Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Major Thomas Jones My 7G Grandfather

There's not much of Jones' early life that can be accounted for, other than the fact that he was probably born about 1665 in the town of Strabane, located in County Tyrone within the current borders of what is now Northern Ireland. His family had strong roots in England, but historical accounts say that they were of Welsh decent as his surname would indicate.

Jones was loyal to his monarch, King James II, and to his religion, the Anglican (Episcopal Church). Under James' license, Jones acted as a privateer, looting the ships of nations that weren't at peace with his ruler. Without this royal command, it would have been said that Jones worked as a pirate. So loyal was he, that in 1690 Jones joined in defending the sovereignty of his royal master at the Battle of the Boyne during the Revolution of 1688, the historic struggle for the English Crown which ended the Stuart reign of power. Unfortunately for Jones, it was this loyalty to his dethroned monarch which caused his exile from his place of birth. When the war ended in 1691, King James II handed his crown over to William and Mary. The new monarchy granted many civil and religious liberties to their British subjects, and, fortunately for Jones, treated James' supporters with a great deal of leniency. William and Mary permitted the defeated soldiers to leave Ireland for any other county other than England or Scotland. As a result, tens of thousands of people migrated to France. However, Jones had his sights on another horizon. That year he left Ireland and landed at Port Royal on the island of Jamaca. While there Jones' made a living for a short while again as a privateer.

Several months later he left Jamaica and landed in Rhode Island where he received a commission as captain from New York's Governor, Col. Fletcher. With this military position, Jones continued as a privateer, taking Spanish ships as prizes and confiscating their cargoes. Through this occupation Jones met up with Captain Thomas Townsend, a major Long Island land owner. Years earlier, Townsend, a Quaker, received a license from the governor to purchase lands from the Indians. Over thirty years, the Townsend family bought and sold large tracts of land from Oyster Bay down to the south shore. Townsend was uniquely fond of Captain Thomas Jones, of whom he wrote that he had a "a natural love and affection for."

While staying with Captain Townsend at his home in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, Jones was introduced to Townsend's daughter, Freelove. Thomas and Freelove married soon after and moved to Oyster Bay in 1696. They lived for a short time in a house built by Townsend in 1660, not far from Oyster Bay Harbor. In June of that year, Captain Townsend gave to his daughter and son-in-law some 300 acres of land in South Oyster Bay as a gift. Townsend had purchased the land known as “Fort Neck” on 21 January 1679 from Sachem Tackapausa who sold it on behalf of the Massapequa Indians in two separate transactions. When Freelove and Thomas Jones moved to Fort Neck, they located to an area known as the Massapequa Meadows where they decided to build their home. Jones' new property bordered to the north by a vast woodland extending untouched and undeveloped, and to the south by the Great South Bay.They built their two-story brick house, the first brick home on Long Island, right along the bank of the Massapequa River and an old Indian path which was known as “the Turnpike” (today motorists refer to it as Merrick Road).

In Jones' time, the Massapequa River ran south from the Massapequa Meadows along what was later carved out to be Alhambra Shore, and north along what is now part of the Massapequa Preserve. His land, Fort Neck, is the current site of Biltmore Shores. To the west of Fort Neck was West Neck (Massapequa Shores) and to the east was Unqua Neck (Nassau Shores). 

For the next 20 years Thomas and Freelove lived and established the first settlement family in Massapequa, raising seven children, three boys and four girls. Jones was active and influential in the early history of the Town of Oyster Bay, then within the jurisdiction of Queens County.

In 1702 Jones was appointed Captain of the Queens County Militia, High Sheriff of Queens County in 1704, and Major of the Queens County Regiment just two years later. In 1710 Jones was commissioned Ranger General of the island of Nassau, the name granted to Long Island. The office gave Jones the right to monopolize the entire whaling and fishing industry on Long Island. And after years of land acquisitions with the Indians and from other lands granted to him by his father-in-law, he oversaw six thousand acres of land at the time of his death. And when that time came, on 13 December 1713, he was buried not far from his brick house behind what is known today as Old Grace Church.

Freelove outlived Thomas by about a decade, and his oldest son was just 14 years old at the time of his father's death. But the legacy that Major Thomas Jones carved out for his family continued throughout the centuries. Strong-faithed Episcopalians, the Jones family continued to adhere to the faith and his wife, a Quaker, was baptized Episcopalian after their marriage.

Long after Thomas' death, the old brick house that later generations would fable as haunted and recite ghost stories of, would continue to be loved and memorialized by his descendants. So much so that it was considered a major loss to the Jones family's heritage when it was destroyed in 1837.

Will of Thomas Jones: In the name of God, Amen, the 7 December, 1713. I, Thomas Jones,of Fort Neck, in the township of Oyster Bay, in Queens County, Gent. I leave to my son David, all my houses, lands and meadows (except as hereafter stated) situate and lying at Massapequa, at the south side of Oyster Bay. Bounded west by the West Neck purchase, on the north by Powell's Purchase, and east so far as my land extends, as may appear by my deeds and conveyances to him and his heirs; and in default of heirs, to my next son. Also he is to have 2 horses and 2 oxen when he is capable of entering upon the estate. I leave to my sons Thomas and William all my land situate at the east end of the Great Plains, and northward up Manetto Hill so called, containing in quantity more or less. Also all my lands lying at or nigh the head of Cold Spring. And all my lands joining to the Plain, both woodland and plain land equally. I will that my right of land and meadow at Oak Neck and my 25 acres of land to be taken up in the undivided land of the New Purchase to be sold by my executors and also my right within the former New Purchases, and the proceeds are to be laid out for the education of my sons Thomas and William. And they are each to have 2 horses and 2 oxen. I also give them 40 acres of salt meadow lying on Fort Neck at the south of Oyster Bay, and lying on the east side of the meadow left to my son David. I also leave them all my land at Umway Neck at the south of Oyster Bay. I leave to my sons David, Thomas, and William, my guns, swords and pistols. I leave to my wife Freelove and to my daughters Freelove, Sarah, Margaret, and Elizabeth, the sum of 1,109. The estate is to remain in the hands of my wife to bring up the daughters, and each is to have her share when of age or married. And she is to have entire control during her widowhood while my sons are under age. I make my trusty and well beloved friends, John Tredwell, Jr., and Walter Brason overseers. Witnesses, Thomas Jones, (???) De La Fyall, Adam Man. Proved,November 25, 1719.

Excerpt from Long Island Our Past--A Name Etched in LI's Sand: Thomas Jones left his mark on the beach, and his descendants also shaped the Island By Rhoda Amon.

Three hundred years ago, near the site where the East Bathhouse now stands on the beach called Jones Beach, Maj. Thomas Jones plied the whaling trade. And a few other trades as well. He was an Irish adventurer who fought in the Battle of the Boyne in Ireland and reportedly had a royal commission to prey on Spanish ships. After a brief career as a quasi-official buccaneer in the West Indies,he turned up in Rhode Island in 1692.Here fortune smiled on the soldier of fortune in the form of Freelove Townsend, whom he married in 1696. Some say the world-famous play land that would be named for him should have been named for her. Not only because of the blithe spirit of her name but because she brought with her most of what is now Massapequa - a wedding gift from her father, John Townsend [sic Thomas Townsend was her father]. Though history is not clear on whether the Joneses also got the half-mile-wide wind swept sandbar known to the Indians as Great Water Land, Jones decided that he owned it and set up a whaling station on the outer beach.

History is more precise on the fortunes of the Jones family, the Long Island dynasty begun by Thomas and Freelove. For the next two centuries, family members launched industries, built mills and mansions,served as judges and assemblymen, fought on both sides of American wars, wrote books, entertained lavishly, and left giant footprints in the sands of both the South and North Shores.

The major added to the land that had been acquired from the sachem Tackapausha for an assortment of guns, kettles, clothes and whiskey, and the Joneses eventually owned 6,000 acres of the South Shore. Maj. Jones was named sheriff of Queens County in 1704 and later Ranger-General of the island of Nassau, an early name for Long Island. He and Freelove built a brick house, said to be the first of its kind on Long Island, on what was then called Fort Neck (now Massapequa), where they raised seven children. Jones died in 1713.

                       Thomas Jones & Freelove Townsend Jones Gravestones

Except for a few fishermen, Sunday boaters and squatters, the beach that would bear his name remained virtually uninhabited for the next few centuries - until Robert Moses sat on the lonely shore in the 1920s and visualized a huge waterfront park.

J ones' descendants, however, flourished on the mainland, and “keeping up with the Joneses” would not have been easy in pre-Revolutionary Long Island. David Jones, the major's eldest son, married Anne Willet, grand daughter of the first English mayor of New York City. He served in the Provincial Assembly of the colonies from 1737 to 1758, the last 13years as speaker, and was later appointed a judge of the Supreme Court of the colony. In 1771, at the age of 70, he built Massapequa's first mansion, a 30-room Georgian palace he called Tryon Hall in honor of William Tryon, the last royal governor of the province of New York.

David's son, Thomas, also a justice of the Supreme Court, remained loyal to the king during the American Revolution. Tryon Hall became the hot Tory gathering place. In a bizarre incident of the war,Judge Thomas Jones was kidnapped from Tryon Hall in 1779 by Yankees from New England and ferried to Fairfield, Conn., in retaliation for the capture of Patriot Brig. Gen. Benjamin Silliman. Jones was exchanged for Silliman at a midway point in the Sound between Connecticut and Long Island. He then fled to England,where he wrote the "History of New York During the Revolutionary War," from a Tory point of view. The Jones estate was marked for confiscation but was saved by a provision in Judge David's will that should Thomas have no heirs, the property would pass to the heirs of his sister, Arabella,providing they added Jones to their name. Arabella, a staunch Patriot,had married Capt. Richard Floyd of Mastic, and their son, David Richard,was happy to take the hyphenated name of Floyd-Jones in exchange for Tryon Hall. The Floyd-Joneses were to play a lively role in Long Island social history.

David Richard Floyd-Jones added to his riches by marrying into the wealthy Dutch Onderdonk family, and Tryon Hall once more resounded with extravagant balls. One niece married the writer James Fenimore Cooper; another wed J.L. McAdam, inventor of macadam roads.

Meanwhile, Samuel Jones, a son of the major's younger son, William,became a real estate attorney and was called upon to revise the laws of the new state of New York. He became known as "the father of the NewYork State Bar." Perpetuating the family custom of marrying into money, Samuel's sons married into the Schuyler and DeWitt Clinton families. One son, David S., became the first judge of Queens County and owner of the Clinton estate in Maspeth.

Now for the Joneses of Cold Spring Harbor, founders of the whaling industry there. John Jones, another grandson of the major, was the first to migrate to that North Shore community, in 1804. He married Anna Hewlett, whose family had built a gristmill in 1791. Their sons,entrepreneurs John H. and Walter Restored Jones, invested $20,000 to buy the old bark Monmouth in 1836. Three years later they formed the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Co., built docks and enlarged the fleet to nine vessels. Walter founded the Atlantic Mutual Co., which provided marine insurance for all the whaling vessels out of Cold Spring Harbor. While Walter managed the insurance business in Manhattan, John tended the whaling company, a general store, a gristmill and woolen mills in Cold Spring Harbor.

The whaling company sank in 1851, but the brothers continued to invest in whaling. Both died in the 1850s. The last whaling ship, the Alice, returned from a four-year voyage in 1862 and the whaling era in Cold Spring Harbor came to an end,” said Sam Scott, curator of the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum. The saga was recorded in 1907 by another John H. Jones in his book "The Jones Family of Long Island." It's retold in a new book published by the museum, "Cold Spring Harbor: Rediscovering History in Streets and Shores," by Terry Walton.

The last of the Massapequa Joneses, George Stanton Floyd-Jones, died without an heir in 1941 at the age of 92. Today there is little material evidence left by the family. Tryon Hall was demolished in the1930s, and all that remains of the Old Brick House is a sketch by19th Century artist William Sidney Mount. The sprawling Jones Beach State Park, opened in 1929, attracts 8 million visitors, none of whom give a thought to Maj. Thomas Jones, who wrote his own prophetic epitaph:"From distant lands to this wild waste he came, this seat he chose and here he fixed his name . . . "

Relationship: Edward David ROCKSTEIN to Thomas JONES
Thomas JONES is the 7th great grandfather of Edward David ROCKSTEIN

7th great grandfather

Thomas JONES



29 Dec 1674

Strabane, Tyrone, Ireland

Long Island, Nassau, New York,

13 Dec 1713

Jul 1726

Massapequa, Lewis, New York, U

Fort Neck, New York, United Stat

6th great grandmother


11 May 1703

Hempstead, Nassau, New York,

Aft. 1727

Newport, Newport, Rhode Island,

5th great grandmother

Catherine (Katherine) CLOWES


Hempstead, Nassau, NY

13 Aug 1779

Jamaica, Queens, New York, US

4th great grandfather

John Langdon

30 Sep 1754

Hempstead, Nassau, New York,

26 Nov 1848

Boston, Suffolk, MA

3rd great grandfather

Benjamin Seaman LANGDON

15 Apr 1784

Long Island City, Queens, New Y

18 Sep 1862


2nd great grandfather

John Abyathis LANGDON

23 Mar 1828

New York, NY

12 Mar 1896

Stony Point, Rockland, New York

Thomas JONES is the 7th great grandfather of Edward David ROCKSTEIN
Great grandfather
Charles David LANGDON
b:      09 Nov 1848

Brooklyn, Kings, New York

d:      10 Jul 1908

Brooklyn, Kings, New York
Maternal grandfather
Edward Joseph P LANGDON
b:      19 Aug 1877

Brooklyn, Kings, New York

d:      07 Jun 1961 New York
Teresa Margaret Langdon
b:      20 Aug 1910

Brooklyn, Kings, New York

d:      25 Jul 1988 Columbia, Howard, MD
Edward David ROCKSTEIN
b:      14 Oct 1941

Riverside, Burlington, New Jersey


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