Pisgah, Missouri

(Compiled by R. L. Jones, Marshall, Missouri, and read before the Annual Reunion of the Jones-Hunt Memorial Association of Cooper County, Missouri, at Sulphur, Oklahoma, September 3, 1939)

A biography of David Jones (Born 1790, Died 1862), compiled at this late date, must necessarily be made up from meager and slender threads of information gleaned from various sources, and hence the writer of this sketch craves tolerance for inaccuracies which may later be found herein.

Many years ago, my Father Gilbert F. Jones, now deceased, said to me, "Your Great Grandfather David Jones," (subject of this sketch,) "together with your Great Grandfather William Berry Hunt, Sr., came into Cooper County, Missouri, in the year 1815, from Barren County, Kentucky, and settled in Moniteau Township, near Pisgah and were the first settlers there; they drove through in a covered wagon and your Great Grandfather Jones, who was a blacksmith by trade, brought with him a complete set of blacksmith tools." To impress these facts upon my mind, I suppose, he pointed his finger towards me and added "Now, Dick always remember what I have just told you" and it seems that I always have and I believe I am quoting him almost verbatim today.

In August 1936, while visiting with friends in Louisville, Kentucky, I yielded to an impulse to drive down into Barren County, Kentucky, nearly 100 miles distant, to flew the land which our forefathers forsook 121 years before for the new and promised land of Missouri, all the while hoping that while there I might discover some connecting link which would enable me to project myself further back into the ancestral records of this Jones family. At Glasgow, Kentucky, the County Seat of Barren, County, I met Curtis L. Jones, a young lawyer, who told me this story. He said, "My Great Grandfather Jones, with four brothers (five brothers in all, remember) in a very early day came out of North Carolina into Barren County, Kentucky, and located here. My Great Grandfather remained here until his death, while the other four brothers in a comparatively short time after arriving here, pulled up stakes and started out for a new home in the West -- we think for Missouri, but we have no further information about these four brothers."

At that time I knew nothing of my Great Grandfather having four brothers, in fact thought he had only one brother, or at most two, consequently, I gave little thought to the story of Curtis L. Jones so far as a connecting link was concerned between families. On my return home, however, I told his story to Uncle David L. Jones, and he at once told me that three brothers of David Jones came into Cooper County with him in 1815, and off hand gave me the names of the other three brothers as follows: James Jones, Abram Jones and Jabius Jones.

From the above, it seems to me, very logical to conclude that David Jones, James Jones, Abram Jones and Jabius Jones, compose four of the five brothers, who came into Barren County, Kentucky, from North Carolina, in the early day as referred to by Curtis L. Jones. Moreover, since we have authentic written record that Nancy Jones, sister of David Jones, married William Berry Hunt, Sr., in Barren County, Kentucky, in 1811, it seems reasonable also to conclude that the time of migration of this Jones family from North Carolina into Kentucky was in 1811 or shortly before that date, since the record is that they stayed in Kentucky only a short time before they left for Missouri or the West in 1815. Efforts to obtain the name of the fifth brother who remained permanently in Kentucky have proved unsuccessful up to this time.

We have however, a record of a sixth brother, Lewis Jones who settled at Independence, Mo. at a very early date and became prominent in the Santa Fe trading .

With the above information in mind, I feel secure in saying that David Jones was born in North Carolina, the date - December 1, 1790 - and probably in Buncombe County since in business and otherwise he seems always closely allied with William Berry Hunt, Sr., who we know came from Buncombe County.

As before mentioned, David Jones came into Cooper County, Missouri Territory in 1815. This was only five years after the first white settlers set foot in the County and when the whole of Missouri, outside of a small territory around St. Louis and Immediately South of there, was a wilderness. There was not a single public road in the county at that time. We do not have definite information as to his immediate occupation in this new country, but believe he began farming. He lived for many years on what is now known as the John Smith farm, one-quarter of a mile East of Pisgah and owned this farm, as well as other lands in Johnson County, at the time of his death. on this Pisgah farm he built the old Jones brick house in 1834. Just 100 years later, this house, which is still being used as a residence and is in good repair, was viewed and inspected by many of his descendants who attended the reunion of the Jones- Hunt Memorial Association in Pisgah in 1934.

Sometime after his location on this farm, he built, date unknown, a store building in one corner of the yard where the old brick house stands and conducted there for many years a mercantile business, the first in Pisgah. He was also the first Postmaster in Pisgah. There was no store or trading point nearer to Pisgah at that time than Booneville, some eighteen miles distant. California, Bunceton, Tipton and Prairie Home and other towns now nearby had not then come into existence, consequently, the Pisgah store drew trade from a wide territory and David Jones apparently prospered. Later on some of his customers who lived in the vicinity of what is now California. Missouri, importuned him to open up a store in their neighborhood, which he agreed to do if they would put up a suitable building. This building was quickly provided and David Jones promptly put in a stock of merchandise. This was the first store in California. It was located on a lot in the rear of where the Wood's Hotel Building now stands. The merchandise for both stores was brought up the river from St. Louis to Sandy Hook and from there transported to the stores by wagons.

We are also told that various other business interests in and around Pisgah were fostered by David Jones, among them a grist mill, a cotton mill and a carding mill. These latter enterprises doubtless served usefully their day and generation but changing conditions have long since rendered them obsolete, their use discontinued and the buildings torn down.

Politically David Jones was a Democrat. Party lines, it seems, However, were not drawn hard and fast in the early days of Missouri. This is well set forth in a short four line verse, published in an early County history, entitled "The First Election" It runs:

Then none was for a party,
Then all were for the state,
Then the great men helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great.

At the election held August 20th 1820, five years after he arrived in the county, David Jones appears on the ticket as one of fourteen candidates for State Representative, and he received 380 votes. It seems at that time the county elected three representatives and since David Jones was not among the three candidates receiving the highest number of votes he suffered defeat. He stood number four in the list of fourteen candidates, a very creditable showing even though he fell short of the goal. In 1828 he appears on the ticket again for State Representative and was duly elected, receiving nine more votes than his nearest competitor. In 1830 he was re-elected by a majority of 70 votes and again in 1832 and 1834. In 1836 David Jones was a candidate for State Senator and was elected for a term of four years. In 1840 he was again a candidate for State Senator on the Democratic ticket and was opposed by Reuben A Ewing on the Whig ticket. This was Presidential election year and William Henry Harrison, of "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" fame was the candidate for president on the Whig ticket, being opposed by Martin Van Buren, Democrat, the latter being overwhelmingly defeated. The historians record that this was a campaign of unusual enthusiasm and interest, throughout the county, state and nation, and Cooper County records a clean sweep for the Whigs, they electing their full ticket in the County, as well as State Senator in the District, Reuben A. Ewing, Whig, defeating David Jones, Democrat. In 1848, David Jones was again elected State Senator for four years, but apparently at the end of his term in 1853 he did not again seek further political favors, or at least we have no record of such.

At a meeting held at Bell Air, Cooper County, on Saturday, June 30th, 1855, to elect delegates to a pro- slavery convention to be held at Lexington, Mo., July 12th, 1855, David Jones was appointed as delegate from Moniteau Township.

In the next three paragraphs I digress somewhat from our subject to include a bit of Cooper County history, as concerns the founding of the Whitley School Fund, which I think interesting and important, and justify its inclusion herein since David Jones was executer of the Whitley estate, and therefore had some part in the founding of this fund.

In 1835, Paul Whitley, a Cooper County Benefactor, died near where is now the town of Prairie Home, and left his estate in trust to Cooper County, the income from which, after the death of his wife, was to be devoted to the better education of the future boys and girls of that county. David Jones was named as executor in the will. Mrs. Whitley, several years after the death of her husband, moved to Texas. In 1855, she decided to return to her old home in Missouri. En route home, accompanied by her young nephew and her slaves - a young negro man and negro woman with three small children -- Mrs. Whitley died of cholera on a steamboat near Vicksburg, Mississippi, and in accordance with the rigid quarantine regulations of that time, was buried immediately on the banks of the river near where she died. The regress was carrying $2000.00 in gold in a belt buckled around her waist, the money of course belonging to her mistress now dead. She, accompanied by the negro man, her children and the young nephew of her late mistress, proceeded on her way to Cooper County, Missouri, and promptly after arriving there handed over to David Jones, as executor, the belt containing the $2000.00 in gold.- - setting a standard of honesty worthy of emulation by all mankind, regardless of color or previous condition of servitude.

The negro man, familiarly known in his latter years as "Uncle Alec", was only three years old when his master, Paul Whitley, died but he remained faithfully with Mrs. Whitley until her death. He aided in burying her body on the river bank and barely missed being left behind by the steamboat because he insisted upon remaining long enough to build a rail fence around her grave. Uncle Alec spent the latter years of his life in and around Jamestown, Mo. and is still remembered by many there now.

The irony of fate was that in just a few months later, in August 1855 these faithful slaves were all sold at a public auction at Pisgah, the sale taking place under large elm trees close-by the well known Jones Spring on land owned by David Jones These elm trees are still standing, silent witnesses of an activity that once flourished but now long obsolete. Judge Thomas A. Harris, now deceased, member of the Cooper County court for several terms near the turn of the century, was present in person at this sale and frequently mentioned the incident, during his lifetime, to his daughter, Mrs. Lula B. Hunt, now living at Pisgah. The young negro man, Alec, was sold to Anderson Crum for $950.00 and the woman and her three children brought $2300.00, Cole Bruce being the purchaser. Both purchasers paid the full amount in gold. The money derived from the sale of these slaves, together with the $2000.00 in gold carried by the negro woman in her belt, plus the proceeds from the sale to John Hall of eighty acres of estate land, Southeast of Prairie Home, constituted the major portion of the beginning of the Whitley School Fund, which throughout the years made a noble contribution to better and higher citizenship by helping to provide education to boys and girls. This fund is still functioning today.

Thus far our sketch tells only of the business and political life of David Jones and were we to stop here, we would fall far short of justice to our subject, as his most enduring work was in fostering the organization of the Pisgah Baptist Church on June 19, 1819. He and his wife, Tabitha Jones, were charter members and he was elected the first clerk. Today, 120 years later, this old church stands and is still carrying on. Throughout all the intervening years, it has been as a "City set on a hill" pointing men and women to a simple faith in the lonely Nazerine. Without doubt no other institution in that community has exerted so profound, and potent influence for the betterment of the-lives of men and women and its contact has been over a wide section. I think it worthy of note to point out that Uncle David L. Jones, who in his 83rd year, is with us today, has served this old church in the capacity of deacon for fifty consecutive years. He is a grandson of David Jones. The early minutes of this church in the handwriting of David Jones is in the possession of one of the deacons of this church today. David Jones was also one of the organizers, in October 1823, of the Concord Baptist Association which embraces Cooper and several Central Missouri Counties. This Association still exists today and each year the minutes of this Association carries forward the name of David Jones as having served it as Clerk and Moderator for many years.

While David Jones appears successful in most lines of his endeavors, we think it should be recorded herein that as a prophet he failed utterly. Tradition tells us that in the early 1850's he attended a celebration at Booneville at which time the renowned Thomas Hart Benton, United States Senator, was the speaker. In the course of his remarks, Senator Benton predicted that it was a matter of only a few years before a railroad would be projected Westward from Omaha to the Pacific Coast thus connecting West with East by iron rails. David Jones termed his prediction as "utterly foolish" and freely gave it as his opinion that a man that was crazy enough to make such a statement should be kicked out of the United States Senate.

David Jones died on May 8, 1862, and was buried in the Jones-Hunt cemetery just in front and across the road, about 200 yards distant, from the old brick residence built by him in 1834. Five days later his wife Tabitha Jones died and was buried beside him. She was born April 26, 1791, but beyond this I am unable to find any information regarding her. David Jones lived in Cooper County 47 years, 1815 to 1862 Even this brief sketch, I feel, must convince us that these were 47 full years - successfully farming, active in business, prominent in the affairs of County and State, and steadfast in the support of the church and kindred associations. Two Cooper County histories, written many years after his death, briefly sketch his life, and both close with these words: "He died in 1862, loved and respected by all who knew him."

Children of David & Tabitha Jones

There were six children, viz:

Louisa, who married John A. Arbuckle. They left Missouri many years ago and located in the vicinity of Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Emily, who married Robert A. Boswell. Nancy, who married James Boswell, a brother of Robert A. Both Boswell families lived near Prairie Home, Missouri, and James Boswell is the father of Mrs. Myra Gilbreath.

Sallie, who married John H. Chinn. He lived in East Cooper or North Moniteau County. Both are buried in the Jones-Hunt Cemetery at Pisgah.

John, who lived at or near Kingsville during the latter part of his life. He is the father of Mrs. Gilbert French who lived in Kansas City, Missouri, until her recent death.

David A, who married Melvina Lee of Roanoke, Howard County, Missouri. They were the parents of William, Gilbert F., David L., Chas. T., Thos. B., and Jack Jones; and Mrs. Nannie Milner and Mrs. Sam Peery.

Only three of these survive, viz, David L. and Chas. T. Jones, and Mrs. Nannie Milner. These three survivors and their descendants, and the descendants of the other children of David A. and Melvina Lee Jones compose a large part of our attendance today.


This David Jones above (1790-1862), pioneer settler of Moniteau Township, near Pisgah, Cooper County, for the sake of accuracy; should not be confused with David Jones (1761-1838), distinguished Revolutionary soldier, who in 1812 settled in Lamine township, near Arrow Rock, Cooper County. While there is much in common -- their names were identical, both were pioneers in Cooper County, both were Baptist, both coming into Missouri from Kentucky, both were Democrats and both were early day legislators in Missouri Assembly -- yet I am convinced up to this time that a kinship between the two cannot be established.

R. L. Jones

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