History: Shirley Donnelly – Jones Death Recalls Finding Of Diamond

Shirley Donnelly was a local (Fayette County, WV) historian.  He wrote a column for the Beckley Post-Herald covering a wide range of topics (not just local).  I thought it would be fun to find original newspaper clippings and share them.  I will also try to find whatever links are available regarding the topic of his discussion.  If you have a favorite Shirley Donnelly piece you remember and would like me to find it, let me know and I will keep an eye out for it.

I had read of the Jones Diamond in an article I came across while doing genealogy.  Shirley Donnelly wrote an article about it which was included in a keepsake book of his articles.  This is the article as it appeared within the book:

There is a sign marker at the location where the diamond was found:

See the source image

According to e-WV:

Happenstance and a game of horseshoes led to the finding of the Jones Diamond. The diamond, also called the Horseshoe Diamond, was found on Rich Creek, near Peterstown, on Annie and Grover Jones’s property. 

In 1928, while pitching horseshoes, Grover and his oldest son, William ‘‘Punch’’ Jones, found a shiny stone. Punch carried it home, placed it in a box in the tool shed, and forgot about it. During World War II, Punch worked at an ammunition plant, using carbons to make gunpowder. Knowing that diamonds are a crystalline form of carbon, he wondered about the shiny stone he had picked up years earlier. His hunch was confirmed when a geologist at Virginia Polytechnic Institute pronounced the stone an alluvial diamond.

The blue-white gem weighed 34.46 carats and measured 5/8 inch in diameter. One of a few diamonds found in America, it is uncertain how the stone came to Rich Creek. From 1944 to 1968, the Jones Diamond was on display at the Smithsonian Institution. Upon return to West Virginia, it was exhibited at the State Fair. The Joneses owned the diamond until the early 1980s, when it was sold by Sotheby’s for an undisclosed amount.

And you would think that that one AMAZING fact would be all this family would have as their claim to fame. But…you would be wrong.

Grover (left) and Annie (rigt) Jones' family in 1940. Courtesy Robert D. Jones/collection West Virginia Division of Culture and History

Grover Cleveland Jones and his family were celebrities in 1940. They were invited guests to the New York World’s Fair and they got to meet Mayor LaGuardia and have dinner with President Roosevelt. That’s because Grover and his wife, Annie, had produced 15 consecutive sons, and all were alive and well. The family’s endorsement was sought by a number of companies, but Grover refused and the Jones’s went home to Peterstown. That must have been a difficult decision, as Grover struggled as a county school teacher to support his vast family.

I am tired just looking at that picture.  Think of how many years that poor mother was pregnant.

If you are interested in learning more about the Jones family, here are a couple links:

http://www.wvculture.org/history/wvmemory/vets/joneswilliam/joneswilliam.html

https://theclio.com/web/entry?id=12741

http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2018/05/i-wish-theyd-threw-it-in-new-river.html

2 comments

  1. Shirley Donnelly wrote a column on
    the Argabright family. Samuel Valentines son Daniel Valentine and his son Golden Argabright ( my Dad). It was about Daniels walking to Church from Hill Top to Glen Gene through the path in the woods and carried a lantern in the evenings. This light in,later years
    was what brought a black man to love Christ as he remembered this light going to Church.
    My address is Jean Van Hook
    13631 Eagle Ridge Dr 218
    Ft Myers, FL. 33912

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