Benjamin Walter Jones

This week in #52Ancestors I am tracking Benjamin Walter Jones.  He’s the youngest brother of Richard Jones and frequently pops up on other people’s trees in the mistaken belief that he is Richard’s son Benjamin (1833-1896).  That would have made Richard a very precocious 9 year old but people don’t always do the math.
Benjamin Walter Jones was the youngest son of Benjamin (1767-1849) and his second wife Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  He was born 29 May 1821 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but appears to have spent the majority of his life in New Jersey.  He attended Haverford College for one year in 1833.
On 1 June 1847 he married Harriet Woodmansie Davis (1827-1897) at Hanover, New Jersey. They had four children: Walter Moore Jones (1848-1849), Samuel Howell Jones (1849-1916), Ellen Emlen Jones (1854-1939), and Francis Woodmansie Jones (1852-1854).
Jones_Benjamin_W_business_Trenton_State_Gazette_1858-05-07_[2]I do not know much about Benjamin W. Jones’ business enterprises.  In the 1850 Census, he is listed in Philadelphia as a merchant with $15,000 in real estate.  He then appears in business with Richard Jones at Florence but that business dissolved in 1858.  In the 1860 Census, the family is living near Richard Jones in Mansfield, Burlington County, New Jersey and his occupation is listed as founder.  By 1870, Benjamin, Harriet and Ellen are living in Trenton, where his occupation is listed as none, with no real estate or personal property valued.  However, Harriet does possess $10,000 in real estate and persona”l property valued at $25,000.  In the 1880 Census, Benjamin is listed with Harriet and both children, and while his occupation is listed as travelling salesman, there is a check mark in the box marked “is the person sick or temporarily disabled so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties.”
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Benjamin W. Jones served in the Civil War as a Captain and commander of Company I, 1st New Jersey Volunteer Cavalry, mustering in on 29 August 1861.  He was discharged due to disability on 20 September 1862.  It is possible that this was a lingering condition and effected his ability to work.
Benjamin W. Jones appears in Trenton city directories from 1870 to 1880, but these never list an occupation.  The house eventually gets and address of 365 W. State St.  Benjamin also attended church at Trinity Episcopal Church, where he serves as a Convention delegate in 1874.
Jones_Benjamin_Walter_grave_LaurelHillPhiladelphiaBenjamin Walter Jones died 15 December 1883 in Philadelphia and is buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.  His death notice in the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that his brother hosted the funeral at his home at 1818 Delancey Place.  He left no will, which is not a surprise as his wife Harriet appears to have owned everything.

Richard Jones

If there were a household I could go back in time to visit, it would probably be the one headed by Richard Jones.  This week in #52Ancestors I would like to explore the life of a person who oddly intimidates me from the grave and for whom my brother and I have many heirlooms passed down through the generations.

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Richard Jones (original tintype held by W. Thomas Worrell)

Richard Jones was born 21 February 1812, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Benjamin (1767-1849) and Mary Howell (1778-1836) Jones.  His birth is recorded in Quaker meeting records as one of the first five of what would ultimately be seven children.  Benjamin was in the iron business and rose from iron monger to gentleman, if city directories have any real say in the matter.  The family appears to have divided their time between Philadelphia and Hanover, New Jersey.  Burlington county is across the Delaware River from Philadelphia but my mind boggles at the idea of transporting a crowd of children back and forth using whatever transportation was available.

Richard married his first wife, Susan Ellis Gibbs (1814-1837) on 13 June 1833 and they had two boys, Benjamin Jones (1833-1896) and Joseph Gibbs Jones (1834-1895).  Sadly, Susan died in 1837.  Richard then married Alice Woodmansie Davis in 1841 and they had five children.

Jones_Richard_Patent_1869Although Richard appears to have gone to work early in the family foundry business at Hanover, NJ, he also seems to have been interested in diversifying the family holdings.  He and his brother Samuel Howell Jones established and dissolved several businesses in Hanover, Florence and Trenton between 1845 and 1870.  The pipes used in the Boston Water Works in 1847 came from Hanover Furnace.  In 1850 Richard was a principle in the New Jersey Exploring and Mining Company.  He established the New Jersey Zinc Paint Company, most likely as a result of his experiments with and eventual patents on zinc oxide extraction (1854 and 1869).  Richard was definitely something of a chemical genius but I am not sure about his business expertise.  The iron industry in the 19th century was a risky business. with many smaller operations failing due to pressures of the economy and production expenses.

By the mid 1870’s, Richard and Alice Jones are back in Philadelphia, residing at 1818 Delancy Street. Richard died here on 29 October 1890, and is buried in the churchyard cemetery at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Mount Holly, New Jersey.  Many items have come down through the family, including three lovely chairs, part of what was probably a much larger set.  I think of the dinner parties and other conversations that those chairs have witnessed over the years and wonder…

Happy Birthday, Richard Jones!

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