Biography of William J. Jones

Biography of William J. Jones

This biography appears on pages 868-873 in
"History of Dakota Territory" by George W. Kingsbury, Vol. V (1915)

More than forty years have passed since William J. Jones became a resident of South Dakota and throughout the intervening period to the present he has been identified with business interests in Minnehaha county, where he still owns the old homestead which he secured in 1873, as well as much other property. He was born in Breconshire, Wales, December 14, 1838, and in 1842 was brought to the United States by his parents, who, making their way to the middle west, settled upon a farm in Kenosha county, Wisconsin. Remaining under the parental roof until seventeen years of age, William J. Jones divided his time between the acquirement of a common-school education and the work of the fields. In the spring of 1856 he started out to make his own way in the world and was employed as a farm hand through the summer, while in the succeeding winter he worked in the pine woods near Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The summer of 1857 witnessed his removal to Allamakee county, Iowa, where he again resumed farm work, being thus engaged until the spring of 1859, when he joined with the Argonauts who made their way to Pike's Peak in search of the Golden Fleece. The success that he had wished for did not crown his efforts there, however, and in the fall of the same year he returned to Allamakee county. Subsequently he went to the north Wisconsin pine woods on the Chippewa river and in the spring of 1860 he proceeded down the Mississippi on a raft. Finally, however, he returned to Iowa, locating at Clarinda, Page county, where he was employed or' a farm, remaining there until the spring of 1861, when he contracted to drive an ox team to Denver, Colorado, and return.

When that task was completed, Mr. Jones offered his services to the government, enlisting as a member of Company I, First Nebraska Infantry, with which he went to the front. He was on active duty for a time in the south and later on the plains fighting Indians, for the regiment had been transferred to the cavalry branch of the service. Mr. Jones was mustered out as commissary sergeant at Omaha, Nebraska, on the 1st of July, 1866, and returned to his home with a most creditable military record, having fearlessly and faithfully defended the interests of his country, both in the South and upon the frontier. He then returned to Allamakee county and purchased a farm. About that time he was united in marriage to Miss Susan R. Smith, a native of Indiana and a daughter of Reuben and Martha (Lewis) Smith. On the maternal side she is of Welsh extraction. Her paternal grandfather served for seven years in the Revolutionary war. Mrs. Jones was a girl of seven years on the removal of the family to northeastern Iowa, where she grew to womanhood and was married. She and her husband began their domestic life upon his farm in Allamakee county, where they resided for about seven years. Within that period Mr. Jones was very active in the public life of the community and served on town boards as county commissioner, as tax collector and on school boards, proving most capable and faithful in the discharge of the many duties devolving upon him.

In 1873 Mr. Jones left his home in Iowa and came to South Dakota, taking up a homestead in Brandon township, Minnehaha county, which is still in his possession. He went back and forth to his old home in Iowa until the spring of 1875, when his family removed to this state, and they have since been residents here. Mr. Jones is an extensive landowner, his holdings comprising seven hundred and twenty acres in Brandon township, four hundred and eighty acres in Clear Lake township and one hundred and sixty acres in Red Rock township, Minnehaha county; three hundred and twenty acres in Meade county; and four hundred and eighty acres in Stanley county, this state, with an equity in another four hundred and eighty acre tract in the same county. He also owns three hundred and twenty acres in Montana and a quarter section in Wyoming.

To our subject and his wife have been born four children, as follows: E. O. Jones, who is a prominent attorney of Sioux Falls; Frank W., an agriculturist residing in Fort Bennett, Stanley county; Dr. E. A. D. Jones, a leading physician and surgeon of Garretson, South Dakota; and Lena Loom, who is a noted artist of Long Beach, California. The last named is a graduate of the Chicago School of Art and studied under private tutors in New York city and California.

With the exception of one term's service as county commissioner, Mr. Jones has held no public offices in South Dakota, but has concentrated his energies upon his private business affairs, which, capably and intelligently directed, have brought to him a gratifying measure of success. He is persistent and determined in conducting his business interests and energy and enterprise have carried him into important relations.

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