The date was March 15, 1859 on the farm of Harley and Dora Knox Jones near the village of Lulaton in southeast Georgia. Before the day was over their fourth child would be born. His name was Benjamin Franklin Jones.
Farm life changed when Frank Jones was about two years old with the beginning of the Civil War in 1861. In March of 1862, Harley Jones volunteered to serve in the 26th Georgia Infantry Regiment and was elected Lieutenant in his company. Preparations were underway for the 26th Georgia to leave for Virginia as soon as possible. Being elected an officer, Harley was allowed to have a "body servant" to travel with him to Virginia and stay with him. The "body servant" was a young slave man named Steve. At the appointed time, Lieutenant Jones and Steve said goodbye to farm and family and left for Virginia. Frank Jones is now about three years old.
Things went badly for Lieutenant Jones in Virginia when he became ill and left the ranks near Gordonsville, Virginia. He was admitted to a Confederate Hospital in Gordonsville where he died of typhoid on August 30, 1862. Lieutenant Jones had been in the Confederate Army only five months. He is buried in a cemetery in Gordonsville, Virginia. Steve was now a long way from southeast Georgia and alone which is a bad situation to be in at that time. He began to walk south and continued all the way home. When he crossed the Satilla River near Lulaton, Georgia, it must have been like crossing the Jordan River into the Promised Land. As Steve came across the field towards the house he was watched by Dora, Mary Jane, Owen, Elizabeth, and Frank. They knew that Harley Jones would not return.
Life would take another turn for Frank when his mother would later marry Mose Highsmith; a good man that would raise the children as his own. Frank passed through childhood and into young adulthood enjoying the things that young men enjoyed at that time. In Frank's own words; "I lived at ease nor feared to die. Never thought of anything else only a big time and the pleasures of this world".
Time passes and about the middle part of 1883 Frank Jones married Mollie Knox, daughter of Wiley Knox, and on December 13, 1884, a daughter was born to Frank and Mollie, her name was Mamie Jones. All did not go well and Mollie died as a result of childbirth. Little Mamie was taken by the Wiley Knox family to their home in Hickox. With a very troubled mind that resulted from the death of his wife Mollie, Frank turned to Old Smyrna Church as he called it, for help. He had been attending Smyrna Church all his life but now with a more positive outlook. He wanted to become a member of Smyrna Church. In his own words again: "But, Alas, on Saturday before the 1st Sunday in June, 1885, I made my little offering to Old Smyrna Church and members composing same. To my surprise was received into Smyrna Church on Saturday of the above date mentioned and on the next day, Sunday, was baptized by Elder L. J. Strickland. Frank Jones was received into Smyrna on June 6, 1885.
During this time Frank Jones was a frequent visitor to Oak Grove Church some distance west of Smyrna Church in the Raybon community near the Satilla River. Oak Grove church was founded by the families in the area in the early 1800s.One of the founders was Daniel Herrin who, it is reported, contributed the land. Daniel Herrin had a large family of eighteen children by two wives. The first born was William Riley Herrin who, later after returning from the Civil war, constructed a fine home and farm near Oak Grove Church. On meeting Sunday, all who would come were invited to the W. R. Herrin home for dinner. His call to all there was "All brothers, sisters, and friends that will come and go home with me, will be welcome". Frank Jones answered this call many times and not only for the food, but mainly because of Mr. Herrin's daughter, Melissa. Before long it was time for Frank Jones to call upon Mr. W. R. Herrin concerning one of his daughters. This was the custom at that time.
On the occasion of the visit Frank Jones said to Mr. Herrin, "Mr. Herrin, I would like to marry one of your daughters". Mr. Herrin then yelled upstairs, "Which one of you girls wants to marry Frank Jones?" Little Melissa appeared at the head of the stairs and said, "I do." Well, as they say, that was that.
On February 1, 1886, Frank and Melissa were married in Wayne County, Georgia, and lived on a farm about two miles from Smyrna Church, near the Waycross and Brunswick Railroad where they began a large family of their own. Melissa had eleven children; Mamie Jones by the first wife of Frank made a family of twelve as listed below:
(1) Mamie (Dec. 13, 1884-Apr. 29, 1964), daughter of Mollie Knox), married Fred Knox; no children.
(2) Chester Carlos (Nov. 1, 1886-Apr. 12, 1966), married Jessie Knight. Children: a. Chester Carlos Jr. (1924-1928); b. Susanne (both children adopted).
(3) Eula Virginia (Verdie), (Oct. 2, 1888-Jan. 31, 1985), married Arthur B. Dotson; Son: Penrhyn Arthur born Oct. 14, 1915.
(4) Kate Pauline (Aug. 27, 1890-Dec. 16, 1926), married Louis Holmes Epps. Children: a. Edwin Franklin, born July 7, 1908; b. Charlie Melissa, born Aug. 20, 1910; c. Pauline Louis, born Sept. 19, 1913.
(5) Daniel LaFayette (Aug. 9, 1892-Jan. 29, 1972, married Flossie Marie Orr. Children: a. Sibert LaFayette (Sep. 14, 1922-June 30, 1996; b. Bennie Orr, born Jan. 23, 1926; c. Joseph Valree (Jan. 8, 1928-May 26, 1990).
(6) Emmie Dorinda (Sep. 6, 1894-July 27, 1967, married Fulton R. Newton. Son: Edward Jones Newton.
(7) William Harley (Dec. 20, 1896-Apr. 18, 1970), married Cecile Mitchum. Daughter: Mary Elizabeth (Betty).
(8) Julian Franklin (Sept. 28, 1898-Aug. 24, 1961), unmarried.
(9) Joseph Winston (Jan. 17, 1901-Mar. 17, 1967), unmarried.
(10) Owen King (Aug. 10, 1903-June 15, 1993), married Helen Orser. Son: Owen King, Jr. (Aug. 1935-July 15, 1966).
(11) Elizabeth Faye, born Apr. 5, 1906, married Daniel Frederick Jones. Children: a. Robert Steiner (Dec. 16, 1929-Apr. 22, 1989); b. Rosemary; c. Danna Faye.
(12) Wesley Spann (Sept. 19, 1908-Oct. 9, 1990), married June Moody. Son: Wesley Franklin.
Frank Jones continued his service to Smyrna Church, Oak Grove Church, and many others in the area of southeast Georgia. On October 2, 1896, he was ordained and on December 6, 1913, he was called as Pastor of Smyrna Church and remained until his death. Years passed easily for the Rev. Frank Jones family on the road to Smyrna Church. The home was always open to those who came by, but it was very active during the Yearly Meeting at Smyrna. All were welcome.
In early January of 1931, a strange thing happened on the Frank Jones farm. An airplane landed in the large field near the house due to some unknown trouble, and due to the soft soil had gone over on its nose, bending the propeller. Two men were in the airplane and were not hurt in the landing. At that time or shortly thereafter Melissa Jones suffered a stroke and was taken back into the house by the men from the airplane. She was alone at the time and the men were attempting to make repairs. All the family members were notified and gathered at the bedside and on the porch. Nothing could be done and Melissa Herrin Jones died January 5, 1931. She is buried at Smyrna Church. The men with the airplane remained until after the funeral, made repairs and flew away. They were very helpful.
Later, Frank Jones married his third wife, Cora Prescott of Charlton County. They continued to live on the farm for a few years and then moved into a home in Lulaton. Frank Jones was active in Smyrna Church as the pastor for many years. Here is a man that put aside his rowdy ways as a young man, enjoyed the pleasures of the world and turned to Smyrna Church for help in troubled times. He sought the Word, he heard the Word, and became a Man of God. A verse submitted by Frank Jones, in his own words:* "Alas, and did my Savior Bleed, And did my Savior Die. Would he devote that sacred head for such a worm as I."
And thus, did he die on July 22, 1944 and is buried beside Melissa at Smyrna Church in a wooden coffin made by his son Harley with the help from the other sons. (Note: Asterisk* = The asterisk "in his own words" used several times, is from a short account of his life written by Rev. Frank Jones.).
Story submitted to the Brantley County Historical Society by Edward J. Newton, grandson, 418 Holmes Road, Brunswick, Ga., 31523.
(1) By Mrs. Dorothy Johns Thomas: About "Uncle Frank Jones." I don't know where he lived earlier, but in the later years he had a home right in Lulaton. He was married to his third wife "Miss Cora" when I was a child. We were in and out of their home a lot. It was the house that Gillis Rogers lived in previously before they moved to Nahunta. Uncle Frank and Miss Cora didn't have any children together (Miss Cora never had a child.), but Miss Cora always called him "Daddy." He was a good bit older than she was. She really took good care of him and always welcomed his children and grandchildren to visit them. His son Julian and Joe stayed with them quite a bit. They were single.
(2) By Thomas Earl Cleland: Apparently Mr. Frank was a student of his father-in-law Mr. William Riley Herrin in the courtesy of inviting church friends to "go home with him after church sevices at Smyrna." My mother Maude Harris Cleland commented many times that in the late 1900 teen-years, and early 1920s, after church services, Mr. Frank would invite everyone to "stop by their home (between Smyrna Church and Lulaton)" for some refreshments before starting their long journey back to the Harris farm, south of Lulaton (about 3-4 miles, by mule and wagon). Mother was highly impressed by this cordiality, and the receptiveness of Mr. Frank's home.