by Constance Hall Jones
Portrait photograph believed to be of Thomas Norcliff Jones (c. 1800 – Sept 3, 1864)
This unidentified image is believed to be a late 19th century copy of an earlier-era photograph of Thomas Norcliffe Jones. The subject’s manner of dress suggests to some that the individual in the image is female, however other circumstantial evidence supports the author’s belief that this image is Thomas Norcliffe Jones.
This image is in the possession of Thomas Norcliffe Jones’s great-great-great granddaughter, Virginia Warden Minton. It was passed down to her through her grandfather’s line, with a collection of Jones family photographs, including those of William Ellis Jones (Confederate artillerist and diarist), his wife and children, their spouses and children, and William B. Jones (Thomas Norcliffe Jones’s first cousin, business partner, and supplier to the Confederate War Department).
If this image is of a female, the most likely candidate is Thomas Norcliffe Jones’s wife and William Ellis Jones’s mother, Margaret White. However, Margaret died at just fifty-three years-old. The subject in this photograph appears older. Thomas Norcliffe Jones survived sixty-four years. According to family lore recorded by his grandson, Jones was a man of the “old world” who clung to old fashioned ways. This may explain the manner of dress shown in the image, which is closer to fashions worn by Englishmen of the 1840’s than those of Virginian’s of the 1860’s.
There is a good deal of family resemblance between the subject in this photograph and descendants of Thomas Norcliffe Jones. The shape of the head, nose, deep set of the eyes, and ear shape are all very similar to William Ellis Jones (artillerist and diarist), but even more striking is the unusual crooked slant to the lip that is shared with Thomas Norcliffe Jones’s great-great grandson, Thomas Ellis Jones, as seen in the photograph below.
(Image courtesy of Penny Warden Minton.)
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Thomas Ellis Jones (May 1, 1930 – March 2, 1998)
This photograph was taken around 1966. Note the resemblance between Thomas Ellis Jones and his great-grandfather, Thomas Norcliffe Jones (above).
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Thomas Norcliffe Jones (in the painted portrait), his great-grandson and namesake Thomas Ellis Jones, and great-great-grandson (baby in arms), William Ellis Jones
The photograph was taken in April, 1960.
In the late 1980’s, Thomas Ellis Jones gave the portrait of his great-grandfather to one of the museums in Richmond, Virginia. To date, the author has been unable to locate it or find any record of his gift. It seems likely the gift was made to the Valentine museum, as there was a long-standing connection between the Jones family and the Valentine family, as well as with the museum, however the Valentine has also failed to find any evidence that they have the painting, or have ever had it.
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The “Engaging the Civil War” Series is published by Southern Illinois University Press in collaboration with Emerging Civil War.