Thomas ap Catesby Jones, Mary Walker Carter Jones, and Family

Thomas ap Catesby and Mary Walker Carter Jones were founding members of the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, and participants in the house church that preceded it.  Mary’s stepfather, Rev. Maffitt, married them at Salona in 1823.  They, their children, and grandchildren remained active participants in the Lewinsville congregation in the 1850s and beyond.   

Thomas had died by the time the Civil War broke out.  Their oldest son, Patterson, continued to serve in the United States Navy, while their three younger children, Mary, Mark, and Martha, supported the Confederacy, but did not fight.  The family of Thomas’ brother Roger, who lived nearby, was even more sharply divided, with brothers fighting on opposite sides. 

Mary and her younger children took refuge in Prince William County during the first year of the war, then returned to live at Sharon, surrounded by federal troops that often appropriated farm produce and farm buildings to their own use.  At least in part because of the damage Sharon suffered during the war, Mary was forced to sell the farm in 1872. 

Thomas was among the first trustees of Lewinsville.  He was born on the Northern Neck, fought and was wounded in the War of 1812, and, despite a resulting disability, had a long and eventful career in the Navy (covered in several full-length biographies, including one by Lewinsville historian Frank Gapp).  He eventually rose to the rank of Commodore. 

He was among Lewinsville’s first trustees (often considered the first trustee, since his name appears at the head of several such lists) and served for a time as Superintendent of the Sunday School.  As a trustee, he signed notes for debts the church incurred during its building campaigns in the 1850s.  In his will, he sought to pay off the remaining debt from one of those efforts.  Rev. McKee’s diary reveals that in 1857, toward the end of his life, Comm. Jones was still playing an active role in supporting the church, periodically sending to the parsonage food to feed the McKee family and laborers to help with various tasks. 

Thomas was accompanied on several of his voyages by his enslaved manservant, Griffin Dobson.  At his farm, Sharon, he relied on the labor of several dozen enslaved laborers, including Peter Gibson, to further the project of “improving” the “worn-out” land he inherited from his Turberville ancestors (an endeavor about which he wrote several articles, one of which won an award). 

Thomas died in 1858, but men who had served under him, including his son Meriwether Patterson Jones, his nephew Catesby ap Roger Jones, and other relatives fought for both the United States and the Confederacy during the Civil War.   Meriwether spent most of the war on ordnance duty, probably at the Navy Yard, where his father also spent a substantial amount of his career. 

Catesby ap Roger, who had sailed with both Thomas and Meriwether, commanded the Virginia (formerly the Merrimac) during the second day of its famous battle with the Monitor. His family was even more sharply divided: he had two other brothers, Charles Lucian and Thomas Skelton, who fought for the CSA, while another brother, Roger, continued a successful career in the US Army. 

While we have no evidence that Roger Jones’ family was active at Lewinsville, he owned land across the road from Thomas and Mary, and the families probably knew each other well.  While the Jones cousins do not seem to have met in battle, they must have been keenly aware of each others’ presence in the opposing military force. 

Meriwether died suddenly while on active service (but not in battle) in 1866.  In a memorandum concerning a life insurance policy that apparently served as his will, he left legacies to his mother, siblings, and nieces, and also one hundred dollars to “our faithful servant Rachel as a reward for her great fidelity in the trying scenes that she has passed through,” suggesting that Rachel stayed close to Mary Walker Carter Jones and/or Sharon during the war (and also suggesting that Meriwether recognized that Rachel either already was or soon would be legally free). 

Mary Walker Carter Jones was a descendant of the Carter and Lee families (and so, like several early Lewinsville members, a cousin of some degree to Confederate General Robert E. Lee).  She managed Sharon during Thomas’s long absences while also attending to household affairs and bringing up Meriwether, their oldest son, and his three younger siblings, Mary Lee, Mark Catesby, and Martha Corbin.  Like her husband, Mary relied on enslaved labor to complete much of the work she oversaw; for instance, we know from the account of William Dotson, son of Rachel Dotson, that his mother played a central role in raising the three younger Jones children. 

As Mary initially responded to interviewers for the Southern Claims Commission inquiring into her “sympathies” during the war: “I reckon they were on both. I don’t know.”  This answer was too honest to be expedient in the context (she needed to establish her loyalty to the United States in order to receive compensation for the damage done to her property by Union troops during the war), but it was probably an accurate description of her feelings. 

Mary told the examiners that she opposed secession.  However, once the war began, she found herself very much in the middle of the conflict, physically and psychologically.  While Meriwether continued his service in the US Navy, many of Mary’s other relatives, including her three younger children and her sister and brother-in-law, supported the Confederate cause (Mary’s younger son Mark voted in favor of secession, but at her urging did not join the CSA troops). 

Mary fled Northern Virginia during the first year of the war and stayed with her sister, Susan Carter Balch, in Prince William County, VA. Susan’s husband, Rev. Thomas Bloomer Balch, mentions Mary’s presence as a “refugee” in his household after the first battle of Bull Run/Manassas (July 1861) in My Manse During the War.  Commission examiners found this move suspicious, since most Union loyalists fled to Washington; Mary insisted she was in poor health and simply looking for a quieter, more peaceful place to stay. 

She returned to Sharon in 1862.  At this point, the farm was firmly within Union lines and Union soldiers had already seized its horses and cattle for military use.  Over the course of the war, they would also appropriate crops, wood, fencing and other building materials, dismantling and carting away the components of most of the outbuildings.  

For the duration of the war, Mary lived with pickets in her yard, welcomed officers into her home, sent food and other provisions to the local hospitals, and traveled back and forth to Washington on a regular basis, carrying a pass that confirmed her loyalty and allowed her to cross over the Chain Bridge.   

When Mary formulated her petition to the Claims Commission in 1871, she included the information that her land was heavily mortgaged, that she was unable to pay the interest because the farm was no longer in working order, and that she was thus in danger of losing it to foreclosure.  The land was, indeed, sold by order of the court in 1872. 

Mary and her family may have moved into the Lewinsville parsonage, also heavily damaged during the war, after leaving Sharon; her daughter Martha recalled living there for a time “some years after the war.”  According to Frank Gapp, Mary also lived with relatives between 1872 and her death in February 1885.  Mark survived her by only a few months, dying in June 1885.  While there is no marker, family tradition holds that Mary is buried near her husband in the Lewinsville Cemetery. 

Mary’s younger daughter, Martha, testified that she stayed with her mother throughout the war.  In the 1880s, she became a key witness for the church’s own claim for damages caused by Union troops.  Martha recalled that the parsonage and school house were stripped to their frames, and the stable completely destroyed. 

The sanctuary was also stripped of much of its siding and all of its furniture; Martha recounted that when she received an invitation to a service that a “Captain in the Federal Army” was planning “for the boys,” she refused, saying that, without seats, the sanctuary was “no fit place for a Lady.”  Martha died in 1915 in Washington, D.C. 

The Jones’ older daughter, Mary Lee, and her daughters, Mary Catesby Beall and Ida P. Beall, also lived with Mary Walker Carter Jones during the war.  Mary Lee had married William Beall, a doctor, in 1848, and lived with him in Fairfax County and later in Baltimore.  By 1851, William’s “indolent and intemperate habits” led her to return to Sharon with her children.  She signed the friendship quilt in 1852, and presumably participated, with her parents, siblings, and daughters, in the life of the congregation during the 1850s.  She eventually sued William for divorce in 1866. 

Mary Catesby Beall married her cousin, Charles Tebbs Ball (a son of Dorothy McCabe and William Waring Ball), in 1877, had two daughters, and died in 1934.  Ida Beall worked as a journalist and veterinarian, shared her memories of the early days of Lewinsville Church with Mrs. Albert Mack in 1924, and died in 1932. Both of the Beall sisters are buried in the Lewinsville cemetery. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *