Stone, Robert James (1869–1953)

By: Emily Brown

Type: Biography

Published: November 23, 2020

Updated: November 24, 2020


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Robert James Stone, photographer, was born in Chappell Hill, Texas, to Warren Thomas and Cornelia (Meriwether) Stone on September 18, 1869. His mother, the fourth wife of Warren Stone, died when Robert was an infant. He was raised by his half-brother Thomas Benton Stone and his wife Kittie. In late 1882 or early 1883 Thomas left his job as president of Soule University and moved the family to Caldwell, Texas, where he opened his first drugstore. While in Caldwell, Robert developed an interest in photography and soon opened a gallery to exhibit his work. He was also one of the founding members of a chapter of the Knights of Pythias. In December 1892 Thomas Stone purchased a popular drug business in Georgetown, Texas, and moved his family there. Robert, then in his early twenties, remained in Caldwell until 1896 before joining his brother in Georgetown, where he would live and work for the remainder of his life. The Williamson County Sun published Robert Stone’s first advertisement for his Georgetown studio on September 9, 1897.

During his time in Georgetown, Stone quickly made a name for himself as “Southwestern’s Photographer,” a title which, based on the numerous remaining copies of his work with students and faculty, he more than fulfilled. Although Stone never attended the university himself, he deeply loved the school and captured hundreds of photographs of the campus, faculty, and students. He was often hired to photograph for Southwestern’s organizations and events and was even featured in early editions of the university’s yearbook. On January 17, 1906, Stone married Vitula “Tula” Lee of Caldwell, with whom he had three children. Although the Stones’ youngest child died during youth, the two eldest daughters eventually attended Southwestern University and strengthened the family’s ties with the school. Stone maintained sole ownership and operation of his photography studio until 1946, when he partnered with Lee Karr, a 1942 graduate of Southwestern University. Karr worked under Stone until late 1947, when Stone transferred the business to him.

In addition to his standing as a well-known photographer, Stone was a member of the local Georgetown school board at one time. He was a thirty-second-degree Mason and longtime member of First Methodist Church. Robert James Stone died in Georgetown on July 28, 1953, and was buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery directly adjacent to Southwestern University.

Galveston Daily News, April 6, 1883; March 2, 1893. The Megaphone (Southwestern University), April 18, 1913; June 4, 1946; October 7, 1947. “Robert James Stone,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/8422718/robert-james-stone), accessed May 5, 2020. Williamson County Sun, September 9, 1897.

Categories:

  • Visual Arts
  • Photography

Time Periods:

  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II

Places:

  • Central Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Emily Brown, “Stone, Robert James,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 19, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/stone-robert-james.

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November 23, 2020
November 24, 2020

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