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Of Events in the Life of

F. F. Jones

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PERIOD OF 1880-1890 - MARRIED JAN. 8, 1880

I taught school that winter at the Kendrick schoolhouse, which was directly on the road between my wife's home and my little farm where we moved that spring. I had sold some corn that winter to Lee Dunn, just south of North Grove Church. We wanted to build a house on the farm.

The hauling was managed like this: Father Hanes would take his team and bring a load of lumber from Villisca to his home. After supper I would hitch my team to the load and take it to the farm four miles east and bring back a load of corn for Dunn. The next evening I would unload the corn and the wagon was ready for another trip to Villisca. When school was out, most of the corn had been hauled and material for the house was on the ground. Both the father and father-in-law were carpenters, and helped with the building, se we soon had a house to move into. With the help of a boy, we farmed the land and taught Fairview school both summer and winter. We had a big corn crop in 1880, crop not so good in 1881, so, that fall, we went back to Brooks, where we spent a delightful winter in school and other activities of the town. Immediately, after the close of school, spring of 1882, we came to Villisca. I was already engaged as bookkeeper for the Hardware and Implement firm of Banes and Waterman. While I enjoyed school teaching very much, this new job, it seemed to me, opened the doors of opportunity that I had been looking for.


It was a hustling, busy place, but the work was agreeable and to my liking. I soon discovered that I could sell goods as well as keep books. The old firm divided their business that winter. They bid against each other on the real estate and divided their big stock of goods, even to the agencies. There were two rival concerns from that time on: J. S. Baines, the old reliable; and F. G. Waterman, the hustler. Mr. Baines out-bid Mr. Waterman, and kept the old location. I decided to stay with Mr. Baines. I got a lot of valuable experience in collecting the "Baines" selection of notes and accounts. He did not know credits as well as Waterman, so his selections, as a rule, were not so good.

While working the collections that summer, we canvassed for Household Sewing Machines. I think our record of sales made was never equaled in Villisca. We made a hit also in introducing Minneapolis Twine Binders. It proved to be one of the most reliable sold in his territory.

In 1886, I made a trade with D. W. Jackson, and acquired the Jackson corner where our home has been ever since. The new house was built in 1898 and '99. Thus, affairs and business moved along in a steady stream of busy, hustling activities, until the spring of 1890, when J.L. Smith and I arranged to take over his hardware stock and the implement stock and business of J.S. Boise and Son, and together branch out on a venture of our own. An understanding between Mr. Baines and I had been made sometime before this deal came up. A hitch occurred in the invoicing of the old Boise implements, and I went back to work, but for only held a day. There never was a disagreement between Employer Banes and Employee Jones. I said then, and many times since, that this employer who gave me employment all those years at a decent wage, was the best friend I had.

The final concession required of Mr. Boise was agreed to about noon. Smith came over with the announcement. I closed the books I was posting, and with hardly a word spoken, bid my "Good Friend" and the "Old Store" goodbye, walked out and straight across the park to the east side without looking back. I am confessing that the moistened eyes were not seeing very much. Even the trees appeared as mere shadows as I passed them on my way.


The Implement stock of Boise and Son and the Hardware stock of J.L. Smith were left in their respective locations. They were close enough together to operate nicely as one concern.

W.B. Woodward and "Stub" Collier were the employees. We cleaned up the stock of used and shopworn implements in short order, and the business started right off on its way to success. My acquaintanceship, growing out of my school teaching from Hawleyville to Brooks, was a great help. About one-third of the territory trading at Villisca was already won. We captured the binder business the first harvest. We put on an original advertising scheme on Wagons that was a success beyond expectations. An attractive poster pasted on the slant dash-board of every half-worn wagon coming into town. Woodward secured the consent of the owner and did the pasting. "SAY! When this old wagon plays out, take it over to Smith & Jones and they will show you a Harrison, Etc., Etc." Never were there so many wagons of one make sold in Villisca in one season, before or since.

While the business prospered nicely, we were bothered some by a Mr. Ward who had an Implement Business in the old skating rink on the corner just south of us. He and his friends were patrons of the new "Original Package House," operating in Villisca that summer. He cut prices and sold implements. We hung on and waited for a break - it came that fall. He was forced into bankruptcy, and paid only a few cents on the dollar.

In 1882, the Waterman business was for sale. Smith did not like the implements very well anyway, so he traded his Nebraska farm for Waterman's Hardware, and I was to take over our old business as soon as possible after harvest. The invoice was dated September 1, 1892, and the stock was moved with the one operation to the south side of the square, into the old photograph gallery I had remodeled, and where "Jones of Villisca" went in to action "on his own." I collected the Smith & Jones notes and accounts, and by January 1, 1893, had our debts all aid. We secured the services of George Sexton and proceeded to divide the remaining assets, which was done to the satisfaction of all. "Smith" and "Jones" were now competitors - yes! But they continued to "swap" in business, worked in the same church and Sunday School went to conventions together, and were neighbors. They lived not far apart on the same street.


Nearly everyone knew of "Jones of Binghainton" - "He Pays the Freight." We used "Jones of Villisca," and let the customers supply the "He Pays the Freight."

"Jones" of Villisca, was on our letterheads, statements, and all our business.

Clarence Saddler, Henry Farlin, Adrian Taylor, John Garside, "Doc" McManama, and Chas. Dunning were among those employed in this period. The season of 1893 was a good one. Small grains were fine, and we sold threshing machines - first steamers out of Villisca, and horse-power rigs, one after another, until only one agency in Iowa had sold more "Case" machines than "Jones" of Villisca.

We have a large photograph of the Gourley steamer at the head of a long string of threshers it hauled from the depot that 4th of July morning, 1893. In the crowd and on top of the machinery can be distinguished a number of threshermen and citizens of Villisca and vicinity. On top of the nearest separator was the proprietor, "Jones," whiskers and all, with C.C. Moore, who had just closed a thresher deal, and waiting for the photographer before adjourning to the office to write up the contract.

We needed this machinery near the store in order to get it set up ready for delivery. We did not have room on our implement lots for many machines now used by I-H-C and on one occasion adorned the edge of the park, in the street across from the store, with a couple of nice red painted separators. We thought these activities a good "ad" for "Jones" and also for Villisca, but there were objectors who thought the job overdone. We might suggest with propriety, now, that the profits from the sale of those threshers remained in Villisca, became a permanent increment, and have been paying taxes regularly into the city treasury ever since. Anyway, from that time on, a farm implement with a little red paint on it, owned by "Jones" and off his premises, was like a red rag to a bull. An incipient riot was liable to develop at once. We have avoided giving offense along this line, but circumstances have caught us off guard a few times during the years.

We have told about the "Wagon Deal" in 1890, and of the "Thresher Deal" of 1893. We have a third outstanding success in this period, which was never equaled in Villisca … Ira Keys had the agency for McCormick Binders and Mowers, but sold Buggies, and very few McCormick machines. He very kindly turned over the agency to us. We did well with it, but thought it deserved to be on the map as the leading line in Villisca. We had a scheme we thought would do it, but hesitate on account of the probable expense for the first year. Mr. Burnett, the McCormick general agent at Ottumwa, came over and made a deal - a "gentleman's agreement." We handled the goods, and made a lot of trades. The settlement was made as agreed. The McCormick Binders and Mowers, at the close of that season 1894, were not only "on the map," but remained there, much to the satisfaction of both the company and the "store."


We had so many binders old that season, that it seemed necessary for "Jones" to go out and help "set-em-up." One afternoon, I had occasion to go over to the Citizens' Bank and not time to clean up, so grease, dirt, soiled clothing, and all, went along. There sat Boston on his stool, Mr. Rankin looked like a clothing advertisement, and Uncle Amos sat behind the counter in a clean white shirt and seemingly at peace with the world. No hustle, no hurry, no excitement! I remarked about the fine appearance of the bankers, all dressed up, and their easy looking jobs, in contrast with my own, and the unhappy lot of an Implement man. I gathered up my book and change and walked out. The next morning, Mr. West was at the store with a proposition for me to join the ranks of the "dressed-ups" and try out the easy looking job of a banker. I told him I was only joking, business was going fine and no occasion for making a business change unless on account of health. Other conversations followed that resulted finally in agreements whereby I took charge of the new bank, succeeding the Citizens Bank.

In the re-adjustment of my own business, I retained the real estate and a half interest in the stock. The other half was divided between Henry Farlin, Horace Farlin, and John Garside. The new firm name was "Jones & Co.," instead of "Jones of Villisca."

PERIOD 1895-1900 - BANKING

The FARMERS BANK was a co-partnership. Capital, $50,000, surplus, $25,000 and paid up mostly in cash. It commenced business January 1, 1895. Owners were Amos P. West, D.W. Jackson, F.M. Dirrim, Oscar Anderson, and F.F. Jones. "Times were hard." The older banks, with heavy deposits, had all they could do to supply depositors their cash and were not able to extend the usual accommodations in loans. We had ready cash. We felt our way along carefully, added to our list of good customers, and deposits grew right along. The business prospered so that at the end of the first year, it was well established and earnings were satisfactory. At the end of ten years, there had been no losses to charge off, and the bank was then reorganized as the Villisca National Bank. We again give credit our old friends from the southeast for substantial help in making this enterprise a success.

In 1898, Farlin Bros. Bought the Jones & Co. business and became sole owners for three years. This was the only period from 1890 to 1938 - 47 years - that I did not own all or part of this business. In 1896 was waged the famous Bryan Silver Campaign - "16 to 1." I took an active part, made several speeches and figured in tow join debates and got a lot of fun out of it.

In 1898 and '99, we built the new home on 5th avenue, which we have occupied and enjoyed these forty years.

PERIOD 1900-1905

In 1901, I bought Horace Farlin's interest in the store and the firm name was Jones & Farlin. Joe Moore was already an employee of the store, and stayed on until he went into business for himself. Other employees of this period were J.W. Yergey, B.C. King, A.R. Means, Will Lamar, Fen Moore, and R. Van Aernam.

Jack Wenner commenced work at the Jones Store May 6, 1904. He became manager when Joe Moore started his business and continued as manager until he and Wilson started their business, years later, in Clarinda. In 1902, on account of his health, J.H. Farlin sold me his interest in the store, and again I owned the entire Hardware and Implement business. From that time on, it was called the "Jones Store," until OLD AGE forced me out for good, thirty-five years later, at the age of eighty-two years.

30th G.A.

At the November election in 1903, I was elected to the State Legislature. I took my seat in the House - 30th G.A., in January, 1904, and was appointed chairman of committees on Penitentiaries and Pardons. Along with Fred Maytag of Newton, and Weeks of Guthrie, I was appointed on the special committee to check up affairs at the university. Our report aided the movement for a different "control" over our educational institutions, that took shape in this session. At the close of the session, speaker Clark appointed me as one of the House members of the Commission sent out with instructions to investigate reformatories and the new "Indeterminate Sentence: and "Parole System," and the advisability of changing one of our state prisons into a reformatory, and make a report at the next session of the Legislature. We visited several reformatories in the east, saw Parole Boards in action, and made a report at the next session of the Legislature. We visited several reformatories in the east, saw Parole Boards in action, and made a report, the recommendations of which were nearly all enacted into law. It was some time this year, 1904, I think, that Adrian Taylor came into the bank for a little visit. He said he was on his way to Texas for a visit with F.B. West and asked if I had any word to send. Yes! I had! I wanted the property across the street then occupied by W.O. Van Camp. "Say nothing of this to anyone, but when you return bring signed contracts for me to sign, and don't come back until you have them!"

When he came back, he had contracts to be returned if not signed at the first interview, but, they included other real estate and high prices. While I was looking them over, "Uncle Amos" walked in. I started to tell him about the deal. He did not wait for an explanations, but asked at once if I could use a partner. I could! We signed the contracts together, and thus secured that choice location for our new bank.

I was appointed by Governor Cummins a delegate to the National Prison Congress held at Lincoln in October, 1905. (See lithographed certificate).

PERIOD 1905-1910

The 31st G.A. met in January, 1905, really a hold-over session from the 30th G.A. on account of change in date of holding elections. The Prison Reform bills were passed. Anamosa Prison became a Men's Reformatory and had a Parole system. The "indeterminate Sentence System" was adapted also as the law in Iowa. At the close of this session, I was appointed on the legislative "commission" to investigate insurance companies doing business in Iowa.

The commission was organized April 26, 1906, and held hearings and sessions in the Capitol Building, most of the summer and fall. The subject was gone into thoroughly and many important reforms agreed to. (See "Report" - a public document).


The Villisca National Bank was organized during the year of 1904, and opened its doors for business, January 1, 2905, under very favorable circumstances. We had taken over the business of the Farmers' Bank, a clean, successful institution. We had capital, a fine list of customers, cash for our needs, without ever borrowing, a board of conservative directors who were not borrowers, and the best location in town for a bank. We remained in the old location for a year, while we were building the new building, which was occupied in 1906.

In 1906, I was elected to the 32nd G.A. which convened in January, 1907. I was appointed "Chairman of Appropriations." At this session were handled the insurance Reform Bills suggested by the commission in their report. In the House, a few were "farmed out," but I had charge of most of them, including the Iowa Uniform Policy Bill, which is still the law. Pervious to this, a property owner could have eight or ten policies all different, and he could not know how much was provided for by Iowa law. Now, his fire policies, form any number of companies, are all alike and every sentence covered by Iowa Law, and no substitutes may be used.

In 1908, I bought the Haven's 160-acre farm in Taylor County. In 1909, in company with the Webers, wife and Letha and I took a trip up through Canada to Winnepeg, and on west through the mountains to Vancouver, and down the coast to Los Angeles. In Canada, we stopped over at Winnepeg, Baniff, Lake Louise, Glacier, and Victoria. We visited the Exposition at Seattle, and in the wheat fields north of Sacramento, saw those giant combines at work, pulled by twenty-four horse teams. On our way down the coast, we visited, also the cities of Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the Catalina Islands. We came home by way of Sacramento, Salt Lake City, and Denver.

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