Edward Jones was a pioneer of another caliber. Born June 26, 1915, Jones lived to see 98 plus years before he passed away on October 19, 2013. So how did Jones become a pioneer? Much of Jones’ life was prior to the end of segregation.
At the close of Mt. Olive Community School, Jones began his own bus route for children to transport them to the then Jackson County Training School. Almost daily, Jones could be seen at the Jackson County School Superintendent’s office, requesting a bus to drive the children to school. While transporting the children in his vehicle, he was covering his pickup truck bed with a tarp to keep the wind, cold, and rain away off his students. This went on for more than a year before the Superintendent conceded to give Jones his own bus.
Jones never complained that he had the oldest, most unreliable bus in the fleet of busses. What mattered was that his children were now riding covered, protected from weather, and in a safer vehicle. He eventually became the driver who volunteered to take 4-H girls to convention when they would have had no other way to get there. Convention was not a short drive as it was located in Ocala and many would not have been able to attend had it not been for Edward Jones volunteering his time. Edward Jones was the first black man hired by the school board as a bus driver. Jones drove Jackson County students to and from school, field trips, and games for 18 years, starting when his oldest son was just a baby in diapers. When he retired, his son began driving the same route he drove, carrying on the family tradition.
Jones lived his life from birth doing the right thing. He was a disciplined child who began working outside family chores and obligations when he was seven years old. Before church every Sunday, he delivered newspapers in Marianna. When Jones was nine years old, he began work at Brandon Neel elevator in Marianna for the huge sum of 50 cents for a day’s work. The work days then were not 9-5 or even 8-5 but from sun up to sun down or as was often said in that day and time, from can till can’t. Jones never complained, was always grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the family needs.
From there he became a mule driver as a teenager until he turned 18 when he began work with M & B Railroad. The railroad ran from Marianna to Blountstown.
After his marriage to Florene Washington in 1935, he started raising a family. Jones purchased 80 acres of land with his family land ownership growing to 400 acres at one time. Throughout his adult life, Jones farmed peanuts, cotton, corn, raised hogs and cows, as well as providing a family garden. He and his wife raised six children. Throughout his adult life he held jobs outside his farming.
Throughout his life, his daughter, Frances Menchion says one thing she can say about her dad was he was fair to one and all, “He was always a hard worker and because of that he inspired people to always to do their best or as we say a workaholic. He was the one that drove the bus to carry the teams and as he drove them, he would inspire them to get out there and do their best in everything. He sent six kids to college and now he has grandchildren who are doctors and nurses, some with homeland security, business owners, and ones who have traveled all over the world because he instilled hard work. He’d get them up every day for school or college to make sure they got their education.”
Jones had three daughters, three sons, 23 grandchildren, 47 great grandchildren, and 27 great, great grandchildren.