Jones Family Photo Album: ‘Mayflower’ and Nantucket Roots

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry provides photos and genealogy from the Jones family photo album of Nantucket. Melissa is a genealogist who has a website, americana-archives.com, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

The Jones family photo album is one of the many preserved gems in the collection of the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA).

The contents of this album include the children of Lemuel Jones (1806-1875), son of Stephen and Abigail (Hamblin) Jones; and his wife Mehitable (Conant) Jones (1808-1883), daughter of Asa and Anna (Smith) Conant, and a direct descendant of Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley.

Here is their wedding announcement from the Nantucket Inquirer newspaper.

Jones-Conant wedding announcement, Nantucket Inquirer newspaper 10 January 1829
Nantucket Inquirer (Nantucket, Massachusetts), 10 January 1829, page 3

Lemuel Jones was a custom shoemaker and cobbler by trade. According to sources, part of the islanders’ entertainment was to look through the big window to watch Jones work as he mended and made shoes.

Lemuel’s account book is housed at the NHA and the digital copy is available via Internet Archive. Many of Nantucket’s oldest families were his customers.

Seven Jones Siblings

Lemuel and Mehitable had seven children, all shown in this photograph from the 1880s in the Jones family photo album: (front row, left to right): Sarah Conant Jones (1841-1915); Asa Conant Jones (1829-1917); Ellen Fuller Jones (1848-1928), married Orestes A. B. Tracy, son of Jared Wentworth and Mary (Hussy) Tracy; and Lydia Abigail “Abby” Jones (1837-1910), married Captain John Allen Beebe (1830-1907), son of John M. and his second wife Patience (Allen) Beebe; (back row, left to right): Charles S. Jones (1845-1923); George Jones (1850-1914); and Mary Ann Jones (1834-1915), married William Lindsey Hart, son of William and Rachel (Coffin) Hart.

Photo: seven Jones siblings, 1880s. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.
Photo: seven Jones siblings, 1880s. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.

Asa Jones, the Cobbler

My subject for today’s story is the first-born son to Lemuel and Mehitable, Asa Conant Jones, who followed in his father’s footsteps and carried on the cobbler trade.

An article “Asa Jones Was Nantucket’s Shoemaking Pioneer,” published in the Nantucket Inquirer, cites The Organization of the Boot and Shoe Industry in Massachusetts before 1875, authored by Blanche Evans Sprague.

In his youth Asa was sent by his father to Weymouth, Massachusetts, to learn any “new tricks of the trade.” On his return in 1852 he helped his father with custom work on high-grade ladies’ and children’s as well as men’s shoes, until William Reed of Abington made a visit to Nantucket and arranged to “put out work” to Jones.

The stock – four or five cases at a time for bottoming – was sent from Abington to Hyannis and by boat to Nantucket Island. For this work, Asa Jones hired a single room in a building on Main Street, and one man to help him.

The soling was done leisurely in odd times during the winter, for the stock could not be returned until the ice broke up, making it feasible for the boats to go to the mainland.

Here is a photo of Asa’s cobbler shop from 1890. Two men are playing checkers while Asa works at his bench. The seated man with his back to the camera is unidentified, while the player facing the camera is Jimmy Dunham.

Photo: Asa Jones’ cobbler shop, 1890. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.
Photo: Asa Jones’ cobbler shop, 1890. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.

Asa married Susan Paddock Meader (1831-1918), daughter of Samuel and Mary (Paddock) Meader, on the island on 16 November 1851. When they reached their golden anniversary, it was announced in the Boston Herald.

An article about the Jones' golden anniversary, Boston Herald newspaper 24 November 1901
Boston Herald (Boston, Massachusetts), 24 November 1901, page 17

This article reports:

Mr. and Mrs. Asa C. Jones of this town [Nantucket] observed the golden anniversary of their wedding this evening. Numerous friends and relatives called at their home on Orange Street, where the happy couple received congratulations.

Although both Mr. and Mrs. Jones have lived past the allotted age of man, neither gives outward indications of the fact; both being well preserved and in apparently good physical health.

Mr. Jones was born here Oct. 4, 1829, and ever since his marriage he has been in business here, and is now the oldest person doing business on Main Street, both in age and years of service. At one time he was a member of the firm of Jones & Hart, boot and shoe manufacturers, but for the last 27 years he has carried on the business of cobbling in his little shop on Main Street. He holds more positions of trust and responsibility than any other man in town. Since 1872 he has been connected with the local fire department, the greater part of the time as treasurer of the board of fire wards, and for several years was the agent of the overseers of the poor. He is one of the trustees of the Methodist Church, and is treasurer of the Agricultural Society, and also of several other local organizations.

Mrs. Jones, who was Susan P. Meader, was born here April 23, 1831. During several years she was on the board of overseers of the poor, where she did excellent service.

Four Jones Generations

Here is a photo of the family of John Conant and Sarah Eliza (Chadwick) Jones. John is the son of Asa Conant and Susan Meader (Paddock) Jones. Asa is in the middle of this photo, and overall it shows four generations of this family.

Photo: four generations of the Jones family. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association
Photo: four generations of the Jones family. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association

George William Jones

George William Jones is just a teenager in the above photo, but later he will play an instrumental role in preserving Nantucket history when he serves as president of the NHA.

Below is a photo of George (on the left) outside Nantucket’s historic Jethro Coffin House, selling the first copy of The Coffin Family to Mrs. Jessie Jenks Schenk, while the author, Louis Coffin, autographs the book.

Photo: (from left) George William Jones, Louis Coffin, and Mrs. Jessie Jenks Schenk, 1962. Photographer: Bill Haddon. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.
Photo: (from left) George William Jones, Louis Coffin, and Mrs. Jessie Jenks Schenk, 1962. Photographer: Bill Haddon. Credit: Nantucket Historical Association.

Much of the genealogy compiled for the vital records in this article were furnished by the Jones-Conant family Bible, which was last known to be in the possession of Mrs. Oresta A. B. Tracy of Nantucket. Allied families of the Jones-Conant line include Crocker, Fuller, Bursley, Hull, and Coffin.

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Note on the header image: “The Skipper, Nantucket, Mass.” postcard, c. 1937. Credit: Boston Public Library Tichnor Brothers collection; Wikimedia Commons.

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