Col. Jones is the son of Col. Joseph and Matilda (Sewell) Jones, and was born in Tazewell, Claiborne county, Tennessee, July 19th, 1835. His father and mother were both Virginians, and the former was once colonel of militia in times of peace. Fidelio S. was the oldest of ten children, eight of whom lived to be grown. In 1837, his parents moved to Greene county, Missouri, locating at Springfield, where the subject of this sketch was reared and educated, and where both his parents died, the father in 1865, and the mother in 1881. In 1852 he began his business career as a live stock trader, and made a successful turn on cattle and mules. His father had purchased a farm in the country, and Fidelio went on the farm where he remained till 1856. He then began clerking for Sheppard & Kimbrough, and three years later bought an interest in the store, the new firm being Layton Jones & Co. Selling out this interest, he opened a general merchandise stock at Springfield, with a branch at Fayetteville. A. B. Stevenson was in charge of the latter, and Jones received no proceeds till after the war, when Stevenson, who had been a Confederate soldier, brought him $3,000 in Confederate money, which he had carried with him through the war after having closed out the stock. After the battle of Wilson’s Creek, when Lyon’s men were retreating, Mr. Jones went with them to Rolla, sent for his family to join him there, and then to St. Louis. In January, 1862, he and Wm. McAdams brought a small stock to Rolla and temporarily opened out a little store, removing it to Springfield when Gen. Curtis came, selling from their wagons to needy persons on the way. Subsequently, he was associated in mercantile business with Wm. Massey till the organization of the militia in 1862. He sold out to J. T. Keet, and organized company “I,” of which he was chosen captain, and when the regimental officers were appointed he was promoted to major of the 72nd E. M. M. Holland was colonel and Henry Sheppard lieutenant colonel. When Sheppard became colonel, Jones was lieutenant colonel, and afterwards became colonel. [See general history.] Col. Jones resigned in the fall of 1864, and again began merchandising. He sold out again in 1865, and with three partners, that summer drove work cattle to Leavenworth for the freighting market. They had 300 head left on hand, and purchasing wagons, they took a sub-contract for freighting supplies westward. They started one train to Salt Lake City and one to New Mexico. The latter reached its destination, but the former was snowed in at Fort Bridger, and the goods and some of the wagons used by the garrison, which had been poorly supplied by the government. Their cattle mostly died, and they got pay for the wagons and supplies used. They lost heavily on this venture, chiefly because of death of cattle and having to sell at much less than they paid when they bought at war time prices. Returning to Greene county, Col. Jones bought a farm four miles South of town, where he lived two years. He was chosen president of the Southwestern Agricultural Association, and held the position two years. He was president of the stock company, let all contracts and paid out all funds in the building of the Metropolitan Hotel, and for eighteen months was its proprietor. During the most critical period of rivalry between the two cities of Springfield he was a member of the city council and chairman of the committee on street improvement, under whose direction the four principal streets were macadamized. After another period of live stock trading, he went into the livery business with Mr. Denton till April 1882, when he leased the entire stable and fixtures, and has since done the leading business in his line, especially in the transfer department to and from all trains. He operates the only water works the city has at this writing. Col. Jones was married in 1859 to Miss Sarah R. Hackney, daughter of Wilson Hackney, deceased. They have three daughters and two sons living, and one son dead. He is a Mason, and he carries a life policy in the Northwestern Mutual and also in the N. Y. Mutual. Col. Jones has worked as hard and spent as much in building up the town as any other citizen.
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