James Addison Jones I: years from 1914-1933

On February 14, 1914, a great blow struck this man and his large family of little children. The wife and mother died, leaving her twelfth baby, Helen, only twelve days old. In this time of great sorrow, as in all to come, Jim Jones turned to his Church and to his God for comfort–not to strong drink, not to an endless round of doctors for pains his emotions caused, not to his friends and relatives to burden them with his problems, but to his Church and to his Faith. Dr. Powell, in telling about my father’s turning to the church in times of great sorrow in his life for comfort and counsel, said he often heard him tell this story:

“I was attending a revival service at the Trinity Methodist Church. My heart was very heavy, but while Bishop Kilgo preached, I was helped. During the singing of the invitational hymn Bishop Kilgo came to me, put his hand on my shoulder and said, ‘Brother Jones, Jesus Christ loves you’. That was all he said, and that was enough, for from then on the burden was lifted.”

{source: Duke Yearlook; portrait of JAJ I family friend Bishop John Carlisle Kilgo, former President of Trinity College/Duke University}

He threw himself into his work, planted his feet more firmly than ever, tried several practical nurses to rear his baby and little children, none of whom proved successful and one of whom even nearly cost the baby her life. Finally he secured a satisfactory housekeeper, who ran the home for more than a year.

In September, 1915, he married again, this time a woman from Greensboro, N.C., a teacher and of strong Methodist background, Emma Lockhart Renn. During the summer two other weddings had also taken place. Edwin married Annabel Lambeth and set up housekeeping in the little house on Caldwell Street, the first house Jim Jones had ever owned. The second wedding that summer was the marriage of Etta Jones to George Ray.

{Source: The Tatler, 1903 edition of Greensboro College’s yearbook. Emma L. Renn was in the class of 1904. She must be one of the young women here, wish I knew which one!}

{Annabel Lambeth, Edwin Lee Jones, Sr.’s bride-to-be and Duke University classmate of 1912}

Also in 1916, Raymond {WWJ note: my great-grandfather} graduated from Georgia Tech as a civil engineer and went into the construction business with Dad and Edwin. His work with the company was interrupted, however, by several years’ service in the army-some of it overseas. World War I almost broke Jim Jones financially, because of rising prices and scarcity of labor, as well as scarcity of jobs. Although he tried as hard as he knew how, J. A. Jones, General Contractor, was unable to get any war work, except for the job of finishing the odds and ends left by the contractor at Camp Green.

However, it was during this period that J. A. Jones achieved state and national fame for making the highest record of any one member who joined the War Savings Club. The limit was $1,000 for each member of the family. J. A. Jones purchased $15,000 for himself, wife, and thirteen children… a national record. By this time he had two children by his second wife, Emma Renn, born in 1916 and Robert Joseph, born in 1918. This made a total of fourteen children in all in the family with thirteen living.

During the winter of 1918-1919 there was a terrible epidemic of influenza throughout the nation. It was especially severe in cities such as Charlotte where there was an army camp. Every home was hit with the disease, with not one but practically all the family ill at the same time. Servants were ill or scared to death, and help was just not available. Pregnant women were especially susceptible to the disease and in most cases could not survive. Most of my family contracted the disease, and Emma Lockhart Renn, the second wife of Jim Jones, died of influenza in February 1919, leaving two small children.

{Obituary of Emma Lockhart Renn Jones}

Again this man had the heart break of burying a loved wife and of facing the task of rearing small children without their mother. Again he remained resolute and maintained the home as it was accustomed to being run. Housekeepers were tried until one was found who could run the home satisfactorily.

James Addison Jones, forty-nine years of age, sociable and affectionate by nature, could not endure this lonely life long. Again he went courting and this time again in Greensboro, this courtship resulted in his taking a third wife, Maude Boren, in September, 1920. I, fourteen years old at the time, was one of the family who went to this wedding, and I enjoyed the experience immensely, except for the three or four punctures we had during the one-hundred mile trip in our car.

{Maude Boren is somewhere in this photo, a member of the Special Class of 1908 at Greensboro College. The Special Class was a group of women who attended college for just a year – kind-of a finishing school with specialization. Maude’s was piano.}

This marriage resulted in close friendship between my family and the Borens, a relationship that is still valued. Here is how Helen Boren Cloninger expressed her feelings:

“Wish I could translate into words the way I used to feel when that car-it looked as if it were a block long-would turn into the driveway, with the children’s heads sticking out the windows. We knew we were in for a lot of fun. Then as the time went on the heads became fewer and fewer. So we all grow up, but it is easier when you have some wonderful memories.”

In 1920 Jim Jones incorporated his business, taking the title “The J. A. Jones Construction Company”, which has not been changed to this day. With Edwin and Raymond in the business with Dad, the company began to grow rapidly. Edwin, who had begun helping in the office when quite young, turned his time and talents to the administrative side of the business. Raymond with his engineering training, went into the field to work as superintendent, bringing to the workers on the jobs the all-important touch from the “home office” and the Jones family. But Dad, because of his boundless energy, continued to daily visit the local jobs to give them his personal supervision.

This team of father and sons set the pattern in which responsible and progressive management, the most efficient in working methods, and the latest in technical knowledge became the fixed and unvarying rule. It was this pattern, through the years, that fashioned the J. A. Jones Construction Company into a south-wide, nation-wide, then world-wide reputation.

On June 12, 1921, Charles Boren Jones, the only child of Maude Boren Jones and Jim Jones, was born, and he proved to be the last child in the family. His birth occurred thirty years and two days after the birth of Edwin, the first born.

{Charles Boren Jones, as a freshman at Davidson College in 1942, yearbook photo. Davidson College is a small, liberal arts college in Davidson, North Carolina. He would be my great-grand uncle.}

During the summer of 1923, the year I graduated from High School, Dad bought a beautiful colonial mansion at 600 East Boulevard, in a good residential section of Charlotte, called Dilworth. Dad sold the brick home on South Tryon Street and moved the family out of there, because that section of town was fast being taken over by business. And the family were delighted to move into this beautiful home, which was large and spacious and set back in the midst of lovely grounds which occupied a city block square. Although J. A. Jones did not build this home he took great pride in its beauty, in its ceilings, its wall painting above the curved stairway, and in its fine woodwork. He also enjoyed showing the lovely grounds, which contained a terrace, covered with a rose arbor, with steps going down into a sunken flower garden; a greenhouse; a servant’s house; a garage which would take four cars easily; and a tennis court, which later became Dad’s loved rose garden.

{A photo of the beautiful, Jones-Latta house on 600 E. Boulevard. It took up an entire city block. Demolished in 1960 by the Greek Orthodox Church of Charlotte. JAJ I purchased the house directly from Edward Dilworth Latta in 1923, as Latta moved to Asheville, NC. The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral still stands on the entire lot. When the house was still standing, family could go out the front door and walk to the family church, Dilworth UMC that was just across the street (as it still is today).}

In the fall of 1921 another blow hit this hard-working, devout man. His oldest daughter, Elizabeth, preparing to return to college for her senior year, was found to have tuberculosis. She persuaded Dad to let her stay with friends in their home in Asheville, N. C. instead of entering a sanatorium for treatment. She was very happy there in that home but was not careful to get enough rest. When Dad learned her health was getting worse he placed her in a sanatorium and then shortly afterwards had her moved to the Glockner Sanatorium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in hopes that the climate there would help her to get well. But there she died in December, 1925. Edwin, Annabel, and I went to the station to claim her coffin. This was a heartbreaking experience for us.

So again this man knew the bitter heartache of burying a loved one, this time his oldest and favorite daughter, then only twenty-five. He loved to tell stories of her childhood and youth, stories that revealed her spunk, her self reliance, and her initiative.

{Francis Elizabeth Jones, who went by Elizabeth, attended University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I found two photos of her in the UNC-G 1920 yearbook from when she was a sophomore. As a sophomore, she was a forward on the UNCG basketball team (for the sophomore class) and she was the guitar manager for the Glee Club.}

Also during this period, Jim Jones was worried about the health of another member of the family, his third son, Berryman {WWJ note: Hannibal Berryman Jones}. It was believed for a time that he might have tuberculosis and certainly a “weakness” toward bronchial and chest colds. I am not certain of the length of time Berryman spent in the mountains or resting. I do know the doctors advised that he work out-of-doors for his health, and that this resulted in his giving up his desire to have music as his profession.

Dad was also worried because some of the family did not see the value of advanced education. He was anxious for each one of his children to get a college education and provided every opportunity for them to do so, I have heard him say many times that he felt the lack of an education all his life and that an education was far more valuable than money. He would say, “An education is something that will stay with you all your life, and no one can take it away from you”. In spite of this philosophy of his and the opportunity he gave to each one, he had the satisfaction and pleasure of seeing only five of his children receive a college degree-Edwin, Raymond, Minnie B., Dorothy and Robert. The others failed to achieve it for one reason or another. Elizabeth and Berryman could not for health reasons. Johnie wanted only a year at a business school, and the others failed to graduate, although they attended college. Their failure to do so must have been a big disappointment to our father.

As Dad provided each of us with the opportunity for an education, he also gave each of his boys the opportunity of entering into his construction business. After some years with the construction company, James, Frank, Berryman, and Charles decided that they preferred other types of work. Johnie, Paul and then Robert entered into the office and administrative work of the company, joining Edwin, Raymond and my father.

{this post continues with the text of Minnie B. Jones Ussery, who wrote this in 1960}

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Virginia based lifestyle blogger Whitney of WorthyStyle shares her beauty, fashion, gluten free cooking, family life, and more. Follow along!

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