From Biographical Memoirs of Huntington County, 1901, pages 482-484
Every man in Huntington county knows Willis A. Jones, the leading real
estate dealer and abstracter of titles in the city.
Mr. Jones is distinctly a Huntington product, having been born in
Huntington township September 22, 1851, his parents being pioneers of
this part of the state. His father, William R. Jones, was born in
Hillsboro, Ohio, July 2, 1828, and is at present a retired business man
of Huntington. He was a native of Pennsylvania, having been born in
Beaver county in 1790. At the age of fifteen he went to Ohio, locating
near Hillsboro, when all that country was rough woodland, with but few
cultivated farms. Here he helped his father on a farm, grew to manhood
and married. Five years after the birth of William R. the elder Jones
moved to Indiana and drove through a district where the town of Warren
now stands. He had the enviable distinction of being the first settler
in Salamonie township and built the first house there, having entered a
half-section of land in the Salamonie valley, where he spent the
remainder of his days. He laid out the now thriving town of Warren and
had the satisfaction of seeing it grow to a village of six hundred people
before he died, in 1873, at the ripe old age of eighty-three years. A
Democrat of the Jacksonian school, he was frequently urged to accept
office, but declined, except in one instance, being nominated and
triumphantly elected representative from his county. As an early settler
he acquired considerable land and gave to each of his nine children a
farm. He served in the war of 1812, following in the patriotic footsteps
of his father, John Jones, who was a Revolutionary hero.
Samuel was married twice. His first wife, by whom he had five children,
was Miss Sarah Reese, who died in Highland county. His second wife, Miss
Nancy Reveal, was a native of Virginia, and lived to the age of
ninety-four years. She had four children.
William R. Jones, who was but five years old when his parents came from
Hillsboro to this county, was a farmer for many years. After his
marriage to Miss Margaret S. Provines he entered a
one-hundred-and-sixty-acre tract of timber land three miles south of
Huntington, which he cleared and greatly improved. In 1868 he sold this
now excellent farm and came to Huntington to live. Going into the
grocery business with William T. Whitelock, he carried on this business
until poor health compelled his retirement from active life.
The mother of our subject, Miss Margaret S. Provines, was of Irish
parentage, her grandparents both being natives of Ireland. She was born
in Washington county, Pennsylvania, February 24, 1822, and was the
daughter of James and Charity Provines. Her father, who was born in
1792, in Pennsylvania, came to this county in 1846 and settled on an
eighty-acre farm in Salamonie township, where his death occurred on
September 27, 1851. He was married to Charity Seebring while yet a
resident of Washington county, Pennsylvania. Margaret Provines was but
twenty-two years old when she came with her parents to this county. For
nearly a year she taught school in Salamonie township. She then met and
married William R. Jones, at that time a prosperous young farmer of that
region. To that union four children were born: Willis, the subject of
this sketch, was the eldest. The others in order of their birth are:
Sarah A., of this city; Willard, a farmer of Clear Creek township; and
Lizzie, wife of J. H. Little, of Noblesville, Indiana. Mrs. Jones has
for many years been a most ardent supporter of the Presbyterian church,
of which she is an earnest and devoted member.
The successful business career of Willis Jones, our subject, is largely
due to his inborn sturdiness and energy, a legacy from Welsh ancestry,
and the excellent schooling of his boyhood days upon a farm. He was
eighteen years old when his parents moved to Huntington, and in those
years he had gained a good common-school education and learned the many
lessons of thrift which are taught upon a farm--where none who fear hard
toil can ever succeed. For a short time he attended the schools at
Huntington, after which he took a commercial course in the business
college of this city. His first work was for the United States Express
Company, for whom he acted as agent at Huntington for about four years.
On December 31, 1874, he was appointed deputy to the county clerk, held
the position four years, and was then elected to the clerkship. Though
but twenty-six years of age he gave proof of his party's wisdom in making
him its candidate, filling the office with great efficiency for four
years. After completing his term and rounding out nearly nine years of
service for the people of his county he went on the road as a collector
for the Marion Manufacturing Company, working in their employ for eleven
years, during which time he covered on his rounds of toil the states of
Kansas, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa and Missouri. In November of 1895
he bought out Line & Bell, abstracters, and now ranks as the leading
maker of abstracts and titles in the county, his previous experience in
the court house having abundantly fitted him for the work.
Of course, Mr. Jones is a most interested man in politics, that being
characteristic of the family. It is a tradition that the grandfather of
our subject was the sole judge of the first election ever held in
Salamonie township, and his plug hat was the first ballot box. A loyal
Democrat, Mr. Jones has always taken an active interest in his party's
doings. Aside from being clerk of the circuit court for the county, Mr.
Jones has served as chairman of the central committee for three years and
was secretary a similar length of time. His practical common sense and
business methods have been well evidenced in his management of the
affairs of the Huntington County Agricultural Society, of which he was
secretary for almost twelve years.
A member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias
lodges, he stands high as well as in business. He has been through all
the chairs in both lodges and belongs to the grand lodges.
His wife was Miss Mary F. LaFontaine, a native of Huntington and the
daughter of Thomas LaFontaine. Her great-grandfather, John B.
Richardville, was chief of the Miami tribe of Indians. Mr. and Mrs.
Jones have five children: Jessie, the wife of Attorney Charles H.
Conley, of Marion, Ohio; Richard, who is with his father in the office;
Bessie, a milliner; Pearl and Paul, who are at home. Mrs. Jones is an
ardent supporter of the Presbyterian church, ever active in promoting its
good work, and their residence, No. 44 South Briant street, is ever open
to numerous friends, who partake of its open hospitality.