OWEN T. JONES
Owen T. Jones, one of Loyalton’s highly esteemed residents, is now living retired, after thirty-five years of faithful and efficient service in the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad, terminated because of a serious injury received in a train accident. He was born January 29, 1852, at Slatington, Lehigh county, Pennsylvania, and is a son of Griffith and Jane (Williams) Jones, both of whom were natives of Wales. The father came to the United States in young manhood and located in Pennsylvania. He was married in Philadelphia and in 1857, having decided to try his fortune on the Pacific coast, took his wife and two children to Granville, Washington County, New York, where he established their temporary home until he would be able to send for them. He had been employed in stone quarries in Pennsylvania, was a steady and industrious man, and looked forward to establishing a good home for his family in the west. Two years later he sent for his wife and their son and two daughters, who sailed down the eastern coast to Panama on the steamship “Moses Taylor,” and on the Pacific side had embarked on the steamship “Golden Gate,” reaching San Francisco on Christmas morning, 1859. Owen T. Jones remembers well that while on the voyage down to the isthmus the “Moses Taylor” put in at Key West, Florida, where the mother and two daughters went for a swim on the beach. While the family was living in New York, during the father’s absence, the mother’s brother, who had deserted from the British Navy, stayed for awhile with them in order to seclude himself from the British officers. He was a tailor as well as a sailor and, being expert in the use of scissors and needle, made a little American naval suit for Owen T. Jones, who was then a lad of about seven years. He also gave him a little drum, thus equipping him as a drummer boy in the United States Navy. When the father met his family aboard the “Golden Gate” at San Francisco, he was much surprised and pleased, and the boy’s appearance won the applause of the spectators, who showered the lad with coins. The steamer “Golden Gate” burned at sea some time after that and a peculiar coincidence was that the Jones family settled at North San Juan, California, where Ida Murchison, the last person to leave the burning steamship came to live with her father, Captain Murchison, who for many years served as a peace officer. The Jones family continued to live there until 1870, when the father’s health failed and, being advised to seek a different climate and an open-air occupation, he started out to search for a favorable location. Late in 1870 he came to the Sierra Valley, which appealed to him as the right place for him, and, coming on to Loyalton, he bought a ranch. The youngest child in the family, a son, was born at North San Juan.
An incident which happened while the family was living at North San Juan made a deep and lasting impression on the mind of Owen T. Jones. When the people of that place heard of the fall of Richmond, in the spring of 1865, they resolved to celebrate the Union victory, securing a theatre for the purpose. In the meantime the men at the head of the celebration received news of the assassination of President Lincoln, but decided to suppress the news temporarily in order not to mar the joy of the victory celebration. The joy and enthusiasm of the occasion were unbounded. The principal speaker of the meeting was a very eloquent Methodist preacher named Patrick Henry Butler, and it was left to him to break the sad news toward the end of his oration. Mr. Jones was present and well remembers the awful hush which came over the vast audience as the news of the assassination of the beloved president was given to them. Griffith Jones died in 1902, at the age of eighty-three years and six months, and his wife passed away October 11, 1877, at the age of fifty-one years. They became the parents of four children: Elizabeth, who was born at Slatington, Pennsylvania, was her father’s housekeeper after her mother’s death, and since then has kept house for her brother, Owen T.; Margaret, born in Pennsylvania, is the widow of the late Henry T. Sweetman, of Auburn, California; and Robert, who was born at North San Juan, California, died in Loyalton, California on December 17, 1929. He was married, but left no children.
Owen T. Jones, the other member of the family, remained at home until almost twenty-one years of age, when he left the ranch and entered the employ of the Southern Pacific Railroad as a brakeman. He was steady, paid strict attention to duty, and stood well with his superiors. For seven years he served as yardmaster for that road at Reno, Nevada, which place was his home during the greater part of the thirty-five years in which he was employed on the Southern Pacific. During his period of service he met with three serious accidents, and in 1905 jumped from the top of a box car, was seriously injured, breaking the saddle of one of his feet, so that he has been a cripple ever since and is a life pensioner of the company for which he worked for over a third of a century.
On January 4, 1882, in Loyalton, Mr. Jones was united in marriage to Miss Ella Mickey, a native of Illinois. To them were born three children, two of whom are living, Juanita, the wife of Jack Shumway, of Calpine, California, and Thomas B., who is an electrician in St. Louis, Missouri. After the death of his wife, Mr. Jones’ sister Elizabeth came to keep house for him. She is a woman of kindly and generous nature, gave many years of her life to the care of her father in his later years, and is now equally devoted to the welfare and comfort of her brother, who greatly appreciates her companionship, as well as the unselfish service which she is rendering. She is very popular and those who know her attest to her gracious qualities.
Mr. Jones is a member of Reno Lodge, No. 13, F. & A. M., and Reno Chapter, No. 7, R. A. M. He reads broadly, is well informed on current events and at seventy-nine years has a clear mind and retentive memory. He has always supported the Republican Party and since attaining his majority has voted for every Republican presidential candidate except Theodore Roosevelt, not voting that year because of his removal from his precinct. He is widely acquainted and everyone who knows him holds him in high regard for his sterling character and genial manner.
Transcribed by Gerald Iaquinta.
Source: Wooldridge, J.W.Major History of Sacramento Valley California, Vol. 3 Pages 231-233. Pioneer Historical Publishing Co. Chicago 1931.
© 2010 Gerald Iaquinta.