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The Life of Pioneer Jonathan Jones
Pilot Grove

Being an Account Written about 1893 by His Daughter, Hariet Jones Goodell, to her Half-Brother, Walter Clyde Jones of Pilot Grove, to Keokuk then Chicago.

Our father was a man of [indomitable] will, phisical strength and energy. Of his early childhood and young manhood I have heard but little. He was the son of Isaac Jones who was from Harrison Co. Ohio formerly from Pennsylvania. Our father came from Ohio in 1837 presenting land going 1.25 an acre in Lee County Iowa at that time.  Even Chicago was a small town. Soon after this he was married to Eleanor Steele. They lived on this land, it was to be their home. They had little or no money. All was to be done by hard work. I have heard people tell of our father building his house himself with a jack knife and a plane. he had entered some timber land from which he hauled much of the timber for the house. It was a good one in every respect, comfortable with six rooms as I remember it. There were few in our neighborhood so imposing. He worked hard, too hard. I have heard how he worked his horses, of which he had some fine ones and oxen too who did their shares. He had a beautiful team of young horses matched. He worked them on a threshing machine all one day. The machine was one of those which was treaded with horses. How well I remember this machine. He got up the next morning, one of the horses was dead, the next morning the other one was dead. This was a blow to a young man just beginning life on a farm with everything to make. He would go to the woods for fire wood - everyone burned wood in those days not knowing of the coal that was found later in Iowa. He would drive one wagon with the horses, the oxen following with another wagon. Two loads of wood would be cut and hauled home instead of one as other people did.

My earliest recollections of our home I think I was 8 or ten years old [1853 or 1855]. The family consisted of father, mother, my sister and myself, 3 or 4 children dying in infancy.

At this time the post-office was at our house, the stage run from West Point to Salem carrying passengers and the mail only two or three times a week. I think the postage was 25 cts at this time. Our father took several papers, one being the New York Ledger which about this time or a little later [1851–52] printed Uncle Tom’s Cabin in installments. I read this story then. Our father’s people living at Salem were Quakers, and many were the negroes who were helped on their way to Canada. The feeling between the north and south even at this time was intense. About this time our brother Frank was born [abt 1855]. There was rejoicing in the houshold. Soon after this father succeeded well in the farming business, having added many acres to his farm until he had near a section of land [nearly 640 acres, possibly most of Section 10, Marion Twp. ?]. He raised many cattle and hogs. I remember how the price of hogs not being enough to suit him he killed them himself, 69 large ones, and packed smoked the meat. When the lard was rendered there were eight barrels of it, paid him well to do this. There was much work to this but work never seemed to bother him.

Having this money he concluded to build a new house on a more imposing style. This was a brick house having 15 large rooms. There are some things I remember so plainly about this house They had just finished putting on the tin roof. Tin roofing was just beginning to be used then. It was a Sunday afternoon and windy. My sister and I with our father went to see the house. We climed to the roof. Father and Emma walked over it but I, more cautious, contented myself looking through the hatchway hole. We returned to our mother and the house. The wind kept blowing. The roof was blown from the new building. It was shingled then.

Father raised much fruit for many years, apples and cherries, many hundred bushels of apples each year. As to cherries, neighbors would come for miles to pick them on shares. One year we made a barrel of cherry wine, besides drying and canning. At this time canning fruit was a very new industry, and the cans used were tin ones. It was yet to be tried if it would be a success. Everyone dried for months - dried apples, dried cherries, dried corn and pumpkin.

There were no railroads in Iowa at this time, traffic being done by means of the rivers and this reminds me of the trips our father made to St. Louis each fall on the steamer to get groceries for the year. The night before he started he would take from their hiding place little sacks (like a five cts sack of salt) gold and silver. We children were allowed to stand and watch these pieces being counted. The reason money was kept in this way was people did not have confidence in the banks. It was the time of wild cat money so many banks were failing. The next morning he would start on his trip, taking the boat from Keokuk, returning in a few days with the provisions with a barrel of sugar light-brown and dark brown (there being no white sugar in those days), only loaf, a barrel or two of syrup, kegs of fish, sacks of coffee. green, there being no roasted coffee We would roast it ourselves, covering it after being roasted with a little butter and the beaten white of an egg and such coffee. We get none like it today.

We had lived in the new house but a short time when my mother died [4 Nov 1858], then I was my father’s housekeeper with the help of a German girl who lived near us, this I did going to school also and here is where my father showed how good he was. He took good care of us, ever kind and helpful. At this time I was 13 ,Emma 10, Frank 4. We lived this way for 6 or 7 years, being at home with the family two years. After I was married we went to keeping house. Emma was then father’s housekeeper for a time until he married Sarah Buffington, your mother. She was a beautiful woman, made him a good wife. We children all loved her. He married her in Cincinatti, Ohio. She has told you of him. He was greatly interested in law and studied the statutes of Iowa for that until I believe he knew it by heart. There was a big German settlement near us [St. Paul. He did their law business for them.**

Postscript

Jonathan Jones was born a Quaker near Freeport, Harrison County, Ohio, on 12 February 1815. Disowned by the Quakers as a teenager, he nevertheless moved with his Quaker parents, Isaac and Mary Millison Jones, and his six siblings, to Salem, Henry County, Iowa, probably in the spring of 1840. They were joined shortly by members of the Buffington, Jackman and Millison kindred who shared the same origins in Pike Run Twp., Washington Co., PA. Jonathan soon bought land and moved to the site of Pilot Grove in Lee County. About 1843, he married (1) Eleanor Steele (born about 1820), of currently unproved Ohio parentage. Hariet describes what their life was like. They had six children, three surviving infancy. The three who did not were Abigail 1845 (10 mo 28 ds), Henrietta 1851 (1 yr 8 mo 2 ds), and William 1853 (6 mo 10 ds). They are buried in the Old Pilot Grove Cemetery with their mother, the first four interments there. After Eleanor died in 1858, the year Pilot Grove was platted, Jonathan married (2) Sarah Buffington from Cincinnati about 1866. Sarah was his first cousin once removed (his maternal grandparents and her paternal great grandparents held in common). They had three sons, William Harry, Walter Clyde and (Dr.) George Washington Jones. The family moved to Keokuk, Iowa, in 1874. Jonathan died there in 1883. The letter was probably stimulated by a meeting in Chicago of Hariet J. Goodell, 48, and her nearly unknown half-brother, Walter Clyde Jones, 22, at the World’s Columbian Fair in 1893.

**From the unsigned, undated letter written by Jonathan’s eldest daughter. She often used spaces or ends of lines to separate sentences, rather than periods and capital letters; periods and capitalizations have been added for easier reading.

Transcribed by Nancy Brown Jones with interpolations by Gair Tourtellot



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