SAMUEL JONES. The stranger and newcomer in Seward County is sure to ask satisfaction of his curiosity sooner or later by inquiring as to the ownership of the large and conspicuous barn in the Kismet community which is the most prominent object on the landscape and which is indicative of the high class and high power farming development and enterprise of which the barn is only a part. This large barn and the farm that goes with it is the property of Samuel Jones, one of the very early settlers of Seward County and one of the most highly honored and widely known citizens.
Mr. Jones came here in 1884, but in order to give connected form to his story it will be well to go back and describe his early life and family. He was born in Monroe County, Kentucky, January 1, 1856. His father was William Jones, who moved to Kentucky from White County in Eastern Tennessee, where he was born. He was a farmer. William Jones died about 1886, at the age of fifty-five. He married in Kentucky Eliza Ann Kelley, daughter of John Kelley, and of an old pioneer family in Kentucky. Mrs. William Jones died in 1908. Her children were: Matilda, who married John Heston and died at Carbondale in Southern Illinois; John, of Sullivan County, Missouri; Bettie, who married William Heston and died in Texas, Illinois; Andrew, of Arizona; Robert, of Kentucky; Benton and Preston, twins, living in Barren County, Kentucky; Jacob, who died in Monroe County, Kentucky.
Samuel Jones grew up on his father's farm, in a grain and tobacco growing community, and acquired a practical knowledge of Kentucky agriculture in addition to the lessons he learned in the common schools of that state. In early manhood, on March 21, 1880, he married Margaret Matthews, who was born in Monroe County, Kentucky, December 13, 1860, daughter of Felix and Melissa (White) Matthews. Both the Matthews and White families had been identified with Kentucky farm life for several generations. Felix Matthews was a Union soldier during the Civil war and died in service at Nashville, Tennessee. Mrs. Jones had three sisters, Edathy, who died in Kentucky the wife of Peter Kingery; Jane, who became the second wife of Peter Kingery and also died in Kentucky; and Sarah, who married Batley McWherter.
For several years after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Jones lived in Southern Kentucky and then started for an entirely new country, where the land was unbroken and where settlements were few and far between. They drove the entire distance, some 1,200 miles, with a wagon and team of mules, and though six weeks on the way they experienced no special incident or danger. That winter was spent in Barber County, Kansas, but on December 8, 1884, Mr. Jones had filed on a homestead in Seward Township of Seward County, his homestead being the southeast quarter of section 8, township 32, range 32. There he endeavored to build some sort of shelter for himself, and this consisted of a half dugout 15 by 22 feet. It was his home for eight years. For four years of that time he did little in the way of cultivating the soil, and most of the time his team was on the road hauling goods from Garden City, Dodge City or Cimarron to the new towns in his neighborhood of Fargo Springs and Springfield. Mr. Jones had the distinction of hauling the first stick of lumber ever laid down in Fargo Springs for the town company.
When Mr. and Mrs. Jones arrived and unloaded their possessions in Seward County and had their house covered their capital was reduced to the minimum of $5. Even this was not spared, and was paid out to a couple of men who erected a sod stable for the mules. Thus in a literal sense he had burned his bridges behind him, and anyone at all familiar with the conditions of Western Kansas in those years can appreciate the high degree of courage which enabled him to spend his last cent. Employment as a freighter enabled him to keep the wolf from the door and even gave him some accumulations. He invested his first surplus in a better team and then began buying calves. Gradually he got into the cattle industry, developed a considerable herd, and as the profits began coming in from these he invested in more land. One day, after several years of privation and waiting, Mr. Jones brought home and exhibited to his wife the patent for his homestead. It was the first deed to land he had ever owned, and that was a proud day for Mr. and Mrs. Jones, and they celebrated duly this important event in their history. Mr. Jones proved up both a homestead and tree claim, comprising a half section, and his efforts at accumulating land continued until within recent years, giving him eventually title to a ranch of eighteen quarter sections. All this land is under fence, six quarter sections are in cultivation, and his agricultural efforts have produced a number of good wheat crops and also much forage and feed stuff for his stock. While it is thus possible to enumerate in a few words some of the items which indicate his very satisfactory success, it must be remembered that his good fortune was the result of many years of hard work and careful planning and good honest thrift, and that there were misfortunes and reverses in with the good things. On one occasion a prairie fire swept away everything on his land except his home. That was his biggest loss, however, since the big blizzard of 1886 and the epidemic among the horses of 1911 passed him by.
Samuel Jones was in Western Kansas before Seward County was formally organized. Naturally he was here before any school was established, and was first a patron of old district No. 1. His school district is now No. 5 and he has served as a member of the board. At one time he also filled the office of township treasurer. While always voting, missing only one election since reaching his majority, he could in no sense be denoted a politician. He is a democrat in national affairs and usually scratches his ticket on local elections. Mrs. Jones cast her first presidential ballot for Woodrow Wilson. Both he and his wife have done what they could to promote the moral and intellectual uplift of their community, having served churches and schools, and they are naturally looked upon as some of the most substantial citizens of the county. Mr. Jones helped organize the Kismet State Bank by taxing stock, which he later sold, and he also was one of the first stockholders in the Equity Elevator at Kismet.
Since they came to Kansas some stalwart sons have grown up in their home and some of them are already established in life for themselves. Raymond, the oldest, who is now preparing for the medical profession at St. Louis University, married Vera Hawthorne and has a son, Samuel Edward. John Roy and Riley, the next two sons, are still at the old homestead. Ralph, who is a clerk in the Liberal, Kansas, postoffice, married Edith Ward and has a daughter, Jean Margaret. Benton, a Seward County farmer, married Hattie Seeley. The youngest of the sons, Roscoe, is still carrying his studies in the Liberal High School.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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