Elmer and J. Augustus Jones                      Circus Family

Oakland, Charles R. Tranter (1995, pp. 30 - 31).

               J. Augustus Jones was born in 1868, the oldest of five brothers in a North Warren Jones family--a family whose name was soon to be identified with some of the most successful circus attractions in the country. J. Augustus and his brothers were considered the most outstanding operators of two-and-three railroad car shows of all time. Elmer was eventually to be known as “the king of the two car show.” J. Augustus, in time, operated much larger shows with as many as 12 to 16 railroad cars, covering the nation and into Canada.

               In the circus world of that era, the 1890s to the early 1930s, the names of those shows changed frequently - sometimes several times within the season. In 1902, for example, the Jones Brothers used the titles of Cole & Rogers, Jones, Model Plate, and Jones New Empire. In 1900, J. Augustus and Elmer toured a show of two cars called Indian Bill’s Wild West Show. A year later, it had grown to six cars, then eight, then 12 and 16 cars. There was a new title at that point - Jones Bros. Enormous Shows.

               Why so many name changes? Authorities claim that some of the best attractions in the smaller traveling circus were the games of chance, not normally approved by the local sheriff. Accordingly, a change of name might help the show establish itself in the next town on the circuit.

               Historians say that, for a number of years, the Jones Circus animals were kept at Chandlers Valley where they could be enjoyed by local residents.

               J. Augustus Jones died at age 50 on September 7, 1918 as a result of being kicked by a horse. He is buried in Oakland Cemetery. It is said that the column by his grave site is cut off because his life was cut short at an early age.

               Elmer continued in the business with two and three car shows until 1930. He spent his final days in North Warren and died April 8, 1952 at age 83. He is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery in Russell.


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society