town Company, and he formed Tone Abstract Company to perform this service. The Denison Daily News of April 20, 1875, carried an advertisement for “Tone & [J. T.] Munson, Dealers in Real Estate and Collection Agents. Abstracts of Titles furnished for the City of Denison and Grayson county. Correctness Guaranteed. Office in Wallace Building, No. 212 Main Street, Denison, Texas.” Harrison also managed to write a short memoir of Denison’s first year. Tone Avenue was named for him.

According to his obituary in the Denison Sunday Gazetteer, January 20, 1901, Harrison Tone was an 1859 graduate of Antioch College in Ohio, where he studied under Horace Mann, the famed champion of public education. Three years later, Tone took a second degree and “in the spring of 1862 entered the service of the Sanitary Commission, distributing supplies to the sick and wounded [Civil War] soldiers and remained with the army until the close of the war, during which time he distributed millions of dollars worth of goods.” He married Frances E. Brown of Syracuse, N.Y., in 1864, and came to Denison in 1872. The couple had three children: Harry, Lawrence, and a daughter, Isie May. Isie May was a music teacher and an invalid, and she was said to be most devoted to her father. Mrs. Tone died in 1898.

It was said that Harrison Tone wrote more deeds than anyone else in Grayson County. He was renowned for his phenomenal memory, for his “sweetness of character that made him the most popular, the most loved man who has ever lived in Denison,” and for his gratis work obtaining pensions for Civil War soldiers and their families. He served Denison as mayor and councilman and was “a devoted friend to the public schools.”

In the spring of 1900, Harrison Tone took his daughter Isie May Tone, on the advice of her physicians, to live in Des Moines, Iowa, “as they thought, to make their future home among friends and relatives” there. After several months of Iowa’s “rigid [frigid?] climate,” however, the pair returned to Denison, where Harrison spent his final days.

The obituary writer B. C. Murray recalled of his friend, “He was an eloquent, fluent talker. No public man in Denison, either before or during his time, was more capable of entertaining an audience than H. Tone. . . . He was a thinker. From under the dark shadows of restless, intellectual doubts, which come to all men who read and think and reason, he never could exactly see his way clear to a future life. Like Ingersoll, he hoped and let the matter rest there.” At the time of his death on January 12, 1901, Harrison lived at 120 West Gandy Street. He must have been a tough act for Harry and Lawrence to follow.

 

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OBITUARY

Murray, B. C. “H. Tone Sr. Dead: The Career of a Remarkable Man Who Has Resided Here Nearly Thirty Years—All Denison Mourns.” Denison Sunday Gazetteer, January 20, 1901.

No event that has happened in this community in a great many, many years which caused more profound sorrow than the death of Harrison Tone, which occurred Saturday night, the 12th.

On Friday the writer met Mr. Tone on the sidewalk in front of his office, and he remarked that he was in unusually good health; that he was entirely free from his old enemy, rheumatism. Little did he dream that he was standing in the shadow of death, and that a few hours hence the grim messenger would call him to that bourne from whence no traveler will ever return.

The circumstances attending the death of Mr. Tone are well known. He was a patriot, a loyal, loving American to the core. While addressing the G. A. R. Post at the installation ceremonies the blow fell. He was carried to his home on Gandy Street, where he lingered for a few hours and passed away as pleasantly as one who lies down to pleasant dreams. He was unconscious to the end, and there was no suffering. This was a boon devoutly to be wished for.

When a man dies suddenly they say he dies with his harness on, and there never was a remark that applies more aptly than to the demise of H. Tone. Yes, the old veteran died with his harness on, a sentinel on duty to the last moment of his business life.

But very few people realize how Mr. Tone has suffered in the past few years. He has seen but few well days. His courage was of the sublime, patient quality. The majority of men would have rested, but he worked on, taking but few respites. His sickness did not sour his disposition. He was the personification of good nature, even in his greatest suffering; there was a humorous side to his well-balanced character. Every man, woman, or child who came to him was received with good nature. It was this sweetness of character that made him the most popular, the most loved, man who has ever lived in Denison. He was probably the most bored business man in Denison, for everyone seemed to think that he was the public oracle to be consulted on every conceivable subject that affects the affairs of life. He had a profound sense of his obligations to his fellow man. He was willing at all times, under all circumstances, to lighten the burdens of those who went to him for advice. No word of his is ever remembered with regret or pain. He was the apostle of what is lofty, brave, and splendid in this passing life of ours.

With all his gentle nature, Tone was firm, resolute, and indomitable. This is illustrated in his public life, more particularly so when Denison was passing through the transition state.

Intellectually, he was rarely gifted. It is a pity that some of his public speeches have not been preserved. He was an eloquent, fluent talker. No public man in Denison, either before or during his time, was more capable of entertaining an audience than H. Tone.

Capitalists, boomers, railway magnates, visiting delegates, who were received by Mr. Tone as the city’s chief representative, were always impressed with his intellectual acquirements.

He was a thinker. From under the dark shadows of restless, intellectual doubts, which come to all men who read and think and reason, he never could exactly see his way clear to a future life. Like Ingersoll, he hoped and let the matter rest there.

The public services of Mr. Tone are so well known that to recapitulate [them] is superfluous. He was for a period of over two decades, a prominent factor in our business and industrial life. He was mayor, councilman and a devoted friend to the public schools. He was for anything and everything that would redound to the advancement of Denison.

He felt impelled to put his mind and heart, his time, and, as it now appears, his very life into his last effort to edify and please his fellow citizens.

His industry would have attracted attention in whatever sphere of life he had moved.

His death is an irreparable loss, not merely to his family, but it is a public calamity when such a man passes off the stage of life.

In early life he married Miss Frances E. Brown of Syracuse, N.Y., and this union was blessed by three children—Harry, Lawrence, and Isie May, all of whom survive. After a happy wedded life of thirty-four years, Mrs. Tone died in 1898.

Last spring, Mr. Tone and his devoted daughter, Miss Isie, left here, as they thought, to make their future home among friends and relatives in Des Moines, Iowa. The change of climate was advised by physicians. Mr. Tone’s first duty was toward his daughter, who was rapidly declining in general health. He was loth [sic] to leave Denison, but did not consider any sacrifice sufficient when his daughter’s welfare was to be considered.

After remaining in Iowa several months, Mr. Tone returned to Denison. The rigid climate did not agree with either the father or daughter. We suspect now that they were both home-sick and longed for the bright skies and genial climate of the sunny South.

Those who met Mr. Tone could easily see that he was glad to return. The best portion of his eventful life had been spent in Denison; his home was here, his heart was here, and here will he sleep in eternal peace among a great throng who are silent, but in their day and prime were eventful factors in making history for Denison.

On the eve of Mr. Tone’s departure for Iowa the following beautiful, touching farewell was prepared for the Gazetteer. We are glad now that we have it, as it is really an epitome of one of the most remarkable men that ever cast his lot with the growing empire of the Southwest. It is not too much praise to say that he was the father of Denison. All of its early history is so closely interwoven with his public and private life that the city and the man are indissolubly cemented.

            In losing Mr. Tone the city loses one of the oldest if not the oldest of its landmarks. He came here when the townsite was a wilderness and, as he used to say, “had been here always.” From August 1872 to June 1900 this has been his home, and he was one of the busiest and hardest working men in all the city.

            Often and often when the midnight hour has struck it has found him still working at his desk. He has written more deeds than any other man in Grayson County.

            One of his peculiarities and the one which helped him most in his business was his wonderful memory. Not many years ago a wager was offered that Mr. Tone could be shut up in a room in which there should be nothing but a chair and a table, a pencil and a large sheet of paper, and make a complete map of the city then tell from memory the owner of every lot in it. In fact he was a veritable walking encyclopedia of the history of Denison real estate, both written and unwritten. If there was a missing link in a chain of title he knew where to go to find it; if there was a cloud upon a title, he knew to whom to apply to remove it.

            The president of the Denison Town Company used to say that he would rather trust to Mr. Tone’s memory than to any records he had ever found.

            His office was always crowded and in the early days it was nothing unusual to see him writing a deed at a lightning pace, for he was the most rapid writer in the county, and at the same time conversing with two different men upon different subjects in order to entertain them until it came their “next.”

            He was always a very sympathetic man, and a tale of woe, especially if it came from a woman or child, always went straight to his heart, and sent his hand with equal promptness straight to his pocket. During his two terms as mayor he made it his boast that no person in distress, man, woman or child, had ever left his office without receiving assistance. He knew that his kindness was often imposed upon, but that never seemed to weaken his faith in humanity or lessen his desire to give relief.

            Mr. Tone is now nearly 65 years of age and during the last five year has been a great sufferer from rheumatism, which is the principal cause of his leaving the city, for we all know that there is no citizen who has a deeper love for Denison than has he.

            He was educated at Antioch College in Ohio, where he graduated in 1859 under Horace Mann, and three years later took his second degree. In the spring of 1862 he entered the service of the Sanitary Commission, distributing supplies to the sick and wounded soldiers and remained with the army until the close of the war, during which time he distributed millions of dollars worth of goods.

            He has often said that this service spoiled him for ever accumulating anything for himself because he became so accustomed to supplying soldiers’ wants that whenever people told him they needed anything he thought they ought to have it, and would give it to them if he could.

            During the last fifteen years he has devoted a great deal of his time to obtaining pensions for soldiers and soldiers’ families, and has been instrumental in procuring more than half a hundred. He seemed to be working more for the sake of helping them than himself, for half the time he did it without pay. Indeed, it has passed into a proverb, “If you want anything done for nothing, go to Tone, he will fix it for you.”

            His daughter, Miss Isie May, a music teacher, almost as well known as her father, and who since the death of her mother two years ago has been the only child left in the family home, is also an invalid and has been advised by her physicians that she cannot live in this climate.

            And so the devoted father and daughter, neither of whom could be induced to desert the other, have abandoned their beautiful home here, to go together in search of another in a cooler clime where they hope to regain their youthful briskness and elasticity of step for which they have both been noted.

The funeral of Mr. Tone was a spontaneous tribute of all classes and conditions. Such an outpouring has not been witnessed in years. The funeral was under the auspices of Myrtle Lodge No. 22, Knights of Pythias, of which the deceased was a member. The cortege started from the residence, No. 120 West Gandy Street, and proceeded to St. Luke’s Church, where Rev. J. B. Gibble read the impressive Episcopal service for the dead. Eight honorary pall bear[er]s preceded the casket, while six Knights of Myrtle Lodge acted as pall bearers. The cortege was made up of Myrtle Lodge, Company 20, Uniform Rank, Knights of Pythias; Nathaniel Lyon Post No. 5, G. A. R.; W. R. C. No. 2; the mayor and members of the city council in a body; the fire department, consisting of two hose carts and the chemical engine; and a long line of carriages, containing friends of the deceased.

And so he rests. At his grave every flower expressed a sweet emblem of some virtue and grace of his life, and each offering was but the outward sign of a grateful memory, which unlike the fading flowers, however, can never die. Then is this lowly mound a hallowed spot, and needs not the sculptured stone, the fretted column and the obelisk; his memory will live in the grateful hearts of his fellow citizens.

  




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Elaine Nall Bay
Grayson County CC
2013