Biographical History of William Jones


by Larry Jones

Below are some stories of William Jones, who brought the Jones family to Washington County. They are from several publications, newspaper articles, and family rememberence.

Some Local History of Pigeon Creek

An article written by W. P. Marne, and published in the Daily Republican,

October 20, 1927

Interesting Details

A few days ago The Reporter published some historical matter relative to early settlers in the Ginger Hill region, from the pen of W. P. Marne. This same gentleman has kindly furnished to the Reporter another sketch relative to early days on the lower Pigeon Creek waters, the common ancestor of the wide-spread Jones family being the subject. Mr. Marne writes as follows:

"Toft" was the name given a survey of a tract of land situated on the waters of Pigeon Creek, containing 388 acres, executed March 5, 1788, and certified to Robert Morrison November 1, 1787. The records of Washington County, Deed Book 1-B, page 165 show a conveyance of the said tract by Daniel Preston to William Parkinson on June 5, 1785. It appears, however, from the records that Parkinson must have first taken up this land and afterwards assigned the same to Robert Morrison. Parkinson owned this farm in 1787, but how or when he got it, or when and to whom he sold it, does not appear on records; but it was a survey by Robert Morrison in 1787, and by him patented. It is ascertained that William Parkinson and his four brothers were owners of some 5,000 acres of land at one time or another prior to 1791, in Washington County, mostly or altogether on the waters of Mingo and Pigeon creeks, and it is no doubt true that William had a claim of some kind on this tract called "Toft".

The tract was sold March 21, 1793 (Deed Book Vol 1-I, pg 695), to William Jones, ancestor of the very numerous descendants of the Jones family in Washington and adjoining counties. William Jones, who had come to Pennsylvania in the year 1793 from Maryland, was a blacksmith by trade, and no doubt finding this farm to be a good location, selected it with that object in view. It is a family tradition that Jones conducted in a large way the business of shoeing horses during the time of the Whiskey Insurrection in Western Pennsylvania and that being on the side of the government in that difficulty, he shod many horses for the soldiers who patrolled the territory under the command of General "Light Horse Harry" Lee, and thereby made a great deal of money.

At the time mentioned, William Parker, ESQ., the noted character among the Whiskey boys of those days, lived on a adjoining farm, and in fact it was he who as Justice of the Peace took acknowledgment of the deed to Jones in 1793. The names of some of the adjoining owners of lands are the following: James Innis, Bernard Preston, John Grable, Thomas Armstrong, John Study, Joseph Cox, and John Baldwin (the farm probably owned in some way by William Parker).

As an evidence of the differences of opinion among the inhabitants of Washington County during the years of the bitter contest between the government and its adherents and those who opposed the excise laws and its enforcement, it may be here related, among the many interesting incidents of the day, the following bit of local history. When the Whiskey boys were preparing to make an assault upon the government's forces at Neville's house, after their rendezvous at the old Mingo Church the use force was resorted to compel all able-bodied persons to take up arms and accompany the insurrectionists on their campaign. Among those who refused to take part was William Jones, the sturdy blacksmith, who was loyal to his government and took no part with the opponents of the much despised laws which they considered a blow at their source of gaining a livelihood. While the recent settler in the neighborhood was being tormented and pressed by the rough methods of the time to go along (and very likely, among his tormentors was William Parker, his neighbor on the adjoining farm), the wife of the blacksmith came to the rescue and leading out the family horse, Morgan, turned him over to the leaders and thus saved her husband from any further trouble with them. The horse was pressed into service instead of the master, and was soon to bear back to the Mingo regions the body of the commander of the ill-fated expedition, Major McFarlane, who lost his life in the encounter at Neville's house. For many years after the difficulties were finally settled old Morgan lived to be remembered for his part in the Whiskey Insurrection, as well as the trusted family animal of the Jones family.

From the names found on the plots of the old surveys, we may assume that among the residents of that day were the following families: John Atkinson, Susannah Sheredan, Laurence Craft, William Parkinson, Bernard Preston, Daniel Preston, Joseph Cox, Daniel Swickard, George Myers, John Study, I. Lash, James Innis, John Grable, John Baldwin and others. It is highly probable, however, that not all these persons lived upon he several tracts of lands which they then owned. In fact, it is known to the writer that William Parkinson never lived in the locality, as he located at an early date at the mouth of Mingo Creek on the Monongahela river, Parkinson mills in early days. Many where he operated the famous of the names are still familiar in the region, such as Jones, Grable, Myers, Swickard, Preston, and Craft.

Here on this old survey called "Toft", William Jones spent his days in thrift and enterprise. He was 30 years of age when he and his wife, Elizabeth McClung, arrived in 1793 on the old farm just mentioned. Mr. Jones died in 1863 on the old farm, aged 100 years. His son, William McKendree, succeeded his father in the ownership of this farm, and after his death, the farm has since been owned and is now occupied by Albert Jones, a grandson of the original ancestor of the family. So that this farm has been in the name of the Jones family for over one hundred years.

William Jones and his wife, Elizabeth McClung, who died in 1829, had born to them 12 children, from whom have descended a very numerous line, many of whom are among the most prominent and well-known families of Washington County, as well as in almost every section of the United States. There is probably not another one of the old families who took up their abode in the early days in old Washington county, that has been so prolific and whose descendants have intermarried into so many different families. Their connections are almost legion in the eastern end of the county. The genealogy of this family is given in the Biographical Record of Washington County, published by J. H. Beers & Co., on pages 1434 and 1380.

In the old times this homestead of the Jones family was noted place of entertainment for the families of the married sons and daughters of William and his wife, as well as for the many friends and relatives of this well known man. The Jones family was always identified with the Methodist Episcopal church and always active and prominent in the conduct of its affairs in this neighborhood. The Jones home

was for a hundred years and more the home of the Methodist preacher and many the elegant dinners that were served to the eloquent preachers of these days, when the Methodists conducted their revivals among the farmers of the days before people ceased to take part in the "shouting Methodist" meetings.

William, the first, with good management and thrift, purchased for his many sons each a large farm and placed him on it, clear of debt, long before his death. In fact he had provided, it is said, for all his older children some 20 years before his death, when he made a will disposing of his home farm and all personal property to his youngest son, William, who continued to live with his father until his death in 1863. To show To show how one could even in those early days accumulate a fortune, it is said that when William, the first, died in 1863, he left a large farm of some 300 acres well stocked with all kinds of farming implements and domestic animals, and some twenty thousand dollars in money consisting of gold coin, principally which was kept in the house, this having been saved after he had provided for the other members of his large family of sons and daughters. This is really remarkable even for these times, that a man could make so much on a farm. It may be well said, however, that he had ample time to acquire a fortune, as he lived for 70 years on this farm, after he became 30 years of age.

The old Jones homestead is located some two miles from Kammerer, and two miles south of Ginger Hill, on the waters of Sugar Camp Run, which empties into Pigeon Creek two miles away. The present occupant and owner, Albert Jones, is one of Somerset's most prosperous and prominent farmers and stock dealers. Mr. Jones and his wife, who has a daughter at the Washington Seminary, are among the most respected residents of Somerset Township and that portion of the county. Mrs. Jones is an active member, and has been for many years, of the school board of this township, and takes a live interest in all public matters. He and his wife and children are prominent in social and church matters, and are among the best entertainers in their community.

W. P. Marne

NOTE: My grandmother, Janet Marie (Huffman) Jones states that their was $50,000 dollars in the attic, done up in small sacks in a barrel. She also stated that the Whiskey Boys were going to "tar and feather" William because of his reluctance to join rebels. His wife saved the day, giving them the family horse Morgan instead, thus sparing William a cruel fate.

Williams father, William Jones was a sailor from Wales and was lost at sea in 1769.

Jones Homestead at Ginger Hill, Built Century and Half Ago, Rich in History

An article written by ?? Herron and printed in The Morning Observer, 1937

"In memory of William Jones, died March 14, 1863, aged 99 years, 10 months, 11 days"...this inscription on an old tombstone in the Jones family lot being carved testimony to the longevity for which the family is noted.

On either side of the stone marked in the walnut shaded plot on the original farm lies a grave marked Elizabeth, for the founder of the Washington County Jones family married twice, and both his wives were named Elizabeth. His first wife died in 1829, the second out-lived him.

Apropos to the tombstones, the will of the same William Jones is still held in the family. In his will he bequeathed to his wife Elizabeth "all goods and furniture which she had or brought with her at her marriage, also one hundred dollars cash and her choice of cows and $50 each and every year during her lifetime".

To each of his five sons he gave a farm when they married, and to each daughter, $100 in cash at her marriage. Mrs. Elma Jones Huffman and her daughter, Mrs. W. C. Jones tell how John Jones, the eldest son, founded Jonestown near Bentleysville when he received his farm. The other sons were Elijah, Jesse, Samuel, and William Mc Jones. William Mc. Jones received the home farm at the death of his father, for he stayed and cared for it as his father grew older.

The daughters married into families well -known all over Western Pennsylvania. They were: Mary Alexander, Delilah Mills, Rebecca Mills, Rosean Williams, Elizabeth McCally, Ann Hess, and Ruth Jones.

Old Tombstones

Several tombstones in the old cemetery mark the graves of children of these daughters. There are two small stones inscribed to Thomas and Margaret Williams who died at the age of one year and two years. Another small tombstone marks the grave "In memory of William Mills, son of James and Delilah Mills, who departed this life July 26, 1825, aged 14 months. He's far from a world of grief and sin, with God eternally shut in." This was the small son of an early publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

From the cemetery, a wide view of the farm of 288 3/4 acres with 15 farm buildings lies across the fields and pastures. In a sheltered place under the hill is the old farm house which William Jones built in 1793. Nearby are the old blacksmith shop, part of the original corn crib, the smokehouse, and the spring, which until recently was covered by a stone springhouse that was built almost 150 years ago.

Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Hayden are the present owners of the farm. It is still in the family, for Mrs. Hayden is a descendent of Elijah Jones.

Log House

Mrs. Hayden (Laura Carson) showed the way through the ancient log house that is now clapboarded. It is almost square, with a central hall and stairway and two rooms opening to the right of the front door. On the left side of the central hall is one long room. There were only two doors originally- the front door at one end of the hall and the back door at the other end. Wide porches ran the width of the house in front and back. The back porch has been enclosed to make the kitchen and dining room.

One wide beam extends clear across the house. Much of the woodwork is walnut, for the woods around that vicinity abound with walnut trees. In the long room at the left side of the wall, a chimney rested on the floor when he Hayden's moved in. It was removed, but the outside stone chimney on the opposite side of the house is still in excellent shape, being about ten feet across at the base and tapering toward the top. The doors were heavily constructed with a view towards defending the occupants of the house against Indians. The hinges extend the width of the door, and were made by William Jones, who was a smithy by trade.

Stone House

At right angles with the log house is a stone house which was added about a hundred years ago. This was used as the dining room and kitchen and contains an immense stone fireplace.

The room above was used as a bedroom for "Nigger Charley," who came from Maryland with the family. The porch of this house adjoins the porch of the log house, but when the family was called to dinner, they had to come out in the cold and walk across the two porches to reach their dining room.

In this old stone house are a corner cupboard and an old chair that belonged to the builder of the house. On the opposite side of the house are small stone steps where the children cracked nuts in the fall.

Back in the eighteenth century a William Jones, his wife and children, William and Mary, sailed from Wales and settled at Ellicott's Mills, MD. After a few years the father started back to Wales. The ship and all its passengers were lost.


Mrs. Jones, with her son William then moved to Ginger Hill, where in 1793, they bought a land grant of 388 3/4 acres at the price of 426 pounds, 14 shillings and four pence, from Robert Morrison.

Robert Morrison is said to have bought the farm from William Parkinson, who with his brothers owned 5,000 acres in Washington County and founded Parkinson's Ferry, later Monongahela.

While Mrs. Hayden pointed out the interesting old buildings on the farm, Mr. Hayden brought the sheepskin patent transferring the land and rights to Robert Morrison and the deed that transferred the property to William Jones. The land was called Toft.

The second deed was signed by William Parker, a justice of the peace, later one of the instigators of the Whiskey Insurrection.


Neighbors in the early days were James Innis, Bernet (Bernard) Preston, John Graybill (Grable), Thomas Armstrong, John Study, Joseph Cox, John Baldwin and their names were mentioned on the Morrison patent. Many of these men were fomenters of the Whiskey Rebellion and some were Tom the Tinker's Men.

Of course, they expected their new neighbor William Jones to stand up with them against the excise tax, but he refused to do so for he was making a great deal of money shodding government horses. In 1794, when the rebellion reached its height, a mob of men came to the Jones' farm and demanded that William accompany them to Neville's house.

He refused, and when they became angry, Mrs. Jones asked them to take the family horse, Morgan, in lieu of her husband. So Morgan went off with the men not knowing he would come back under much quieter circumstances.

For that night, a pitched battle was held between the soldiers from Ft. Pitt and the rebellious farmers. In the midst of the battle, Major McFarland, who led the rebels, stepped from shelter when a flag of truce was hoisted and was shot.


Morgan brought the body of the fallen leader back, and the master left a barrel of gold pieces in his attic that was valued at $50,000, which he collected as smithy for soldiers.

The Jones home was always the home of Methodist ministers who traveled about the country from time to time. In the long room on the second floor, church services and prayer meetings were often held. In his will, William Jones left $100 to the Methodist Episcopal Church in Williamsport (Monongahela), and another $50 to another church in Preston.


In those days, men married several times. The practice caused misunderstandings and tangles in relationships that are hard to understand today. Mrs. John Grable, whose father was the youngest son of Jesse Jones, tried to explain how her great-grandmother married her great- grandfather, which sounds perfectly all right at the start.

The complications begin because it was her mother's grandmother who married her father's grandfather. The lady had been married three times and the man twice, thus involving a good many families, who don't really know whether they are related or not.

In 1900, William Mc. Jones was buried in the little cemetery on the knoll, ending a long line of a family closely connected with the growth of this country....people with an intimate knowledge of the stirring times when "Tom the Tinker" rode rampant with tar and feathers, and "Light-horse" Harry Lee brought in his troops to force the people to obey the great Washington, whose United States were badly threatened by "Whiskey".

The following information is from a scrapbook prepared by Janet Marie Huffman for her grandson, Lawrence W Jones and was copied from a book, possibly The Beers Biographical History of Washington County. This information was found on pages 935-936.

William Jones, whose history is given below, on March 21, 1793, purchased two hundred and fifty-eight acres of land adjoining the farms of John Study, John Graybill, and James Innis. This property was a portion of the three hundred and eighty eight acres patented by Robert Morrison, September 14, 1789, under the title of "Toft." Mr Jones, whose life extended over the period of a century, was closely identified with the early settlement and progress of Somerset township. The sketch of his life given below is from Dr. J. S. Van Voorhis.

"He was born at Ellicot's Mills, in the state of Maryland, May, 1763, and came to the neighborhood of Ginger Hill a few years before the Whiskey Insurrection, and located on the farm now owned by his son William, on which he died March, 1862, being ninety-nine years and eleven months old. He was a blacksmith by trade. When the United States troops were sent to disperse the insurgents they halted near his farm, and were ordered to return, as the insurrection was over. While in camp he shod some of the government horses. He was loyal to the government, and took no part in the insurrection. By his first wife he had eleven children, five sons and six daughters, viz.: John, Elijah, Jesse, Samual, and John, Rebecca, Delilah, Polly, Ruth, Rosa, and Ann.

"John was the founder of Jonestown, and lived there, keeping store nearly all his life. He died in 1874 at a very advanced age. His particular sign "Entertanement" will be remembered by many. Elijah lived in the brick house on the hill above Jonestown, where he died some fifteen years ago. Among his children were Isaac Jones, who built the McGrigor Row on Main Street, and now a successful wool-buyer in Washington, PA., and James Jones, deceased who married Caroline Van Voorhis, his daughter of the late Abram Van Voorhis. Jesse is still living on part of the old homestead in a brick house near his brother William, who owns and lives in the old homestead. Samuel Jones, the remaining son, was born at the Jones homestead in 1800. He went to the Forks in 1824, and located on the farm purchased by his father for him from Peter Shepler. Samuel resided on this farm until his death in June, 1867. He was killed by the rolling of a log over him. In 1826 he was married to Jane Fell, daughter of Benjamin Fell, in Rostraver township, Westmoreland County. The wedding took place at the Fell mansion, which consisted of a log cabin of primitive style. Mr Fell very positive that at this cabin was organized the first Methodist class west of the mountains. Through his influence was erected the old log church which formally stood where the present stone church, known as Fell's Church, is situated, about two miles from Webster.

"Samuel Jones had by his first wife four children. Mary married Dr. J. P. Watson, and has been dead some years. William on the 6th of February, 1850, married Sarah, daughter of the well known Capt. Joseph Shepler, by whom he has three other children. His father gave William the old Fell farm, which was purchased at Orphans' Court sale. On this farm he lived until he removed to Belle Vernon, where he is at this time as a member of the banking-house of S. F. Jones & Co. His brother, S. F. Jones, in 1861 married Miss Sallie Thomas. His father gave him the farm near Belle Vernon, in Rostraver township, known as at which Rev. David Smith lived while pastor of the Rehoboth Church, and died in 1803. The old house has given place to a fine brick, erected by S.F. Jones. Jones Sold this farm to Michael F. Cook, grandson of Col. Edward Cook, and removed to Belle Vernon, where he is a member of the banking-house of S.F. Jones & Co., formed in 1872. James, the remaining son of Samuel Jones, married Miss Ann Finley, daughter of the late William Finley, and granddaughter of the Rev. James Finley, first pastor of Rehoboth, having come to the Forks in 1768. James, like his brother S.F. Jones had no children. He served through the late war, and now lives in retirement in Monongahela City. Mr Samuel Jones' second wife was Miss Mary, daughter of the late Benjamin Thomas, of the vicinity of Webster. Her mother was a sister of the late Joseph Alexander. By her he had eight children,-Elizabeth, married to J.M. Bake, deceased, and now to Thomas Hagerty; Malissa married Lowry Venable and is living in Kansas; Rettie married Jonathan Rhodes, she died a few years ago in Ohio.; Amanda, married to T.C. Douglas, and living on part of the homestead; Homer, married to Jennie McAlpin, and residing in Kansas; Luther, married to Sally Venable, and living near Belle Vernon; John and Celia are single, and living with their mother on the homestead. Samual Jones was a large landholder, and the distribution of his estate gave each of his children a fair patrimony. He was a man of warm feeling and ardent sympathies. Energetic in his business, he was no less so in his church. He was long a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and held his membership at Fell's, in the graveyard of which church his remains were buried. He gave largely of his means and labor in erecting the church in Webster. William Jones' (the elder) daughter Rosa married Hudson Williams, who lived for many years in the neighborhood of the Dutch meeting-house. They are both dead. Rebecca married Andrew Mills; both are deceased. Ann married John Hess, who lived and died near what is now called Edwards Chapel, on the turnpike above Ginger Hill. Ruth was never married, is now eighty-five years old, and resides with her brother William on the homestead. Delilah married James Mills, brother of the above Andrew Mills. James Mills was a well known local preacher in the Methodist Episcopal church and a businessman generally. He lived in the town of Williamsport as early as 1828; in Washington, PA., on a farm near Lock No. 4, where Joseph Ryan now lives, and on which he laid out a town called Lockport, which town was a failure. For years before his death he carried on business in Pittsburgh, where he died a few years since. He was a man of more than ordinary mind; his sermons were scriptural, and delivered in a plain though fervent manner. He attended church for many years on the bank of the river, where he often preached. His wife still lives in Pittsburgh.

"Mary, the remaining daughter, married Joseph Alexander, a sketch of whose live will be given. She died Aug. 15, 1856.

"Mr. William Jones was one of the committee on the part of the Methodist Episcopal Church who purchased the dwelling-house (converted into a church) on the river-bank in 1826. The house was built by a man named Simon Hailman. It was originally three stories high, the lower one being brick. Mr. Hailman sold it to Mr. Bentley; he dying shortly afterwards, Dr. Pollock was appointed administrator of his estate. He sold it a Orphans' Court sale, the committee-consisting of William Jones, Aenes Graham, Robert Bebee, and others-becoming the purchasers of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The house was lowered one story by inserting heavy timbers beneath the framework and so holding it up that the brick story could be taken away. It was thus reduced to a two-story frame church, to which in-after years were added two wings, on of which, I think, still remains.

"What suggestions come to mind when contemplating the time covered by so long a life as Mr Jones passed! He was born six years before the great Napoleon, yet he survived him over forty years. He was born six years before the Duke of Wellington, who died at a very advanced age, yet Father Jones survived him by 11 years. He was thirteen years old when independence was declared, thirty years old at the time of the Whiskey Insurrection, fifty years old during the last war with Great Briton, and ninety-eight years old at the commencement of the great Rebellion. He was strictly temperate in all things, of a quite disposition, calm in judgement.

15 October 1996

Larry Jones
2432 Hayson Ave
Pittsburgh, PA
(412) 531-5704

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