Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The East End - Setting the Scene

From the Collection of the Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

It's hard to imagine what Eastern Ave. looked like when Charles Henry Jones walked it.  After all, the East End was not annexed into the City of Cinncinnati until 1855.  Up until then, this area was known as "Fulton,"  named after Robert Fulton "who is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat." Wikipedia 

The life-blood of the community of Fulton was the boatbuilding industry.  The community had an unusual geographical shape.  It largely consisted of a one-mile strip of land bounded on one side by the Ohio River and the other by the formidable hillsides that now line Columbia Parkway.  At the time of its annexation to the city, it became known politically as Ward 17.

The view in the picture above is probably early 20th Century. Eastern Avenue has cobblestones. Telephone and electrical lines are strung along poles. There is a set of rails for some kind of street railway, possibly horse-drawn. The narrow street pulling off to the left was Torrence Rd., the site of the rail station that was part of the Little Miami Railroad. Across from the train station is St. Rose Church. As Charles and his family lived on the riverbank behind the Church, he must have traveled these roads frequently.

From the Collection of the Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County about 1910.

I was told by an East End local, now a retired doctor, that in its time, this station was quite elegant.  One wall was covered with Rookwood tiles, now removed.  Parts of a mural still remain.  The station was closed after the opening of Union Terminal in 1933.

It is also hard to imagine what it looked like from behind St. Rose Church on the river bank.  We know from Lillian's letter (granddaughter) the house was flooded every spring.  When the family would try to convince Elizabeth Kinley Jones to leave the house on the river bank she said, "Pap put me here, and I'm going to stay."  She finally had to move in with her daughter Elizabeth's family when she became unable to keep house. 

From the Collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

Photo Credit
So these are the views that must have been part of Charles' world, at least in his older years. The next posts will discuss Charles as a young married man and the home where he eventually raised his family in the East End.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

"The Finest Man Ever . . ." Charles Henry Jones

Charles Henry Jones
" . . . He was the finest man who ever walked Eastern Avenue."

In a letter chronicling our family history, written by Lillian Mears first cousin of my grandfather, my great-grandfather was described this way:

Charles Henry Jones was a handsome, fair man, much like your Bob.  Everyone liked him and people said he was the finest man ever walked Eastern Avenue.  He looked something like your father, except his coloring was different.
"Bob" is the grandson of Charles Henry and the "father" she is referring to was his son, Charles F. Jones.  He is described as having blond hair and blue eyes.  So what do we know of him?  Charles was:
  • Born January 23, 1849 and died September 8, 1909.
  • He was married twice -- first to Rachel Adela Wainright on January 25, 1882 and later to Alwilda Collins on December 26, 1898 following the death at age 43 of his first wife.
  • He was the father of three children:  Mary Edith (1882), my grandfather Charles Frederick (1884) and Leo Wainright Jones (1887).
  • He started his career as a "sawyer", became a machinist/handyman and later was listed as a carriage maker/car repairer.
  • He owned a two-family at 2316 Gladstone off of Collins Ave.
  • He was actively involved in the Knights of Phythias, even having symbols of that fraternal organization engraved in his grave marker.
  • He suffered from "chronic nephritis," a kidney disease that eventually was responsible for his death at the age of 59
  • Charles died in 1909 and is buried next two his second wife in Walnut Hills Cemetery.
But there is so much more to this man than the "facts." I've tried over the years to put "flesh on those bones," but I'm afraid I must rely too much on conjecture.  In the next post, I'll give you my best guess about Charles Henry.  If you see it differently, please leave a comment.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Joneses in the 1870 Census

Joneses in the 1870 Census
Source Citation: Year: 1870; Census Place: Cincinnati Ward 17, Hamilton, Ohio; Roll: M593_1215; Page: 261A; Image: 525; Family History Library Film: 552714.
There are a lot of clues about the Jones Family in the 1870 U.S, Census.  We can see that Elizabeth, wife of Alexander, is listed as a widow, keeping house.  Her net worth is listed as $100.  She lists her birthplace as Pennsylvania and fudges on her age.  She claims to be 44 years-old but is actually a couple of years older.  The mark in the box to the right is under the column that suggests that she cannot write.  It says that she can read although I recall other documents that did not make that claim.

In 1879, five children are living with her:  Martha (age 22), Charles H. (age 19), John (age 18), Thomas (age 14), and Elizabeth (age 8).  William (age 28) is no longer living with the family and may be married.  Although the document lists their residence as the 17th Ward, no specific street is listed.  For this information, I checked the Cincinnati City Directory.  As of 1868, the family is living in a two-story frame house right on the banks of the Ohio River.

See area shaded in pale yellow in the bend of the river.  Click to enlarge.
Pictured is part of the 17th Ward taken from a Titus Map of the area in 1869.

1868 Cincinnati City Directory

By 1870 the two older boys, Charles and John, were working in a saw mill.  Thomas and Elizabeth are in school, and Martha (the oldest girl) is "living at home."  According to a letter written by Lillian Mears to Edith Breving outlining our family history:

Your grandfather (Charles) and Uncle Tom (Charles' brother) worked for the Crane Lumber on Eastern Ave.  They manufactured caskets, and every noon the men would stretch out in a nice clean casket before the satin linings were put in and take a nap!

It is hard to know the exact location of the Crane Lumber Yard where they worked because the company was located in several locations on Eastern Ave. over the years.  Lumber was needed to support the steamboat-building industry as well as housing for the rapidly-expanding population.  It is at times a bit shocking to see how the Cincinnati hillsides were stripped of their virgin forests in an area prone to mudslides.  One of the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps pictures one Crane Lumber Yard in the area currently occupied by LeBlond Park, less than a quarter of a mile downstream from the home on the "River Bank."

The home highlighted in blue would eventually become the home of Charles Henry Jones.  If you look carefully at the picture below, you can see one of the hillsides that has been stripped of vegetation.  This picture in entitled "boatbuilding" and is From the Collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

Charles Henry Jones is my great-grandfather.  He is now of marriageable age.  Our Jones Family History is about to take another turn.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Living on the Ohio

Note:  This post, with minimal updates, was originally posted on Jones Family Matters on June 10, 2009.

Rear of St. Rose Church facing the Ohio River. The Water Pumping Station is to the right.
I knew from City Directories and Census documents that Elizabeth Kinley Jones (widow of Alexander) and her family lived on the banks of the Ohio River. Family stories as well as the 1880 Census showed the family living on Lumber St. off of Eastern Ave. Lumber St. is right next to St. Rose Church which was built in 1867. It was originally known as St. Rosa and was built to serve the German population of the area.

A few years back I went to the Hamilton Co. Recorder's Office and did a property search. I discovered that the property occupied by St. Rose Church was originally part of the George Torrence Estates. He divided his property among his children, and his daughter Nancy inherited Lots 10 and 11. The Church is on Lot 11.

The deed states that Nancy Torrence sold Lot 11 for $10,000 to Bishop John Purcell. She then donated $1000 back to help fund the construction of the Church. This was in 1867. No mention was made of any part of the property being used for a home.

This frustrated me for years because Elizabeth Jones, widow of Alexander, is listed in the 1868 City Directory as living in a house, east of Lumber St. The 1880 Census lists Elizabeth and her children as the only residents on Lumber St. besides the three priests serving St. Rose and their housekeeper.

At a meeting of the Hamilton County Genealogical Society, Bill Graver, a volunteer for the Cincinnati Historical Society introduced himself and told me he thought he could help solve the mystery.  The following week my husband Bill and I met with Mr. Graver at the Historical Society Library.  He had located a historical map showing the house in question 250' from the southeast corner of the church on the river bank. The house was a two-story frame house with an iron chimney. It was located on Lot 10 of the Torrence Estate on property that is currently occupied by the Cincinnati Water Works Pumping Station (not the Gas Works) owned by the City of Cincinnati.

Based on this information, my brother Tim, sister-in-law Dusty and I went with tape measure in hand to find the exact location of the "Jones Homestead." The river level in 2009 is much higher than the level in 1880 but you can get a distinct feel for their closeness and love for the Ohio. Note: I mislabeled the map as the "Cincinnati Gas Works." It should have read "Cincinnati Water Works Pumping Station."

Tim marking the approximate spot of the Jones Homestead.


Current look of the river bank. The walls at the top of the bank surround the Water Works Pumping Plant.  See below.

View of the river bank from the St. Rose Church parking lot.

Photo Credit:  http://www.cincinnativiews.net/ohio_river_2.htm
This is how the Pumping Station looked on Eastern Ave. (now Riverside Dr.) before the 1937 flood.  Because the plant was not originally protected by tall walls, the pumps failed and the city was without clean water for a week.  The picture of the bank as it appears now shows the walls that now surround the plant.  Notice St. Rose Church located to the right of the plant.

Since the Church was built in 1867 and the Cincinnati City Directory lists the family as living in the house on the river bank in 1868, the Joneses and St. Rose saw the beginning of a relationship that would last for 100 years.  So how did the family pay the rent?  I'll tell you about that in the next post.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Movin' on Out to the East Side

Typical of the times, when Alexander and Elizabeth first settled in Cincinnati, they lived in the "basin" area.  It's easy to track their moves by using City Directories.  The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has an online virtual library where you can search 115 years worth of City Directories that have been digitized and are online.  They date all the way back to 1819.

Current Day Race Street between 14th and 15th
As mentioned in the previous post, Alexander first appeared in the 1843 City Directory.  He was listed as a carpenter living on Race Street between 14th and 15th.  This is about one block north of where Music Hall is located.  You have to be careful when making assumptions that the address listed in the City Directory corresponds to the address for an area today.  When our Joneses lived in the basin area, "house numbers" did not yet exist.  In 1897, the streets of Cincinnati were renumbered.  Streets changed names.  Just think about Front Street, later named Eastern Avenue, and now called Riverside Drive.  I was surprised to find out that in the 1848 Daguerreotype picture of Cincinnati, the experts have not been able to identify any building pictured then that still exists now.  I am sure the buildings shown above did not exist in 1843.

By 1860, the family seems to be living in the "East End."  After Alexander died in 1862, his widow, Elizabeth, does not appear in the City Directories again until 1870.  Here is a copy of the listing.
1870 Cincinnati City Directory
I'd love to know how she supported herself during that time.  Her eldest son, William, was also listed in the City Directory.  He was 18 years old in 1870 and probably assisted in the support of the family.  He is listed as working at the Mowry Car and Wheel Works.

According to Kenny's Illustrated Cincinnati, the Mowry Car and Wheel "Works are the most extensive manufacturers of Car Wheels in Cincinnati or the West. They are situated on the bank of the Ohio, about one mile above the Little Miami Railroad Depot. The different buildings consist of foundry, forge, finishing, pattern, and other shops, besides large yards for coal, iron, etc., covering altogether about five acres of ground. They manufacture all descriptions of Railroad and Street Car Wheels, and build all kin*}* or Railroad Freight Cars, and have, during the past twenty-five years, supplied most of the leading roads in the United States.  N.G. Green is the general superintendent.  (p. 289)

Mowry Car Wheel Works (located in area of current-day LeBlond Park on the riverfront).
Source:  1891 Cincinnati Sanborn Fire Insurance Map

View of the Ohio River from LeBlond Park (former location of Mowry Car Wheel Works)
As mentioned earlier, I have not been able to find where the family lived after Alexander's death.   It's not until 1870 that the family appears to have some type of stability in living arrangement.  Of course, in the next post we'll be heading to the river bank, right on the shores of the Ohio River.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Second Generation - Children of Alexander and Elizabeth

As far as I know, Alexander and Elizabeth were parents to six children born between 1842 and 1860.  I know little about the first-born son, William, who was born in 1842 in Kentucky. The other children were: Martha (1848), Charles H., (1852), Johnny (1854), Tom (1857) and Elizabeth (1860).

The City Directories of the time first list Alexander as a carpenter living on Race Street between 14th and 15th Streets.  In 1846 the family is living on the south side of Court St. between Race and Elm. The west side of Elm St. 3 doors south of Cooper is the address listed for 1850.  Front Street (later known as Eastern Ave. and now known as Riverside Drive) was home after 1856.  This street was located in a neighborhood known as Fulton and was probably home for numerous laborers who made their living as part of the steamboat-building industry.

Riverfront Neighborhood of Fulton in 1848

Alexander died in 1862 from "inflammation of the bowels."  This information is recorded in a letter written by Lillian Mears, granddaughter.  Lillian's mother, Elizabeth, was only two years old when her father died, so the information about Alexander's death was passed down through the generations.  There were no death records in Cincinnati at this time.  It should be noted, however, that many people died from cholera and other illnesses related to the poor quality of drinking water. You can read about this issue here.

I wish I knew more about how this family supported itself following Alexander's death.  The next time Elizabeth, now a widow, is listed in the City Directory is 1870.  She is listed as living on the south side of Front Street (Eastern/Riverside) east of Torrence.  This is very close to St. Rose Church and would serve as the "hub" for the family for four generations. Notice that daughter Elizabeth was not yet born at the time of the Census.  She was not born until August 30th.

1860 U.S. Census

Charles Henry was my great-grandfather.  I will discuss what I know about him and his realtionship to the river in the next post.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Cincinnati in 1840

From the previous post, we know that Lillian wrote in her family history that "I think Alexander Jones worked on boats that sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, but what his job was, I forgot to ask mother."  For a long time, I interpreted this comment to mean that my gg-grandfather literally worked on the boats as a member of the crew.

It wasn't until I looked for Alexander in the Cincinnati City Directories that I realized that I may have misinterpreted Lillian's statement.  After all, she got her information from her grandmother Elizabeth, Alexander's daughter.  Elizabeth was only two years old when her father died.

Alexander is first listed in the City Directory in 1843.  His occupation is listed as "carpenter," and he is living on Race between 14th and 15th Streets.  By 1856, the family has relocated to 592 E. Front Street (later known as Eastern Ave. and now known as Riverside).  Throughout his life, Alexander is a carpenter.  This was a time when one of the main occupations in Cincinnati was boatbuilding -- steamboats in particular.  It occurred to me that Alexander was in all probability a boatbuilder, using his skills as a carpenter.  It certainly fits with the family record which states that he "worked on boats."

Cincinnati's Public Landing, 1833

The 1891 Sanford Fire Insurance Map shows a frame house located at 592 E. Front Street (highlighted in red). This street was literally located on what was then the riverfront. The house is located just west of Collard Street.

Alexander died in 1862. Lillian was told that he died of "inflammation of the bowels." Given the reality of the times with drinking water often taken directly from the Ohio River, this really should come as no surprise. Cholera was an all too commonplace illness of the time.  Since Alexander died just as the Civil War was gearing up, I wonder what impact, if any, the war had on his business interests and his young family.

Note:  The two pictures of the early Cincinnati Riverfront are "From the Collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County."  They are used with their written permission.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The First Jones "River Rats" in Cincinnati - Alexander and Elizabeth

Alexander Jones
Elizabeth Kinley Jones

As mentioned in the previous post, our family is lucky to have in its possession a letter describing our family's history.  It was written by Lillian Mears who was the granddaughter of Alexander and Elizabeth.  From this letter, we know the following:
  • Alexander and Elizabeth were married on July 6, 1840.
  • Alexander and Elizabeth were the parents of six children:  William, Martha, Charles Henry, Johnny, Tom and Elizabeth.
  • Alexander was about 20 years old and Elizabeth was 16 1/2 when they were married in Aberdeen, Ohio.
Lillian's mother, also named Elizabeth, was only two years old when when her father, Alexander, died at the age of 43.  Her mother was now a 40-year old widow, illiterate, and the mother of six. So what do we know about their lives in Cincinnati?  Lillian's letter provides us with some clues:

When Elizabeth Kinley was 16 or 17 years old, she always wore a sunbonnet.  She was blonde, and I suppose sunburned easily.  Alex Jones said, "I think I'd like to go with that Miss Kinley, but I never get a chance to see her face under the bonnet."  Evidently he finally got a peek at her and liked what he saw.  He was very dark, according to his picture.  With his beard, he looked like Lincoln.
 What brought them to Cincinnati?  The letter goes on to say:
I think Alexander Jones worked on boats that sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to New Orleans, but what his job was, I forgot to ask mother.  She was only two when he died.
And there we have it -- the first Jones in Cincinnati connected to the river.  But the evidence gets even better.  Check out the next post to see what I discovered.

Monday, September 19, 2011

In the Beginning . . .

The Jones Family and the Ohio River

Mural Painted on Flood Wall in Maysville, KY as it was in 1850

As far as I know, my first Jones ancestor in Cincinnati was my gg-grandfather, Alexander Jones.  The first documented evidence I have of him in the Cincinnati area was his marriage to Elizabeth Kinley on July 6, 1840.  They were married in Aberdeen, Ohio, across the river from Maysville, Kentucky.   According to a letter written by Lillian Mears,* Alexander was born in Chillicothe, Ohio and Elizabeth was "Pennsylvania Dutch."  She believes that Alexander's father emigrated from Wales -- something that requires further research.
View of the Maysville Riverfront in 2009

I do not know where Alexander and Elizabeth lived at the time of their marriage.  A later Census document says that their first-born son, William, was born in Kentucky.  The earliest I can prove that they were in Cincinnati is 1843 when Alexander was listed in the Cincinnati City Directory.

So what brought them to Cincinnati"  Alexander's occupation is listed as "carpenter" in every Census.  The steamboat-building business in Cincinnati in the 1840s was booming.  Cincinnati, the "Queen City of the West," was rapidly gaining population.  It had to seem like the place to be.

We will follow the Jones Family journey and its relationship to the Ohio River for six generations and counting. 
* Lillian Mears was the first cousin of my grandfather, Charles Fred Jones.  She wrote the letter summarizing our family history to my aunt, Edith Jones Breving in February of 1978. You can read more about Lillian and the letter here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Joneses in Cincinnati

Last year I attended an event sponsored by the Hamilton County Genealogical Society.  They had a guest speaker who encouraged us to write.  He suggested that we examine the information we have on our family and identify a theme that ties the family together.  For quite a while, I realized that for our family it had to be our legacy along the Ohio River in Cincinnati and our relationship with boats.

I want to thank my brothers and sister for helping me gather together the pictures that document our family and our love of boating.  I hope the end product will be something that all of us can enjoy that will bring back memories of growing up as River Rats in Cincinnati.