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John Percival Jones (January 27, 1829 - November 12, 1912) was an American politician who served for 30 years as a Republican United States Senator from Nevadamarker. He made a fortune in silver mining and was a co-founder of the town of Santa Monica, Californiamarker.

Early life

John P. Jones, one of thirteen children of Thomas Jones (1793 - 1871) and Mary A. Jones, was born in Herefordshiremarker, Englandmarker. The family immigrated to the United Statesmarker and settled in Cleveland, Ohiomarker in 1831. Thomas Jones purchased property, and established himself in business as a marble manufacturer.

California Gold Rush

In 1849 John P. Jones went to Californiamarker to participate in the Gold rush. He settled in Trinity County, Californiamarker where he engaged in mining and farming. He served as county sheriff, and was a member of the California state senate from 1863 to 1867. In 1867 he was the nominee of the Republican party for Lieutenant-Governor.

Comstock Lode Nevada

In 1868, Jones moved to Gold Hill, Nevadamarker where he was superintendent of the Crown Point silver mine which was part of the Comstock Lode. When a body of silver ore was stuck in 1870, Jones and Alvinza Hayward acquired shares and were able to gain control of the Crown Point mine.

US Senate

In 1873 he was elected by the Nevada state legislature to the United States Senate, in which he served five terms from 1873 to 1903. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Auditing the Contingent Expenses from 1877 to 1881 and from 1883 to 1893, and as chairman of the committee on epidemic diseases from 1893 to 1903. Jones was involved with the minting of the Twenty-cent piece silver coin. Like many Republicans from the western United States, Jones left the party in 1896 over the issue of bimetalism and joined the Silver Republican Party. He later rejoined the main Republican Party, but decided not to run for re-election to the Senate in 1902.

Panamint Silver Mines

In 1874, Jones and fellow Nevada senator, William M. Stewart, invested in the Panamintmarker silver mines near Independencemarker, Inyo County, Californiamarker. Jones planned to build a railroad from the mines to the ocean at Santa Monica. By 1877, the Panamint mines were exhausted and closed.

Santa Monica

Jones visited Los Angeles in 1874 and bought a three quarter interest in Colonel Robert S. Baker’s ranchmarker in Santa Monica. In 1875, Jones and Baker laid out the town of Santa Monica. Jones built the first railroad (Los Angeles and Independence Railroad) from Los Angeles to Santa Monica. Due to financial pressures, Jones was forced to sell the railroad to Southern Pacific in 1877.


In 1903 Jones retired to his 1889 home, Miramar, in Santa Monica where he continued to oversee his businesses. Shortly before the Senator died, Miramar was sold to King Gillette. Gillette rarely visited the the house, and after a brief spell towards the end of World War I as a boys military academy, the estate was sold to hotelier Gilbert Stevenson and it became the Hotel Miramar in 1921. Since then, it has been run by various hoteliers — except for during World War II, when the Army Air Corps took over the Miramar and used it as a redistribution center for officers and other enlisted men returning from overseas. The mansion was demolished in 1938, leaving as the oldest structure, the six story "Palisades" wing built in 1924. The Moreton Bay Fig Tree, given to the Jones’ by the bartender in 1889, still stands where it was planted by gardener W.H. Lee. The site is now the home of the Fairmont Miramar Hotel.

Family life

Jones married the widow Hannah Cornelia (Conger) Greathouse, in 1861, and they had one son, Roy Jones. Hannah died in 1871, and Jones married Georgina Frances Sullivan in 1875. They had three daughters, Alice (MacMonnies), Marion (Farquhar) and Georgina (Walton).

Jones died in 1912 in Los Angeles, Californiamarker and was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco, Californiamarker.


  1. Mitchell Charles Harrison,(1902),Prominent and progressive Americans New York Tribune
  2. U.S. Senate: Senators Who Changed Parties During Senate Service
  3. Nevada’s Doctrinaire Senator: John P. Jones and the Politics of Silver in the Golden Age. Nevada Historical Society Quarterly 36 (Winter 1993): 246-62.
  4. The Nevada Senators's Marriage New York Times, January 12, 1875

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