Sunday, November 23, 2014

In Search of Delmont Jones

by Jerome

Rachael kindly sent me a family tree for Albert Delmont Jones, which was far more extensive than the one I had put together from Ancestry. I understand the original research was done by “Ton” who is greatly missed. Because there are rather a lot of Delmont Jones names in this article, our main quarry, the editor of Zion’s Day Star, will hereafter just be referred to as ADJ.

The family tree sent me in search of records on the Find a Grave site. If you type in Delmont Jones and Pennsylvania you will find five different Delmont Jones listed. Due to research errors and misunderstandings, these five names only relate to three people – ADJ’s grandfather, father, and younger brother. ADJ’s first wife’s grave is also on the site if you know where to look as is one of his children, also an Albert D Jones. Alas, I have not traced ADJ himself. But one wonders, with his chequered history, under what name he finally went under?

 So, first the grandfather. Three of the Find a Grave entries relate to him! There are two entries for a Delmont Jones, b. August 3, 1803. One has him dying on December 30, 1878 and an almost duplicate record states December 29. They have him buried in the Turner Cemetery on Squirrel Hill, Allegheny County. This location was originally correct. Census returns for Peebles Township (Squirrel Hill) and old maps show the original Delmont Jones owning farming land in this area. It was eventually annexed into Pittsburgh in 1868.

 The Turner Cemetery still exists, but is only half an acre in size and was abandoned around 1880 when the church beside it that maintained it was closed. As a result, a number of those buried there were later moved. This included the first Delmont Jones, who was one of the last to be buried there. He was reinterred at the Homewood Cemetery in Pittsburgh on 25 March 1899. This was quite a common practice. As small community graveyards closed and the land often reused for other purposes, many families had relatives transferred to the new-style park-like cemeteries that were needed to cope with the dramatic increases in population. So there is a Find a Grave entry for Homewood Cemetery with a Delmont Jones, b. unknown, and died 1899 – which is a misunderstanding of what happened. On the other hand, this entry does show his gravestone with the correct date of death, 30 December 1878. It is likely that a gravestone was first placed at Turner cemetery and then moved with him, although this version looks of more recent origin.

Thanks are due to Find a Grave correspondent Rich who kindly gave me permission to reproduce the photograph at the head of this article, and also checked out the details of the discrepancy. One mystery - there was another Jones, this time a Watson Jones who was moved from Turner to Homewood on the same day, transported in the same container, and reinterred in the same grave as Delmont. Watson Jones died from epilepsy in 1866 aged 25. However, this does not link up with any known names in the Delmont Jones family tree. Perhaps they were moved together and reburied together, just in case. However, only Delmont’s name appears on the gravestone.

 Next, we come to the second Delmont Jones, son of Delmont Jones (Mark 1), and the father of ADJ. This Delmont Jones was born in Squirrel Hill, Allegheny, 1831 and died in 1894. His wife’s obituary describes him as a well-known Civil War veteran who served as an engineer in the United States Mississippi gunboat fleet. He and his wife Martha are buried in the South Side cemetery in Pittsburgh. This time thanks are due to Find a Grave correspondent Rob who gave permission for me to reproduce the photograph. The stone lists five names – Delmont Jones, his wife Martha Jones, and then the remaining surnames are of the Frasher family. One of this Delmont Jones’ daughters married a Frasher, so this will be her and some of her family.

Next, we come to the actual generation of ADJ. ADJ had a younger brother called – what a surprise – Delmont Jones again. This Delmont Jones (1874-1923) is buried in the Union Dale cemetery, Pittsburgh. Alas, there is not a stone, or at least a photograph of a stone, and it is unknown whether other members of the family were buried with him. The name Delmont Jones turns up in a number of Pittsburgh records, and likely relate to this Delmont rather than ADJ – although it is difficult to establish with certainty.

The Union Dale cemetery was also the final resting place for ADJ’s first wife. She is buried with her father and mother in the Bown family plot. The Jones name is mentioned because the inscription has her down as Caroline M Bown (1858-1933), wife of Albert D Jones. ADJ’s infant son, listed as Albert D Jones, born and died in 1883, is buried there with her. That is probably the only reason that ADJ is mentioned on the stone, since Caroline divorced him for infidelity after four children and around twelve years of marriage. One suspects that the D in the middle of the infant’s name is likely to be another Delmont.

Unfortunately I have not received permission to reproduce a photograph of this stone. If I subsequently obtain this, then I will adjust the article, but any reader sufficiently interested can easily check the Find a Grave site for themselves.

It would have been nice to have found a stone for ADJ and also a juicy obituary in some newspaper. Maybe they will still surface at some time.

(Note: as more recent posts have indicated, ADJ's final resting place is now known. He was buried in a Potter's Field cemetery, with just a small stone with a number on it. Most of the cemetery was obliterated when a freeway ramp was constructed in the late 1950s, early 1960s. It is rumored that many gangsters who disappeared are possibly buried under the freeway. In ADJ's case, it seems literally true. A long way from the leafy parklands of Pittsburgh cemeteries.)

Changing tack now, perhaps the most interesting point for me from the supplied genealogical records - as someone who has written on film history over the years, is a tenuous connection with the Roscoe Arbuckle scandal. Fatty Arbuckle was arrested and accused of rape and murder after a 1921 party in San Francisco. The victim was a small part actress named Virginia Rappe. The charge was subsequently reduced to manslaughter. Arbuckle went through two hung juries before being cleared at a third trial where the jury were out for all of six minutes, using five of them to write a statement making a formal apology to him for the injustice he had suffered.

There was little doubt that Virginia Rappe’s death was preventable. Health problems exacerbated by a series of abortions made her fragile, and she didn’t get prompt or proper care when taken ill. But the lurid accusations against Arbuckle all originated with Rappe’s companion who crashed the party, one Bambina Maud Delmont. While Wikipedia is not always the most accurate of sources, it does quite a nice line in character assassination with (quote) “Delmont had a long criminal record with multiple convictions for racketeering, bigamy, fraud, and extortion, and allegedly was making a living by luring men into compromising positions and capturing them in photographs, to be used as evidence in divorce proceedings.  Her unsubstantiated testimony at the original hearing got Arbuckle indicted, but then the prosecution deliberately kept her far away from all the actual trials, because her obvious inability to tell truth from fiction would have immediately sunk their case.

The connection with Truth History? Maud had previously been the third Mrs ADJ. They married in 1904. That is where she obtained the Delmont name.

When you consider ADJ’s history after his “fall from grace” which will be detailed by Bruce and Rachael in the forthcoming volume, and then Maud’s colourful history, it would appear that some people just seem made for each other.

 Albeit briefly.


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