Checking Up on the Joneses

Article by Leonora Ferguson Mintz, 1998

For Seaborn Jones Memorial Week I am checking up on the Joneses, not trying to keep up with them.

When I was a child, I heard, and later read, stories of George Washington, Daniel Boone, Ben Franklin, and other national heroes, but I honestly believe, as I think back, that not one of these outranked Col. Seaborn Jones in my estimation. I heard factual and legendary tales about him throughout my formative years, and the more I heard about him, the more I appreciated him.

Why should I appreciate a person whom I never knew and who was not related to me? The answer is simple: I admire people who do something with their lives, and Col. Seaborn Jones did just this. He gave of himself and of his material possessions to make the village he called home a place of dignity, of industry and of godliness.

Seaborn Jones was the third son of John Anslem Jones and his wife, the former Martha Jenkins, there being nine children in the family.

John A. Jones, according to a book Miss Ione and Miss Louise Moore loaned me, was born in Augusta, Georgia, June 29, 1790. He spent much of his boyhood in Montgomery County with his uncle, John Jones, for whom (with his maternal uncle, Anselm Bugg), he was named, and by whose property he inherited.

In his early life John moved to Milledgeville, then the capital of Georgia. While there, he kept the Lafayette House, at the same time practicing law.

From Milledgeville he moved to Paulding County, Georgia, settled in Van Wert, where he accumulated a sizable fortune mining gold. After the War Between the States, he moved to Rockmart (then spelled Rock Mart), where he lived until his death, August 25, 1880, at the advanced age of 90 years. (He is buried at Rose Hill).

In 1847, while serving as a member of the Legislature, he secured enactment of a law legalizing shorter and more direct forms of pleading. These brief forms, then a distinct novelty, long known in the State as “Jack Jones” forms, have since won their way pretty well throughout the English speaking world.

John A. Jones, known intimately as “Jack,” was a man of strong mind and native wit. He was firm in his friendships and strong in his prejudices–a man of mark in his section. Information taken from “Peter Jones – Richard Jones Genealogies,” compiled from original sources by Augusta B. Fothergill and published in 1924.

Robert Jones, brother of Seaborn Jones, married Malissa Gordon Otterson, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Samuel Otterson. Two of their children were Samuel Otterson Jones, who married Grace Cochran, and Sallie Bugg Jones, who married John L. Moore.

These families remained near Rockmart and later moved into town where, throughout the years, they meant so much to our area, their children continuing to do so.

The children of the S. O. Jones family are Misses Mary and Elma Jones, who live here, and Robert Jones and Sam O. Jones whose profession took them to larger cities.

The John L. Moore children are Misses Ione and Louise Moore, of Rockmart, and their brother, the late Jones Moore, who went wet some years ago after he returned from service in WWI.

While still a young man, Seaborn Jones spent several months in Western United States and Mexico. Upon his return, he built a ranch style house where he and his first wife, the former Louisa Greyton, of Augusta made their home. Here they lived happily with their two children, Annie and John Anselm Jones.

Then tragedy struck the family. Mrs. Jones died, and the children, who were small, passed away. Mr. Jones left his home and went to the Commercial Hotel to live. The hotel, which was new, belonged to Col. Jones, or to him and his father (I’ve heard both stories).

Now comes another interesting family into the village of Rockmart–the Enoch B. Pressley family, from Edgeville County, SC. Mr. Pressley, who came to manage the Commercial Hotel, was married to the former Mary Elizabeth Barrington. They had ten children, Mary Pressley, who was born October 21, 1852, became the second wife of Seaborn Jones, and they resided at the hotel.

Another of the Pressley girls, Sarah Jane, married Captain Styles Phillips, and they became parents of Mary Elizabeth (called Mollie) Phillips, on June 23, 1866.

Mollie Phillips married W> B. Fambro (formerly spelled Fambrough) and their sons are C. L. Fambro and H. P. Fambro.

Col. Jones died in February, 1891, after serving his community well in many ways, including being a member of the town’s governing body, helping get railroads here, after Van Wert officials turned their backs on such projects, and by giving large portions of land. He was truly a man of vision for he predicted that his home town would become a larger and greater place in years to come. He was right. At the time of his death, the population of the town was less than six hundred; now it is approximately four thousand.

Mrs. Mary P. Jones married E. A. Heard and they lived for some time in the house Col. Seaborn had built, then they moved to Rome. That house is the home of “Miss Ella” (Mrs. Parks) Durham and her family has been there for more than forty years.

In 1923, some time after their marriage, “Mr. Cliff” Fambro and his bride, the former Mattie Lane, were looking for a desirable plot on which to build their home.

“Aunt Mary” Jones Heard made a suggestion. The lots that Col. Seaborn had designated for an Episcopal Church, (he was Episcopalian) would never be used, she believed, (the Methodists, the Baptists, and the Presbyterians had already built new sanctuaries on the lots he had willed to them), so she offered the Fambros the land. They liked the idea, and the location, so “Aunt Mary” made arrangements through the Rome Episcopal Diocese and the Bishop secured the deeds for the two lots, measuring 120 feet by 120 feet and “Mr. Cliff” and “Miss Mattie” had built the lovely home on Ivy Street, where they still live. “Aunt Mary” used the money they paid her to help build an orphanage.

Sunday afternoon, November 19, as we gathered for a picture taking session at the Jones’ lot at the top of Rose Hill Cemetery, I believe the other members of the various committees, as I, felt like saying, “well done” to all who had a part int he restoration project.

The grave stones gleamed majestically in the autumn sunlight, the newly planted Ilex helleri shrubbery was well spaced, the handsome wrought iron fence glistened in its new coat of black paint, the graceful gate, recently rehung on its tall posts which were made more beautiful by the clusters of ferns that had been placed in the urns atop the posts, and the marble steps that had been reset firmly in cement, added to the allover grandeur of the place.

And across the valley of Euharlee I could see the home of Col. Jones (Durham Home) on the hilltop against the skyline.

Truly, it was an experience I shall remember always.