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The subject of this sketch was born in Wayne County, Illinois, December 1, 1861.
His father and mother were born in Illinois; both his grandfathers were born in Kentucky, and his great-grand-father, Cadwaledar Jones, was born in South Carolina. His ancestors took a prominent part in the Revolutionary War, one of them, Robert Anderson, being a chieftain along with Marion and Sumter. The Jones family originally came from Wales. The Anderson family, into which the grandfather of the subject of this sketch married, came from Ireland. The Staten family, into which the father of the subject of this sketch married, were of Scotch-Irish descent. The Statens settled in Kentucky, it is thought near Crab Orchard, in an early day, and the great-grandmother of the subject of this sketch was murdered by the Indians while at a spring doing some washing. The savages cut her all to pieces and hung the remains in a black jack bush.
The grandfather of the subject of this sketch, Cadwaledar Jones, left Kentucky and went into Indiana in the year 1808, and settled in what is now Gibson County. He was in the Indian War that came up in 181I , and fired the first shot at the battle of Tippecanoe, he being one of the night sentinels. In 1816 he removed to what is now Wayne County, Illinois, and built the first cabin ever erected in that county. Here, the same year, John Jones, the father of the subject of this sketch, was born, he being the first white child born in that county. In 1835 John Jones left Illinois and emigrated with the Andersons to Barry County, Missouri The next five years of his life were spent in Southwest Missouri, North Arkansas and in the Indian Territory, he being most of the time in the employ of a New York hunting company, who had quite a squad of men engaged in securing firs, pelts, etc. Of this squad Kit Carson was the leading spirit. At the age of twenty-four he returned to Illinois, where he married Miss Nancy Staten,who was also born in Wayne County at a very early date in that county’s history, so early that, after she was big enough to remember, there were plenty of Indians in the country. To John and Nancy Jones were born: Cadwaleder, Peter, Mary, John, Charles, James and William, the last named being the youngest. The family lived a quiet and uneventful life in a log house, on a small farm in Arrington Prairie, Wayne County, Illinois The father taught school, farmed and preached the gospel. He never had an enemy in life. Religiously he was a sincere believer in the Missionary Baptist faith. Politically he was a Democrat of the Jeffersonian school, and was bitterly opposed to the war of the Rebellion, he, with his brothers, children and relatives, being regarded as “copperheads” and Southern sympathizers. He died in 1889, and was buried in the cemetery adjoining the Arrington Baptist Church, in the county, of his birth. His widow lives near Wayne City, Illinois Of the children Charles and James died while quite young; Mary, who had married L.E. Cates, died in 1886; Cadwaledar lives at Elk Falls, Kan., and Peter and John live near Wayne City, Illinois The name Cadwaledar has been in this branch of the Jones family from time immemorial, the first male child in the family of the oldest son being named Cadwaleder. Cadwaledar originally signified a Welsh chieftain who was the oldest son of the family.
William R. Jones, the subject of this sketch, passed his youth on a farm in his native country, and, his brothers leaving home when he was small, he was early put at hard farm work, only getting to attend school a few months in winter. After he reached his majority he determined to get an education. He attended a high school at Fairfield, Illinois, and the Normal School at Valparaiso, Indiana, in which institutions he fitted himself for teaching and the other duties of life. As a teacher he rapidly came to the front and was soon considered one of the best educators in his county. In 1886, at the age of twenty-four, he received the Democratic nomination for superintendent of public instruction of Wayne County, an office with a four-year term and worth about $1,800 per year. After one of the hardest fought political battles ever had in that county, he and most of the ticket was defeated by the Republicans. In 1887 he came to Marion County, Arkansas, where he located permanently, and has ever since been working for the upbuilding and advancement of his adopted State. He is considered the hustler par excellence of North Arkansas. On reaching Marion County, he taught school two years, and then embarked in the newspaper business as editor and proprietor of the Mountain Echo, which had been established in 1885, by H. B. Dallam. Under the able management of Mr. Jones, this paper has come to be regarded as one of the best county newspapers in the State, and it has a large and constantly increasing circulation. As a factor in the development of Marion County, it can hardly be overestimated. As a “Knight of the Quill” Mr. Jones is easy and graceful, yet does not lack force and eloquence. He unhesitatingly expresses his convictions when necessary and is earnest in his advocacy of all measures of reform and morality. Mr. Jones is a member of the K. of H., the A.F. & A. M., the Royal Arch Chapter, and is first lieutenant of Company L, Second Arkansas Militia. He owns a neat residence in Yellville; he also has some neat tenant cottages and a lot of fine farming and mineral land.
In 1891 he and three Kansas City gentlemen put on foot the Springfield, Yellville & White River Railroad Company; also the Northern Central Construction Company. Of the former Mr. Jones is secretary and director; of the latter he is one of the directors. This was the first road ever attempted to be built in Marion County. The company has graded about five miles of the road and Mr. Jones thinks the scheme will ultimately be a success. He is a strong believer in Jeffersonian Democracy, and at the date of this writing he is the Democratic nominee for representative of Marion County,which is equivalent to an election. He is a warm patron and is deeply interested in the cause of education, and has also done much to aid the temperance cause. Mr. Jones was married in 1884 to Miss Idella Robertson, of Pin Oak, Illinois This union has been a most happy one. Mrs. Jones is loved by all who know her, and is a lady of culture and refinement. To Mr. and Mrs. Jones three children have been born: Bertha, Willie and Ralph. Willie died when but an infant and is buried near Yellville. Mr. Jones says that this is almost the only shadow that has passed over his household since he came to Arkansas. He and his lady are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South.