Another view of the Navy..
These resources are all confusing. I guess we all want "our" guys to be the heroes. The resource above said the Navy was somewhat diffused and gradually Robert Morris emerged to head it. It does not say our man, Joseph Hewes was the Secretary of the Navy.
It points out that the states each created their own navies for their own defense at first rather than wait for the federal government. It also notes NCs prime concern was to guard the Pamilco Sound so as not to disrupt trade. That seems very likely. Still we know, Joseph Hewes was the chief promoter of the skills of John Paul Jones. John Paul Jones made a name for himself in the Revolution and even went so far as to attack the British homeland itself.
Born John Paul in Scotland, Jones passed 20 months in obscurity in America, chiefly in Fredericksburg, Va. A tradition assumes he changed his name during this period from John Paul to Paul Jones and John Paul Jones in gratitude to two brothers, Willie and Allen Jones of North Carolina. But no authentic record proves that he ever met either of them or that they served him in any way. What is known with certainty is that Joseph Hewes, shipowner and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was his greatest early benefactor.
Aha, a North Carolina connection, for Willie Jones , pronounced Wylie Jones, of Halifax and later of Wake county is considered the father of Raleigh as much as Joel Lane. This is fascinating oral history in the North Carolina tradition. There has been a Wylie Jones living in Raleigh ever since.
So, this is a brief description of the brothers and their position in the countryside where the sad young man was approached in front of a tavern in Halifax in 1773. Willie, one of the most powerful men in the colony, known for his sympathy and compassion for the common man, with an intellect equaled by few others, engaged him in a labored conversation:
“What is your name?”
“I have none,” the young man said.
“Where is your home?”
“I have none,” again was the reply.
Willie engaged him in kindly conversation, and took him home to “The Grove” where he remained for a year or more, leaving Halifax for several months, then returning again. Some of those months were spent at “Mount Gallant”, the home of Alan Jones, and in fact he recovered from a bout of typhoid fever there under the care of Allan’s second wife, Rebecca during the first months. A close relationship developed between the brothers and the sailor. In the meantime, the winds of war were developing and John Paul, having adopted the ways of the aristocratic Joneses, and being wholly sympathetic to the revolutionary positions of the brothers, expressed a desire to put his expertise as a ships captain at the disposal of the colonies in the looming showdown with the British.
Both Alan and Willie gave their full support to his desire to go back to sea, and the following scene has been described with essentially the same details through several separate family branches via oral history, backed up by written statements of family members when Admiral Morison’s total rejection of the validity of North Carolina’s and the Jones’ family claim as to how the name change occurred. John Paul expressed his desire to go back to sea and Willie offered him money to tide him over, but was refused , so instead offered him his sword, which was accepted with gratitude. John Paul then asked of the brothers that they allow him to adopt the name “Jones” as his new surname, and that he would make them proud of it. Willey and Alan, flattered, gave him permission and so John Paul became John Paul Jones.
Willie introduced him to Congress through Joseph Hewes who had been appointed by Congress a member of the Naval Committee, who caused him to be appointed a first lieutenant in the American Navy on December 22, 1775. His subsequent career in the Navy is history, the most famous incident, of course, being his great naval victory in the battle between his “Bonhomme Richard” and the British Man of War “Serapis” in view of the English shoreline off Flamborough Head in Yorkshire.
Since there has been no updated biography of John Paul Jones since Admiral Morison’s “A Sailor’s Biography” which either accepts or rejects the “North Carolina Tradition”, I would like to address a couple of the principal reasons that the family, that is the descendents of Willie and Allen Jones, believe that they are correct in making the claim that his surname is their Jones.
Admiral Morison says, here I quote, that
“the tradition even acquired properties. In the Naval Academy at the Museum at Annapolis, is a broad sword presented by Rear Admiral R. F. Nicholson, U. S. N., in 1924, which to quote the museum’s catalog at that time ‘According to tradition was given by Willie Jones of North Carolina in 1775 to John Paul Jones, used by Jones during the Revolution and given by him to Theodosia Burr, daughter of Aaron Burr. Later presented to the Nicholson family. There is no inscription on the sword and John Paul Jones, so far as evidence exists never even met Theodosia Burr. There is certainly no reason why he should have given her the sword.”"
Here Elizabeth Cotton refers to the Honorable Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy in the cabinet of Woodrow Wilson, and Ambassador to Mexico during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, and his address to The North Carolina Literary and Historical Society wherein he traces the history of the sword as follows:
“It is known that the Naval officer (John Paul Jones) presented the sword to Judge Matthew Davis of South Carolina, who gave it to his intimate friend, Aaron Burr, who gave it to his daughter Theodosia Alston, who gave it to Mr. Duchachet, of Philadelphia, who in turn presented it to his nephew, Commodore Somerville Nicholson, father of Admiral Nicholson to whom it now belongs.”
It is on loan to the Naval Academy Museum where it is on display. This documented provenance, which corrected the museum catalog, effectively rebuts Morison’s position.
Morison allows as how John Paul “may have met” Willie somewhere - in Edenton, the port city at he mouth of the Roanoke River, where he may have gone looking for work at Hewes & Smith, the enterprise partly owned by Joseph Hewes. It seems this would have been a strange place for a man, supposedly attempting to be “incog” to go, because the port would have been full of the kind of people who might recognize him.
Morison continues that the negative evidence against John Paul taking the name as a compliment to Willie and Allan Jones is overwhelming, basing his conclusions, among others, as follows:
No letters exist. We know that all of the Willie and Allan Jones correspondence were lost when a fire destroyed Willie’s granddaughter’s house in Virginia in the late 1860s.
John Paul Jones never mentions the Jones brothers in any known correspondence. This is true, but we should keep in mind that no letters of either Willie or Allan’s survive, yet family members have stated they remember seeing letters from John Paul to Mrs. Allan Jones. Admittedly, there is no documentary evidence.
Morison says that John Paul had over a dozen casts of a bust of him by French sculptor Houdon, and presented them to various American friends, but none to Allan or Willie or any other North Carolinians. This is true, however John Paul Jones’ diary states that he only gave them to those who asked for one with the exception of Thomas Jefferson, at the time the American Minister to France, to whom he was particularly indebted at the time.
Elizabeth Cotton writes in her book that her friend, Mrs. Robert T. Newcomb, a direct descendant of Willie and Mary Jones, heard her mother relate how her mother, a great granddaughter of Willie Jones, speak many times of how her grandmother grew up, until she was 14 years old at “The Grove”, with her Grandmother, Sarah Welsh Jones Burton, Willie’s daughter. She heard often of letters received by Mrs. Willie Jones from John Paul Jones. In fact, the famous man sent to little Sarah a gold brooch and a cap of beautiful French lace. The brooch was always worn on important occasions, when she was married to Hutchens Burton and to his inauguration as Governor of North Carolina on December 7, 1825. Elizabeth Cotton has held in her hands the delicate lace and the brooch, now owned by Mrs. Newcomb, which is small, almost square with a space in the center which once held a lock of hair, long since gone, that of John Paul Jones. Prior to the publication of Elizabeth Cotton’s book, this information was not available to anyone. It was part of the family’s oral history, with the backup of the objects, again identified by oral history. Would the women of those successive generations consistently lie about the provenance? It seems most unlikely.
Well, no physical evidence remains, but I like this story. John Paul Jones moved to NC, was rescued from despair by Alan and Willie Jones and rose to be the greatest sailor of the Revolution. Let's claim him as a North Carolinian.
Here's an interesting book , Drums, I'd like to find and read... I see it was illustrated by N.C. Wyeth, one of America's finest illustrators and father of one of America's finest artists, Andrew Wyeth.
And, the more I search, the more curious it gets.... women in the Revolution. Pay attention to Mary Slocomb. Here is an excerpt from that great story.
Such a dinner, it may well be supposed, met the particular approbation of the royal officers, especially as the fashion of that day introduced stimulating drinks to the table, and the peach brandy prepared under Lieutenant Slocumb's own supervision, was of the most excellent sort. It received the unqualified praise of the party; and its merits were freely discussed. A Scotch officer, praising it by the name of whiskey, protested that he had never drunk as good out of Scotland. An officer speaking with a slight brogue, insisted it was not whiskey, and that no Scotch drink ever equalled it. "To my mind," said he, "it tastes as yonder orchard smells."
"Allow me, madam," said Colonel Tarleton, to inquire where the spirits we are drinking is procured."
"From the orchard where your tents stand," answered Mrs. Slocumb.
"Colonel," said the Irish captain, "when we conquer this country, is it not to be divided out among us ?"
"The officers of this army," replied the Colonel, "wiIl undoubtedly receive large possessions of the conquered American provinces."
Mrs. Slocumb here interposed. "Allow me to observe and prophesy," said she, "the only land in these United States which will ever remain in possession of a British officer, will measure but six feet by two."
Well, that's almost true, but with the exception of the graveyards at Ocracoke in Hyde county and Buxton on Hatteras Island in Dare County, which were deeded to England after World War II. If you've never been to England and want to go, then go stand there and you will be on British soil.
Buxton is having an issue with the NPS. Hummm....
My patient has eaten yogurt and drank some milk. Now he snoozes again and thunder is rumbling a threat...again! Will this rain ever lighten up?