James McHenry Jones was born in Gallipolis August 28, 1858. His early life was passed in New Richmond, Pomeroy, and on his grandmother's farm in Lawrence County, O., where he constantly gave evidence of qualities that would in years to come develop into manly and progressive natural qualifications. Being a strong, well developed boy he was put to a trade, that of cooper; working evenings and mornings and attended school during the day. In this manner he obtained a common school education, and at the age of sixteen he began his present vocation as a teacher. After teaching two term in the district schools of Meigs County, O., he entered the Pomeroy high school, which he attended for four years, and graduated standing first in a class of seven, the average percent being 94. Mr. Jones was the first pupil of Negro descent to graduate from the above named school. Many have since followed. He was elected principal of the Wheeling schools prior to his graduation, having passed the examination in April, the commencement being in June. He was the successful competitor of six applicants for the position. At the suggestion of Mr. Jones, the school has since been named the Lincoln Grammar School. Much of its progress and prosperity is due to the untiring efforts and energy of its present principal. He enjoys the distinction of having first graduated colored scholars in the same class, at the same time and from the same stage with the whites in the public schools south of Mason and Dixon's line. As an educator he ranks among the best and his ever apparent good natured qualifications wins the friendship of pupil and observer. The subject of our sketch joined the Odd Fellows at the age of eighteen years the committee in charge of affairs having obtained the assent of his father. He passed through the various gradations of office, and was honored with the Subordinate Lodge's honorary title. Om 1880 when the District Lodge was formed he represented his lodge in the convention, and it never had a better representative. In this convention, though stormy and he so young, he made a step forward that have ever since been a impetus to its onward course. Ohio District Lodge was formed, and from its birth in Columbus in 1880, to the present time, his voice and counsel has been heard. He was elected District Deputy Master in Springfield, in 1882; District Master in Columbus, in 1883; and re-elected at Dayton in 1884. At the next session at Ironton, in 1885, having succeeded in obtaining the sanction of the District Lodge to his idea of systematic government and the advanced idea, he declined part of her honors. The District Lodge by a rising vote tendered him their thanks for excellent management and the faithful performance of duties and honored him with a gold medal. At the eighth annual session held at Zanesville last August, the representatives there assembled by acclamation again called him to assume the leadership of the Order in District No. 24, which comprises Ohio, West Virginia and Michigan. Mr. Jones was the author of the "Ohio idea" relative to District Lodges. His pungent paragraphs on the inconsistency of the present policy and his strong advocacy of an imperial Grand Lodge, State Grand Lodges and State representatives to the National Grand Lodge which some day must be the policy of the Order, will cause him to be remembered and endeared. He is a lover of his race and never fails to lend his voice and pen in their behalf. While not a hater of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows he can not feel toward them friendly because of their adoption of a law that prohibits them from practicing friendship, love and truth with the Negro. Many journals have copied his utterances upon this subject. In political faith he is a strong advocate for Republican principles. In the late campaign he visited at the invitation of the West Virginia State Executive Committee, the principle cities of the State, was received with high honors and won through his oratorical powers the praises of the masses wherever assembled. On December 27, 1888, he was united in marriage to Miss Carrie M. Harrison, of Harmar, who for three years was assistant principal of Lincoln school, of Wheeling.
Cleveland Gazette, Jan. 26, 1889
Vol. 6, No. 24, p. 1