Keeping up with the Joneses, Part 1: Charles Jones

Oh, those Joneses, with their ubiquitous surname and their tendency to disperse all over the damn place. I’m trying to find out more about Anna Jones’s father Charles Jones (my 3rd great-grandfather) and his sprawl of siblings with whom he exchanged letters in the 1850s and 1860s. I have about a dozen of these letters (saved by Charles’s granddaughter, good old Anna Collins), and at the moment they are the strongest evidence I have that these Joneses ever existed.

But let’s start with Charles. Here’s one of a few portraits I have of him:

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Charles Jones, father of Anna Jones, grandfather of Mary and the other MacGregor sisters, and great-grandfather to my grandpa Mac (Got it?).

And here’s what I’m pretty sure is his grave, as it appears on Find A Grave:

Charles Jones

Charles Jones, born in Claremont N.H. Jan. 31, 1820, died in Montgomery, Texas, Sept. 29, 1871 (Photo by findagrave.com user Janet Beltram)

Man, that headstone is a genealogists’ dream. Except I also can’t help but stare at that empty space at the bottom of the stone and think about WHAT MORE COULD HAVE GONE THERE. Like the cause of Charles’s death, or why he came down to Texas in the first place, neither of which I know. But I am fairly certain that this Charles Jones is our Charles Jones based on a few bits of evidence:

One is his Dartmouth diploma, which we somehow managed to keep all these years:

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“Carolum Jones” graduated from “Collegii Dartmuthensis” in “millesimo octigentesimo quingentesimo secundo.”

Once I figured out that he graduated in 1852 (the internet is nothing if not a giant decoder ring for old documents in Latin!), a couple of Dartmouth alumni directories found in Google Books turned up short bios of Charles that matched the headstone as well as other scraps of family info I have. And then everything corroborated with the census information for his family. In 1870, his wife and three daughters were living in Montgomery, Texas, with Charles, a lawyer, listed as head of household, but he’s not in the 1880 census—by then his widow and the girls were living in Corpus Christi.

I don’t think he fought in the Civil War: he would have been in his 40s then, and there’s no indication from his grave that he was a veteran, but who knows. (Looking up Civil War stuff is still overwhelming, with no Sam-Waterston-narrating-Ken-Burns-documentary voice to talk me through it.)  But apparently at least one of his brothers fought on the Confederate side.

Which brings me to these siblings: between the letters and the scanty information I’ve found on Ancestry, I’ve managed to identify these possible brothers and sisters of Charles Jones:

William, who lived in Boston

Ezra, an Episcopal clergyman

Lucius, aka, L.H., also a clergyman, and later chaplain with a Confederate brigade that fought in New Mexico (where he was wounded in battle and later died of his injuries)

Alonzo, a railroad ticket agent in Boston

Sarah, who wound up in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Anna (YET ANOTHER ANNA), who I found census records listed as Sarah’s sister

So that is seven Joneses. Kind of a lot of Joneses! And from what I’ve glanced so far in the online research, quite a range of ages. Are they really all from the same parents? I haven’t found a family tree on Ancestry or elsewhere that lists more than two of them together, though going this far back it’s probably easy to lose track of ancestor siblings who didn’t have descendants of their own.

But I also have letters from some of the siblings, and I’m hoping that in transcribing them (oh, the 19th-century handwriting) I can find details to link them to online records, and find evidence of their relationships to one another. I’m hoping as well that somewhere in the few boxes left back in Albuquerque, Anna Collins drew up or found a Jones family tree while doing her DAR genealogy, but until I can get the hell back there in November, I’ll plug away on going the letters, in all their spidery-script glory, and will periodically post a transcription for us to pore over obsessively.

Sound like fun? I’ll try to get one up next week, then maybe switch to posting stuff from the Jameson side for awhile. Until then, keep jonesing. (SEE WHAT I DID THERE)

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Wellesley girls gone (slightly) wild: Anna Jones at college, 1882

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My great-great grandmother Anna Jones, likely during her college days (back of picture has name of a Boston photographers’ studio)

In 1882, Anna Jones was 20 and attending Wellesley College, a long way from Corpus Christi, Texas. I suspect her Jones relations had something to do with her going to school up near Boston, since her father’s family had some New England roots. One of Anna’s uncles, Alonzo Jones, was a ticket agent for the Old Colony railroad, and appears to have made some of her travel arrangements (at least from what I can make of his letters to her, which isn’t much on account of his CRAZY handwriting), but other than that, I haven’t uncovered much about those Wellesley years. Did she graduate? Did she live in the dormitories? (I’m guessing she didn’t live with Uncle Alonzo, since the 1880 census shows him living in a boarding house.)

However, I did find three of Anna’s notebooks from her time at school. Two are academic, and oneus  a “commonplace book” full of quotes and verses she wanted to remember. It’s marked 1882 and “Private.” (134 years later, we are totally snooping.)

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Anna’s literature and botany notebooks (Botany dated 1881)

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Anna’s commonplace book, 1882

In each page of her commonplace book, Anna drew a line down the left margin with her pen and ruler, creating a tidy column for citations. On the very first page she began with quoting a lot of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene. (Oh, college.) On subsequent pages she quoted Byron, Lowell, Longfellow, Pope, Shelley, and then went on a Shakespeare kick for about two pages, occasionally making little x‘s over the verse lines to figure out the scansion. She tended to nerd out on passages about art, books, eternal truths, death. As one does at twenty.

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Anna digging Raleigh, Goethe, Bacon

Halfway through the notebook the material starts to get a little more eclectic. Anna left off quoting the (mostly male) classic literary canon for awhile in order to transcribe a popular poem by Mary Torrans Lathrap, a women’s suffragist and temperance activist. “A Woman’s Answer to a Man’s Question,” has fun lines like A loving woman finds heaven or hell/ on the day she is made a bride and takes the view that a woman’s love is too valuable to be wasted on jerks who only want someone to cook and clean for them. Respect!

Then there’s THIS little gem called “Recipe for a Harvard-Man,” and which appears to have been something of an 1880s meme.

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Oh SNAP, Harvard guys!

“Take a lump of Egotism:
Add a slice of Skepticism;
Mix them well together with a ‘culchawed’ Boston drawl;
Add a little Darwnism,
Just a smack of Positivism
And flavor with the essence of unmitigated gall.”

I managed to find the rhyme in three or four college publications around the country in the 1880s, and I wonder how many girls’ notebooks it wound up in.

But by far the cutest/most embarrassing thing in Anna’s notebook is a poem attributed to “L.B.E,” and dedicated to “K.C.,” both of whom were almost certainly Anna’s schoolmates, and is about poor Kate (K.C., we presume), who sat in the front row of a concert and made mutual flirty-eyes with one of the male singers:

I sing not of war or of a hero
My subject is of our dear Kate,
Who to our everlasting sorrow
At the Concert met her sweet fate
She sat, an innocent victim,
Right down on the very front seat
When lo: before us he sing
A sweet warbler arose at her feet.
In a way that is now quite the craze,
But we could see in his sweet eye
As he looked & met her shy gaze
The words of Caesar veni, vedi, vici
We all know how sweet is our Kate
And to contradict it I do hate;
But often a fear has come of late
That to become more sweet is her fate.

So many questions! Who was L.B.E? Did Kate and the guy ever hook up? Was he from Harvard? Was rhyming eye with vici some kind of droll 1880s schoolgirl joke? Did Anna ever sit in the library with this notebook, copying all those lines? Did she remember them later?

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Mothers, verified and otherwise

Gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

In honor of Mother’s Day, all the mothers in my mother’s line whose photos I could find in the family collection, though the documentation on some of them is pretty scanty. See notes! Married names are in parentheses. Ann (or … Continue reading

A little more about Maggie and the Sad Death

Old Main, Sam Houston State Normal Institute, Huntsville, Texas 1928.preview

Where Maggie Jones was going to school, at least for a while.

The Corpus Christi public library came through and yesterday they sent me two newspaper items on my third great-aunt Maggie Jones’s death. If you’ll remember, this poor kid died of scarlet fever when she was just eighteen and away from home. The story we saw last week from the Laredo paper made it sound like she’d been attending school there, and I’d thought it was the boarding school there. Nope, it turns out she’d been at the “Normal Institute, Huntsville,” a teaching school (now I know: normal tends to mean teacher education) that would later become Sam Houston State University. Then apparently she stopped in Laredo on her way home to stay with her aunt and uncle and take an exam at the institute there (a teaching certification exam maybe), when illness struck.

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From the Corpus Christi Caller, August 3, 1884 (click to enlarge)

(This was an object lesson in interpreting primary sources. The Laredo paper had led me to believe Maggie was attending school there, but her hometown paper in Corpus Christi had the correct details.)

The “more extended notice” “from the pen of one who knew [Maggie] well” ran in the Caller a few days later. Here’s a PDF of the memorial, followed by a more legible transcription.  Don’t get too excited: it was written by Maggie’s pastor, who described her as being pious, and sweet, and, uh… pious. Typical passage:

The subject of this sketch entered into rest at the age of 18 years, 4 months, and 10 days. Physically she was frail, and from an early period she was impressed with the thought that her life would be short. This impression, however, never turned her aside from the duty of the present hour. To be useful, to be well furnished as to her mind, to keep her heart with diligence and to live the life of a Christian, was more to her than length of days and years. She often spoke of death, but it was as a release from the trials and ills of life. During her short illness, texts of scripture would come to her, which she had learned from her mother as being comforting in affliction. She was sensible of her approaching end, and once, after prayer had been offered at her request, she repeated with touching simplicity the prayer of innocent childhood—”Now I lay me down to sleep.”

Yeah, we get it: she was Beth March. Pretty much the only helpful information here is her exact age to the day when she died, which, if my backwards counting is correct, has her birthday as March 19, 1866. (She was a Pisces.)

Maggie is listed as having a “probable and possible” grave at Old Bayview Cemetery in Corpus Christi, the same cemetery where her grandfather, a former mayor of Corpus Christi, would be buried a few years later. So there’s a chance she could have been buried on family property, but Old Bayview was the most likely place she would have ended up.

Just for fun I searched on the name of the clergyman who performed the funeral service and possibly also wrote the memorial piece. I found this article, which seems to be the right guy. (Look at that beard! Are you going to buy anything that guy wrote about anyone?)

Rest in peace, Maggie, wherever you are.

Starting points: the brief life of Maggie Jones

I was just beginning to compose this post this morning when I realized I’d accidentally hit Publish at some point instead of Save Draft. It wasn’t a big deal, of course… I just changed it back to draft mode and it had only been online for a few minutes. By then, though, it had gone out to as a “New Post” email to the subscription list. Anyone who saw it would saw just the post title and these four images below, in the same order they appear now.

But as it happens, these photos tell almost all the story I have about Maggie L. Jones, who is my third great-aunt:

Anna's sister. Reverse side of card says

Maggie Jones, born around 1866 in Corpus Christi , Texas

Maggie was Anna Jones’s sister. According to census records, she was born around 1866 in Corpus Christi, the youngest of three—Anna, who was about four years older, followed by Harriet, aka “Hattie,” and then Maggie. I assume Maggie is short for Margaret, since she has an aunt Margaret on her mother’s side, and Hattie seems to have been similarly named-after someone on that side.

I found the photo before I saw the census records. So I found out from Anna herself—well, her note—that she’d had a sister.

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Reverse side of photo. Anna’s handwriting; “My sister Maggie.”

A few months later I found out what happened to her, by way of a funeral notice in a scrapbook that Anna had put together later in life—the scrapbook appears to be from the 1920s, and there’s a single spread of pages plastered with obituaries and funeral notices of family members across the years, a sort of paper graveyard.

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Note: M.A. Sinckler is Mary Ann Moore, apparently widowed and remarried by 1884.

And there you’ll find Maggie, who died of scarlet fever at the age of 18.
AIMG_7632 few more details: She’d died shortly after starting school in Laredo. As to which school—maybe it was the Laredo Seminary, which later became as The Holding Institute? The school seems to have served many purposes, but this marker indicates that it had opened as a boarding school for women in 1880. Anna was attending Wellesley around this time, and I think that she and Hattie later taught school in Corpus Christi, so it’s possible that Maggie was attending school to become a teacher as well… or a missionary? There were several teachers and clergy on the Jones side of the family, so either vocation seems possible. 

UPDATE: It turns out she was enrolled at the Normal Institute in Huntsville.

Other little details to be gleaned: Maggie was staying in Laredo with her aunt Margaret on her mother’s side, who was married to William Headen. Only one sister is mentioned as arriving with their mother to be by Maggie’s bedside—maybe that was Hattie, since Anna may have been up at school in Boston. And I wonder how much it cost to have a funeral train?

I found an abstract for a memorial piece published about her in the Corpus Christi Caller a week or so after her death. I hope to get the article soon. Also hope to find out where her grave is. And why she went to school. And why did she go to Laredo instead of Wellesley like her sister? And when did her father die?  And what was her life like, there in another century, on the edge of Texas and the ocean?

A day in New York in 1932

I came across this photo of my great-grandparents while sorting through the trunk stuff. This is an incredibly cool photo, for more than one reason.

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3rd from left: Mary “Nana” MacGregor Jameson. 4th from left (behind Nana): Malcolm Routh Jameson. 5th from left: Edith Taliaferro Jameson. Far right: Vida Jameson. Likely New York, possibly August 1932. Taken by House Jameson?

For one thing, it’s the only photo I’ve ever found that shows my great-great-uncle House’s wife, Edie, in the company of the other Jamesons. You’ll remember Malcolm, Mary, and Vida Jameson from the last two posts, when they were in D.C.; here, Vida is a teenager. You might also recall that in 1930 Malcolm and Mary and their kids were living in the same building on east 48th Street as House and Edie. Despite this, though the two brothers (Malcolm and House) with their respective spouses/families always seemed to be in different worlds. At times this was literally true—in the 1930s House and Edie were touring Australia and the US with a theatre company for months at a time, Then House’s radio and stage work in New York likely came with its own unique lifestyle, whereas in 1930 Malcolm was a salesman with the International Correspondence Schools. In some of the extended group family photos of the Jamesons in the 30s and 40s, House shows up, but never Edie. But here she is, with her brother-in-law and sister-in-law and niece (and some other unknown folks) on a rooftop in what looks to be New York City.

My guess is that House was taking the photo, which is why he doesn’t appear in it. I also can’t help but wonder if they’re all on the roof of their building on 48th Street. But—and this is the other cool thing about the photo—I figured out from looking at the photo closely (which meant scanning it, since it’s only three by four inches) that I could make a pretty good guess as to the exact day it was taken.  Continue reading

The Jamesons go to Washington (Part 2)

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Mary MacGregor Jameson and baby Vida, circa 1917 (Evidently they took close-ups of the baby once in a while.)

Just a little more background on last week’s photos of Malcolm, Mary, and little Vida in Washington DC. Vida had been born in September 1916 in Houston, and in November Malcolm was called to Washington to work as a Naval draftsman, and the family seems to have moved with him.

One of the photos from last week provides a clue about where they lived:

vidababy4 Look closely and you’ll see the word “Fifth floor” scrawled at the top. Look even more closely and you can just make out the word “Ventosa” over the building’s doorway.

I don’t know if I would have known to look if the note on the back of the photo hadn’t urged me:

IMG_7973“Vida in front of the house / See name over door,” it says, in what I think is Mary’s handwriting. So I looked up Ventosa and here’s what I found, from a 1907 newspaper:

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Rooms of good size! Modern plumbing! Speedy elevators!

According to this ad, the Ventosa apartments each had two rooms, bath, kitchenette, and long-distance telephone service. Notice also the line about the building being “Opposite and Fronting United States Capitol and Its Beautiful Park.” That was no exaggeration—B Street is now Constitution Avenue, and if you look at where it intersects Northwest 1st street on a DC map you’ll see it’s kitty-corner from the main Capitol grounds. The place where the Ventosa stood is now part of the extended grounds (the building was torn down in the 1930s).

I don’t have this address for the Jamesons in any records (they would move on to Virginia by the 1920 census), but I’ll keep an eye out for it. I was hoping it would be on Malcolm’s 1917 passport application, but no dice—it just mentions he lives in DC.

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If they really did live at the Ventosa, with the Capitol dome right across the street, it might have felt very familiar to Malcolm, who for a few years in childhood had lived right across the street from the Texas capitol in Austin.

At any rate the family seemed very proud to be there, if the baby pictures of Vida are any indication. (I made a collage of them for fun). And as for why they all look like hostage photos, my guess is they had didn’t have unlimited film—or, for that matter, unlimited time outside with a tiny baby in winter. The easiest thing was probably to get in as much of the scenery as possible and the baby.