Joseph Stockton was born in Pittsburgh on August 10, 1833, and later was educated in the city’s public schools. He moved to Chicago when he was 16 years old.
During his first six years in Chicago, Stockton worked for the American Transportation company as a clerk and in the freight office of the Fort Wayne Railroad Company.
Young Stockton’s career was interrupted by the civil war. Regiments were being organized throughout Illinois and in Chicago, when the 72nd Illinois infantry, nicknamed the Board of Trade regiment, was formed, Stockton joined.
Promotions came fast for the young man. By the battle of Vicksburg, in May 1863, Stockton was already a lieutenant colonel. When his commander was killed in the battle, he assumed command of the regiment.
Two companies of his regiment were detached to serve as personal guard to General Ulysses S. Grant. Stockton was asked to serve as provost marshal. He turned down the opportunity in order to continue in active service.
Stockton was wounded in the battle of Franklin, TN, on November 30, 1864. After only one month’s furlough in Chicago, he returned to command his regiment. He was appointed colonel, a temporary position, and later named brigadier general.
In January 1865, General Stockton returned to Pittsburgh to marry Kate E. Denniston.
Upon return to Chicago, Stockton became an agent of the Empire Transportation Company in 1866. Stockton later formed his own teaming company, the Joseph Stockton company.