Professor Jones' Book
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By William C. Brunner, President Emeritus
Prof. Jacob K. Jones was one of seven children. His parents were George W. and Mary Jane (Seymour) Jones. He was born in Reading, Pa. on September 18, 1846, and raised in Berks County. As a young boy he attended Boyertown Academy and later was enrolled at the Kutztown Normal School. Prior to receiving his degree, he taught for many years in Charlestown Township, Chester County. After his graduation in 1877, he accepted the position of principal at the Spring City High School.
He is best remembered as the principal of the Spring City High School, where he had many accomplishments during his tenure. According to his Chester County biography, when Professor Jones assumed the leadership, he found but four grades and was determined to bring the school up to a higher standard. He went to work with a will to succeed, and increased the classes to nine well-arranged grades. Eleven rooms were used to accommodate over five hundred pupils. That is an average of more than 45 students in each classroom. The course of instruction was extended to embrace algebra, geometry, book-keeping, physics, and the elements of Latin. Progress and success marked the school after it was placed under Professor Jones' leadership. In recognition of his ability, scholarship, and success as a teacher, he was elected to the Chester County Committee that awarded permanent education certificates to the educators in Chester County. But to me, the greatest accomplishment, which has been overlooked by some, was the book he wrote for the Spring City Methodist Church.
It was in the early 1990’s, when I was visiting with my friend Lawrence Shaner, that I first became aware of the book. We were discussing local history and Lawrence got up and said, “I have something to show you”. He went into his room and returned with a small brown hardbound book and placed it on the coffee table in front of me. I looked at it and read the title, “History of the Spring City M.E. Church”. I did not open it at first, but I can tell you one thing. The saying, “You cannot judge a book by its cover,” is true. Lawrence asked me if I was going to look at it and I was reluctant to tell him I was not particularly interested in church history books. I opened it up and started paging through the book. It was a church history book to be sure, but much to my surprise, I saw multiple photos of various Spring City structures. For a book published in 1899, it had several nice photographs.
The first four chapters, 60 pages, told the early history of Springville from the early years through to1899 when it carried the name of Spring City. It was complete with photographs and short historical narratives. From the canal and the early industries to the stores, local organizations, and schools, it was all there. In later chapters, not only was the complete history of the Methodist Church in Spring City covered, but also the history of all the other local denominations, including photos of their churches as well. Springville was settled by many of the surrounding farmers who were predominantly White, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. The three local Churches: Methodist, Lutheran and Reformed (United Church of Christ) at that time were what one might expect.
Countless news articles published over the past 120 years have also quoted from this source. In January 2003, when I was writing the Postcard History book, I referred to this book numerous times.
Lawrence, an electrician, had spotted this old book in an attic when he was doing some electrical wiring for a local customer. He inquired about the book, which had been stuffed in a box full of discards, and was rewarded with the book. Years later, I was fortunate enough to find an original listed on e-Bay. I was the successful bidder at $27.00. The SFAHS Museum Library has a copy and when the Spring City Methodist Church was still open there was one in their library. The Chester County Historical Society located in West Chester has one that was signed by the author, J. K. Jones and personally presented to them on April 19th, 1900. I was lucky to be able to visit with them and was allowed to photograph the page where Professor Jacob K. Jones had signed it.
Jacob was commissioned to write the book in January of 1897 at a quarterly conference of the Spring City Methodist Church. It was at this conference that J. K. Jones; a member of the church, was selected to be the author of “The History of the Spring City Methodist Episcopal Church”. I doubt that an individual could afford to publish a book such as this at that time and I questioned how much of a demand there would be for it. Today, it has been reprinted by several publishing companies and can be purchased on Amazon and E-Bay. This fact alone is confirmation of the value of Jones’ book. That Jones thought to include the history of the small Chester County town in which the church was located gives us a valuable look into early Springville history. In 1967, when the town celebrated its 100th Centennial, a committee was assembled to write the history of the town. One of the men on that committee was Lawrence Shaner and it is obvious that much of the early history recorded in the Centennial Book came word for word out of Jones’ earlier publication.
Below is a data sheet showing the availability of a reprint and a brief statement by the publisher.
To show the varied contents of this book I have elected to include the complete index of the book on the following three pages.
June 1899 is the date of publication of Professor Jacob K. Jones’ book. It contains 232 pages and over 25 local photographs. Two of the photos appear below.
The official name is “A Brief History of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Spring City, Pa., Together with Sketches of the Other Leading Churches of the Town”. The book is a hardcover book measuring 5 ½ inches by 8 inches. The actual cover was found in many colors with the title in gold lettering. I have seen red, brown, green, and blue covers.
Professor Jacob Jones served as treasurer of the teachers' county institute fund. In June of 1891, the local Building and Loan Association was formed. Jones helped to write the constitution and by-laws of this organization and served as its secretary from the beginning. In the 1910 census information, Jones along with his wife and son were listed as living at 65 N. Church Street in Spring City. His occupation was listed as bank teller. In 1920, the information on residence and family composition remained unchanged.
On May 11, 1925, Prof. Jacob K. Jones died at his home, 65 N. Church Street, Spring City, Pa. He was 78 years old. Services were held at the Methodist Church and burial was at Zion’s cemetery. His wife, Annie V. Jones, had died three months earlier at the age of 66. Their only son, Clarence, continued to live in the family home. He married Hilda Gamble of Royersford in 1924 and they had a family of five children: Dorothy, Richard, Janet, Patricia, and Robert. It is interesting to note that Dot Miller (Jones) and Bob Jones, two of Jacob Jones’ grandchildren were once active members of the Spring-Ford Area Historical Society. Dot died in 2017 and Bob serves as a member of the Board of Directors. He and his sister donated the school bell belonging to their grandfather, Jacob Jones, and it is now on display at our museum.
William C. Brunner served on the board of the Spring-Ford Area Historical Society for 30 years, 15 of those years serving as its president. He now serves as President Emeritus and continues to write articles, blog posts, and newsletter inserts for the society. Bill has written three books about Spring City and Royersford, all available at the museum. He loves photography, garden railroading, postcard collecting, and local history. He graduated from Spring-Ford High School in 1962. He and his wife of 60 years, Joyce, live in Spring City. They have a son, Chuck, a daughter, Joyce, three grandchildren, Amber, Willie & Frank, and 6 great grandchildren.