From farm to classroom to pulpits, Jones family led in many ways

Posted 10/8/19

(Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part article on the Jones family and their long history in Madison County. For the first part, see Keeping up with the Joneses in the Oct. 2 Meteor.)

Gus Jones had hoped that his eldest, Orlean, would be a teacher. However, Orlean soon realized that he did not enjoy that work, so he farmed and was a great fraternal leader. For 45 years, he served as Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge No. 21, Midway! Also, he assisted in establishing Masonic lodges in several locations.

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From farm to classroom to pulpits, Jones family led in many ways

Posted

(Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part article on the Jones family and their long history in Madison County. For the first part, see Keeping up with the Joneses in the Oct. 2 Meteor.)

Gus Jones had hoped that his eldest, Orlean, would be a teacher. However, Orlean soon realized that he did not enjoy that work, so he farmed and was a great fraternal leader. For 45 years, he served as Worshipful Master of Masonic Lodge No. 21, Midway! Also, he assisted in establishing Masonic lodges in several locations.

Orlean and wife Mae Bell had several children, including O.J. Jones, Jr. After serving in the Army, O.J. returned to family property and today he continues to farm land that has been in his family since well before 1900. Some of you remember Mr. O.J. also driving a local school bus, running a pretty tight ship! Children of O.J. and wife Leola include Rosaly Jones Johnson, Mark Jones, Arlen Jones, and Gus Jones III.

Several other children of Gus and Sarah were leaders as well. Napoleon taught and preached in Texas and Louisiana. General Cornelius served in the Army in World War II, holding the rank of First Lieutenant, and served in supervisory positions in Louisiana schools. Gus Jones, Jr., worked as a principal in Mexia and later as State Supervisor of Agriculture. Sarah Lee Jones taught in Texas and Louisiana schools and also operated Jones Funeral Home in Navasota. Erna Beatrice taught in Texas, served as supervisor of schools in McClennan County, and also taught at Arkansas A&M State College, Tennessee A&I College, Southern University (Louisiana), and Texas Southern University.

Now the third orphaned brother, Adam, who as stated above, migrated to Madison County along with Gus. Also like Gus, he purchased land in the Midway area, until he owned more than 900 acres, mostly near the Trinity River. It was not unusual for his cotton crop to exceed 30 bales of cotton a season. He also grew vegetables and fruit, including plenty of watermelon. He raised livestock of all descriptions.

Again like Gus, Adam married soon after reaching Madison County, to Tabby Robinson. The couple was blessed with 5 sons, West, Patrick, Luther, Ciage, and Adam Junior, and 3 daughters, Clandia, Alberta, and Annie. While the boys were young and growing up, Adam indulged them in getting all the material things they liked. Each son purchased a saddle and horse; later each bought a buggy. When cars became popular, Patrick and Luther each bought a Mitchell automobile (those were manufactured 1903-1923). One younger son bought a Packard, another a Ford.

Adam Senior died in the early 1920s. He had been the one in the family that did all the managing, and the great depression hit them hard. Soon the family members lost most of their material goods, along with the land. Most of them drifted away from Madison County, leaving only Clandia (Campbell) and Adam Junior remaining in the Midway area. Volume 2 of the local history book states that “all of the first descendants of Adam and Clandia are passed.”

Besides their own children, the original parents, Gus and Sarah, raised Jim Johnson. He was born 1875 to Wesley and Harriet Johnson, but his mother had died when he was three and his father left him two years later. Gus and Sara took him in when he was five, and he grew up very close to their oldest son, Orlean, who was close in age. At the age of 19, Jim married Mary Ann Byrd, of Connor Community. They had 12 children.

Jim had very little schooling but wanted to learn, so he attended school with his oldest son. He was also ambitious, leasing and sharecropping from different landowners until in 1916 he had saved enough to purchase his own land, 100 acres for $2 an acre.

Johnson also became an ordained Church of Christ minister, conducting over 100 each of marriage ceremonies and funerals. All of his sons became ministers. When he died, he left 45 grandchildren, 106 great-grandchildren, and 15 great-great-grandchildren, including some by surnames Washington, Lee, Bell, Hardy, and of course Johnson. Volume 1 of the local history book says land Jim Johnson had purchased still remains in his family. If you know that for a fact, please let the Museum know. If you are a family member, you might want to purchase one of the local history books from which I garnered this information.

If some of you have other information on this family, please share with the Museum. If you want to share information on your family but it does not connect with this Jones family, please share it too!

Madison County Museum, at 201 N. Madison St., Madisonville, TX, opens to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Museum Curator Jane Day Reynolds welcomes your visit. If you’d like to share a story, call the Museum, 936.348.5230. If the answering machine picks up, leave your name, number, and message, and someone will call you back.

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