1912 Ingersoll 1908a

Ingersoll's Century History Santa Monica Bay Cities (Being Book Number Two of Ingersoll's Century Series of California Local History Annals), 1908, 1908a, [1912]

     [p. 157] Hon. John Percival Jones [1829-1912] was born in a small village, in Herefordshire, England, January 27th, 1829. While he was still an infant, his family removed to the United States and settled near Cleveland, Ohio. Here the child grew to youth and acquired a public school education, after which he entered the services of a bank in Cleveland. But when the news of the gold discoveries of California penetrated the country and called to every youth with a bold heart and adventurous blood, young Jones joined forces with several other young men who were as eager for the change as himself. They secured a small vessel, sailed through the lakes and the St. Lawrence river and started on the long and perilous voyage around "the Horn." They were months on the ocean and experienced many hardships and dangers before they finally reached San Francisco Bay, in the spring of 1850. The young adventurer at once hastened away to the mines to seek his fortune. For many years he was a typical California miner, sometimes finding his hopes fulfilled, often finding them dashed.

     In those days when thousands of men sought gold with fierce energy, living without homes, without comforts, without the restraints of civilization, it was only strong character and true manhood that withstood the temptations of the environment. Young Jones came of sturdy stock and proved himself a man and a leader, even in these early days. He served as sheriff in county of Trinity at a time when the office required a stout heart and level head for-to a large extent-the sheriff was the law. From 1863 to 1868 he was a member of the state legislature of California. In the meantime, he had gained much experience in mines and mining propositions. When the great developments of the Comstock lode began to attract attention, he was one of the first on the ground. Later he waa made the superintendent of the Crown Point mine.

     Thus he became a resident of Nevada and when in 1872, a critical period in the history of the young state approached, he was mentioned as a candidate [p. 157] for the United States senate. The contest was a hot one, he being at first opposed by William Sharon; but the "Nevada Commoner," as Jones had come to be known, was regarded as a friend to the miners and in the end, he was elected and took his seat March, 1873.

     In 1876, the Monetary Commission of the senate was appointed to inquire into the relative value of gold and silver, the causes thereof and kindred questions, which vitally affected the mining interests and particularly the interests of the state of Nevada-a silver-producing state. Senator Jones was chosen as chairman of this committee and entered upon the study of the questions arising, with keen interest. It is said of the report rendered by the Monetary Commission that, "Nothing so thoroughly exhaustive had ever been presented to Congress, and the view taken was favorable to the interests of Nevada and of the Comstock miners."

     Naturally, at the expiration of his term, Senator Jones who had acquitted himself upon so important and vital an occasion with credit and made a strong argument for the silver of his state, was re-elected. For thirty years he continuously served in the United States senate, a record seldom equalled. He became, in his long career, a noted figure and was counted as one of the strongest men on the floor. A writer in Munsey's, some years ago, pays him this tribute:

     "Senator John P. Jones, who has just been re-elected to the United States senate for another period of six years, is one of the interesting figures of the upper house of congress. He was a warm personal friend of Senator Conklin and formerly belonged to the stalwart wing of the Republican party. Of recent years, he has been one of the strongest men of the 'silver-party' in the country, and last year he withdrew from the old party and supported Mr. Bryan for the presidency.

     "Mr. Jones is a very able man and has probably made more speeches on the financial question than all of the other members of the senate put together. He is a profound scholar and has the ability to marshal an imposing array of facts to support his arguments.

     "He was a delegate to the Brussels Monetary Conference which met during the administration of President Harrison. Before that body, he spoke for three days, the printed report of his speech containing over two hundred thousand words. A representative of the Rothschilds made the remark that if there were many men in America with Senator Jones' capacity for speaking, the advocates of the gold standard would do well to surrender at once.

     "Senator Jones is exceedingly popular in Washington. When he first entered the senate, he was many times a millionaire. Subsequently he lost most of his wealth, but it is said that in later years he has been fortunate in his "investments and is again a very rich man."

     [p. 159] As will be seen, Senator Jones was a man of the people, a practical mining man as well as an expert in handling mines and mining stocks. He has made fortunes-and lost them-with the calm indifference of the true miner. But beside this, he is a man of great native ability, who, without the training of schools has made himself an authority on financial questions and created the utmost confidence in his sound judgement and clear perception.

     Senator Jones has been intimately associated with the history of Santa Monica since its inception. In 1874, he purchased an interest in the San Vicente rancho and, with Col. R.S. Baker, laid out the townsite of Santa Monica. During the next two or three years, he spent a million dollars in Southern California, in building up Santa Monica and in building and carrying on the Los Angeles and Independence railway, which was intended to reach to his Panamint mines and possibly be the terminus of another great transcontinental line. In 1888, he built his beautiful home, Miramar, here and since that time has been the residence of his family. Here the senator has himself come for rest and pleasure, when he could escape from his many public duties.

     Senator Jones has been twice married, his first wife being the daughter of Judge Conger, the second a daughter of Eugene A. Sullivan and a most accomplished and benevolent woman. The family consists of one son, Roy, and three daughters."

[This version of Jones' Life was almost surely approved by Jones before it was published in 1908, KR]

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 Kelyn Roberts 2017