Guide to the Joseph Jones Papers, 1681-1895


Papers of militia officer and customs collector Joseph Jones of Petersburg, Va., and of his children and grandchildren, including business, personal, and military correspondence, deeds, Virginia militia records, general orders, Treasury Dept. circulars, lists of licensed vessels, letters regarding western lands, and papers relating to the port of Petersburg, Va. Correspondents include John Adams, William H. Crawford, Albert Gallatin, Richard Bland Lee, James Madison, Timothy Pickering, John Randolph, and John Tyler.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Joseph Jones papers
Jones, Joseph, 1749-1824
1.33 Linear Feet, 704 items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Collection Overview

The papers of Joseph Jones (1749-1824) span the period 1681 to 1895, with the majority of papers dating from 1794 to 1842. The collection is divided into six series: Correspondence, 1781-1895 and undated; Legal Papers, 1681-1888 and undated; Financial Papers, 1772-1875 and undated; Customs Collector Papers, 1796-1836 and undated; Military Papers, 1788-1864 and undated; and Miscellany, 1801-1854 and undated. Within each series the material is arranged chronologically. The Correspondence and Customs Collector Papers comprise the bulk of the collection.

Primarily emphasized in the collection are Jones' land holdings in Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio, some awarded on account of his military service during the Revolution; his service as Brigadier-General in the 15th Brigade of the Virginia Militia during the Whiskey Rebellion; his work as customs collector at the port of Petersburg; and a variety of legal and financial papers.

The collection covers three generations of the Jones Family. After Jones' death in 1824, papers chiefly relate to his children and other relatives. Among those represented are Jones' sons: Joseph Jr., who managed some of his father's farming interests; R. Benson, who worked for various merchants in New York in the 1840's; Thomas, who was sheriff in Chesterfield County, Va. in 1838; and Thomas' wife, Mary Newton Jones, and her brother Virginia Congressman Willoughby Newton, plus other related families. There is extensive correspondence between Mrs. Mary M. Jones and others (chiefly in the 1840's) indicating that she owned both real estate and slaves. Some of this property was located in Westmoreland County, Va.

Other subjects include reaction to the passage by Congress of Jay's treaty, documents relating to slave holdings, social conditions of women in the 19th century, and the service of Jones' grandson, Captain Thomas Jones, in the 40th Virginia Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

For further information about Jones, see the Department's William Bragg Papers. Bragg became Jones' business partner about 1770 in Petersburg, Va.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], The Papers of Joseph Jones, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

Information Folder
Box 1
Correspondence, 1781-1895
(8 folders)

Includes personal and business correspondence. The bulk of the business correspondence relates to the family's landholdings and finances.

Box 1
Legal Papers, 1681-1888

Includes land grants, survey patents, copies and extracts from deeds, bonds, land plats hills of lading, contracts, articles of agreement, promissory notes, power of attorney agreements, and some indentures involving slave sales. Three land grants (1798) awarded Jones several hundred acres of land in Northwest Ohio for his military service.

Box 1
Financial Papers, 1772-1823

Accounts, receipts, bills of sales (some involving slaves) and other miscellany financialpapers. A subseries (1853-1875 and undated) is listed under Mrs. Mary H. Peeples. It includes tax, clothing, and tuition receipts, and other financial records, covering the period after she was widowed in 1853. Her connection to the Jones family is unclear.

Box 1
Financial Papers, 1824-1875 and undated
Box 2
Customs Collector Papers, 1796-1836

Includes correspondence, printed circulars from the United States Treasury Department, lists of licensed vessels, and other items, relating to Jones' position as Collector of Customs at the port of Petersburg, Va. Among the items is a bill of lading (1818 Oct. 21) from Marseilles, France, to Jones notifying him of articles sent through Petersburg for Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.

Box 2
Military Papers, 1788-1864 and undated
(3 folders)

Correspondence, printed circulars, return lists, muster rolls, and brigade division, and military orders, relating to Jones' military service with the 15th Virginia Militia Brigade. A few items concern the 40th Virginia Infantry Regiment. Jones' grandson was in the Quartermasters Department with the regiment. Includes supply receipts, supply vouchers, other quartermaster reports, and additional miscellaneous items.

Box 2
Miscellany, 1801-1854 and undated

Includes information about an association for improving its members' legal knowledge, speeches, and other items.

Box 2

Historical Note

Joseph Jones (1727-1805) was a militia officer and customs collector, of Petersburg, Va.

Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.


The bulk of the Joseph Jones Family Papers was acquired by several purchases in 1937. Jones was a landowner, merchant, military officer, and customs collector front Petersburg, Va. Three generations of the Jones family are represented in the collection.

Processing Information

Processed by: Janie C. Morris

Completed January 14, 1988

Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller