Jones Brothers – Their Story behind the Coal Mine

I have been drawn down a rabbit hole to find out more about the three brothers that found the Jones Slope Coal Mine.

What started all this research into someone else’s family and legacy you ask?  It started when my latest lost coal mine search became the New Black Diamond Coal Mine (NBD) (aka Indian Coal Mine).

Indian Mine (New Black Diamond Coal Mine) Maintenance Building under construction with bunker in background

This was no small mining operation and it required a lot of hiking, photography and research.  And a bunch of it was around the three brothers and the Jones Slope Complex.  I have mentioned in my posts a certain amount of magic and serendipity that kept occurring.  Plus my finding against the odds their 100 year old hoist foundation buried in the brush.

About a month into my research I found this photo on the University of Washington Digital Archives.  I found it because Renton History Museum directed us there for their on-line content.

Jones Brothers posing at their mine entrance at the 1925 Opening – Thanx Liz at Renton History Museum for sending better photo!

This was pretty exciting because from all of my research and visits to the site I knew this was from the Jones Slope and not the main entrance down at river level.  However, I stumbled onto a mystery. Which brother is on the left?  Here is a quote from my email to the Black Diamond Museum for help finding a photo of Ben or Ed after Renton History Museum gave me what they had.

I inquired to Liz at the Renton History Museum if they had any more info on the photo. She told me it was Ed Jones on the Right and Tom on the left. We were pretty sure the Jim Jones reference on the UW site was an error. Plus, she gave me enough information to sort out that this photo was taken on the Oct 1925 opening of the New Black Diamond Mine. It is not of the main tunnel down by the Maple Valley Highway but is from the Jones Slope area up near Lake Desire.

Then I found the Seattle Times article (March 1927) with this same photo in it. It says it is Ben & Tom Jones.

Can you help me find a photo of Ben or Ed to sort out who is on the left? We know for sure it is Tom on the right from an obituary photo in the Seattle Times.

Now I was in deep.  I could look into the faces of the Jones Brothers. I have been hesitant to mention that several times I would see people around the site and when I looked closer they would be gone. Could be my imagination but perhaps I had a helper

As of this article I still only have the photos of Tom & Ed.  Several folks owe me responses for a Ben photo.  My gut tells me it is Ed but I won’t bore you at this point why I think that.

Tom Jones photo Seattle Times 1936
Mayor Ed Jones Photo 1903

Needless to say these brothers got into my head and with my trusty computer in hand I pieced together their family story.

It all starts with their parents immigration to the Washington Territories via Victoria BC in 1869. Benjamin P Jones and Ann Jones were both from Wales.  He was born in January 26, 1841. Ann was also born in 1841. They had married in Wales the same year they immigrated.  In the 1870 census they were 29 years old and resided in Freeport, King County, Washington. Ben was a Machinist and Ann a housewife.

Where is Freeport in King County, Washington I asked myself?  I found that it was an early name for a place in West Seattle. Many of you may know Youngstown on Delridge or where the Steel Mill is.  That was called Freeport and a thriving Sawmill was established there in the mid 1860’s. I live in West Seattle which is another coincidence.

Ben established one of the the first Machinist shop in Seattle.  However due to his declining health he closed it and they homesteaded on the Cedar River in 1878.

By the 1880 census they bore three sons and Ben had died in June of 1879. This left Ann a widow with 3 young children to make her way in the wild Pacific Northwest.  That census lists her sons, John “Ed” (born 1870), Thomas Livingston (born 1871) & Benjamin Ivan (born 1875). She also had John Jones (brother) and Atta Mills a teacher that boarded with them.  I think John must have been Ben’s brother because I have found Ann’s maiden name was Edwards.

I received from my Black Diamond contact Ken Jensen an article on Ann.  This had some great info.  It states that when they moved to Cedar River it was only accessed by horse on Indian Trails. Their neighbors were the Indians and only 5 other settler families. Mrs Jones was fluent in Chinook and Siwash plus the Indians liked her. It also states that she moved to Black Diamond and established the first hotel there.  More on that below.

Ann Jones Article from Black Diamond History Museum archives

A few years after the Jones moved to Cedar River a community called Cedar Mountain opened up river from them. Nothing is really left of it these days. It was established around coal and the mine that was there and across the Cedar River.  The coal seam would be found and lost and then found again. Eventually becoming the future New Black Diamond Coal Mine which was just around the bend of the river and about 1 mile west on the Maple Valley – Renton Highway.

Here is a bit of an article and a link from the Black Diamond History Blog called Lost towns of King County: Busy Cedar Mountain of former years now is only a memory

In 1862 Martin L. Cavanaugh, a homesteader in the Duwamish Valley, near present Boeing Field, discovered coal on the hillside at this point while on a survey party. He made the mistake of talking about his find. By the time he went to Olympia to file on a mineral claim, it already was down in the books in James M. Colman’s name.

The Cedar Mountain Coal Co., with Samuel Blair as president, Lawrence Colman as secretary, and J.M. Colman, manager, bided time until a railroad existed to move the product. When the Cedar River extension of the Seattle and Walla Walla Railroad was completed to Black Diamond in 1884, this mine produced 1,732 tons before the end of the year.

Plus a bit from an article in the Voice of the Valley –

Coal Mining began at the base of Cedar Mountain in 1884 and ended in 1944.  It never produced a large amount of coal, but it produced enough to form the little town.

It had all the fixing of a coal company town: stores, a hotel, bunkhouses, a school, a church, mines, a post office and a railroad station. Miners cabins consisted of three rooms. The officials and their families lived in larger homes.

All of this existed where Maple Valley – Renton Highway (Hwy 169) is intersected with 196th Ave SE and SE Jones Road.  Plus the townsite was a bit towards Maple Valley stretching out along the river.  Hmmmm…  Jones Road?

In 1885 to help support her family Ann went into the hotel/boarding house business that housed miners.  The family moved to BD and establish the first hotel there.  According to an Obituary on Ben’s son it was the Black Diamond Hotel. Here is a picture of it from BD History.

The Hotel & other buildings were located where the Green River Eagles #1490 is today

BD got the RR in 1884 after several years of mining without heavy machinery.  The coal boom began with the town growing and with machinery could get to serious mining.

In a letter from Morgan Morgan to his grandfather Walter in 1882 he describes his trek to BD from Seattle.  It includes two horses from their friend Mr Jones.  They declined to stay overnight at Jones Ranch & went straight on to BD.  Could this be John Jones (Brother) – eldest son Ed was only 12 at the time.  In June of 1913 BD Hotel & Gibbons Hotel plus the meat market (in picture above) burned down.  At the time the hotel was owned by Frank W Bishop.

When did Ann end her Black Diamond Hotel ownership?  I have a few clues. Ann along with Ed were running another hotel in downtown Seattle by 1910 census.  In 1904 Pacific Coast Coal Company bought the Black Diamond mines and most of the town.

Another clue is from a Washington Census in 1889.  It has her and all three of the boys listed as farmers on their Cedar River Farm.  Found another reference in my BD history book about a butcher in 1890 buying cattle from farmer near Cedar Grove.  Could this be our Jones family?

My educated guess is she ran both properties till  Pacific Coast Coal Company came along.  They owned the land under the buildings and that made Ann determine she didn’t need the hotel any more.

The next census of 1900 found Ann still in Cedar Mountain but the boys are like straws in the wind.  Want to point out it would have been nice to have the 1890 census but it was burned up in a 1920’s fire.

What that census contains confirms my assumption on the hotel as she is listed as owner of her property and Land Lady.  She had retained the property on Jones Road plus was still running the hotel in Black Diamond.  A woman to be admired in how she stepped up to support her family in a man’s world.

I found Tom in the 1900 census as a clerk and a boarder in downtown Seattle. In a Bio sent to me by the Renton History Museum Tom was a “Railroad Man” from 1892.  He worked for the Northern Pacific eventually making it to conductor. His Obituary in the Seattle Times gives us more clues on his whereabouts around 1900.  It states:

In the early 1880’s he was employed by Columbia Puget Sound Railroad (one of the lines was from Renton to Black Diamond), went to Alaska in the 1898 Gold Rush and mined for 4 years there.  He was a conductor on the White Pass & Yukon Railroad and then returned to Renton in 1917 from Alaska.

Ed was also on the 1900 census. He was found on a passenger list for the SS Victoria out of Seattle listed with occupation as miner. Bet he was going to Alaska even though the heat of the Gold Rush had been over in 1898.  Perhaps he was mining with his brother Tom?

Then we come to Ben.  I cannot find him in the 1900 census.  However, we do know that his son Ivan was born in 1903 in Charleston which is a community of Bremerton.  He was a machinist  so he might have been working at the Navy Ship Yard that was opened around the turn of the century.  Perhaps in 1900 he was in Alaska with his big brothers? All an educated guess.

Another bit of the story is Ed Jones made a name for himself by running for mayor of Renton and he was elected the second mayor of the city for the 1904 – 1908 term.  Prior to that the Bio I received from Renton History Museum has him as a Stationary engineer in charge of Seattle Electric Co. mine in Renton around 1903.  He lived on his farm on Jones road with his mom and they also had a house in Renton on William & Walla Walla across from Tonkin Park. This fits in with Ann leaving the Black Diamond Hotel around 1904 & PCCC owning Black Diamond.

In the 1910 census we can find Ed & Ann as Hotel Keepers on 414 – 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA. Currently this property is a parking lot between two buildings – north side built in 1924 & south 1909.  The 1909 building is called the Crouley Building and was the Reynolds Hotel. Maybe that is it but the address is not perfect. All of this is across the street from the City Hall Park and King County Courthouse & Administration buildings.

Great News!!  I got a photo of the hotel they ran on 4th Avenue.  It was called the 4th Avenue Hotel in the 1940s.  Here is what it looked like from John Coombs who posted it on Seattle Vintage Group on Facebook.

4th Avenue Hotel run by the Jones. This is the 1940s long after they moved on.

In that 1910 census Ben is now in Raymond, Washington down by Willapa Bay along the Pacific Ocean Coast.  He was a Machinist at an Iron Foundry and was with his wife Edith and two children Ivan and Bernice.

Tom was in Alaska per his Obituary and I cannot find him in the census.  Guess he was mining and railroading in the wilds of Alaska.

We have now arrived at the brothers finding the Jones Seam and the Indian Coal Mine. In mid 1918 Ed obtained a lease from Fred & Edith Cavanaugh who owned the property around Cedar Mountain.  This lease was for 25 years starting January 1, 1918. Here they found the Jones Seam and opened it up in a small way.  This is substantiated by the Washington DNR Coal Mine Map of the Jones Slope/Indian Mine and future maps when it was developed into the New Black Diamond Coal Mine.

I believe that somewhere along the line the Jones bought out the Cavanaughs because in a 1920 Seattle Times article it mentions PCCC buying the property from the Jones and the adjacent properties from the Campion Family who owned the Coleman Estate.  Coleman was the original owner of the property to the east where coal was originally found.  Remember how he beat Martin Cavanaugh (Fred’s father) out of the rights.  In turn Cavanaugh bought other properties on the hill plus where Riverbend Mobile Home Park is today on the Maple Valley – Renton Highway.

The Jones family hit the jackpot at this point and sold their rights to Pacific Coast Coal Company. In one of many articles I have they sold their working rights in 1925 which they must have kept in the original sale.

The Jones wasted no time in finding a nice place to retire and bought a house in the Mount Baker neighborhood of Seattle.

The house in Mt Baker that Jones Slope Coal bought
Back of the house that the Jones Family purchased after selling the Indian Coal Mine

In the 1920 census the whole family was living in this house.  That included Ann, Ed, Tom, Ben with his wife Edith and two kids Ivan and Bernice.

A decade later they were still all in the same house along with Ed & Tom’s wives Edna & Vivian.  Guess when they retired they had time and money to get hitched.

Ed dies in 1933 and Tom in 1936. Fairly young guys with both of them in their mid 60’s.  Ben lived until 1948 and his family continues to carry the Jones Family name forward.

The Jones Farm was on the Jones Road and best I can tell from the description in Ann’s Obituary above it is located across the river from where the 76 station is on the Maple Valley – Renton Highway. It is a large horse farm that is famous for raising and training horses.  I am awaiting info from them and will update if and when they respond.

To wrap up things I went for a visit to Lakeview Cemetery in Seattle near Volunteer Park.  This is one of the cities original pioneer graveyards with many of our founders buried there.

The cemetery was most helpful with the location and who was buried where in the plot.

Benjamin P, Ann, Ed, Tom, Ben I, Edna (Ed’s wife), Edith (Ben’s wife), Ivan (Ben’s son), and Bernice Crisp (Ben’s daughter) are interned there.  There is a Jones Family Monument with several of their names inscribed upon it.  Ben P has his own ground marker from 1879. However Ann, Ed & Tom have no true markings that they lay there with the family.

In my research I realized that Find-A-Grave did not have photos nor complete information around this pioneer family of Renton and Coal Mining.  I posted my photos on all 9 of them, linked the family together and wrote bios.  The site took all my changes and updates.  Mission accomplished.

Their burial site is in very close proximity to Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee’s graves. As I was documenting and leaving coal and roses at the Jones graves it was a revolving door of people visiting the Lees.  I also went up there when the crowd split and found this little grave next to theirs.  I felt bad for this guy buried decades before the famous father & son. (actually the same year as the Jones Brothers Father was buried)

Mr Malon Grave next to Bruce Lee at Lakeview Cemetary

So here we are in the middle of a terrible time for our world. We are plagued by a terrible virus, the USA is divided politically, regionally and culturally.  Many of us including myself feel a helpless sadness overwhelming our lives. Perhaps this is why I have gone down this rabbit hole of history to bring some order to the world.

But we must remember Times are a changing.  Blink and all will be changed.

Yes Time does change everything. It may take longer than we want it to but look what can happen in 100 years.  Coal was king then and now it is looked down on as a contributor to global warming.  The Jones Family would be astonished at the changes. In the flash not only has our way of life changed drastically but we overcame depression, a World War, civil rights, Vietnam, an industrial revolution, and a technical revolution. May the story of the Jones Family show us that we too can overcome the odds and win.

For those that want to read my adventures on the NBD & Jones Slope I created a directory of my Coal Mine Hunter series.  The NBD and the Jones Slope articles are towards the bottom of the list.  Lost Coal Mines of King County

Perhaps you will be inspired to go on your own adventure and let serendipity lead the way.

Postscript –  I wondered why Vivian Jones (Tom’s wife) was not buried at Lakeview like all the rest of the family.  She was a clerk at Dupont Powder Company in the January 1920 census & married Tom in December of that same year.  She was about 20 years younger than Tom.  Dupont must have supplied the dynamite and blasting powder used by the Jones Brothers.

What I found is she lived until 1970 and is buried in Glendale, California.  She remarried in 1939 Earl J Klingaman and they lived in a rather nice apartment building that still exists today – The Marlborough.  It was built in 1928 as the first high rise residential building.

The Marlborough in Seattle built in 1928 – photo today in 2020

I also found that Earl was a car salesman in California before he enlisted in WWI. He became a flyer but never went to Europe.  He married twice before marrying Vivian.  In 1921 and in 1931. Gave up on finding if he divorced any of his three wives since the sites I found want money.  I have my suspicions but will leave you to ponder this yourself. Just hope Tom was happy the years they were married.


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