Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Dictionary of Miramichi Biography

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JONES, JOHN (1833-1921)

JONES, JOHN, sawmill owner; b. Cornwall, England, c1833, s/o John Jones Sr and h/w Elizabeth; m. 1865, Grace Russell, sister of Samuel Russell; d. Newcastle, 13 Jun 1921.

John Jones was one of several children of a grist miller, John Jones Sr, who brought his wife and family to Chatham parish from Cornwall, England, in 1840. In the 1850s the family resettled at Northwest Bridge, where they gave their name to Jones's Cove, Jones's Brook, and Jones's Crossing.

After the death of John Jones Sr in 1866 his sons John and James took over the milling business. James Jones managed the grist mill, while John Jones conducted a water-powered sawmill nearby. These were "The Jones Boys," whose travails are the subject of the folk ballad by that name:

Oh! the Jones boys, they built a mill

On the side of the hill,

And they worked all night, and they worked all day,

But they couldn't make the gosh-darned saw mill pay.

Thanks to the fact that "The Jones Boys" was Lord Beaverbrook's favorite Miramichi folksong it became more widely known that any other. When he gave the Lady Beaverbrook Residence at the University of New Brunswick in the 1920s it was complete with a belfry from which the air of "The Jones Boys" pealed out across the campus. During World War II, according to Manny and Wilson's Songs of Miramichi, "His Lordship used the Miramichi song as a sort of ice-breaker at international meetings. It is said he taught it to all the diplomats he knew, from Churchill to Molotov, and that many a tense meeting on which the fate of nations depended, was eased by the rousing song of the Miramichi boys and their unlucky saw-mill."

John Jones conducted the sawmill for at least thirty years, until it was "swept away in a freshet" around 1900. James Jones, at a later time, hired out as a grist miller. When John Jones died in 1921, at age eighty-eight, he left his wife, Grace Russell, two daughters, and five sons. His brother James Jones was ninety-six when he died in 1940.


[m] official records [d] Leader 17 Jun 1921 / Advocate 18 Mar 1896, 27 Nov 1901, 23 Apr 1902, 3 Oct 1906; Manny/Wilson; tombstone (James Jones)