Keeping Up with the Joneses

Posted by Donna on 11:00 AM with No comments
My dream job, whether it involves a paycheck or not, is to be a costumed interpreter at Colonial Williamsburg.

And until I get there, I’m practicing. When we lived in New Jersey, I was really involved (Jason will say too involved) with the Hackettstown Historical Society. For three years we hosted a fund raising Ghost Tour, parading about the town Victorian garb telling tales of the town’s history and mystery.  I dis the research, wrote the scripts, and made sure the participants were treated to the right balance of fact and theater. It was great fun – lots of walking – but there’s nothing better than the sparks of genuine interest and enthusiasm you from the people on your tour, especially when someone says they’ve learned something new. But the Victorian era is a whole different century – literally. 

One of the great things about living here in Massachusetts, the cradle of the Revolution, is the opportunity to get involved with groups and societies that help promote the history of the area and events that shaped our country. Lots more practice, as I see it, to help me prepare for the calling of the fife, drum and cannon in Virginia.

The Golden Ball Tavern, right here in Weston, was my first volunteer opportunity, and my first foray into the late 1770’s.

Josiah Jones founded the Town of Weston in 1713. The Jones family, including Josiah, his sons and grandsons, featured significantly in the town’s business and political affairs. The Golden Ball Tavern, now a living museum and beautifully proportioned example of Georgian architecture, is at the center the town and its history.  Built circa 1767 by Isaac Jones, grandson of the town’s founding father, the Golden Ball Tavern sits prominently on Boston Post Road, the town’s main thoroughfare.  From its rooms, the townspeople had a front row seat to significant events in the war for independence.
Golden Ball Tavern c. 1936
Image courtesy of the Library of Congress

Isaac Jones became one of the wealthiest men in town, but his loyalties and sympathies lay with the British. The tavern At the Sign of the Golden Ball, was widely known as a Tory tavern, something the British were to discover in 1775, and they continued to use the tavern as a stop on their routes into the Massachusetts countryside.  The tide was turning; the battles at Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill, followed by the British evacuation of Boston left Jones isolated. From 1775 to 1777, few traces of him even exist.  By 1777, Isaac had changed sides, signing the Oath of Allegiance and accepting a contract to haul goods for the American army.  He was back in business – literally, and by 1778 had once again regained the respect of his neighbors.
Golden Ball Tavern  2013

The Golden Ball Tavern continued to operate after the war and Jones served in several public offices, retiring from business and politics in 1793 at the age of 65. The inn “At The Sign of the Golden Ball” ceased operations in 1793, but Isaac had begun to make significant structural changes to the house, and it would be home to the next six generations of his family. Isaac Jones died in 1813 and is buried in Weston Central Cemetery. Ralph Frost Jones, the last male descendant to live in the home, died in 1963 and left the home and estate to the Town Library Trustees.

The town has done a phenomenal job of preserving this historical treasure, with lots of help from the Jones family themselves. Seemed they never threw anything out. Unlike many living museums, the house is full of furniture, bedding, tableware, ledgers, paintings and more – all belonging to the Jones family,

With more than 300 years of history, I’m excited to learn more, but it’s going to take a lot to keep up with these Joneses.