Annotating Frank Jones’ Biography

Before moving on, some notes on what is mentioned in the biography of Frank Jones from my last post (Frank Jones and Annie Humphreys).

The entry says that Frank moved to Washington Territory in 1879. Washington was acquired by the US from Great Britain in 1846, pursuant to the Oregon Treaty. It became a state (the 42nd) in 1889. The population grew from 23,955 in 1870 to 75,116 in 1880 to 357,232 in 1900. (See here.)

It goes on to say that Frank settled in Pomeroy. Pomeroy is the county seat of Garfield County, in the southeastern part of Washington.  Pomeroy was officially founded in 1878, so was a new town when Frank decided to settle there. It was in Columbia County at the time, as Garfield was not carved out as a separate county until November 1881, named after James A. Garfield, who had become president and been assassinated that same year. So far as I can tell, the Jones family (along with the Humphreys) were gone from Pomeroy and Garfield by before 1910, although I don’t know when they left–I know there is some information on the family in the local paper and hope to find more–but for the time being perhaps this information provides some context:

Pomeroy enjoyed steady growth through most of the 1880s and into the early 1890s. The nationwide financial downturn caused by the Panic of 1893 significantly slowed the town’s pace for several years, but rapid growth returned in the late 1890s. In 1900, Pomeroy’s population was 953. Pomeroy was struck by fire in 1890 and 1898, but it was a fire on July 18, 1900, that caused the most damage in the town’s early history. The fire started accidentally in a saloon and quickly spread, destroying nearly half of the town’s business district. Damages exceeded $135,000 (in 1900 dollars), with less than half of the damage covered by insurance. Pomeroy quickly recovered from this near-disaster. Indeed, the resulting construction of a new downtown of fireproof brick buildings resulted in even faster growth. Running water reached Pomeroy in 1903 and electricity in 1904. By 1904 the first telephone lines were also in use in Pomeroy. The town’s economic boom coincided with a similar boom in the county’s agricultural economy; in 1903 Garfield County produced 2,301,765 bushels of wheat and barley.

Frank Jones seems to have not made a success as a farmer or perhaps didn’t care for the life.  The biography states that he gave up farming for the grain business, first with Cranatell & Brothers and then the Pacific Coast Elevator Company. I haven’t found anything on the first, but there are some legal cases involving Pacific Coast Elevator Company, including in the relevant area.

Frank was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, which makes sense, as according to wiki, the period from 1860 to the 1910s was the “Golden age of fraternalism,” and “the Odd Fellows became the largest among all fraternal organizations,” even larger than the Freemasons. “By 1889, the IOOF had lodges in every American state.” Although membership fell off during the Great Depression and New Deal, it still exists.  It ceased being all white in 1971.

Frank was also a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, which sounds like a labor union, but was apparently a fraternal benefit society (basically like a form of insurance).

He also was described as “a Republican in politics,” which seems to have been pretty consistent with the state of Washington during the relevant period based on wiki.  More detailed information on the politics of the period (last quarter of the 19th century) is here:

…80 to 90 percent of the eligible voters (white and black males in the North and white males the South) consistently voted in local and national elections. This amazing turnout occurred at a time when the major political parties differed little on the issues and when the platforms of the two main national political parties were almost indistinguishable. Consequently, throughout the era, voters gave few strict mandates to either parties or individuals and the outcomes of the presidential races were determined by a relatively small number of votes. Although Grover Cleveland, elected in 1884, was the first Democratic presidential candidate to win office since James Buchanan in 1856, no sitting President had a majority of his own party in both houses of Congress for his entire term….

Voters spoke of political loyalty in the same breath as religious affiliation. Most voted as their fathers had before them. A sample of thousands of interviews taken by directory makers in Illinois and Indiana in the mid-1870s showed that only 2 percent of men were without a party affiliation. Anyone uncomfortable with his party’s position would most likely not split his ticket and almost never switched parties. Instead, if he was really unhappy, he just stayed away from the polls on election day….

The Republican Party first appeared on the national ballot in 1856. Following the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Whig party disintegrated, and meetings in the upper mid-western states led to the formation of this new party opposed to the spread of slavery into the western territories. The Republicans quickly became the dominant force in the North, and with the Confederate defeat, known as the party of the victors. The south became solidly Democratic, and would remain so for decades.

After the war, the Republicans continued the Whig tradition of promoting industrial development through high tariffs. The party promoted government activism, primarily to foster economic development. Freedmen and the white, Protestant population of the Northeast comprised their political base. It was during this post-war period that the party became known as the “Grand Old Party”, or GOP.

The party advocated moralistic policies based on evangelical Protestant values. They generally supported restrictions on the sale and use of alcohol and limits on business openings on Sunday. Their support came from the Methodists and Baptists of the Northeast and Midwest and other evangelical sects.

The demographic influences are consistent with Frank’s identification as a Republican, but there are some other factors (his job) that could be relevant too:

The Grange movement began in 1867, in Washington, DC, with the formation of a secret fraternal organization for farmers called the National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry. Early on, most of the local branches, called Granges, were in Minnesota, home of the founder, Oliver Kelly. The movement spread rapidly in the 1870s, fueled by farmers’ desperation over high railroad shipping rates and the tight money supply. By 1875, the membership had passed 850,000. Indiana ranked second behind Missouri in Grange membership in Mid-Central region of the US that year, with 60,298 members and 1,485 Granges, 498 for every 100,000 in agricultural population.

The Grangers defined themselves by emphasizing the extent to which farmers were victims of railroads, merchants and banks. For the farmer, the enemy was not an employer, but a system of credit, supply, transportation and marketing. They took action by forming cooperatives, founding banks, pushing through legislation for regulation of railroads and grain elevators, and campaigned for political candidates. Farmers in general in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s were determined to hold on to or regain the autonomy of the independent small producer in the new industrial economy and saw politics as a way to do just that….

Railroad expansion had exploded by the 1880s. Besides the major transcontinental lines, branch railroads reached out to every corner of the country. The fact that railroads became THE way to transport goods also gave the unregulated rail companies carte blanche when it came to rates. Competition was steep among long distance lines, keeping rates within reasonable limits. But, on the non-competitive short lines, railroads often raised rates as high a possible to compensate for low rates on the competitive lines, making price disproportionate to distance. Railroads also played favorites by reducing rates to large shippers and offering free passenger passes to preferred customers and politicians. In many cases, the railroads also controlled the grain elevators, making farmers captive to storing and shipping rates.

As agricultural conditions improved in the 1880s, the Grange movement lost members, dropping to 150,000. Because of opposition from local business and lack of experience, many of their business ventures failed. The agrarian movement, though, moved south and west, where a new Farmers’ Alliance movement grew.

The whole article is interesting, although I am sure there is more to be said specifically about the local issues and dynamics of party affiliation in eastern Washington during the same period.

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One thought on “Annotating Frank Jones’ Biography

  1. Pingback: Maund and Cound Families, Going Forward (Part 2) | My American Journeys

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