By Philip Smith – President National African American Gun Association.
USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- James Monroe Jones was one of the very few African-American gunsmiths working in 19th Century America.
Born as a slave in North Carolina, Jones' father eventually purchased freedom for himself and his family and moved them to the free state of Ohio. Jones eventually graduated from Oberlin University in Ohio, and worked as a gunmaker in London, OH and later in Chatham, Ontario (Canada). He was renowned as the only African-American gunmaker in Canada during the period and even produced a pair of extraordinary gilt derringer pistols for the Prince of Wales (later King Edward the VII).
The Real Story…
During the visit by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII the prince had been persuaded to divert his first extensive official Canadian tour to Chatham, Ontario. To accept the finely crafted pair of derringer pistols made by a famous local and highly respected gunsmith. When waiting to congratulate and meet J.M. Jones the Prince was informed, much too late, that the blacksmith was in fact a black man named James Monroe “Gunsmith” Jones who had made the gift of derringer pistols.
The locals, confronted with this dilemma, had little time to smooth it over and duly informed an impatient prince that there had been a change in plans; that the derringers had been made by contaminated hands and as such could not be presented to a member of the Royal Family. He left immediately and never met J.M. Jones.
“Gunsmith,” left and eventually entered Canada West, where he married Emily Francis of Howard Township. In 1852, they settled in Chatham, with its burgeoning black population. By 1860, as a significant Underground Railroad terminal, the region’s black population approached 33 percent.
In his final years, he moved to his son’s home in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he died in 1906 at the age of eighty-five. Jones’s weapons and awards may be viewed at Windsor, Chatham, and U.S. museums
The Canada Directory for 1857–58 lists J.M. Jones as a “manufacturer of rifles, guns, and pistols.” James Gooding, publisher of The Canadian Journal of Arms Collecting, names Jones as “one of six Canadian gunsmiths who had the skill … to be compared with the best in the world.”
About National African American Gun Association (NAAGA):
The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to have every African American introduced to firearm use for home protection, competitive shooting, and outdoor recreational activities. We are a civil rights organization focused on self-preservation of our community through armed protection and community building. The National African American Gun Association provides a network for all African American firearm owners, gun clubs and outdoor enthusiasts. We welcome people of all religious, social, and racial perspectives. We especially welcome African American members of law enforcement and active/retired military.
For more information, visit: www.naaga.co.