WILLIAM JONES, Esq., a well-known and honored pioneer of this county, now engaged in general farming on section 16, Brighton Township, claims Wales as the land of his nativity. He was born in Radnorshire, on the 14th of May, 1816, of the union of Thomas and Ellen (Vail) Jones. His father is of Welsh descent, his mother of French lineage. They were married and began their domestic life in the province where our subject was born and after some years removed into an adjoining county in England. During the war with France which ended in the defeat of Napoleon, Thomas Jones made and lost a fortune. In 1831, after the birth of all of their children, he and his wife left England, sailing from Liverpool to the United States upon the ship "Ajax," commanded by Capt. Hurn. After five weeks and three days spent upon the water, they landed in New York City, whence they made their way to Dutchess County, N.Y., where they resided until the spring of 1833, when they made their way by the New Orleans and Alton route to Illinois. The combined capital of the family at that time was only $10, five of which was paid for conveying them to Brighton. The other five was used to make a partial payment upon a milch cow, the remainder to pay for the labor of one of the boys. After a time with the help of one of his sons, Thomas Jones purchased one hundred and twenty acres of Government land which he cleared and developed, making it a good farm. The mother died at their home in the early days when about sixty years of age. The father died at the home of his son, our subject, about nineteen years later. Both he and his wife were members of the Baptist Church. They had a large family but with the exception of William and his brother Thomas, who is now living in Beardstown, Ill., all are now deceased.
Our subject has been a resident of Illinois since he was seventeen years of age with the exception of a very short period. He worked for many years as a farm hand and throughout his life has engaged in agricultural pursuits with the exception engaged in agricultural pursuits with the exception of the two years he spent on the Pacific Slope. Immediately after the discovery of gold in California, he set out with H. C. Clark and William Loveland with fourteen ox-teams and as many wagons. On the 6th of May the party crossed the Missouri River at St. Joseph, and started on the wearisome march across the plains, arriving on the 1st of August at the Nevada mines on Greenhorn River. They made the first trail over that country. For a time Mr. Jones engaged in mining and then made a trip to San Francisco and Sacramento for the mail for the others of the camp. Subsequently he joined parties in a merchandising venture which was very successful and late he struck some very good surface mining. After spending two years in California, he returned home by the way of the Isthmus of Panama and New Orleans and with his gold dust purchased his present homestead. His western experience was interesting in many particulars yet he also suffered many hardships, being afflicted with the scurvy which prevailed to a great extent among the miners.
In this county, Mr. Jones was united in marriage with Miss Eveline Dandridge, who was born in Alabama, in 1813, and died at her home in Brighton Township in 1864, leaving one son, Thomas A., who married Clara Clark and is now a farmer of this community. The mother was a member of the Baptist Church and a most estimable lady. For a second wife Mr. Jones chose Miss Margaret Forse, who was born and reared in Dresden, Ohio, and afterward came to Illinois, where she married Mr. Jones. In religious belief she was a Presbyterian and died in the faith of that church in 1881. Three children were born of their marriage, Susan M., Vail F. And Hugh W., who are still at home with their father.
Mr. Jones is a prominent Mason, belonging to the Blue Lodge of Brighton, and in politics is a Democrat. He has served as Justice of the Peace and School Trustee for thirty-nine years and is regarded as one of the leading citizens of the community. His attention however has been devoted mostly to his farming interests and he is now the owner of twelve hundred acres of highly-improved land which yields to him a golden tribute for the care and cultivation he bestows upon it.