University of Arizona

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Charles Jesse Jones Collection

Charles Jesse Jones lead the life of the quintessential pioneer cowboy. Jones' life story serves as an allegory for the experience of American expansionism on the western frontier. Charles J. Jones' unique role in this westward movement was his effort to save the American Bison from extinction, and subsequently to hybridize them with domestic cattle.

His early experience as a buffalo hunter lead Jones to respect the rugged, adaptive qualities of bison, simultaneously lamenting their demise and his own role in their slaughter. In the process of trying to save the bison from extinction Jones became famous for the live capture of wild animals. His reputation lead him on a series of adventures including the live capture African big game, which was recorded in both still images and motion pictures. 

Charles J. Jones married Martha J. Walton (a descendent of naturalist, Isaac Walton) on January 20, 1869. They had four children; two boys died in childhood. Throughout his life Jones maintained close correspondence with his daughters, Jessie and Olive. Suffering from a chronic illness contracted while in Africa, Jones died at his daughter Olive's house in Topeka, Kansas on March 18, 1919. He is buried alongside his wife Martha and their two sons in the Valley View Cemetery; Garden City, Kansas.

The correspondence is mostly between family members from 1907 to 1928. The bulk of the correspondence is between C. J. Jones and his youngest daughter Olive Jones Whitmer. There is also correspondence between the family and business partners, James Wilson, United States Secretary of Agriculture; John A. Dix, Governor of New York; and Charles Goodnight, livestock breeder. The publications are mostly articles regarding C. J. Jones (often photocopies); broadsides and other advertising publications, some original copies; an old Yellowstone National Park brochure; an original copy of the American Bison Society Report, 1924-1926, and a dinner program for Canadian Camp, New York, 1911.The financial and biographical records in this collection are limited to three stock certificates and a photocopy of Jones' death certificate. The scrapbook is comprised of photographic images from magazines and photocopies of articles regarding C. J. Jones' various activities.