David M. Jones

From the book
Portrait and Biographical Record
of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
,
Chapman Publishing Co., New York, 1897

Hon. D. M. Jones, deceased. The cosmopolitan character of the population of the United States is indicated by the fact that every country in the world is represented among its citizens. While many of these nations have sent hither men and women of energy, thrifty habits and honest hearts, yet it may be said, without injustice to the others, that no land has contributed to the citizenship of our country a higher class of people, men of intelligence, industry and perseverance, men of brain and brawn, than has Wales.

The subject of this sketch was of Welsh birth and ancestry, a member of a family that was long identified with the agricultural interests of the shire of Brecon, lying midland along the mountains of Wales. His father, David A., was born in the town of Brecon and was a son of David Sr. In early life he engaged in farming, but after his marriage settled in Rhymney, where he engaged as a contractor on the ore mines. His wife, Jane, who was a native of Brecon and a daughter of William Jones, a horseman of that shire, died in Wales in 1848, and three years later he came to America accompanied by his children, David, Margaret and William. He reached Pittston, Pa., in May 1851, but three months later went to Hyde Park, where he was connected with mining interests until his retirement from business. In October, 1856, he went to California via the Nicaragua route and during the journey Walker's gang of filibusters made an attack upon the party. With others he was held and promised land if he would guide their expedition, but rejected the proposal and later was allowed to depart. In due time he arrived safely at his destination. For a year he remained at the Monte Cristo gold mines, returning via Panama in 1857 and continuing to reside in Hyde Park until his death at the age of seventy-three. He was a man of sincere religious belief and served as deacon in the Congregational church.

Three children comprised the family, but none now survives. Our subject's sister, Mrs. D. H. Davis, who resided in Indiana, died in Scranton. His brother, William, who enlisted at the age of sixteen in May, 1861, as a member of Company K, Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, served as an orderly on Stanley's staff until he fell at the battle of Bull's Gap, Tenn., April 13, 1865. Near the village of Rhymney, Breconshire, D. M. Jones was born June 26, 1839. He was a boy of eleven, when, with his father, brother and sister, he took passage at Cardiff on a merchant sailing vessel, which anchored at New York after a voyage of five weeks and four days. Coming to Pennsylvania, he soon began to work in the old Diamond mine, and later was apprenticed to the moulder's trade in the foundry of the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad. In 1858 he went to California, making the journey by steamer from New York to Panama, and from Aspinwall to San Francisco. From the latter city he went to Folsom, Cal., where he engaged in prospecting and mining. His next move was to British Columbia and from there he went to Russian America (now Alaska), where he remained until 1860, prospecting and mining. In the fall of 1860 he returned to Folsom in time to cast his first vote for Lincoln, after which he started for Arizona, with a pack, traveling horseback. The party being driven back by Apache Indians, he began mining in Calaveras County, where he was successful. While in California he was corporal in a company of rifles under Captain Hopkins, formerly of Scranton.

Meantime the nation was plunged in the peril of a great civil strife, and even in far distant California the highest excitement prevailed. The condition of the Union was such as to appeal to the patriotic spirit of every true citizen. Desiring to take an active stand for the government, Mr. Jones determined to return east, and in 1864 made the long journey by the Isthmus of Panama. On his arrival at Scranton, he was mustered into Company I, One Hundred and Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry, September 17, 1864, and was sent to Camp Cadwallader, Philadelphia, and from there to Richmond. April 2, 1865, the day on which Richmond and Petersburg fell, he was serving as first corporal in the charge on Ft. Gregg, and was shot in the right thigh, receiving an injury so severe as to necessitate the amputation of the limb, which was done on the field. He was then taken to the hospital in Hampton, Va., and in July to Central Park, New York City, thence to David's Island, East River. October 1, 1865 he was honorably discharged from the service.

For two years after the close of the war Mr. Jones held the position of night watchman at the Second National Bank. During this time he was a student in Gardner's Business College, and graduated at the completion of the prescribed course. In May, 1868, he was elected upon the Republican ticket as alderman of the fourth ward and was re-elected in 1873, serving until December, 1876. In the fall of that year he was elected to represent his district in the legislature and served during the sessions 1877 and 1878. In June of 1878, on his return from the assembly, he was appointed deputy city treasurer under Reese T. Evans, whom he succeeded in office by election in February, 1879, serving two terms of two years each from June 1879. In 1886 he took a trip to California, where he spent three months, an interested observer of the wonderful changes that had been made there since his first visit.

As a Republican, Mr. Jones always took a deep interest in public affairs and his aid was always ready at the party call. On several different occasions he was chairman of the Republican central committee, filling that position during the Blaine campaign, when Lackawanna County gave that famous statesman a majority of thirty-five hundred. He was treasurer of the county committee in 1894 and served as a delegate to state conventions. It was felt by the members of his party that he received a just recognition of his public services when, April 20, 1889, President Harrison appointed him postmaster at Scranton, he being the first postmaster appointed under that administration. He assumed the duties of the office in May and continued until the change of administration, holding the position for four years and one month. Meantime he was busily engaged, not only in taking charge of the mail delivery service, but also in superintending the construction of the federal building now occupied by the post office, in the construction of which he was disbursing agent for the United States.

With many of the prominent business concerns of Scranton Mr. Jones held a close relation. He assisted in the organization of the Scranton & Pottsville Coal & Land Company, of which he was secretary; aided in the organization of the Cambrian Mutual Fire Insurance Company in 1871 and was treasurer until his death; also held the position of secretary of the Schuylkill Anthracite Coal Royalty Company; assisted in organizing the Ronaldson Coal Land Company, of which he was treasurer; and, in addition to other interests carried on a real estate business, having an office in the West Side Bank Building. While an alderman he was for two years associate judge of the mayor's court in Scranton. During his period of service in the Legislature, Lackawanna was separated from Luzerne County, in June, 1878, after thirty-five years of apparently fruitless labor for that end. The passage of the bill was due to his energy, coupled with the efforts of his colleagues, James Kierstead and Maj. A. I. Ackerley.

In May, 1868, Mr. Jones married Miss Hannah Edwards, who was born in Clifford, Susquehanna County, and died in Scranton in December, 1871. She had two children, Margaret and Jane, both of whom died in infancy. Her father, David Edwards, of Wales, was one of the earliest settlers in Clifford, and engaged in farming there, but for some years has lived retired in Hyde Park. In Plymouth, Pa., September 23, 1873, Mr. Jones married Miss Anna E. Williams who was born in Pittston, a daughter of James Williams, formerly a merchant of Plymouth, now of Nanticoke. Their children are Edgar A., Helen E., Dorothy M. and Ethel H. The only other relative of Mr. Jones in this country is his nephew, David J. Davis, an attorney. Interested in everything pertaining to Grand Army affairs, Mr. Jones attended many of the national encampments, including those at San Francisco, St. Louis, Boston, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore, and was an aide on the national staff of General Warren, of Kansas City. He was a charter member and for several terms commander of the Willie Jones Post No. 199, named in honor of his brother, and previous to this was commander and adjunct of the old James Robb Post at Scranton; he was also connected with the Lieut. Ezra S. Griffin Post No. 139, in which he served as quartermaster and trustee. He was identified with the lodge of the Knights of Pythias from its organization, and was the first past chancellor of Hyde Park Lodge No. 306.

When his life ended, October 25, 1896, it was felt that one of our best citizens had passed from among us. The words that close this memoir express the sentiment of all to whom he was personally known:

"In the halls of legislature in Harrisburg, in the city treasurer's office, in the post office, and in every position of trust, public and private, his record has been untarnished. This record is the most priceless gift he has left to posterity. His home was an ideal one in every sense. The kind husband and affectionate father, and the steadfast friend united in him. Mingled with the tears that affection and a loving remembrance will shed upon his grave will be found in the silent tears of many an old soldier who found him to be a friend, comrade, and a brother."


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Read more about the connection between Scranton and Brynmawr, Wales
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