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.