Mason New Hampshire’s Author, Teacher, and Painter, Elizabeth Orton "Twig" Jones (1910 -2005)

Elizabeth Orton Jones was born 25 June 1910 in Highland Park, Illinois, the daughter of George Robert & Jessie Mae (Orton) Jones.

She grew up surrounded by music and literature.  Her father was a musician, and her grandfather a bookstore owner in Geneva New York.  She was a gifted child, and received a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1932, and briefly attended the Art Institute of Chicago. She also spend a year in Paris, Francis, at the Ecoles des Beaux Arts, returning to show her work of color etchings at the Smithsonian.

After a trip to New Hampshire in 1845, she was captivated by the lovely landscape, and decided to stay, purchasing house in Mason, New Hampshire.  A now 224-year old farmhouse in Mason (now the restaurant Pickity-Place) served as the model for her “Little Red Riding Hood’s” house in the book published from 1948 to 1979.  Although not a New Hampshire native, she became dedicated to recording and teaching the history of the town of Mason. She was “instrumental in organizing the Mason Historical Society, keeping records, doing research, teaching Mason history in the school, cemetery preservation, writing historical pageants, collecting old stories, taping conversations with old-timers, and assisting in TV programs and films photographing in Mason. This spunky lady was the editor of the ‘Mason Bicentennial, 1768-1968‘.” As a result the local citizens adopted her as one of their own.

She created more than 20 books for children. In 1944, “Small Rain: Verses from the Bible,” won a Caldecott Honor. Edited by her mother, Jessie Mae Orton, the book stayed a favorite on children’s bookshelves for many years. In 1953 she began a long-time relationship with Crotched Mountain, and some unique artwork is viewable there.

She died May 10, 2005 at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New Hampshire. On June 25, 2005 the Mason Public Library renamed its Junior Room, the “Twig Room” in her honor; a scrapbook of Twig memorabilia and original artwork is available there. Additional materials, correspondence, and original artwork can be found in various museums, schools, and libraries including the University of Oregon.


*Additional Reading*

Biography of Elizabeth Orton Jones (archived version)

Some Mason (NH) Biographies

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3 Responses to Mason New Hampshire’s Author, Teacher, and Painter, Elizabeth Orton "Twig" Jones (1910 -2005)

  1. Diane Roth says:

    I’m looking for more information about Elizabeth’s mother, Jessie Mae Orton. Can you help me find out more about her?

    • Janice Brown says:


      Jessie Mae Orton was the daughter of Thomas & Jessie (Thomas) Orton. She married 2 June 1909 in Chicago IL to George R. Jones .

      Here is a link below on Jessie’s father Thomas Orton. Her Uncle William Orton was famous for being President of the Western Union Telegraph Company. Thomas and William were sons of Horatio Orton, and descedants of Thomas Orton of Windsor CT.
      Thomas Orton
      William Orton

      The Jones side do not appear to be slackers either. One biography states: “Her great-grandfather, Joseph Russell Jones, was a friend of Abraham Lincoln and minister to Belgium under President Grant. Her grandmother, Annette L.R. Jones was a professional pianist; her father, George Roberts, a violinist; and her mother, Jessie Mae Orton Jones, “a fine pianist” and writer. ”

      I trust this is the information you wished to know.

  2. Pingback: Celebrating New Hampshire Women Through History | Cow Hampshire

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