Thursday, November 20, 2014

From unedited work in progress

Albert Royal Delmont Jones played a significant though till now unexplored role in Watch Tower history. He was the son of Albert Delmont Jones, Sr. (born c. 1835) and Martha McCleary. His father most often used his middle name in place of his first. Albert senior settled for a period in Cooksport, Pennsylvania, a tiny framing community. He moved to Pittsburgh where he purchased a farm and remained there until his death.[1] He was a Civil War veteran, serving as an engineer on one of the Mississippi gunboats, and a Republican. He remained a staunch Republican until near his death when doubts over tariff policy led him to question party loyalty: “I’ve been a Republican, voting that ticket, thinking it was right, and thinking by doing so it was keeping up wages for the workingman, but I … have begun to think that we are only helping the capitalists and not benefiting the public and ourselves.”[2]

His mother was born in the East Liberty area of Pittsburgh in 1833 into a Colonial Era family. Her grandfather settled in Pittsburgh in 1812 after his ship was wrecked. Martha and A. Delmont Jones, Sr. married in July 1852. If genealogy records are correct, she gave birth to her first child, Martha Elizabeth, October 22, 1852, too soon to call the baby premature. She was a life-long Baptist, though it seems of a more liberal disposition than her fellow Baptists. Her obituary says:


“Aunt Martha,” as the subject of this sketch was known to a circle of relatives from Pennsylvania to Texas and California, was a woman of rare strength of mind and intellect. Her study of the Sacred Scriptures had given her a far-reaching insight into their deeper meaning such as few attain to in this life. She was broad-minded, nothing narrow  contained her doctrines; she believed in being as broad as the Bible, which is saying a good deal; in being as liberal as God is, which is saying still more. The dignified, cultured personality of “Aunt Martha” will always be a sweet remembrance to the many who knew her.[3]

            While her obituary suggests “a good deal,” it really says nothing about her liberal beliefs. But one can surmise that she raised her children in an atmosphere of Bible reading and study. The New York, New York, Press described his family as “well-to-do and respectable.”[4]

            The 1880 Census gives Albert, Jr’s age as 26, making him about two years younger than Russell. His birth place is listed as Pennsylvania, and his residence was in Pittsburgh’s 32nd Ward, Precinct two. He is listed as a married “store keeper” with a one year old daughter. At this writing we’ve not located a photo, so we’re left with a newspaper description printed in 1890: “Jones is a stylish looking man, with long black hair and peculiarly white face, who affects black sombrero hats and has the air of a crank.”[5]

            Sometime, apparently in 1876 at the latest, Albert moved to New York City, taking a job as a clerk, probably in a clothing store.[6] Returning to Pittsburgh in 1877, he secured employment with J. L. Russell & Son at the Fifth Avenue Store, which was managed by C. T. Russell, his dad having retired from active management. A newspaper report describes Jones as “an attaché” of Russell & Son, which may indicate management status. Jones family members had business interests that intersected Russell’s. A relative owned the D. J. Kennedy Company, coal wholesalers, and the Bulger Block Coal Company, a mining concern.  He was also general manager of the Darlington Brick and Mining Company. Russell had an interest at various times in Black’s Run Coal Syndicate and in U. S. Coal and Coke Company and also in The Silica Brick Company of Pittsburgh. The two families were social peers and could not help but become acquainted.

Jones married Carrie M. Bown. The wedding was performed by W. H. McKinney, pastor of the Mt. Washington Baptist Church. The Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette noted that Albert and Carrie were “well known in the city and highly esteemed.” The Pittsburgh Chronicle reported that the wedding drew “a large number of friends and acquaintances,” and the Wheeling, West Virginia newspaper noted that Carrie’s brother, W. J. H. Bown, was prominent in West Virginia local politics and that Carrie was well known there, having “a large number of friends and acquaintances in Wheeling.” William T. Bown, Carrie’s father, described himself as a Merchant Broker.[7] Samuel E. Bown, an uncle, was a well-known coffee and peanut roaster, managing the W. T. Bown & Bro. company. Jointly with Carrie’s father S. E. Bown patented a roasting process.[8] Their company was “among the leaders” in the period.[9]

[1]               Joshua Thompson Stewart: Indiana County, Pennsylvania; Her People, Past and Present, J. H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1911, Volume 2, page 27.
[2]               Veteran: Obituaries: Oakdale, Pennsylvania, Times, February 15, 1908. Republican: [Albert] Delmont Jones, Sr, Letter to Editor of The Truth Seeker, published in the September 24, 1892 issue.
[3]               Obituaries: Oakdale, Pennsylvania, Times, February 15, 1908.
[4]               New York Swindler Turns Up in St. Louis, The New York, New York, Press, December 27, 1896.
[5]               Topics Talked About, The New York, New York, Press, February 2, 1890.
[6]               Goulding’s New York City Directory for the Year Commencing May 1, 1877, Ending May 1, 1878, page 712. The data were gathered in prior to publication in early 1877.
[7]               Pittsburgh Commercial Gazette, January 9, 1878, [wheeling paper], W. T. Bown’s testimony as found in the Jones’ divorce records. W. T. was active in community and religious affairs and was one of those who helped organize a reading room for young people in the Mt. Washington neighborhood and helped secure a branch library for the area. [R. J. Coster: A History of Grace Church Parish, Wm. O. Johnston Co., Pittsburgh, 1903, pages 126-127.]
[8]               Jones’ Divorce Records; United States Patent number 217258; W. T. Bown & Bro. was founded in 1869. – Pittsburgh's Progress, Industries and Resources, 1886, page 212. Bown & Bro. roasted coffee for brand name holders rather than selling under their own name. – Our Leading Merchants and Manufacturers and the Rise and Progress of Prominent Business Enterprises, 1888, page 62.
[9]               W. H. Ukers: All About Coffee, Tea and Coffee Trade Journal, New York, 1922, page 507.


jerome said...
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Chris G. said...
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jerome said...

My original comment was covered in a subsequent article, but I will make it again here – you just need to insert an extra generation into your introduction. It was Delmont Jones senior (1803-1878) who “settled for a period in Cooksport, Pennsylvania, a tiny framing community. He moved to Pittsburgh where he purchased a farm and remained there until his death. [1]”. Then it was his son, Albert Delmont Jones (1831-1894) who “was a Civil War veteran, serving as an engineer on one of the Mississippi gunboats, and a Republican.”

Then of course we come onto our bad boy Albert Royal Delmont Jones... and the rest as they say, is history...