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Alfred Wheeler Jones. April 19, 1867, was a date of considerable significance to Salina. On that day, the anniversary of the battle of Lexington at the beginning of the Revolutionary war, the first railway train over the Union Pacific tracks arrived in Salina. On that day was born the only son and child of one of Salina’s most prominent pioneer citizens. This son, Alfred Wheeler Jones, had made his life one of service in the educational field, and since retiring from school work he had busied himself with the management of his model farm near Salina. He also had the post of United States co-operative weather observer.
His father, Horace L. Jones, was born at Williamsburg, Massachusetts, September 9, 1834, and died at Salina, Kansas, November 5, 1900. At the age of seventeen he had qualified as a teacher and for a few years was president of an academy on Long Island. He was one of many New Englanders who were thoroughly aroused after the passage of the notorious Kansas-Nebraska Bill in the early ’50s with the importance of making Kansas a free state. In 1855 he came to Kansas with a party of New Englanders, and thereafter was almost constantly associated with some phase of the Free State movement. He had the courage of his convictions, and in spite of threats and danger was resolute in performing his duty and in doing all he could to put down border warfare. Many times he narrowly escaped assassination at the hands of the border ruffians. While in sympathy with the ideals and principles of John Brown, he was not altogether satisfied with that great abolitionist’s method of making Kansas a free state. Horace Jones first located in Osage County, later lived in Douglas and Franklin counties, and at one time owned land now covered by the City of Topeka. In 1860 he came to Salina, or what was then a frontier post. Here he opened a small store for trading with the Indians, from whom he bought furs and buffalo hides. His was the second store in the town. He also had the first lumber yard there and at one time conducted the only hotel. In 1870 Horace Jones bought a farm six miles southeast of Salina, and was actively engaged in its cultivation until his death. He was not only a factor in the early business life of the community, but also represented Saline County in the first and second State Legislatures. He was a very ardent republican and was a recognized leader during the early and formative period of Kansas. Credit should be given him in particular for his influential part in locating the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan.
In 1860 Horace L. Jones married Miss Charlotte Wheeler, who was born in New York State July 10, 1834. She died in Saline County July 25, 1911.
Alfred Wheeler Jones, the only child of these parents, grew up in Salina on his father’s farm in Saline County, attended the public schools and in 1895 received the degrees Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from the Kansas Wesleyan University. After teaching public school for a year he became a member of the faculty of Kansas Wesleyan University in 1896. He had always been interested along scientific lines, and in the university he held the chairs of geology and chemistry. He was an active member of the faculty for fifteen years, and hundreds of students will recall his services as teacher of science. He retired from educational work in 1915, and went back to his father’s old homestead, which he now owned and operates. This farm comprises 240 acres of fertile and valuable land, had all the modern improvements, and Mr. Jones is specializing in the growing of fruit.
He is regarded as one of the most competent authorities on geological subjects in this part of Kansas. Besides teaching geology he also had considerable experience with the United States Geological Corps. For the past twenty years he had been United States weather observer for Saline County, and that is one of the oldest stations in the state. Mr. Jones had the complete records of the weather and meteorological conditions in this county for the past thirty years.
He is a member of the Presbyterian Church. By his paternal ancestry he is eligible to membership in the Society of Cincinnati by virtue of his great-grandfather, Col. Hugh Maxwell, having been on the staff of Gen. George Washington in the Revolution.
On November 11, 1891, Mr. Jones married Miss Mary Hoard, who was born in Indiana in 1872. They are the parents of two sons. Walter H., born November 7, 1894, was married June 16, 1915, to Mabel Shoemaker. Horace W., the younger son, was born July 3, 1898.