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FRED AND REBECCA JONES, (ALMOST) FORGOTTEN PIONEERS Part 2   (Part 1 here)
by Gary Knoble

   He seldom sold his sculptures, particularly to anyone from out-of-town, but was happy to lend them to local institutions, where they could be seen by the public.  One such institution was a bank in New Haven, where they caught the attention of then Vice President, Nelson Rockefeller, who was able to convince Fred to sell one to him.

   In 1969 the Jones couple held a joint exhibition at the Loomis Chafee School in nearby Windsor, Connecticut.

   In the 1970’s Fred and Rebecca also became involved in a long fight to preserve the historic center of Farmington from the ever-encroaching automobiles.  They fought constantly with Parson’s Buick, a neighboring car dealership that had been built on the site of an old blacksmith shop.  They did not believe a car dealer had any place in such an historic village as Farmington.  In a private conversation in 1976, Rebecca remarked on the ever-present car dealers in historic centers of New England towns explaining that they were mostly built on property that had originally been occupied by blacksmith shops.  In 1973 the couple was involved in a long fight with the state to prevent the widening and straightening of Route 4 that passed through the oldest part of Farmington next to “Jonesville”.  They created large “Save the Village” signs, which they displayed on their property next to Route 4.  The signs were repeatedly torn down in the middle of the night, and just as repeatedly replaced with larger and more secured versions. Fred is quoted in the 1973 Courant article:

   “I was born during the horse age before the turn of the century and have no love for the brutality of horses, so I welcomed the automobile when it came in, only to see what they’ve done.”   

Jonesville
Jonesville

     Their battle was successful.  To this day Route 4 through the center of Farmington remains a two-lane road and the historic structures that line it are still in place.

   Frederick Jones died August 17, 1975 in Farmington, and is buried in Knighton Old Cemetery, Knighton, Powys, Wales.  His Courant obituary noted:   

   “Some of Mr. Jones’s works, giant black figures of birds, were valued by insurance companies at $800.  His works, some made with scrap iron, have been exhibited since 1941 and collected by Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller.  He has exhibited sculpture at the Hartford Civic and Arts Festival, NBMAA, and the Zarick Gallery in Farmington.”

   He was survived by his wife Rebecca, a son, Oliver Field Jones of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and Rebecca’s sister, Alma Duckworth, of North Haverhill, New Hampshire.

   I met Rebecca in the spring of 1976, shortly after Fred’s death.  At the time I was living with my partners in nearby Avon and we had noted the sculptures in “Jonesville” whenever we passed on the way to Hartford.  One day we stopped to inquire if any of them were for sale.  She said he did not like to sell his works, but since we lived nearby she agreed.  She also said she was preparing to move to New Hampshire since she was tired of constantly fighting to preserve “Jonesville” and the historic center of Farmington.  “It is time for someone else to take over the fight”, she said.  Happily their fights were not in vain.  The Buick dealership is long gone, replaced by a vacant lot planted with shrubs. Route 4 remains two lanes, although every few years there is a new attempt to widen it, and “Jonesville” remains as it was, still owned and maintained by the family. 

   In 1976 the town paid to locate one of Fred’s large sculptures to the lawn of the Farmington Town Hall.  Rebecca moved to Oxford, New Hampshire shortly after to be near her sister.  In 1987 her sister Alma bought the historic Daniel Carr House in North Haverhill, New Hampshire.  She and Rebecca restored the house paying particular attention to the preservation of the Rufus Jones murals inside.

   Rebecca Jones died April 16, 2002 in Windsor Vermont.       

Peters, Max, Ctoldhouse.com, “A Place Called Jonesville”, Volumes 6 and 7
Findagrave.com, “Frederick (sic) Edward “Fred” Jones”
Hartford Courant, “Jones, Rebecca (Field)”, Obituary, April 21, 2002
Hartford Courant, “Frederic Jones, 76, Dies; Sculptor, Car Collector”, 8/18/1975
Hartford Courant, 3/23/1941, 10/6/1969, 11/9/1969 “Just Try to Keep Up With This
Jones”, 2/23/1973, 8/12/1973, 6/2/1976
Historicnewengland.org, “Alma Field Duckworth”
WPA Art Inventory Project, Connecticut State Library, “Jones, Rebecca Field”



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