About Cousins

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.

Josephine M. (Jones) Porter’s family gather for her funeral in 1925, including daughters Florence Ethel (left) and Maud Elsie (right). (Courtesy of JWB)

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 found the probate records for Sam and Eliza Jones’s daughter, Florence R. Jones, at the Monterey County Historical Society.
This historic house in Pacific Grove was once the home of Emma (Jones) Getz and her family in the early 20th century. Emma was the daughter of Sam and Eliza B. Jones.

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.

Headstone for Addison W. and Josephine M. Porter in Pacific Grove, California.

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.

The first family record page in the Jones family Bible. Sam Jones’s father (and siblings) and paternal grandparents are on the left. Sam and his siblings are on the right.

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.

Three daguerreotypes in Julie’s family collection. (Courtesy JWB)

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.

I’m still hoping that the photo of miners in the California Historical Society collection will turn out to be the Blackford Mining Co. Does the man on the left (c. 1852) match the man on the right (c. 1855)?

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.

Eilene and Julie at Pepper’s in Monterey. Family resemblance?

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)

37 thoughts on “About Cousins

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  1. Great photos as usual! I too seek out cousins constantly. Years ago I found a 16th cousin (Yes, 16th!) in Italy and we have become close friends. I have even found 1st cousins who had no idea who I was before I contacted them. I like making the world a little smaller.

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  2. This is so great!!! Congrats on connecting with your cousin! Also, I’m loving those daguerreotypes! My father in law is a historian and one of his specialties is early photography (Matthew Brady) and daguerreotypes. So neat!!! I almost want to show him this post because I know he’d appreciate it. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m pleased to know that you met your cousin and had such a good time in the process. I’d think that doing a few genealogical expeditions would be a great bonding opportunity. The daguerrotypes are fascinating. I do think those are some of the most interesting *lost* bits of history.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so enjoy the present day connections you create as you explore your history. It’s a wonderful connecting storyline. And it’s great you got to share some of that exploration with a “new” family member!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Lovely way to, as you note, get shown around by folks who intimately know the area. What fun!

        Up until now, I couldn’t think of a lot of reasons to take up geneological research. But maybe…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. We don’t have any daguerreotypes that I know of–you’re so lucky to have them! And those two photos seem close to me–definitely the same hairstyle, at least. I wonder how popular that hairstyle was back then. Seems like a good chance they’re photos of the same man!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was a popular hairstyle then. I can’t figure out how all those guys got the ends curled under just so. I was so thrilled Julie had those daguerreotypes. We don’t have any in my immediate family. I sure wish I knew what happened to the one my 3rd great-grandfather, Henry Z. Jenkins, sent to his family from California. I suspect it got damaged somehow and thrown out. If I could find it, that just might clear up my mystery about the gold rush mining group photo.

      Liked by 1 person

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