Beginnings: Kenneth Clay Jones

It is thought that the Jones family originated from Wales and came to North America through the Virginia Colony.

The earliest documented ancestor of Kenneth Jones is William Charles Jones (9 July 1830-­-18 June 1872). Family lore has it that he is to have been from Jonesboro, Washington Co., Tennessee, and that William’s father actually founded the city.

As noted in Wikipedia:

Jonesborough was founded in 1779, 17 years before Tennessee became a state and while the area was under the jurisdiction of North Carolina. It was named after North Carolina legislator, Willie Jones, who had supported the state's westward expansion over the Appalachian Mountains.

The town was renamed "Jonesboro" for a period of time, but it has been subsequently changed back to the original spelling.

Jonesborough was originally a part of the Washington District. In 1784, it became the capital of the autonomous State of Franklin (ostensibly named after American founding father, Benjamin Franklin). Franklin, however, was never recognized by Congress, and was re-claimed by North Carolina in late 1788.

Jonesborough is often considered to be the center of the abolitionist movement within the states that would join the Confederacy during the American Civil War.  Elihu Embree printed his publication, The Emancipator, from Jonesborough. Publication began in 1820, making The Emancipator the first American periodical to be dedicated exclusively to the issue of the abolition of slavery. While Tennessee would later join the Confederacy, most east Tennesseans had Union leanings.

In the 1840s, Jonesborough was home to the Jonesborough Whig, a newspaper published by William G. "Parson" Brownlow. Brownlow, and rival editor Landon Carter Haynes, brawled in the streets of Jonesborough in May 1840. Over the next several years the two newspapermen bashed one another in their respective papers, each managing at times to thwart the others' political ambitions.  Haynes left the newspaper business in 1845, and Brownlow, who later served as governor, moved the Whig to Knoxville in 1849.

Another family legend through William’s son Paul has it that William’s wife, Philena Mitchell, was a cousin of Jesse James as her father and Jess James’ mother were siblings. When asked about Jesse, Phelina would reportedly close all the doors and shades and whisper about it. However, there is no evidence of any relationship.

All of William’s children were born in Pike Co., Illinois, including Thomas Andrew Jones who was born on 18 May in either 1873 or 1874. Thomas seems to have been an itinerant coal miner for most of his working life.  (See appendix for history of coal mining in Iowa.)

Kenneth Clay Jones, the second of seven sons of Thomas Andrew and Eva Hyde Jones, was born on 11 January 1898 in Smoky Hollow, Monroe Co., Iowa, where Thomas was employed in the coal mines as an electrical engineer. The following is taken from the history of Monroe County by the Iowa Writer’s Program of the WPA:

“E. W. Byers owned the first “Smoky Hollow” mine at Hynes, 2 miles southeast of Avery, when the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad went through in the late 1860s. Known as No. 7 or the Bradley mine, in honor of the Bradley brothers, owners of the land, the mine was sold to the Union Coal Company (later the Peabody Company). Government keys for the post office arrived 16 January 1900, the office was established in the coal company’s store and named Hynes in honor of F. Hynes, postmaster.  Nevertheless, the popular name of “Smoky Hollow” clung.”

1900 US Federal Census, Mantua, Monroe Co., Iowa:
Last name:    First name:    Relation:    DOB:          Age: Place born:
Jones Thomas A Head May 1873 27 Illinois
Eva Wife Oct 1876 23 Iowa
Gushie Son Mar 1895 5 Iowa
Kenneth Son Jan 1897 3 Iowa
Keith Son Mar 1899 1 Illinois
Front row, L-R: Keon Keith; Paul Elry; Eugene Agustus Middle row, L-R: Kenneth Clay; Thomas Andrew Jones; William Carl Back row: Eva Hyde Jones Twins Lewis Irwin and Harvey Darwin are not shown Undated photo, circa 1906, unknown location

Front row, L-R: Keon Keith; Paul Elry; Eugene Agustus
Middle row, L-R: Kenneth Clay; Thomas Andrew Jones; William Carl
Back row: Eva Hyde Jones Twins Lewis Irwin and Harvey Darwin are not shown
Undated photo, circa 1906, unknown location

It appears that the family moved frequently during during the Kenneth’s formative years. As previously mentioned, Thomas is thought to have been a coal miner for most of his life, and he probably moved as some mines closed and others opened. The places of birth for his children trace his movement through the years.

1910 US Federal Census, Kenmare, Ward Co., North Dakota:
Last name:    First name:    Relation:    DOB:          Age: Place born:
Jones Thomas A Head ca. 1873 37 Illinois
Eva Wife ca. 1878 32 Iowa
Eugene A. Son ca. 1897 13 Iowa
Kenneth C. Son ca. 1898 12 Iowa
Lean [Leon] Son ca. 1899 11 Illinois
William C. Son ca. 1901 9 Iowa
Paul E Son ca. 1904 6 Oregon
Lewis E Son ca. 1907 3 North Dakota
Harvey D Son ca. 1907 3 North Dakota
Halvorson Nela Boarder ca. 1882 28 Minnesota
Thomas noted as laborer, Od [sic] jobs

Kenneth graduated from the 8th grade probably while he was living in Kenmare, but it is not known if he had any further formal education. He must not have been older than 14 years of age. His graduation photo is below.

Kenneth started working in the coal mines in North Dakota at the age of 14, and most of the other sons also worked in the mines as they became of age to do so.  Kenneth’s son, Maynard, wrote that his father at one time was a street car car conductor in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but there is no further information about it.

Kenneth completed his WWI registration card on September 12, 1918, at Ottumwa, Wapello Co., Iowa. His description on the card listed height as tall, build as medium, with gray eyes, and light colored hair. At the time he was residing at 406 E. Main in Ottumwa and was working as an express helper for Adams Express Company. His mother was listed as his nearest relative; she was living in Kenmare, Ward Co., North Dakota. He did not serve in the Great War. (See Appendix for images of the registration card.)

1920 S Federal Census, Union, Monroe Co., Iowa:
Last name:    First name:    Relation:    DOB:          Age:       Place born:
Jones Thomas A Head ca. 1878 42 Illinois
Eva Wife ca. 1878 42 Iowa
Kenneth C. Son ca. 1898 22 Iowa
Lean Keith Son ca. 1900 20 Illinois
William C. Son ca. 1902 18 Iowa
Lewis Irwin Son ca. 1907 13 North Dakota
Harvey D Son ca. 1907 13 North Dakota
Eugene A Son ca. 1897 23 Iowa
Carrie M Dau-in-Law ca. 1902 18 Iowa
Eugene A Grandson ca. 1920 3 mo. Iowa
Thomas noted as hoisting engineer, Coal mines.
Kenneth listed as a mine laborer, Coal mines.

As previously noted, he was working in the coal mines by age 14; further schooling seems unlikely.

 

Kenneth’s siblings:

Eugene Augustus Jones, b. 8 May 1896, d. 26 May 1985
    m. Carrie Sheldon
Leon Keith Jones, b. 31 March 1899, d. 24 April 1982
    m. Clara Thompson
William Carl Jones, b. 23 April 1901, d. 17 July 1963
    m. Celia Tusing Mitchelltree
Paul Elry Jones, b. 29 May 1903, d. 28 May 1980
    m. Grace Marie Hunnewell
Lewis Irwin Jones, b. 9 January 1907, d. 24/25 January 1925
    never married
Harvey Darwin Jones, b. 9 January 1907, d. 22 January 1965
    m. Mable IreneMathews

 

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