James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

At times there were tragic reminders of the dangers of quarry work. Late in 1885 David Lloyd, one of Robert’s employees, died from injuries received in a quarry accident. He had come to America from Ffestiniog about 33 years earlier [YD 19 Nov 1885]. The Delta Herald, 19 Feb 1886, reported: "William Roberts, one of the workmen engaged in Robt. L Jones' slate quarry, was badly crippled by a stone falling from the top of the quarry, one day last week. He narrowly escaped death from a fall a few months ago." Later that spring, an article reported the deaths of two more local quarry workers, one of whom, John J. Thomas, was employed by Robert [YD 20 May 1886]. John, who had come from Wales 13 years previously, died from head injuries he had sustained a few weeks earlier; he left a widow and eight children. David and John were involved with the local church, as were Robert and Isabella and most members of this very close community, and their friends would have rallied to support the bereaved families; it is known that Robert paid John’s funeral expenses.

Both Robert and Isabella were members of the Calvinistic Methodist Church, as were most of the local people and their faith must have been sorely tested by the tragic loss of life and serious injury that befell their fellow churchmen. This group had separated from the Congregationalists and had built their own church in West Bangor in 1854, conducting their services entirely in Welsh. Robert was a deacon for many years and led the choir at the church for twenty-five years. The church and music (singing in particular) continued to be important to the Welsh communities in America and their importance to Robert were exemplified when a new T. C. West Bangor chapel was planned; Robert was on the supervising committee, he donated $500 towards the cost and he led the choir in the ceremony for the laying of the cornerstone of the new building. [YD 3 Sep 1891 & Baner ac Amserau Cymru 15 Jun 1892]

Robert's role as a deacon of the church carried with it further responsibility: "Philadelphia, Pa., Nov. 29 - Reverend H. F. Williams of West Bangor, and Robert L. Jones, deacon, of the same place, are expected here next Sunday to assist us in the important task of choosing deacons." [YD 2 Dec. 1897]

In the church, one of Robert's fellow deacons and his employer for several years when he arrived in America was John Humphrey. John was one of the earliest Welsh quarry owners in the area and he was viewed as a father figure locally. He would have been a friend as well as a neighbour and a colleague, from whom Robert would have learned much, and his passing would have been deeply felt by both Robert and Isabella, as well as by the whole community; he died on 15 March 1893. [YD 23 Mar & 5 Apr. 1893]