Maybe you remember the post “From Charleston to Vicksburg With Love” from a while back about the connection between Vicksburg and Charleston, SC, namely the architect of Vicksburg’s Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity started his career in Charleston, with a number of high-quality churches and other commissions there. In that post, I mentioned the builder who became an architect while building Holy Trinity, William Stanton. Stanton started his life and his career in Natchez, where his father apparently was engaged in the building trades. He spent most of his life in Vicksburg, though, and his son, William A. Stanton, carried on his firm well into the twentieth century.
A Civil War veteran, Stanton was one of those transitional figures spanning the 19th and 20th centuries whose career began in the trades, proceeded into supervising large building projects of the kind that were becoming possible in the middle of the 19th century, and ended on the design side as an architect.
I’ve never found a picture of him, but there’s got to be one out there given his lifespan. After finding this great obituary from January 1908, I tracked down his grave marker in Jackson’s Greenwood Cemetery, where two infant children from his brief stay in Jackson in the early 1870s tied him and his wife to this place far from their home. It’s interesting that his grave marker mentions only his war service, nothing else, not even his birth and death dates. The importance of the Civil War in his life, and the physical scars he apparently bore the rest of his life, is underscored by the headline in his obituary. Mrs. Stanton’s marker is even more minimal, titled simply “Mother”–these are solid, non-ostentatious people, given to boiling things down to their essence.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s pretty great to have a life remembered as “useful, busy and well-spent,” a marriage described as “a long story of devotion and love,” and the character of ”an upright, efficient Christian gentleman.”
The obituary also casts an interesting light on Holy Trinity, noting that Stanton took the most pride in it (rightfully so) and also that he “revised the original plans.” Hmmmm . . . sounds like some further study of that project is needed.
WILLIAM STANTON’S USEFUL CAREER ENDS
Prominent Citizen and Architect Died This Morning–He Served Through War–Funeral in Jackson
Shortly before 5 o’clock this morning, Mr. William Stanton, one of Vicksburg’s most honored and respected citizens, closed his eyes in final sleep and the Death Angel ended a long and useful career. Mr. Stanton had been acutely ill since November 10th. His ill health had its beginning in an attack of la grippe in 1891, since which time he never regained his health and vigor.
Mr. Stanton suffered little during his last sickness. He received every care and attention. Until almost the end he was conscious and gave directions about his burial.
The funeral will be held Sunsday at 11:45 o’clock at Holy Trinity Episcopal church, Rev. J.C. Johnes officiating. The remains are to be carried to Jackson where interment will take place. The funeral will be under the direction of the Masonic lodge and many of the Masons will accompany the body to Jackson.
Mr. Stanton was preceded to the grave only a short time by his beloved wife, who died June 23d of last year. Mrs. Stanton and two little children of the couple, who died in the early ’70s were buried in Jackson.
Mr. Stanton leaves two children, Mrs. K.S. Enochs and Mr. W.A. Stanton, of this city, and a sister Mrs. Mary Stanton Farrell, of Natchez, all of whom were with Mr. Stanton during his last illness and tenderly ministered to his every need. Mr. Stanton leaves two other sisters and a brother: Mrs. Kate Peaker, of Cincinnati, Miss Julia Stanton, of Natchez, and Mr. John Stanton, of Natchez.
Mr. Stanton was married in Kentucky in 1869 to Miss Susanna Parnell Tooley, who was born in Devonshire, England. Their wedded life was a long story of devotion and love.
The deceased was a member of W. Stevens Lodge No. 121, F. & A.M. He was also a Knight Templar and was affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and the Knights of Honor.
Mr. Stanton was born in Natchez, Miss., Oct. 1st 1840. Attended school at Natchez Institute, and Dolbears Commercial College, winning a Life Scholarship in the latter institution. Studied Architecture and Building under his father in Natchez and later under an old English Architect in St. Louis, until called to take charge of his father’s family at the age of sixteen or seventeen. Was opposed to secession but when Mississippi seceded, he enlisted in Company B. 10th Miss. Col. R. A. Smith. His first active service was at Shiloh where his company was deployed as skirmishers. About sundown the first day he was thrice wounded, one ball passing through his face tearing away his teeth, the roof of his mouth, and breaking his jawbones. He refused ambulance service and even in this desperately wounded condition aided the ambulance corps in serving other wounded soldiers.
Returned to the Army after the wounds were healed and was appointed to finish building a bridge over Tennessee River by General Bragg, and after the rapid successful completion of this work he was offered a captain’s commission by the General, but declined it. Was after detailed for the special work of bridge building and put in charge of a varying number of men.
After the war he returned to Natchez, resumed his former business, and began to restore his broken fortune.
In 1866 just after the fire, he moved to Vicksburg and at once took important part in the building business. One of the most important works, and that in which he took most pride, was Holy Trinity Church. He revised the original plans, producing the structure as it now is.
In 1883 he began devoting his entire attention to the practice of Architecture and has been actively engaged therein until a few weeks prior to his death.
While never seeking political preferment, Mr. Stanton served as a supervisor during the turbulent times following the close of the civil war. He was also an alderman of the town of Speeds for some years.
In his death the community lost an upright, efficient Christian gentleman. His life has been busy and well spent.
Vicksburg Evening Post, Jan. 17, 1908