Friday, March 6, 2015

Keeping Up with the Joneses: The Story of Ignace Ernest Jones (1880-1930) and His Two Wives

This is the week 10 post for Amy John Crow's 52 Ancestor challenge. The challenge is to write about one ancestor per week. This week's optional theme is Stormy Weather

I chose to write primarily about the life of my paternal great-grandfather Ignace Ernest Jones. But similar to the post on my maternal great-grandparentsI decided to write about the married couples. This is the story of a blended family, the Joneses-I. Ernest Jones and his two wives.

Researching this branch of the family was confusing at times because of all the different kinds of relationships. Ensuring I had the right connections: full, step and half-relatives was a fun puzzle. Gladly, I managed to keep everyone straight. I did not give up. It was so worth it in the long run. 

St. John the Baptist Parish Louisiana
Towns in St. John the Baptist Parish

Ernest's Story

Ignace Ernest Jones (1880-1930) is my paternal grandmother. He is the father of my grandmother  Julia Jones Dumas. Earliest records reveal he was born in March 1880 in Wallace, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, USA. (Another Pisces, yay!) Sometimes my grandfather was referred to as Ignace, at other times it was Ernest. I always knew it was him based on the relationships of other family members. 

The first record I find him in is the 1900 Census. He is 20 years old and living with his parents Adam Jones and Mary Leonce. He was the second oldest of several children. 

His siblings were: 
  • Maurice (Morris)
  • August
  • Amontine
  • Clifford 
  • Vanderbilt "Victor"
  • Angele
  • Clarence (whom my father and brother are named after)
  • Olive
  • Willis 
As an elder son, Ernest worked as a farm laborer to assist his family financially. 
I am happy to say he was a literate man. 

In 1908, Ernest married Adelaide "Bella" Grant, daughter of Benson Grant and Clementine Williams. Adelaide was previously married to an Edward Dennis, however, she became a widow after only 3 years of marriage. No known children are identified from that union. As a widow, Adelaide worked as a cook for a private family to support herself.

As a married couple, Adelaide and Ernest were able to have children. They were especially lucky with the female sex. Together they had four daughters: 
  • Cora 
  • Elvira
  • Julia
  • Shirley

Ignace Ernest Jones' WWI Draft Card
Date of birth is believed to be incorrect due to earlier records stating March 1880. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.

The above image of a World War I draft card shows that Ernest worked as a farm laborer, cutting rice on the neighboring plantation. I was able to identify his employment at the historic plantation, Whitney Plantation, when it was under the management of St. Martin & Perret. 

Ernest's time with his first wife, my great-grandmother would be cut short due to her untimely death. At the age of 47, Adelaide passed away in 1922 due to pneumonia, making Ernest the single father of 4 daughters. This was a major storm for Ernest to weather during his life.

Finding Love Again...
Four years later, Ernest would marry a woman 15 years his senior named Gertrude Duhe, widow of Philip Rogers. Gertrude was a native of Mt. Airy, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. When she married my great-grandfather, she was the single mother of  seven children. 

After Ernest and Gertrude wed, they would add two more children: Lucille and Alvin Jones to the family. That made a total of 13 children! 
The Jones bunch was established well before the famous Brady Bunch

Another Storm 
Ignace Ernest Jones lost his life on 1 Jan 1930. He left behind 13 children and a young wife. Two years later, Gertrude would also pass away. The orphaned children were split between family members who were able to rear them. Uncles, aunts and godparents stepped in to assist in raising the children. My grandmother, Julia, went to the care of her Uncle Willis. 

Researching this line taught me a great deal about what it means to be family. I also learned that my family has a long tradition of naming children in honor of parents, grandparents as well as uncles and aunts. Such was the case of myself, brother, father and uncles. 

In our culture, we often think of family as a married couple married with their biological children. We think of blended families as a modern phenomenon. But, this is not the case. There have been blended families since the beginning of time. The circumstances may have been different, but the outcome was still the same. There may have been multiple moms and dads, extra siblings and bonus children. In the end they loved one another deeply. This is what made them family.

I will leave you with a throwback photo. This made me smile. 
T: Ernest Dumas L: Ms. Leola
R: Julia Jones Dumas B: Uncle Willis Jones

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