Some years ago I decided to go to the Library of Congress to begin research on the Edward Dixon Business Papers held in the Manuscript Reading Room there. These are a set of ledger books from King George County, Virginia, beginning in the year 1743. And it was these accounts from Col Thomas Turner’s dry goods store which one William Longmire had a major hand in keeping up to date until late 1748. And as I rolled the microfilm forward I was pleasantly surprised to see that the first extant account listed was for James Jones, maternal grandfather of President James Monroe. And possibly a friend of William Longmire, judging by various other documents and circumstances I will delve into later. It is without a doubt that they knew each other as William testified for him in court, even being paid to do so. And there is that curious payment in Sterling that Susanna Longmire made to Hester Jones, wife of James, which came just after the death of William Longmire. But that is another topic for later …
James Jones was quite an interesting fellow it turns out. Styled a “bricklayer” then later “undertaker” he was involved in building structures in and around King George County. He may have been the equivalent of an early Colonial architect, much like his neighbor, William Walker, who with his brother, Robert, built and outfitted several large plantation homes for the wealthiest and most influential men of the day. Interestingly, another neighbor of James (and William Longmire) was John Wren, whose son, James, designed and built the Falls Church here in Northern Virginia and also historic Christ Church in Alexandria. Fortunately for those who wish to view the estate inventory of James Jones to scrutinize aspects of his building life we have William Longmire’s very legible handwriting to be able to do so with clarity.
James, along with his wife, Hester, ran an Ordinary adjacent the court house. As William Longmire was working at court many a Friday and Saturday he was sure to pass by and grab a bite to eat, maybe throw down a pint of “drink”, and if he was lucky enough, perhaps get some advice from James regarding the 100′ of inch plank he bought of John Champe. Ah yes, a little embellishment perhaps but nonetheless a distinct possibility as I alluded to earlier regarding certain services William and James may have rendered each other.
Unfortunately this is but a starter blog post regarding James Jones and the time arrives to begin another topic. However, I will return later to explore further he and his wife, Hester, and how their lives intersected with that of William Longmire – the fellow who not only kept a ledger account for James but also another for Hester, who seems to have been the main operator of their Ordinary.