Week 18: #52 Ancestors – Road Trip
By Eilene Lyon
Usually my genealogy road trips involve visiting at least one cousin – sometimes meeting them for the first time. My recent trip to California was no exception. It gave me the opportunity to meet my 5th cousin, Julie.
What? A 5th cousin? That’s pretty distant, you might be thinking. Maybe so, but we seemed to click right away when we met in Pacific Grove a few weeks ago. Julie has lived on or near the Monterey Peninsula her entire life, and I helped her learn one of the reasons for that.
I first contacted Julie a couple years ago, because her 2nd-great-grandfather, Samuel Jones, is a prominent character in my gold rush story (and also appears in the Elias D. Pierce biography). And he happens to be my 1st cousin 4x removed.
Julie knew her great-grandmother, Josephine M. Porter, was a Jones by birth, but didn’t know anything about Josephine’s parents or other family along those lines. I was happy to provide her with a detailed biography on Sam Jones and his wife Eliza B. Zinn: their ancestry, their descendants, and their journey through life.
Though I made a trip to California in November 2017, I didn’t make it out to the coast. This time, I was determined to head to Monterey to learn more about Sam and Eliza B. Jones and their time there. Julie was game to do some sleuthing with me.
We didn’t have time to do a lot of deep digging, but we had fun making our way around the county to various archives, and we made some discoveries along the way. One of our first stops, though, was a visit to Josephine and Addison W. Porter’s graves. Julie had never visited these great-grandparents. I could tell it was a moving moment for her.
Julie shared family history treasures in her possession, which include the Jones family Bible, with family data going back to the mid-1700s! She also had photographs, including her paternal grandmother, Maud Elsie (Porter) Work, who was a granddaughter of Sam and Eliza Jones, plus Maud’s siblings and children.
I found her paternal grandfather’s tale intriguing, too, though he is not related to me in any way. He was a Scottish immigrant whose first job in Monterey was selling milk and he eventually became one of the area’s most significant employers and landowners.
Of all Julie’s family treasures, three daguerreotypes excited me most. But they are unlabeled. One of the images was destroyed when the protecting glass broke. The other two show men, one in his 20s or early 30s, and one older, possibly in his 50s or 60s.
Since Julie was certain these old photos had come through the Porter family, and I was certain the pictures were taken in the mid-1850s, that really left us with two possibilities for the younger man: Samuel Jones or Addison W. Porter. Porter, Josephine Jones’s husband, was actually closer in age to her father than herself.
In the Monterey Great Register for 1892, I found a description of Addison W. Porter that eliminated him from consideration. I don’t know why, but Sam Jones was not listed that year, though he was certainly living in Monterey County at the time. His son, Edwin T. Jones, was listed and described as dark-haired, grey-eyed and 5’ 11”. Sam Jones’s siblings, Rebecca and William, were both dark-haired, too.
Though the man in this image does not have the eye shape characteristic of many Joneses, I do believe I have found Sam Jones: gold miner, miller, merchant, rancher, preacher, and capitalist. Yes, he did all those things throughout his long life. I will write more about him and his family soon.
As much as I enjoyed finding information on the Sam Jones family, even better was getting to know Julie. We both love reading (and dogs) and when I saw she had a new Barbara Kingsolver novel (my favorite author), she immediately gifted it to me.
We enjoyed an excellent seafood dinner with a glass of wine one evening. Another evening it was spicy Mexican fare with a margarita. We never lacked for conversation topics and the time flew by.
I especially loved having a genuine local drive me around to see the historic places around the peninsula that so many tourists are oblivious to. She even helped me learn a little about my immediate family by pointing out that the Presidio was where my father attended language school back in 1961.
I’m grateful that my “new” cousin has opened her life and family history to me. Hopefully, my efforts on her family tree have sparked a desire for her to discover more about her roots – in California and beyond.
Feature image: Lone Cypress along the Monterey Peninsula coastline (E. Lyon 2019)