Sally (or Sarah) Martin Jones, the eighth child of John and Sarah Martin, was born in Athens County, Ohio, about 1829, and moved to northern Coles County, Illinois (later Douglas County), about 1836, along with her parents and at least six of her siblings. The on-line Illinois marriage records show that she married (1) William A. Jones in Coles County on 13 October 1848.
At the time of the 1850 census, William A. Jones and his wife Sarah were living in Macon Township of Macon County, Illinois. According to that census, William had been born in Kentucky and was then 26. Listed immediately after them is a household headed by 60-year-old Elizabeth Jones, born in Pennsylvania. She most likely is William's mother but the household includes no man old enough to be William's father, who had probably died by this time. Ten years earlier, back in Coles County, the 1840 census had shown a family headed by one Daniel Jones, age 40 to 50, listed two pages after the Martins. This household included a male 10-15 years old, who might be William (even though William should have been 16 in order for his age to jibe with that reported in the 1850 record). This family could be the same as one shown in Kentucky in the 1830 census, the family of Daniel M. Jones, age 30-40, in Elizabethtown, Hardin County, Kentucky. That would accord with the 1850 census reporting that William had been born in Kentucky.
In 1856, the Iowa State Census showed William and Sarah Jones residing in Sidney Township, Fremont County, Iowa — the same place where most of Sally's siblings had settled. The census shows they had then been in the state less than a year. The ages given in the state census (William 30, Sarah 24) do not exactly match either the earlier or later Federal censuses, but there is little doubt that this is the same couple that had been listed 6 years earlier in Macon County, Illinois.
It could be, though, that not all was harmonious in the Jones household, for The Fremont Herald of Saturday, 22 May 1858 (p. 3) reported, "We learn that a man named William Jones, who resided about four miles north of this town, commited suicide by hanging himself in his barn last Sunday morning. He was about 30 year of age, a farmer, and much respected by his neighbors. Domestic troubles are said to be the cause." (Note: William's exact date of death would have been 16 May 1858).
The 1860 U.S. Census, accordingly, shows Sarah Jones still in Sidney Township, but without William. Interestingly, it also shows in her household an unnamed male infant, 2 months old at the time of the census. This child could not be the son of a man who died more than 2 years earlier and, in fact, he isn't. The Fremont County marriage records show that, on 5 September 1859, Mrs. Sarah Jones married (2) Thomas Pierce, who is most likely the father of the unnamed child. In spite of this 1859 marriage, Sally's last name is still shown as Jones in this 1860 census, and also in the 1870 and 1880 censuses. Moreover, none of these censuses show Thomas Pierce in her household.
The exact identity of this Thomas Pierce is problematic. I do not accept the conclusion of several other family researchers who have identified him as Thomas G. Pierce, of Webster County, Iowa, who died in Tennessee in 1864 while fighting for the Union. For one thing, the 1860 census shows that Thomas still living at home with his parents in Webster County nine months after his supposed wedding — an odd situation for a recently married man. Secondly, Webster County is about 150 miles away from Fremont County, which was a much more imposing distance in 1859 than it is today. It's hard to see how Sally even would have met that Thomas. Finally, Thomas G. Pierce's military death certificate — posted on his Find-a-Grave site — clearly identifies him as being single.
A more likely candidate is a certain Thomas Pierce who was shown in the 1856 Iowa state census residing in Scott Township of Fremont County. In fact, two men by that name resided there in 1856 — Senior and Junior, ages 65 and 21. Inasmuch as the census shows that the elder Thomas was already married (undoubtedly to 55-year-old Susannah Pierce, who is listed in the same household), I suspect that the younger Thomas was the one who married Sally in September 1859. Surprisingly, 5 months later (26 Feb. 1860), this same Thomas Pierce married Angeline Green in Holt County, Missouri (about 40 miles away from Fremont County). I don't know whether he first went to the trouble of obtaining a divorce from Sally, or whether he just figured that no one would ever get around to comparing the records of courts in two different states.
The 1860 census shows the elder Thomas Pierce and his wife Susannah still living in Fremont County, in the same Township as Sally, while the younger Thomas and his bride Angeline are included in the household of Joseph M. Wilson in Holt County, Missouri. Thomas and Angeline are recorded in subsequent censuses in Doniphan County, Kansas (as Thomas & Angeline Price), in 1870; in Gallatin County, Montana, in 1880; and in Jefferson County, Montana, in 1900. Thomas Pierce died in Whitehall, Jefferson County, Montana, 14 June 1904.
Getting back to Sally, the 1870 census showed her and her children still in Fremont County but in Ross Township rather than Sidney, and here the previously unnamed child (now 10 years old) is identified as Charles. The census does not specifically show a last name for Charles — just a dash in front of the first name, implying that his last name is Jones.
Early in the 1870s, the family moved back to Macon County, Illinois, where Sally's daughter Elizabeth was married in 1875 (and died in 1878) and her son Samuel was married in 1878. By 1880, Sally and her surviving children were still in Macon County but no longer residing together in a single household. The census shows Sarah Jones, age 51, working as a domestic servant in the household of John McKinley, a widowed farmer in Hickory Point Township. Her son Samuel was then residing nearby, in the town of Decatur, and the census listing for his household includes a couple of very interesting features:
First, note that the household includes a 3-year-old nephew and a 1-year-old niece. Inasmuch as their name is also Jones, these must be the children of Samuel's older brother, William Jones, Jr. This leads me to wonder if perhaps William and his wife had both died within a few months before this entry was made. I have not seen any record of their deaths, but neither have I been able to identify William in any subsequent censuses. Also note that Samuel has chosen the name William for his own son, born the previous October. A memorial, perhaps? The other notable thing about this record is the presence of Charles Pierce in the household, identified as a "1/2 Brother." The age shown there — 18 — is not quite right for Sally's son Charles, as he should have been 20 at that time, but this must be the son Sally bore after her brief marriage to Thomas Pierce. (Note, Charles Pierce shows up again in the 1900 census, in LaFayette County, Missouri, where he is shown as having been born in Iowa in April 1860.)
Hence, it appears that three children were born to William and Sally:
In addition, Sally had one more child with the elusive "Thomas Pierce":
The date of Sally's death is uncertain. Elza Martin's letter stated that she was still alive as late as 1897, but I have been unable to identify Sally in the 1900 census or any subsequent censuses, thus it seems likely that she passed away sometime between 1897 and 1900.
If you can provide any additional information about Sally or her descendants, feel free to contact me at the address shown in the image below.