The Politics and Religion of Our Maternal Ancestors

Reverend Carleton D Jones (1895-1967) , who was my generation's maternal grandfather,  was pastor of this church in Warwick, Ohio, in 1937.

He met his first wife, Nelle Virginia Field, while each was attending Cleveland Bible Indtitute. Both became Methodist Episcopal ministers, with both later changing to the Nazarene denomination. (By clicking on the photo you'll be able to read the sign over the entrance, which says "Church of the Nazarene".)

The car is Carleton's, a Ford I believe, for which he reportedly saved money until he could pay cash for it (I'm told that he never used credit of any kind). His daughter Fleeta Claire appears to be in the middle-right of the group on the stairs, daughter Virginia Lee and son DeRand appear to be the two children at the bottom of the stairs and his wife, Nelle, appears to be the woman in front of the car. Not identified in this photo is his son, Paul Wesley, but he may be there somewhere. On the other hand, Paul reportedly became part of a depression-era program called the Civilian Conservation Corps as a young man, so he may have been gone when this photo was taken.


In the report he prepared about our family history and genealogy, my generation's uncle DeRand Jones (1927 - 2002) provided the following as part of his introduction.“…Leona Cash Jones (1873-1957) [who was his paternal grandmother] told me…Since the Civil War, all were Republicans. With one exception all were members of the Methodist Episcopal (M.E.) church up to about the mid 1920s when some became Church of the Nazarene…[a split from the M.E. church]. The one exception was John Wesley Goodman, who was a Campbellite. This was whispered …as if it were the family shame.”

At first I didn’t “get it” when reading DeRand’s quote of Leona saying, “Since the Civil War all were Republicans [emphasis added]”. However, I’ve since come to understand that there’s a great deal of significance behind that remark. Below is some of what I’ve learned.


Civil War- Era Republicans

John Morgan was a Confederate general who invaded the north. Starting with 2,500 men, his 1,000 mile raid through Indiana and into Ohio triggered a member of our ancestral family, Rev. Jonathan Perkins, into assembling a company of Ohio men to help combat Morgan’s guerrilla rebels. In the process of researching that story I came across a site
that discusses the circumstances that brought about the formation of the Republican Party – and which explains why our ancestral family was attracted to it.

Here’s a portion of what that site says: “The Republican Party was created in 1854 [before the Civil War, which was 1861-1865] in opposition to the
Kansas-Nebraska Act that would have allowed the expansion of slavery into Kansas. The Republican activists denounced the act as proof of the power of the Slave Power — the powerful class of southern slave-holders who were conspiring to control the federal government and to spread slavery nationwide…They vigorously argued that free-market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true American values…”


Civil War- Era Democrats
site gives us a look at the stance of the Democrats of that era. From it comes an editorial published in Harper's Weekly, May 13, 1871.

“Ex-Governor Vance, of North Carolina, who was a very active rebel, and who, not having professed acquiescence in the result of the war, was therefore elected by the Democrats [as] Senator in Congress, wrote a letter to the Tribune some time since, in which he said that immigrants into his State would be welcomed gladly, and would be as safe as they would be 'anywhere on earth.'

In that faith, but before the letter of the ex-Governor was written, Mr. H. C. Luce, in the winter of 1869, went with some friends and settled in Western North Carolina, near Charlotte. They established iron-works, spending, of course, a great deal of money, employed hundreds of poor whites and poorer blacks, opening up markets, and doing precisely what North Carolina needs to have done. They took no part in politics, and asked for no office, but being seven miles from any town or regular church or school, at the request of some of their colored laborers they opened a Sunday-school for both blacks and whites.

Admiral Wilkes's rich plantation was near by, and he and his family were also educating the people, and built a little church, to which they invited a clergyman, who had been a rebel soldier. The colored workmen of the Admiral were attacked and whipped, their school-books and Bibles were burned, and the clergyman was warned to leave or he would be murdered...

The result of the attempt at civilization was the appearance of the Ku-Klux [Klan], and the consequent terror, scourgings, and burnings. Mr. Luce himself was menaced with mobbing… and most of the Democrats in the neighborhood excused the crimes as only punishing those deserving of punishment.

At last, of course, Mr. Luce and his friends were driven away, and one of the most reasonable and promising efforts at settlement and industrial development in one of the late rebel States was violently ended, upon no plea whatever but that the laborers were peacefully instructed in schools where two things were required - that the races should not be taught together, and that politics should be excluded.

This barbarism, which is the work of Southern Democrats, and which indefinitely delays real reconstruction, is sustained by the Northern Democratic press, which sneers at the Ku-Klux, [Klan] as a mere hobgoblin, and denies the truth of such tales as this of Mr. Luce. And whether the Southern Democracy intends to acquiesce in equal rights everybody will judge for himself.”


Here’s another
link; this one leads to an article in Harper's Weekly, November 4, 1871, that deals directly with the Democrat’s support of the Ku Klux Klan. In part, this article says, “The country will not forget that the Democratic party sustains the Ku-Klux [Klan] by affecting to deny its existence; that the terror which is undeniable in certain parts of the Southern States is Democratic; and that the party whose leaders refuse to assist the authorities in maintaining order hopes to elect a President and obtain control of the government.”


The Bottom Line for Our Ancestors

During that era Republicans were against slavery and Democrats were for it.

And after the war was over and the Emancipation Proclamation became law, emotions still ran high on both sides. The northerners in our ancestral family, including extended family who became members through marriage, were obviously among those who opposed slavery – which motivated them in their politics after the Civil War. (We also had southerners in our ancestral family - the Field line - who fought and died for the Confederate cause.)

In addition, based upon our uncle DeRand's report, I imagine that the stories told by family members about the Civil War soldiers on the Union side of our family, i.e., Jimmy Bonar’s death by starvation in the notorious Confederate Libby Prison, probably added to their motivation for being Republicans.

Incidentally, I have no information indicating that our family was ever involved. However, it’s interesting to note that people in Ohio, a “free” state across the Ohio River from Virginia, a “slave” state (which was divided into West Virginia and Virginia in 1863), had a very active role in the Underground Railroad - which helped escaped slaves make their way to freedom.

"Ohio was crucial to the Underground Railroad saga. It has been estimated that 40,000 runaway slaves escaped to Canadian freedom through Ohio. A secret and successful network of over 700 safehouses and 'depots' waited for those fugitives fortunate enough to make it to - and across - the Ohio River." (Source)

In a 1903 centennial history of Belmont County, Rev. Jonathan Perkins' biographical sketch says, "He was a strong abolitionist..." In view of the fact that Belmont County, Ohio - where our ancestors centered - was just across the Ohio River from Wheeling, West Virginia, it's hard to imagine that our family was not involved in, or at least supportive of, the activities of the Underground Railroad.


Our Ancestors and Religion

Religion was obviously important to our ancestral family. Our uncle DeRand reported that Leona Cash Jones told him that other than their work, in pre-radio, pre-television days the church was a central part of the family's activities. In fact, our ancestral families included many ministers.

The list includes Rev. John McPherson, Rev. James Anderson, his son, Rev. J.W. Anderson, Rev. James Jones, Rev. Carleton Jones, Rev. Nelle Virginia Field Jones, Rev. Jonathan Perkins, Rev. Henry Cash and Rev. William Galen Cash (in addition to his being a teacher, school superintendent and farmer). The family connections of these people are - or will be - covered in other pages of this blog. Suffice it to say for now that they are all part of our extended ancestral family.

Add to that list a whole family that became Nazarene missionaries to India – and whose current members are believed to still be involved in the ministry in one way or another. They were Rev. Mary Elizabeth Jones Anderson, her husband Rev. J. Willis Anderson, and their descendants. Then there's Carleton’s second wife, Rev. Rhoda "Ranee" Schurman Jones, who was a Nazarene missionary to China before World War II, thereafter becoming pastor of a Nazarene church in Nova Scotia until her marriage to Carleton.

Beyond that, every obituary or eulogy I’ve found in DeRand’s archive contains references to their being active in their churches, being saved, being sanctified, teaching Sunday school, and so on. Also, everything written about them in the biographical info in the Belmont County centennial publication of 1903 makes reference to their active involvement in their churches. Obviously, religion was very significant to this part of our ancestral family.

So what do we know about their churches, their beliefs, practices, etc? In 1932 or ‘33, Leona Cash Jones, my generation’s maternal great grandmother, wrote the following, probably for a church newsletter. She said, “…I believe the holiness folk today are leading the world in sacrifice. We have opportunities and privileges that no other generation has ever had…” This was in the midst of the Great Depression and she was advocating strongly in favor of giving to the church “to share with the needy at home and across the seas”.

The phrase “holiness folk” intrigued me, for I was unfamiliar with the term. However, I’ve since become aware that she was, in all likelihood, referring to people who were part of what has been labeled the “Holiness Movement”, which provides us a clue to understanding their religious lives.

I recently ran across a site that describes that movement. Here’s a
link for any who might like to know more about the religious/spiritual context in which our ancestral family lived and worshipped.

Here's a link to an article that describes the worship services and describes a minor confrontation between a minister and a parishoner in a Methodist church. It's an excerpt from a 1903 book describing life in Belmont County, Ohio, in the 1800s.

Related to this subject is this
link which provides info about the early Nazarene church to which many of our ancestors turned after leaving the Methodist Episcopal denomination.

Following is a transcription of the complete handwritten article from which Leona's quote above was taken.

[Editor's comment: Understand that if DeRand, born in January, 1927, was six years old and Christmas was approaching - as she writes here - this article would have been written in 1932 or 1933 at the height of the Great Depression. Also understand that her son, Carleton and daughter-in-law Nelle were ministers, and daughter Mary Elizabeth Jones Anderson and family were missionaries to India.]

“I wish those doctors would make mother [Nelle Virginia Field Jones] well and nobody around this house ever got sick again”, said six year old D Rand looking at his plate thoughtfully one morning after mother had been taken to the hospital. After some days mother was carried in home very pale and weak. The children stood around her bed silently. Next morning mother was stronger and able to hear their prattle and the things pent up in their hearts so long.

Baby Virginia so heartily told her the many things she wanted for Xmas. Their mother said, “Now D Rand what do you want”. He snuggled up a little closer and said, “Mother how much money do you have left?” “Not very much D Rand. It took about all we had to get mother well.” “Well don’t get me anything then, for the most I want for Xmas is for you to be well.”

Now D Rand is the biggest wanter in the family. He can sit for an hour and tell you things he wants, from the different makes of airplanes down to birthday candles. It meant more of a heart sacrifice for him to say “Mother, don’t get me anything for Xmas” than many church members have ever made for the Lord’s work.

There is so much we need, want and would like to have for ourselves we forget to share with the needy at home and across the seas. A little sacrifice at this Xmas time can help to relieve so many who are sick physically and spiritually.

D Rand’s sacrifice touched mother, and mother won’t forget her boy [at] Xmas.
Our sacrifices touch the heart of God and he never forgets the rewards.

I believe our rewards will be for the little we do more than the big things, for the big things seldom come our way.

Yesterday a young girl received her first pay for the first job she had had for some time. She needed so many things, but the first thing she did she joyfully took the tithe and gave to her pastor. It wasn’t much but the pastor said, “It is such work as this that keeps our church going. Our young people don’t make much, but they tithe, and it all united makes our work go on.“

We sometimes think we sacrifice, but when we get to heaven and see the nice things prepared for us I believe we will be ashamed to call anything sacrifice that we’ve done. I’ve found by experience that we don’t do anything for God. He repays us is so many ways for every little thing we try to do. He is never in debt to us.

I believe the holiness folk today are leading the world in sacrifice. We have opportunities and privileges that no other generation has ever had. Let’s not be too selfish at this Xmas time but try to help our budget and our church so they can reach out to a sick world and keep it up until Jesus comes. “It may be long, it may be soon”

Mrs. Fleet Jones


Last revised 11/30/2010

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