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John W Jones

(14 Sept 1836, Penmachno, Caernarvonshire, Wales - 26 May 1913, York Co., Pa, USA)

The following incomplete information was obtained while researching the life of Robert L Jones , a brother of John W Jones. The information is included for the benefit of other researchers; currently I do not have the time to pursue this peripheral research but in due course I shall be making available further information about John's ancestors. Perhaps the most important fact regarding John W Jones is that there were 2 men with that name who had much in common; both were born in Wales but settled in Pennsylvania - one was born in 1836 and lived in West Bangor and the other who was about 12 years younger lived in nearby Delta (See maps). Both worked in the slate industry, both had a wife called Ellen and both mixed in the same social circles and attended the same church. For this reason, it is difficult to know to which of them newspaper reports refer and it may explain why in America the subject of these notes was given the sobriquet "Siân Penmachno"; I believe both were born in Caernarvonshire. I shall address this confusion before looking at the life of the John who was the brother of Robert l Jones.

Two men called John W Jones

Apart from such things as their age difference, precisely which community they lived in and the names of their children it is easy to confuse the two men called John W Jones. In reality, the only information that can clearly distinguish them must be based on official records such as censuses, combined with birth, marriage and death records; they can be identified in newspaper reports only if a fact such as the name of a child or their place of residence has been included. Fortunately, with one minor exception the official records for each man are remarkably consistent. However, anyone unaware that there were actually two such men could easily make assumptions that an inconsistent record they found was due to inaccuracies in the making of that record.

Here is information I believe to be reasonably accurate about this other John W Jones: He was born on 13 October 1847 and was almost 83 old when he died on 26 September 1930 (Robert's brother was born on 14 Sept 1836 and died in 1913): His Welsh parents were William and Ann Jones: He arrived in America with his parents and siblings (John and Robert's parents never left Wales): He became a manager/owner of a slate quarry (Robert's brother's association with slate quarrying was only ever specified as "slate dresser"): His wife was Ellen J Jones: Ellen was born on 7 Sep 1847 in Racine, Racine County, Wisconsin, and died on 30 Oct 1926 (aged 79) in Delta, York County, Pa. (Robert's brother's wife was born in Wales): this other couple appear to have had a daughter called Mollie and she may well have been the Mollie who married Arthur Lee Jones, one of the sons of Robert L Jones. At least one researcher wrongly included John (b 1847) in the family of Robert L Jones, etc. and had thus deduced that Arthur had married his cousin

Although the censuses do not indicate that any of Robert's brothers in Pennsylvania owned slate quarries, the following report in the Delta Herald, 15 Oct 1886 shows that his brothers William and John did make a foray into ownership: "Quarry Notes: Wm and John W. Jones, brothers of R. L. Jones, have leased the quarry formerly operated by Frey, Motter & Co., but which has now been idle since March 1886." This business venture may have been short-lived but it adds to the confusion between the two Johns. In the 1900 US census Robert's brother John was a "slate dresser" whereas the occupation of John (b 1847) was "Supentender Slate Quarry". This and other information in the following 1900 newspaper report quoted on this page of my history of Robert's life, suggest that the report is about John W Jones (b 1847):

They have built a very successful company Jones & Williams, these boys from Llanberis. John W. Jones is the grandson of Bwich Uchaf: and John and William J. Williams are sons of John Williams, Cariwr, previously Ebenezer. The three have been partners for 35 years. They have a large store associated with the business. [Y Drych 22 Nov 1900]
If this statement is correct - the original quote begins: "Cwmni llwyddianus iawn ydynt Jones & Williams, bechgyn o Lanberis. John W. Jones sydd un o wyrion y Bwich Uchaf" - then the other John comes from the Llanberis area of Caernarvonshire and not from Penmachno. I believe Bwich Uchaf is a hamlet about 2 km NNW of Llanberis.

Other newspaper reports clearly show that the two families met socially and it would seem that both attended the Calvinistic Methodist Church at West Bangor. A report in Y Drych, 9 April 1891, described a concert by the pupils of Miss Sina Davies in which "Arthur Jones and his sister, Miss Bella, the children of Robert L [the report wrongly has the initial 'S'] Jones and his spouse" performed, as did "Miss Mollie Jones, daughter of John W. Jones and his spouse, Delta". Y Drych, 4 January 1894 carries a report of a charity concert at West Bangor church in which adults and children from the families of both John W Jones were performing. From the occasional presence of one or two of his brothers, it would appear that the John W Jones who regularly performed in musical and singing roles locally was the one born in 1836 i.e. the brother of Robert L Jones.

The following are just some of the articles in the newspaper Y Drych, translated from the original Welsh, that mention one or other of the two men called John W Jones:

[Y Drych, 20 May 1875] WEST BANGOR, PA. - The Gwynedd Lodge, from this place, held its first festival, the 1st of this month. The fraternity met about half past three o'clock, when the procession formed in the following order. Firstly, the Band (Band), then U. L. and I. L., carrying the Charter; after that the other officers, and follow them the ordinary members in twos. The brotherhood was about 60. Approximately four miles were marched, through the communities of Dafydd, Chicken Town, Delta and Bangor. The parade was extremely organized and regular, and the Band played the tunes excellently. We felt proud that we had such a Welsh Band in our area; and apart from five, they are all Ivorites. Our Lodge secretary, namely J. W. Jones, is our leader. In the evening, a public meeting was held under the presidency of our senior Presiding Officer, Thomas J. Williams. The oration was by the brothers Richard R Rees and J. W. Jones; ... and "Thair Pluen Cymru," was performed] by R L Jones . ... Although the Ivorites have not been established long, they are thriving and show great promise. It would be good to have such a group permanently."
Note: The Ivorites were a philanthropic society, founded in Wales with the aim of preserving the Welsh language and its members also vowed to help one another in time of need.

Y Drych, 17 Nov. 1881: An article about the slate industry included: "Pe buasai genyf ddawn John W. Jones, gallaswn wneyd traethawd ardderchog ar y "Peach Bottom Slate," gwerth i ymddangos ar wyneb Y DRYCH." I believe this suggests that one of the Johns had written an article about "Peach Bottom Slate" worthy of inclusion in the pages of Y Drych.

J. W. Jones was on the committee concerned with replacing the church in West Bangor with a new one in Delta; it had been planned for at least 12 years but there had been legal obstacles in the way. [Y Drych, 21 June 1894]

The death certificate of John W Jones, the brother of Robert L. Jones, states that he was born on 14 September 1835 (all census evidence indicates the year was 1836) and suffered a fatal heart attack on 26 May 1913: His occupation was given as 'Quarryman': His parents were William and Ellen Jones, her maiden name also being Jones: The informant was John's son, William A Jones of Delta. His widow was living with their eldest son, William and his family in Chestnut Street, Delta, in 1920 and she died on 28 Sep 1927. Both are buried in Slateville Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Delta.

John W Jones (1836-1913), brother of Robert L Jones

The eldest child of William and Ellen Jones of Penmachno, John Jones, was listed as "John Jones" in the UK censuses but was known in America as John W Jones or, as stated, "Siân Penmachno". I have only ever seen a middle initial, not a full name but presumably, as the eldest son, it represented his father's name, 'William'. He was born on 14 Sept 1836. In the 1841 Welsh census John was aged 4 and was with his parents, his older sister and younger brother, Robert, in Penmachno. In 1851, he was aged 14, still with his family in Penmachno and he was a "slate maker". Rev Joseph Roberts wrote about his visit to West Bangor in the summer of 1896 [YD 13 Aug 1896]:

After arriving at West Bangor, I saw there many more Penmachno people than I was expecting. I saw Ellin and Ann, and William, and John, the sons and daughters of William Jones, Tanrhiw. Richard Roberts, husband of Ann, has done well, and owns his own foundry; and William Jones was a supervisor of the quarrymen of his brother Robert L. Jones. One of his daughters, by Ellin Jones, the Benar, is married and lives in Philadelphia.

John sailed to America in 1857 and settled in West Bangor, Pennsylvania. In the 1870 US Census the following were listed in the household at West Bangor: John W Jones (34), worker in a slate quarry, born in Wales: his wife Ellen* (27), born in Wales (Ellen was elsewhere also named Eleanor with various spellings): Their children, William A (8), Ellen A (4) and Esther W (1), all born in Pennsylvania: Listed with them was John's brother, Robert L Jones, though it is likely that he was in Pennsylvania, meeting his future wife, on the official day of the census. The value of John's real estate was $600 and of his personal estate was $260, both low compared with his neighbours.

The History of York County, Vol II, p 651 states: "In 1863 Humphrey R. Lloyd was united in marriage to Jane Williams, daughter of Hugh and Winifred (Jones) Williams, who were among the first Welsh settlers in Delta, where they arrived in 1843. They had two other daughters : Winifred, who married Elias Roland, and resides in the State of Washington, and Ellen, Mrs. John W. Jones, of West Bangor, Pa. Mr. Williams' death occurred in 1865, and that of his wife in 1884." The death certificate of William Arthur Jones, one of the sons of John and Ellen, gives his mother's maiden name as "Eleanor Williams". However, in the US censuses Ellen consistently stated she was born in Wales; the 1900 US census states that she immigrated to the States in 1845 and had been there 55 years and the 1910 census states her immigration to the States was in 1850. It may well be that Ellen was brought to America as a baby. The US censuses all confirm that John arrived in America in 1857 and he was probably the source of the census information.

The 1900 census states John and Ellen had 10 children of whom 7 were living in 1900 but only 6 were alive in 1910. The 4 who died before 1910 were: