News Article

Marcellus, New York Weekly Observer 1879-1881 at

Romance In Real Life

How a Man's Wife Was Stolen from Him by Her Brother--
Killing the Brother and Leading a Wanderer's Life for Thirty Years--
Meeting His Remarried Wife and Marrying Her Again
[transcription of article]

At the hospital in the Soldiers' Home there is an old soldier, a veteran of the war of 1812, now in his eighty-third year. His frame is somewhat stooped with years, but otherwise indicates a vigor that promises to last for many years. He was a cheerful, intelligent face, and his record at the Home is of the best character. A few weeks ago he met with brutal treatment at the hands of a rough fellow in West Dayton. He has not yet recovered from the injuries that were inflicted on him.

The name of the old veteran is Elias S. Jones, and his history is one of a kind often recorded in romance, and the counterpart of which the poet Tennyson has rendered immortal in the pathetic tale of Enoch Arden. The story of Elias Jones' life is more dramatic and even more painful than Enoch Arden's, though its end is happier.

He was born in Vermont, and was only in his sixteenth year when the war of 1812 broke out. After peace had been concluded Jones removed to New York State, where he bought a small tract of land in Steuben county. Another person was bargaining for the same piece of property, which was a section located in a very favorable position, and when he learned that Jones had obtained the property his anger was so extreme that on several occasions they had nearly come to personal encounters. Jones lived on his property, and some time after met, loved and courted a young lady who lived in that section of the State. Her name was also Jones--Miss Alida Jones. She was a handsome country girl of seventeen, and though her home was at some distance from Elias', young women, and pretty young women, were a scarce article at that time in the neighborhood, and his calls were frequent. One day he met the brother of the young lady, here only living relative, and he recognized in him the enemy he had made in the purchase of his land; a scene ensued, in which Elias was ordered from the house, with a threat of being shot if he returned. This did not check the attachment between the young people, and a few months later she left her brother's house and was married to Elias Jones. Her brother swore, however, that he would be even with them both. This was in 1820. They had been married over a year, and had one child, a boy. When the father returned home one night, after several days' absence, he found his house burned down and his wife and child gone. A note was pinned to a tree near by from his wife's brother, stating this work had been done by him in revenge. He also added if Jones followed and tracked him he would shoot him on sight.

Elias could find no trace of his family, but he determined to recover them, and, as he says, having been shot at in the war, he thought he could risk it again for his wife and child. An opportunity offered and he disposed of his farm, and set out upon a clew that he had obtained. It proved right, and he found that his brother-in-law was living in the Genesco valley, in New York, and the house he discovered setting back in the woods. From the distance he saw his wife in the doorway, and he was advancing toward her when a rifle cracked and he fell over pierced with a ball. He instantly recovered himself and looking in the direction of the smoke, saw the brother of his wife step from behind some brush with the discharged piece in his hand, and advance toward him. It was the work of an instant for Elias to bring his own piece to a level and fire. He felt, as proved to be the case, that the shot was fatal. Elias was a sure shot and his own injuries made him desperate.

Hardly knowing what he did, Elias sprang to his feet, waved an adieu to his wife and child at the doorway and rushed away. His own wound proved to be slight, though had the aim been the least truer, it must have caused Elias' death. He pushed right on to New York city, and there engaged board a ship for a three years' cruise, sending a letter to his wife before he left.

She remained a time at the place after her brother's death, and another child was born to her, whom she named after its father. Then an old friend stopping at her house, she removed with him to Pennsylvania, where she had other friends living. No further word was heard from her husband for several years, when one day the death of an American sailor, Elias S. Jones, of Liverpool, was chronicled in a newspaper, and she was subsequently married to the friend who brought her to Pennsylvania, a man named Anthony Swope, with whom she lived twenty-five years and became the mother of ten more children.

In the meantime Jones returned from his cruise, but received no word from his wife, and started upon another voyage. None of his letters were answered. In Liverpool he fell from a mast, was severely injured and was taken to a hospital, which fact probably gave rise to the report of his death. Subsequently he learned that his wife had married again after he left her, and Jones continued his seafaring life for thirty years, when, getting into the decline of life, he determined to renounce the sea.

He drifted out of the place where he had last seen his own wife, and where the fatal tragedy had occurred. He did not have any definite purpose except a yearning desire to learn something more respecting them. They had been forgotten at the scene of the shooting, and the homicide itself was only remembered as a distant legend. He was able to get some clew which led him to Sandy Creek, Mercer county, the place she had gone to live in Pennsylvania. She had, however, gone still further West, and the old man lost all further trace. Chance led him to Conneaut, Ohio, and there he heard the name of Bradford Jones mentioned. This was the name of his oldest son, and it proved to be he. He was a blacksmith and lived in the town. Elias recognized himself in the man as soon as he saw him, but it was hard to convince the son that his father was living, and the old man was turning away when his son invited him home to dine with him. His son's wife recognized the resemblance between father and son at a glance, and the old man related the varied story of his life.

They told him his wife was still living, but when he complained that she had married another man, they informed him Swope had died the year before. He accompanied his son to her home, some thirty miles distant. She was sitting in the corner near the fire, knitting, when they came in, and recognized her son, but not him. Elias had not seen her since she was a girl of less than twenty, but he recognized in the old lady before him many familiar lines and expressions. When he spoke she suddenly threw up her hands and cried: "The dead has come to life," and fainted.

When she revived the first words she muttered were: "Elias, you can't blame me." He told her his story, and they returned together to Connecticut, where they were remarried in 1854 For more than twenty-five years they lived together, but their means failing two years ago, he came to live at the Soldiers' Home in Dayton, in virtue of his service for the country in 1812. The fourth of last March his wife died, and the old man went home to attend her in her last days and to bury her.

This page submitted November 13, 2013.