JAMES BIRD JONES, present mayor of the City of Chautauqua, is a man of many and varied business interests. He is one of the leading oil producers in this section, has extensive farm and other properties in various counties of Northern Oklahoma, and has ordered his affairs with such intelligence and energy that though now only in his thirties he has all the prosperity that most men would desire.
Mr. Jones was born in Pontotoc County, Indian Territory, January 7, 1880, and his family history closely connects him with the old Indian country to the south of Kansas. In fact Mr. Jones has a strain of Indian blood. Through his mother he is a Choctaw in the one-sixteenth degree and has always felt it a matter of pride that he is thus related to the old and original American stocks.
His father, J. W. Jones, was born in 1860 and early came to what is now Oklahoma. He was married in the Indian Territory, and became an extensive farmer and stock raiser, and is still in that business, being a resident of Marietta. He is a democrat and a member of the Masonic order. His wife was named Mary Elizabeth Elrod. She was born in Indian Territory in 1860 and died in 1884 near Durant. James B. Jones was the older of their two children. George W. is a farmer at Marietta, Oklahoma.
Reared in old Indian Territory, educated in the Indian schools at Ardmore, James B. Jones lived on his father's farm until seventeen, and did some of the actual farming and also looked after the stock. At the age of seventeen he entered the Hargrove College at Ardmore, and remained a student there for five years.
In March, 1903, Mr. Jones removed to Osage County, Oklahoma, and after farming for six months came to Chautauqua County, Kansas. He came to Kansas as an employe of Meeker Brothers. They made him manager of their store during the exciting days attending the opening of the oil fields in this section. Mr. Jones continued the management of the general merchandise stock of Meeker Brothers for eight months.
About that time, in 1904, he was married at Sedan, Kansas, to Miss Laura Mae Revelett, daughter of Frank and Fannie (Davenport) Revelett. Her mother is deceased and her father is living on a farm near Chautauqua. Mr. and Mrs. Jones are the parents of four children: James Frank, who was born April 10, 1905, and is in school; Lillian Mae, who died at the age of two years; Aubrey Curtis, born November 29, 1908; and Mary Frances, born March 24, 1913.
After leaving the Meeker Brother's store Mr. Jones returned to Osage County, Oklahoma, and there became founder of the town of Okesa. He not only founded that town, but sold the townsite, was the first postmaster, and for nine years conducted the principal general mercantile store there. He did everything he could to build up the town, was on the school board several terms and was also a member of the election board when the vote was taken for the adoption of the first constitution of the State of Oklahoma.
On retiring from business at Okesa Mr. Jones returned to Chautauqua, Kansas, and since 1911 has been a prominent factor in the oil industry. He now has oil and gas productions in Chautauqua County, Kansas, in Nowata and Washington counties, Oklahoma, and is an extensive property owner in Northern Oklahoma, having farms aggregating 2,500 acres in Osage, Washington, Nowata and Jackson counties. His holdings include eleven gas wells in Chautauqua County, one gas well in Nowata County and two oil wells in Washington County.
In politics Mr. Jones is a republican. He was elected to the office of mayor of Chautauqua in April, 1915. During his administration he has completely reorganized the city and placed it on a sound financial basis. The office has meant nothing to him except an opportunity for service, and he has justified the hopes and predictions of his many friends. Chautauqua's municipal finance was verging on bankruptcy when he took charge and since he became mayor he has not only kept the city out of debt, but has expended the funds judiciously, has kept the streets in good repair, and in every way possible has looked after the best interests of the city and its people. Mr. Jones and family reside in one of the fine modern residences at Chautauqua, situated in the northern part of the town. He also has three business buildings adjoining the bank on Main Street. Mr. Jones is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is affiliated with Elgin Lodge of the Masonic Order and belongs to Chosen Friends Lodge No. 285, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, at Chautauqua.
A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Jeremiah Heck, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March 15, 1999.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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