Pioneer Watchmaker and International Watch Company Founder: Rumney New Hampshire’s Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841-1916)

Is this Florentine Ariosto Jones?

Is this Florentine A. Jones?  [SEE original below. This is a closeup, and enhancement of same.].

Florentine Ariosto Jones is a name well known to watch makers and collectors.  He was the son of Solomon and Lavinia (Craig) Jones. He was born, grew up, and attended school, in the still small town of Rumney, New Hampshire.

Family stories say that two of his great uncles encouraged him to learn and become a watchmaker, and so he did. According to a book published by the IWC, Florentine apprenticed with a (unnamed) watchmaker in Concord, New Hampshire. [Editor’s note: my thanks for Roger Daniels former president of the Rumney Historical Society for his help with research into Florentine’s early life].

Unidentified Union Civil War soldier, possibly Private Florentine Ariosto Jones; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Unidentified Union Civil War soldier, possibly Private Florentine Ariosto Jones; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington,
D.C. [Editor’s note: notice the unusual style of this photograph including the watch he is holding!]

Later he worked at the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company in Roxbury, MA [then called Howard Watch & Clock Co., or E. Howard & Co.] until the Civil War began. The 1860 US Census shows him at age 20, living in Ward Four, Boston MA, his occupation, clerk, and residing in the household of Charles A. Trask.

He enlisted in the Union Army–13th Massachusetts Regiment, Company A. The book: “Three Years in the Army: The Story of the Thirteenth, Massachusetts” by Charles E. Davis, page 430 shows: “FLORENTINE A. JONES; age 20, born Rumney, N.H.; watchmaker; mustered in as priv. Co. A., July 25, 1861; mustered out Aug 1, 1864; residence, Boston, Mass.”

Masonic Membership Card of F.A. Jones

Masonic Membership Card of F.A. Jones

After the war, Florentine returned to the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company, remaining there until 1867. He was a Mason, and member of the Washington Lodge in Malden MA being initiated 12 March 1868, and a member until at least 1877 when he was reinstated. By 1888 he was noted a member of Converse Lodge.

The year 1868 was a turning point in his life, when he formed a partnership with Charles Lewis Kidder and removed to Switzerland, where he looked for property on the Rhine River to use water power for a proposed watch factory. In February of 1869 the Boston Herald Newspaper announced that he had received a patent for “improvement in watch regulator.” On June 30, 1870 the Boston Herald announced, “Patent: Charles L. Kidder and Florentine A. Jones of Boston, Mass, for stem winding and hand setting which said Kidder assigns his right to said Jones.”

Photograph used by the International Watch Company as a likeness of F.A. Jones, IWC founder.

Photograph used by the International Watch Company as a likeness of F.A. Jones, IWC founder.

On 31 January 1874 the International Watch Company was officially founded. According to a book published by the IWC, Jones made his unique watches in batches of 100: 2 movements were signed with his brother’s name, “Greenleaf;” 8 movements were signed with his mother’s maiden name, “Craig;” and 20 movements were signed with the town of his birth, “Rumney.”

In 1876 Florentine A. Jones sold his company and returned to the United States. In 1878 he filed for bankruptcy, as the July 27, 1878 New York Herald, page 9 states: “Florentine A. Jones has gone into voluntary bankruptcy before Register Dayton to get rid of liabilities amounting to $26, 955.47, all of which were for borrowed money. The largest creditors are R.B. Stokar, $20,000; Benjamin Kittredge $6,185.31. The only assets are several Alabama bonds, the par value of which is $7,000.” His financial problems continued into 1880 when the July 21, 1880 New York

Bankruptcy Notice for F.A. Jones

Bankruptcy Notice for F.A. Jones

Tribune newspaper (NYC), page 3 announced: “Bankrupt Notices: THIS IS TO GIVE NOTICE: That on the 15th day of July A.D. 1880, a Warrant in Bankruptcy was issued against the estate of Florentine A. Jones, the City of New York in the County of New York and State New-York, who has been adjudged a bankrupt on his own condition; that the payment of any debts and delivery of any property belonging to such bankrupt to him or for his use and a transfer of any property by him are forbidden by law; at a meeting of the creditors of the said bankrupt to prove their debts, and to choose one or more assignees of his estate, will be held at a court of bankruptcy to be holden at No. 322 Broadway, in the City of New York in the Southern District of New-York, before Isaac Dayton, Register, on the –th day of August, A.D. 1880 at 12 o’clock. Louise F. Payne, U.S. Marshal, as Messenger, Southern District of New-York.”

F.A. Jones signature from his 1869 passport application.

F.A. Jones signature from his 1869 passport application.

In 1883 he lived as a dealer in New York City. He became interested in steam machinery, and worked for the American Steam Appliance Company at Roxbury, MA. In the 1900 census he states his occupation as “manufacturer of steam tools.” Between 1883-1907 he was busy inventing, as he was granted 4 patents for the construction of clock movements for recording instruments, along with steam regulators. [the November 11, 1885 edition of the Boston Herald shows: “PATENT: Florentine A. Jones, Malden, Mass., pressure regulator.”] [The July 7, 1886 Boston Herald reported, patents: “Florentine A. Jones, Malden, Mass, recording pressure gauge.”] [The April 13, 1887 Boston Herald announced: “Patents–A. Florentine Jones, Malden, steam boiler or other furnace (2 patents).”]

1869 Passport application of Florentine A. Jones

1869 Passport application of Florentine A. Jones

No definitive photographs or likenesses can be found of Florentine Ariosto Jones, though two have been discovered that are likely of him. A 16 January 1869 passport description: 28 years, 5ft 9 inches tall, medium forehead, blue eyes, medium nose, small mouth, round chin, brown hair, light complexion, full face.  An official document of 1907 describes him as being 5 ft, 7 inches tall, weighing 215 lbs, with blue eyes and brown hair.

In 1914 Jones initiated a complex lawsuit, claiming he had rights to the estates of his parents and siblings.  The case went to the New Hampshire Supreme Court as outlined in the Atlantic Reporter here.

Florentine Ariosto Jones died 18 October 1916 in Somerville, Middlesex MA. At his death was living at 43 Adams Street, Somerville MA. He was cremated, and buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge MA. [Mt. Auburn Cemetery’s database simply lists his cremation interment date as 10/21/1916].  He married but had no children. His wife is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester NH with her parents.

In 2005 the International Watch Company honored their founder with the production of “The Portugese F.A. Jones” watch.


[Editor’s note: it is believed from family stories that Lewis Jones (shown below) was the immigrant ancestor of Florentine A. Jones.  I have traced back to his grandfather, Joseph Jones of Rumney, New Hampshire but cannot provide primary evidence to prove the relationship to Lewis.]

Lewis Jones, the immigrant ancestor, b c1600 and Ann(e) his wife, came to Roxbury MA from England about 1640, bringing with them two children. In 1650 he moved to the section of Watertown called “the Farms,” now part of Weston MA. A monument to his memory was placed in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge MA. He made his will 7 January 1678 and died 11 April 1684. His wife died 1 May 1680. [see other sources listed here for more information on Lewis Jones]
Children of Lewis & Ann Jones:
1. Lydia Jones
2. +Josiah Jones, b c1640
3. Phoebe Jones
4. Shubael Jones

Josiah Jones, son of Lewis & Anne (?) Jones, b. abt 1640, d. 3 Oct 1714. He m. 2 Oct 1667 to Lydia Treadway, daughter of Nathaniel and Sufferance (How) Treadway of Watertown MA. She d. 16 Sep 1743, age 94 years. He bought a tract of land near the center of the town of Weston MA, then part of Watertown. He was admitted freeman 18 April 1690. Captain of the militia. One of the first deacons of the Weston Church. Selectman 1685, 1687, 1690, 1702, 1709.
Children of Josiah & Lydia (Treadway) Jones:
1. Lydia Jones
2. Josiah Jones
3. Mary Jones
4. Nathaniel Jones
5. +Samuel Jones, b. 9 July 1667
6. James Jones
7. Sarah Jones
8. Anna Jones, m. Joseph Mixer. [ancestor of Heather Wilkinson-Rojo]
9. John Jones
10. Isaac Jones

Samuel Jones, son of Josiah & Lydia (Treadway) Jones, b. 9 July 1667, d 6 January 1718. He married 19 May 1706 to Mary Woolson, daughter of Thomas & Sarah (Hyde) Woolson, of Weston MA.  He m2d) Mary Adams. He settled on the east side of his father’s farm. His will dated 14 January 1717 was proved 9 April 1718. On his gravestone he is called “Ensign”.
Children of Samuel & Mary (Woolson) Jones:
1. Samuel Jones, m. 1730 Tabitha Hobbs
2. + Moses Jones, b. 20 June 1709 in Weston MA
3. Mary Jones

Moses Jones, son of Samuel & Mary (Woolson) Jones, was b. 20 June 1709 in Weston MA, and d. 21 July 1755. He m. 20 July 1737 [intentions] to Hannah Bemis.
Children of Moses & Hannah (Bemis) Jones:
1. Moses Jones
2. Solomon Jones, b. April 20, 1742
3. +Joseph Jones, b ?1739 [reportedly not, but possibly the same person]
4. Mary Jones
5. Hannah Jones

————————–UNPROVEN (above)—————————
————————–PROVEN (below)——————————-

Joseph Jones, son of — Jones, b. 1749; Tax collector in 1781, but by 1790 had purchased or built an inn/tavern in Rumney NH. On June 18, 1796 [and again in 1801] he is listed in the New-Hampshire Gazette newspaper as posting a notice as Collector (Tax) of Rumney NH against “delinquent proprietors.” He died 1832 in Rumney NH [per Prescott Memorial]. He m. 1776 to Huldah Sanborn, daughter of Daniel & Abigail (Prescott) Sanborn. She b. 17 March 1757 in Brentwood NH. [The Prescott memorial by William Prescott states that Huldah was his 2nd wife]  [story of the family]
Old Jones Hotel in Rumney NH. Directions: turn right onto Quincy Road . 2nd place on left, big house.
Children of Joseph & Huldah (Sanborn) Jones:
1. Sarah Thurston Jones, b. 15 Jan 1778 in Rumney NH, d. 13 May 1865 in Rumney NH; m. Jacob Doe II. Had at least three children: (1) Daniel J. Doe, b. 8 Feb 1801 in Rumney NH;  (2) Russell Sanborn Doe, b. 5 April 1807; (3) The Gazetteer of Grafton Co. NH states: “OLIVER DOE, son of Jacob and Sarah (Jones) Doe, was born in 1821, married Lovina P. Colton in 1846, and has reared two sons and two daughters, namely, Warren W. of Florida, Eugene G., Ellen M. and Belle M. Eugene G., born in 1849, married Hattie M. Swain in 1876. Of his children, Harry E. died October 7, 1877, Frank J. was born in 1879, and Harold O. died in 1883. Oliver Doe is a farmer and lives in the village. Eugene is also a farmer and resides in the eastern part of the village.
2. +Solomon Jones b 26 April 1797 [SEE].
3. David Jones, b. –, d. 15 Jan 1830; m. Abigail –. She d. 1829. Both buried Mount Washington Cemetery, Bethlehem, Grafton Co. NH. [Prescott history says he joined the Shakers in Shirley, MA]
4. Huldah Jones, m. 1810 George Burns. He was b. Hudson NH. They had at least one child, W. Anson Byrns, b. abt 1822 who died 14 June 1886 in Plymouth NH
5. ?Joseph Jones Jr. [per Prescott Memorial he m. and settled in Haverhill NH, subsequently removed to the West].
6. Timothy Jones, b abt 1790, d. prob. July 1830. Possibly “July 27, 1830 Boston Traveler newspaper notice: Died, In Brighton, Mr. Timothy Jones, aged 40, formerly of Rumney, New Hampshire.”
7. Daniel Jones [per Prescott memorial he settled in Sutton, Canada East and was living in 1866. From the Ancestry message boards: “Daniel Jones of NH married Charity Miller in 1807, she was the daughter of James Miller, the first settler in Sutton Quebec on the east side of the mountain. Daniel Jones, Sr. and Charity settled on a lot in Sutton adjacent to Potton Quebec. They had three or four children by the years 1815-16. Three of their children were, Daniel Jones, Jr.,  who later went West, James Jones who stayed in Glen Sutton and a daughter who married a Mr Harvey and lived in Potton.”  Here is a bit of history about this family. Charity Miller Jones died 22 Jul 1869. Daniel Jones died 12 Oct 1874  They are buried at Brock Memorial Park, Glen Sutton, Brome County, Quebec Canada. They apparently had a son named Rockwood Jones, who died young for he is buried with them. “Jones, Rockwood, b. 1826, d. 14 Jun 1836, age: 10ys 1m 12ds, s/o Daniel & Charity Jones.”  Another Rockwood Jones was born in 1836 however it is unknown if it was Daniel & Charity’s Child or a grandchild.

Solomon Jones, son of Joseph & Huldah (Sanborn) Jones, b. 26 Apr 1797 Rumney NH, and died 10 March 1864 in Rumney NH; He m. 24 Jan 1822 in Rumney NH to /Lavinia/Lovina/Lavina Craig, dau of Daniel & Permelia (Hutchins) Craig. She b. 27 July 1800 in Rumney NH, and died 17 August 1864 in Rumney NH. They are buried in Highland Cemetery, Rumney NH; Shoemaker . Reportedly this family is of “Mayflower nobility, and a descendant of Lewis Jones 1600 & Anne who lived at Roxbury MA. Lovinia Craig was a descendant of  Alexander Craig settled in Chester NH in 1724. [2nd link to Craig ancestors]
1850 US Census > NH > Grafton > Rumney NH
Solomon Jones M 53 Shoemaker NH
Lavina Jones F 50 NH
Greenleaf C. Jones M 16 farmer NH
Florentine A. Jones M 9
Permelia Craig F 78
Murray Bradley M 74 farmer
William A. Simpson 20 blacksmith
Thomas I.B. Mors M 27 farmer
David G. Burns M 28 farmer
William A Burns M 30 farmer
George B. Burns M 30 lawyer
1860 US Census > NH > Grafton > Rumney
Solomon Jones 63
Lavinia Jones 60
C.G. Jones 26
Moses Smart 74
Charles E. Lord 18

The Jones Hotel, later Brinton House on Quincy Road in Rumney NH

The Jones Hotel, later Stinson House on Quincy Road in Rumney NH. This was run by Greenleaf C. Jones, brother to Florentine A. Jones the watchmaker.

Children of Solomon & Lavinia (Craig) Jones:
1. Sarah Ann Jones [mentioned in Court proceedings], b. 8 March 1822 in Rumney NH; d. 21 April 1872 in Chicago IL. She m. 1 May 1843 to Rufus Seavey Hadley. He b 27 Dec 1822 and d 3 Nov 1905. Children [Hadley]: Charles Whipple, Frank DeWitt, George Jones, Rufus Eugene, Lamont (2), William Clinton and Lewis C.
2. Greenleaf C. Jones, b 12 April 1834 in Rumney NH, d. 6 May 1908 in Rumney NH; m. 3 Dec 1863 in Plymouth, Grafton Co. NH to Anna S. March, dau of John & Lois (Jewett) March. She b. Groton NH, died May 1909. He is buried in Highland Cemetery, Rumney NH.  He ran the Jones Tavern in Rumney NH which later became Stinson Mountain Hotel. The building is currently located at 65 Quincy Road Rumney NH, it is a large 1830s [built circa 1837] Farmhouse /Inn with 3 story barn, and the property has a brook that runs the full length of the property.
3. +Florentine A. Jones b. 15 Feb 1831 Rumney NH

Florentine Ariosto Jones, son of Solomon & Lavina (Craig) Jones b. 15 Feb 1841 in Rumney NH, and died 18 October 1916 in Somerville, Middlesex MA; He married 24 August 1882 in Manchester NH to Susan P. “Susie” Jones, daughter of Jeremiah B. & Betsey (Bragg) Jones. She was b. Feb 1849 at Kingston NH. and d. 20 Oct 1922 in Somerville MA, age 73 yrs 8 mo 12 days. At his death was living at 43 Adams Street, Somerville MA. He was buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge MA. She is buried in Pine Grove Cemetery, Manchester NH [per her death certificate].
1860 US Census > MA > Suffolk > Boston
Chas [Charles] A. Trask 21 Porter MA
Adoniram J. Porter 19 Clerk VT
Florentine A. Jones 20 Clerk NH
—-next door to—-
Wm C. Sherman 23 Watchmaker MA
1898 Clark’s Boston Blue Book
Gainsborough Street, #72 Mr. & Mrs. F.A. Jones
1900 US Census > MA > Suffolk > Boston
Jones, Florentine A. Head W M Feb 1831 69 married 19 yrs NH NH NH mfg steam —
Jones, Susan P. wife W F Feb 1849 51 married 19 yrs 0 ch 0 living Rhode Island, NH Maine
Hill, Elizabeth servant W F June 1864 35 single Maine Maine Maine cook
1910 US Census > MA > Middlesex > Somerville >
Jones, Florentine Head M W 69 m1x 28 yrs NH NH NH Manufacturer steam
Jones, Susan P. F W 60 m1x 28 yrs 0 ch 0 living MA NH Maine
Hill, Elizabeth F W 45 single Maine Maine Maine
No children

Rumney (NH) Community Profile

History of Rumney NH

Founder of International Watch Company

Rumney NH Historical Society

David Jones, son of — and –; m. 21 November 1811 in Salem, Rockingham Co. NH to Susanna “Susan” Bean, dau of –.  She b. — d. —
Children of David & Susanna (Bean) Jones.
+ Jeremiah B. Jones, b. 29 Sep 1824 in Rumney NH

Jeremiah B. Jones, son of David & Susan (Bean) Jones, b. 29 Sep 1824 in Rumney NH; d. 1 Jan 1908 in Manchester NH; widow. Resided 304 Hanover Street Manchester NH. Buried Pine Grove Cemetery Manchester NH. He was an at first a tailor, then later an auctioneer. He married 27 Dec 1845 [int] in Lowell MA to Betsey A. Bragg of Lowell MA, daughter of Timothy Bragg. She b. abt 1826-1828 in Vassalboro Maine, and died 6 Aug 1890 in Malden MA. She is buried in Manchester NH.
1877 Manchester NH City Directory
Jones, Jeremiah B auctioneer and commission merchant
770 Elm, house Chestnut, near Appleton
1880 US Census > NH > Hillsborough > Manchester
Jeremiah B. Jones self M 54 NH NH NH
Betsey A Jones F 52 Maine Maine Maine
Susie P. Jones F 30 NH NH Maine
Children of Jeremiah B. & Betsey (Bragg) Jones:
1. Jeremiah Jones, b. 3 Dec 1846 in Lowell MA.
2. +Susan P. “Susie” Jones. She was b. Feb 1849 at Kingston NH.  She m. Florentine Ariosto Jones, the subject of this blog [SEE HIS GENEALOGY DIRECTLY ABOVE].

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