Annie Buckland Jones and the 1939 World’s Fair

“One of the concluding acts brought to the popular Amusement Area of the 1939 New York World’s Fair was a real-life family of 17 from Monroe County, West Virginia; Grover Cleveland Jones, Sr., his wife, Annie Grace (Buckland) and their 15 sons. Their arrival at the fair in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens, New York City, gave fair organizers the final push they needed to top off earnings at $48 million with a two year total of 45 million visitors. 

The Jones family seemed an unlikely group to cause such a stir in the Big Apple. Grover was a humble school teacher but an acknowledged mathematics whiz who taught for 44 years in Giles County. 

“Dad and Mom never owned a car nor drove one,” Tad Jones, the eighth son of the family said. “He would walk to school every day. We didn’t have much when we were growing up, but we were the richest people in the world. We grew up on the banks of Rich Creek.” 

Having made the trip to NYC by train, “The Joneses returned to Bluefield on Norfolk & Western Train No. 1 at 12:50 pm on October 5, 1940 with a throng of hundreds of people waiting in the old N&W passenger station on Princeton Avenue. 

Shown in the picture above… Grover Jones Sr. (second from left) and Annie Grace Buckland Jones, (second from right). From the left, James Andrew Buckland, father of Annie Jones; Grover Jones Sr., William “Punch”, Robert, Bay, Dick, Tom, John Paul, Woodrow “Monk”, Tad, Willard, Pete, Rufus, Grover Jr., Buck, Franklin Delano Roosevelt “Sam”, Leslie Howard (held by his mother) and Elizabeth (Ferguson) Buckland, Annie’s mother. 

“In 1928, as the senior Jones and his eldest son, Punch, were pitching horseshoes, they found an unusual stone. The elder Jones put it away in an old cheese box.  But in 1943 Jones took the stone to Dr. Roy Holden, a geology professor at Virginia Tech.

Holden identified the stone as a 34.48 CARAT alluvial diamond — the largest ever found in North America. Jones allowed the Smithsonian Institute to display the diamond next to the 44.5 carat Hope Diamond from 1944 until Jones brought it back to the area for display in 1968 at the West Virginia State Fair in Lewisburg. 

Grover and Annie owned the diamond jointly with Punch until his death in WW II on April 1, 1945. The Joneses gave their son’s share of the diamond to his oldest son, Bob Jones, a Chesapeake VA attorney who recently (2004) sold it to a Japanese buyer.  

The above article was featured in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph on Sunday, September 26, 2004.
Article Credit: Bill Archer Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Annie Grace Buckland Jones was my 3rd cousin, 1 removed. We share a 3rd great grandparents, Thomas Buckland & Margaret Wickline

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