In 1800 Samuel was 19. Like his grandfather, great-grandfather and others of the family back to about 1635, he set out to explore America. Like his ancestors, he had trouble focusing on his mission. In 1796 his eldest sister, Ruth, had married Amasa Hayes of Hartland, a town nearby Barkhamsted. They set up housekeeping in Granby, the next town east of Hartland. Amasa was a skilled stone and brick mason and he agreed to hire Samuel for a year so Samuel could get together the funds to strike out to the West.
Samuel lived with his sister and brother-in law from the summer of 1800 through the January 1802 learning the mason trade and accumulating wages. In December of 1801, Ruth had her third child and it was a difficult pregnancy. Amasa’s cousin Deborah, daughter of his father’s brother Titus, came to stay at the house in Granby to help Ruth before and after the birth of her daughter Chloe.
Deborah was a cheery and attractive young woman of 19. Samuel was a handsome and ambitious young man of 20. It was a struggle but the proprieties between them were strictly observed while they lived together in the household of their relatives. Near the end of January, when Ruth was up and about again, Deborah returned to her father’s house in Hartland.
Samuel’s year with Amasa was long expired by this time so he returned to Barkhamsted to make preparations for his trip to the frontier, which by now had shifted west to Ohio. For some reason the departure date kept slipping so Samuel bought a house and took up the mason trade there in Barkhamsted. As soon as he was established, he visited Titus Hayes in Hartland and asked permission to court his daughter Deborah.
Samuel and Deborah were married on 5/11/1803 and moved into Samuel’s house in Barkhamsted. There Samuel plied his trade, began raising his children and talked often to Deborah about moving the family west. By the fall of 1808 they had four children:
In 1809, Deborah finally gave her blessing for Samuel with her cousin David Hayes to make a year-long excursion to the West with the idea of finding likely homesteading property. In preparation for Samuel’s departure, she and the children moved back in with her parents, who were glad to have them stay for a while. Samuel and David left in July. By the first of August Deborah was sure she was again pregnant. It was in her parent’s house in Hartland that Samuel’s and Deborah’s fifth child was born on 3/31/1810.
Samuel and David traveled on horseback, accidentally following approximately the path taken by Samuel’s grandfather. In northern Pennsylvania they merged with the path followed by his great grandfather to the shore of Lake Erie. Then then began working their way westward along the lake shore.
“You know, Davey,” Samuel said, this looks like the frontier to me. Do you suppose we might want to look for a place to set up a homestead?”
“I don’t know Sam. We haven’t seen anything but water, woods and mosquitos for a couple days. It might be the frontier.”
About that time they heard a disturbance and found a man splashing around naked in the water at the edge of the lake. He climbed up onto the bank and put his trousers and shirt on before hailing the two men on horseback.
“Hello men,” he said. “You headed to Cleveland?”
“What’s Cleveland?” Thomas asked.
“That is a town in New Connecticut.”
“We are headed to the frontier.” Samuel said. “You say there is a town nearby.”
“Sure is. We got a tavern and everything. If one of you let me ride double I’ll take you there. I was just getting clean before going there myself.”
So Samuel and David were directed another five miles west where they found a village that might as well have been in Connecticut. There was a main street leading from a dock at lakeside leading inland lined with buildings. Tied up at the dock was schooner that would have been at home in New London.
Samuel and David began to laugh.
“What’s so funny?” asked their new friend
Oh, we seem to have badly misjudged were the frontier begins.” David said.
At Cleveland the travelers were introduced to Lorenzo Carter at his tavern/town hall/meeting house.
“I haven’t gone much west myself.” said Mr. Carter. The natives have been traveling all over the country west of here for centuries. Let me talk to my friend Chief Seneca to see if he can give you any advice. If you can stay a couple days in town you might learn something.”
It turned out that Chief Seneca had received a man from the Pawnee nation who had traveled east to enquire into the state of European expansion. That man was intending to return to Kansas and agreed to accompany Samuel and David as far as they wanted to go. So Samuel and David became acquainted with the native known as Waterman.
They rode off, three men on two horses, toward the west with Waterman pointing out the trail. He spoke some English and wanted to practice and Samuel wanted to learn some Pawnee to they passed the time chatting of this and that.
“Where are we heading?” asked David.
“We go see Ogontz.” Waterman said.
Two days later they arrived at a camp on the lake. There they found Ogontz and his French wife Nicole. At their camp were three horses and five sturdy eighteen foot canoes.
“Now we trade one horse for one canoe and some money and sell one horse for only money”, Waterman said.
So they did, and set of in the lake following the shore west north. In a day and a half of paddling they entered the mouth of the mouth of the Maumee River and paddled upstream, portaging once and a while to cut off some of the great loops the river took. It was apparently a well used path leading south and west.
Eventually they abandoned the Maumee and portaged to the headwaters of the Kankakee River. Then they went by canoe down the Kankakee, Illinois and Mississippi to the mouth of the Missouri River. From there they went upstream into the Louisiana Territory across what would become the state of Missouri to where the river turned north.
Along the way they passed through the mostly uninhabited great swamp that was drained by the Kankakee. Once they reached the Illinois River there were settlers to be found along the river banks and some of the best farmland in America. It was along the Missouri at the border between the future Missouri and Kansas Territories that Samuel and David decided to homestead. Land could be had for the settlement of it and the rich soil and favorable climate make farming a viable enterprise. Moreover it was far enough west that they could call themselves frontiersmen.
They bought two horses and the trip home was made entirely overland, following the rivers upstream from the mouth of the Missouri. To avoid the swamps in Illinois and Indiana they bore north up along the Des Plaines River where it joins the Kankakee to form the Illinois River. This took them through forested country to the shore of Lake Michigan near Joliet. From there they headed east and returned to Hartland on 6/2/1810.
Samuel was surprised to meet his two-month-old son Anson. David planned to gather up his family and head west before cold weather. Deborah wanted to wait until the following year when Anson would be hardier. So in June of 1811, Samuel and Deborah with their five children began the trip to their new home in Missouri. They were in eastern Ohio when they got word that David and his family of four were wiped out along the Missouri River in a raid by some natives.
That was it for Deborah. She insisted that they settle where they were in Ashtabula County Ohio or go back to Connecticut. So the Joneses came to rest near Wayne, Ohio. Samuel took up his mason trade again but every year he suggested that they continue the move to the promised-land.
In 1817 they had a daughter and in 1822 a son. It was the Missouri Compromise which admitted Missouri as a state of the union that finally tipped the balance for Deborah. As soon as the roads dried up in the spring of 1823 the entire family of nine took the overland route to Clay County Missouri. To everyone’s surprise, at the age of 41 Deborah produced another son, Nathan John, making eight children in all:
Linus Hayes Jones 2/5/1805, Barkhamsted, CT
Flavel Jones 2/16/1806, Barkhamsted, CT
Statira Jones 5/251807, Barkhamsted, CT
Almira Jones 9/27/1808, Barkhamsted, CT
Anson Jones 3/31/1810, Hartland, CT
Emily Jones 10/22/1817, Wayne, OH
Samuel Jones 12/6/1822, Wayne, OH
Nathan John Jones 12/15/1823, Clay County, MO
Samuel and Deborah lived in Missouri until it again became too uncivilized. The issue was slavery. In 1844-45 Clay County was not a friendly place for people with abolitionist views. At that time the children were all grown. Linus, Flavel, Stratira, Almira and Anson had migrated back to Ohio when they came of age.
Emily was living at home still and Samuel the younger was working the farm. It was Nathan’s decision to go to California that finally tipped the balance against staying longer in Missouri. Samuel and Deborah, now in their sixties sold out and with young Samuel and Emily, returned to Wayne, Ohio where some of the older children had settled. Deborah died in 1863 and Samuel in 1880 in the ninety-ninth year of his life.
Nathan headed for the Oregon Trail in the summer of 1845.