Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stalking Morgan A. Jones

Yesterday's discovery that Morgan A. Jones, at the age of 25, partnered with George E. Race to take over the management of Hudson's "largest and most important insurance agency" piqued my curiosity about this wealthy young man, who gave Hudson one of its most extraordinary houses, so I decided to do some sleuthing. Here is what I've found so far.

Morgan Akin Jones was born on June 27, 1879, in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, the son of Alfred Akin Jones and Mary E. Morgan. He graduated from Williams College, probably in 1901, where he was a member of the Sigma Phi fraternity. I discovered this picture online of the 1901 Williams College football team. There is no reason to believe that Morgan Jones is one of the young men in the picture, but I couldn't resist including it.

It was Williams College and Sigma Phi that led Jones to commission Albany architect Marcus Reynolds to design his house here in Hudson. Reynolds, ten years Jones' senior, was a fellow alumnus of Williams College and a fraternity brother. Indeed, Reynolds had designed the Sigma Phi fraternity house.

Reynolds started his work on Jones' house at 317 Allen Street in 1903, and the house wasn't considered complete until 1906. It's interesting to chronicle some of the things Jones was doing during while his house was being built. In addition to taking over the management of an insurance agency at the beginning of 1905, Jones was also going to law school. He is listed in a catalog of alumni of Albany Law School, published in 1908, as a member of the Class of 1906, but it indicates that he was a "Nongraduate."

The 1910 census has Morgan Jones living at 317 Allen Street with his mother, Mary E. Jones, and his sister, Mary E. Jones 2nd, and two servants: Anna M. Krick and Mary A. Connors. His occupation is listed "Merchant--Mill Supplies." On January 11, 1910, Morgan A. Jones is listed in the Hudson Evening Register as one of the directors of the First National Bank. On December 1, 1910, in an article in the Register about plans to run special trains between Hudson and Chatham for holiday shoppers, it is announced that Morgan A. Jones was elected president of the Hudson Chamber of Commerce. Three months later, on March 15, 1911, the Hudson Evening Register reports, in a front page story, that Morgan A. Jones, described as a "wealthy manufacturer," has married a widow (or could it be a divorcee?), described as "one of the belles of Honolulu," while on a visit to Hawaii.


In the years following their marriage, the names of Mr. and Mrs. Morgan Jones appear frequently in the Hudson Evening Register, usually in a section of the paper called "Personal Notes and Jottings," which reported the comings and goings of everyone who was anyone in Hudson. Here are some examples:
[June 13, 1914] Miss Mary E. Jones, who has been abroad since April, reached New York yesterday on the Mauretania and arrived in Hudson last evening, having motored here with Mr. and Mrs. Morgan A. Jones.
[November 15, 1915] Mr. and Mrs. Morgan A. Jones have gone to Bermuda, where they will spend several weeks.
[August 7, 1916] Morgan A. Jones of this city, is spending a few days in New York city.
Interestingly, in "Personal Notes and Jottings" for April 14, 1916, both partners in the firm of  Race & Jones, Insurance Agents, are mentioned--for rather different things:
Mr. and Mrs. Morgan A. Jones, who have been spending several months in California, have returned home.
Mr. and Mrs. George E. Race and family will move May 1 into a new house on Fairview avenue, which is being built by E. Charles Getty, of this city.
In the events of his professional and civic life, it is reported on April 17, 1916, that Morgan Jones had been appointed the treasurer of the local Y.M.C.A. In the report, Jones is identified as "First Vice President F.N.B.," which probably stands for First National Bank (he was on the board of directors of that bank in 1910). 

The latest record so far discovered for Jones is his World War I draft registration card, filled out on September 12, 1918, when Jones was 39 years old. He gives his permanent home address as "Hudson, N. Y." and his occupation as "Purchasing Agent, Y.M.C.A., 347 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y." He lists his wife as his nearest relative and gives her address as "Hotel Belmont, 42nd St and Park Ave."

The 20-story Belmont Hotel, completed in May 1905, was one of midtown Manhattan's earliest skyscrapers. This picture of the hotel was discovered on the website Wired New York

4 comments:

  1. According to Eugege J. Johnson's book Style Follows Function architecture of Marcus T. Reynolds :While at Williams Morgan Jones was manager of the golf team. Six of his classmates voted him best dressed and seven, biggest bluff. On a senior questionnaire he gave "loafing" as his favorite diversion and "silence" as his ideal quality in a woman.
    (yikes)
    In 1911 he married a woman from Hawaii, the sources are silent on her silence. In 1915 Jones reported to his classmates that he was "busy trying to make Hudson N.Y. a modern town." The next year he gave that up and moved to NYC where he lived until his death in 1965.

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  2. So in 1916 was 317 Allen St sold to become the residence of another well known business person, Scovill that made hand held appliances such as mixers, electric knives, etc?
    During the 1950's & 60's 317 was known as the Scovill & Washburn residence, also the Scovill Mansion.

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    Replies
    1. Not so fast, tmdonofrio. Morgan Jones still claimed it as his permanent residence in 1918. Dini and Windle, do you know when the house was sold to the Scovills?

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  3. I 've always heard it was Jones to Scovill but let me investigate !
    We couldn't decide if we should call 317 Allen the Morgan Jones house or Scovill. Jones of course commissioned Reynolds to build.

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