Smithsonian Institution Libraries On Display
The Nelson E. Jones Family's Illustrations of the Nests and Eggs of Birds of Ohio
Introduction by Leslie K. Overstreet
Essay by Joy M. Kiser
Explore the illustrations
Learn more about the family
Further reading/bibliography
Visit the Joseph F. Cullman 3rd Library of Natural History
Visit the SIL Digital Library


The Jones Family

Nelson Edward Jones (1821-1901) was born in a log cabin on a farm in Londonderry, Ohio, to Quaker parents, Henry and Rachel Corkin Jones. He was the least robust son in a brood of nine children. Since he held little promise as a farmer, he was the only one in the family that was permitted to leave home to pursue a formal education. He attended Berea College in Kentucky, but poor health forced him to abandon his studies and to return home. When his health permitted, he read medicine with a Cincinnati physician. In 1845 he traveled to Cleveland, Ohio, where he pursued a degree in the Western Reserve Medical College. It was there that he met his future wife, Virginia Smith. Nelson became an esteemed physician in Circleville in the second half of the nineteenth century. He was also an amateur naturalist, a loving husband, and a devoted father.

Virginia Smith Jones (1826-1906) was born in New London, Connecticut. She moved to Cleveland, Ohio, as a young girl, accompanied by her mother, Amy Beckwith Smith, and six siblings when her father, successful woolen merchant Anson Smith, relocated the family in 1837 because his business had suffered reversals. He quickly established another successful business shipping produce on the Great Lakes and the Ohio and Erie Canal. Virginia and her sisters were home-schooled by a governess. Her brothers attended private schools and Yale College. Virginia met Nelson Jones, the best friend of her oldest brother Hamilton Lanphere Smith, at a family party. They corresponded for a year while Nelson tried to establish a medical practice in Iowa. They were married 1846 after Nelson returned to Cleveland.

Genevieve Estelle Jones (1847-1879) was born in her grandfather's home in Cleveland, Ohio, and named after one of her mother's sisters. She was a bright, inquisitive child who loved to be out-of-doors. When she was only a toddler, her father commissioned a set of miniature gardening tools from the blacksmith so that she could work outside along with the gardener. She moved to Circleville with her family at the age of six. Soon afterward she began the lifelong practice of riding with her father in his buggy as he visited his patients. She was home-schooled by her mother, who also taught her watercolor painting, until she was of high-school age. She attended Everts High School and graduated in 1865. After that event, her education was continued at home where she was tutored in Greek, Latin, French, and German and studied the piano until her teacher refused to continue taking money for lessons because she had become a better musician than he was.

Howard Edward Jones (1853-1945) was also born in his grandfather's home in Cleveland, Ohio. Shortly afterward he moved with his family to Circleville. As a young boy, he was an avid hunter who enjoyed roaming the woods for hours at a time. He maintained a collection of live, wild birds as pets in his father's barn. He graduated from Everts High School in 1871, after which he went on to study at Hobart College in New York and then to the Ohio Medical College. He became a respected Circleville physician who was also well known as an author, public speaker, historian, and an amateur naturalist, scientific illustrator, ornithologist, and archaeologist.

The other artist and the colorists:

Eliza J. Shulze (1847-1920?) was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Circleville where she became Genevieve's closest friend. She helped to plan the production of the book and had completed ten illustrations at the time of Genevieve's death. Shortly afterward she left Ohio, selling her part of the copyright back to the Jones family, so that she might pursue formal artistic training in New York.

Josephine Klippart (1848-1936) was the daughter of John Hancock Klippart and his wife, Emeline. She was born in Osnaburg, Ohio, but grew up in Columbus. She began to paint as a youngster and started winning accolades in state-wide competitions when she was still a child. When her father was appointed to the Ohio State Board of Fisheries, she used her skills to create the illustrations for the Annual Reports for 1875 and 1876. It was this work that brought her to the attention of Dr. Nelson Jones, who recruited her to assist Virginia Jones with the coloring of the nests for Illustrations of the nests and eggs of birds of Ohio after Genevieve died.

Kate Gephart (1850-1912) was the daughter of Emanual Gephart, a wholesale dealer of tobacco, liquor, and oil in Circleville, and his wife, Maria. She was an amateur watercolorist who joined the Jones book production team to assist Virginia by coloring less important parts of the compositions.

Nellie D. Jacob (1856-1893) was the daughter of John Jacob, a dry goods merchant in Circleville. She was an amateur watercolorist who was hired after Genevieve's death to help Virginia color the patterns on the eggs.