Biographical Notes re

Charles A. (Chuck) Stone

Page 1 of 2 Pages, of Chapter 1,


My origins were in a small northern Minnesota community called Park Rapids. In the 1920s and 1930s a town of about 2,600 citizens. It is an area of pine forests and many lakes with Lake Itaska and the headwaters of the Mississippi River just 24 miles to the north. This made it an ideal place to spend a summer vacation and one hell of a good place to grow up. My grandparents, on my Dad’s side, arrived in the area in the late 1800s.

Grandpa Stone was a Doctor and he proceeded to build a three story structure that was to be the first hospital in that part of the country. To the best of my recollections, the building was completed on Christmas Eve of 1902. The entire structure burned to the ground that night. The next spring, they dug out the stonewalled basement and built a new three story hospital that included a brick veneer exterior.

Dr. W. T. Stone’s “Park Sanitarium,”
under construction, ca 1902

Martha Mann Stone with her son Allen W. Stone, born in St. Cloud, MN.

Photo 1892

Emma Wiediger

My Dad, Allen, was born 20 May 1889 and married Emma Wiediger (1887-1963), a graduate nurse from the University of Minnesota, in October 1914. Emma was a nurse at Grandpa’s hospital. They had four children — Pauline (1915), Herb (1917), Beatrice (1920) and Chuck (1924). Allen was an innovator in the Minnesota Forest Service, following some agricultural experiments his father had begun on their farm in Badoura Township, now part of the state forestry system. He was the District Forest Supervisor in the Park Rapids area for more than 33 years.

Grandpa Stone operated the hospital through the end of WW I, when he finally went bankrupt. One of the reasons was because the smashed up lumberjacks they were repairing had no money to pay their bills and there were other factors. A very important one was the sudden death of Grandpa’s remarkably talented and wonderful wife, Martha, in 1917, due to a stroke. Martha was a pioneer community builder of sufficient merit where, when, as a child, I chose to play in the City Park, there was a fountain there with a plaque in her memory. If I have any important regrets in my life, the top of the list would have to be that I never got to know this wonderful woman. I currently have two of her oil paintings that decorate my shop as I write this. She had many gifts and skills.

Grandpa just kind of ran out of gas after Grandma died. He did serve a term in the State Legislature and dabbled at farming a bit, but for sure, he found it hard to move on without Martha. When the bank foreclosed on the hospital, they chose to give my Dad and Mom a chance to redeem the mortgage. So, Allen and Emma turned the place into a rooming house and tourist home, which eventually evolved into a Hotel Resort called the “Rainbow Inn”. Dad was working full time for the Minnesota Forest Service and helped Mom operate and develop what gradually became the Hotel Resort facility .

L— Martha Mann Stone,
R— Dr. William T. Stone

The naming of the Hotel is a story in itself. Herbert Bradley Stone, Dad’s brother, was born 24 June 1895, and served in the Rainbow Division in France during WW I. Herb was a crewman on a French 75 cannon.. During a strategic retreat of the Allied Forces due to a threatened poison gas attack, Herb volunteered to stay behind and provide cover for the retreating troops. He did this, knowing that one of the glass eyes of his gas mask had been broken out. Herb stuck at his post and received a dose of poison gas that landed him in the hospital. He was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his bravery in action. After the war he was a bulk gasoline dealer, first with White Eagle and later with Mobile. Later on he operated a gas station and garage in Park Rapids. He died 13 Aug. 1959 in the VA Hospital in Minneapolis. As I was growing up, Herb, a bachelor, lived with us in the Hotel and I spent many hours going through his extensive collection of WW I photos, books and memorabilia.

Pvt. Herbert B. Stone
WW I, ca 1917

Speaking of WW I veterans and relatives, another fixture of the Rainbow Inn was my Uncle Ed Wiediger. He was my Mother’s brother. Mom came from a German farm family that had homesteaded near Jessup, Iowa. She was part of a family of 13 children. Ed was a disabled veteran of WW I. His disability was caused by something less than the heroics of Uncle Herb. While in Army training in the U.S., Ed was given a newly developed combination of immunization shots. When they were getting ready to ship him to France, they said “You have not had your shots”. Ed protested, but they had lost the records, so he was given another batch of shots. When he got off the boat in France, they checked his record and said “You haven't had your shots!”, and they did it once again. Within a few days Ed’s nervous system began to shut down and he deteriorated into an almost mute and incompetent human being. He was shipped home and discharged.

Ed Wiediger working on the Rainbow Inn Hotel & Cabin grounds.

My Mom and Dad took him in. My Dad, who was the Captain of the Home Guard in the area, went to war with the Veterans Administration and got him listed as having a major disability. As I was growing up, Ed improved by small degrees, every year. He gradually began giving care to the grounds of the Rainbow Inn and Cabins that lay along the beautiful Fish Hook River, part of a major chain of lakes in that area. It became his life work and he continued to develop the natural environment of that property until his death in April, 1961.

Front and Back sides of business card for the Rainbow Inn as it looked converted from a Hospital to Hotel.

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