Contra Costa County











     An early settler of Contra Costa county, John M. Jones is remembered as one of the enterprising and successful ranchmen of this section of the state, and honored for the many qualities which distinguished his character.  Born in Hawkins county, Tenn., August 24, 1822 he was a son of Morton and Nancy (McCurry) Jones, who removed to Missouri and located near Independence when their son was about twelve years old.  There he grew to manhood and in 1842 married Mary Ann Smith, who was born in Bedford county, Tenn., a daughter of John Payton and Elizabeth (Crittenden) Smith.  Her parents located in Clinton county, Mo., in 1828, and engaged in farming until their death in that locality.  I n 1846 Mr. Jones and his wife fitted out with two ox-teams and nine cows, and joining a company of thirty families, started on the long journey for the western slope.  They had intended to locate in California, but on account of the Mexican war decided to go instead to Oregon.  As they traveled westward their company was added to from time to time until they numbered fifty wagons.  After leaving Fort Hall they came to a signboard which informed them that there was little water ahead and many miles before they would reach pasture, and they therefore reconsidered the question of locating in California.  The majority being in favor of the move, they turned back and on May 10 left the Missouri river for the Golden state, six months later to a day arriving in Child's valley, Napa county, after a safe and comparatively uneventful journey.  Mr. Jones and his wife spent their first winter in Napa county, and there, in the old Crystal Child adobe house, on the 24th of January, 1847, was born their daughter, Josephine, the first American girl born in California.  She became in womanhood the wife of Daniel Inman and lives near Livermore, Alameda county.  In June, 1847, Mr. Jones moved to San Jose and was among the first American families to settle in San Jose.  He secured as his share of the Pueblo lands, nine hundred and ten acres, which he sold in 1852.  Upon the discovery of gold in 1848, Mr. Jones took his family to the American river and there mined for one season, but they were all attacked with fever and chills and consequently could not continue in that climate. He then returned with his family to San Jose, intending himself to return to the mines, but instead opened a boarding house there, in which business he continued until the fall of 1851.  He then came to the San Ramon valley, Contra Costa county, as one of the first settlers and purchased a thirteen hundred acre tract of land, which is to-day the home of Mrs. J. O. Reese.  The only improvement on the land was an adobe house, but with characteristic energy Mr. Jones began at once to raise cattle from the small herd he had left after the trip across the plains, beginning with six cows and a few calves.  He soon had large fields of grain planted,  his herd enlarged, and one hundred acres fenced, going to the redwoods, where he split pickets to build his fence, which was a necessity on account of the wild animals that killed the young stock.  In 1866 he sold off that part of his ranch and reserved only that upon which his widow and son James now live, and on this property he engaged in a practical cultivation and improvement, setting out an orchard and in many ways adding to the value of the ranch.  He died April 30, 1870, not quite forty-eight years old.  He became one of the prominent men of this community, as a Democrat in politics seeking to advance the principles of the party in every honorable way.  Among the public offices which he filled acceptably were those of superintendent of schools for Contra Costa county, justice of the peace, county assessor, and postmaster at Alamo, being appointed in 1852, the first postmaster of the valley, while his wife was deputy.  At that time it cost ten cents to send a letter, and as envelopes were not then in use the paper was folded and sealed with wax.  Fraternally he was a member and past master of Alamo Lodge No. 122, F.& A.M.

     Of the children born to Mr. Jones and his wife, Sarah, deceased, was the wife of H.D. Saunders; Candace, deceased, was the wife of W.F. Draper, by whom she had three children, namely:  Fred, Clarence and Blanche; Josephine married Daniel Inman; Mary is deceased; Alice married L. L. Boon, by whom she had two children, namely:  Curtis and Walter; Georgie is deceased; James married Flora Stone, who was born in Contra Costa county, a daughter of Albert Stone, and they have one child, Alden; Charles married Edith Thorn, and has one son, Charles E.; and Lena married E.B. Anderson.





Transcribed 7-20-15  Marilyn R. Pankey.

ญญญญSource: History of the State of California & Biographical Record of Coast Counties, California by Prof. J. M. Guinn, A. M., Pages 700-703. The Chapman Publishing Co., Chicago, 1904.

2015  Marilyn R. Pankey.







Contra Costa County Biographies

Golden Nugget Library