A Century of Service to the Farming Community

Clarence Jones, brother of Arthur Jones is shown on this tractor with a spray rig in 1954. Clarence was a first class welder in the shop.

Clarence Jones, brother of Arthur Jones is shown on this tractor with a spray rig in 1954. Clarence was a first class welder in the shop.

I recently sat down with Donald Jones and had a good conversation with him about his family’s history here in Dorchester County, and how farming played the major role in the archives of the Jones’ clan. Their history goes back to John and Elizabeth Howland. John was the 13th signer of the Mayflower Compact and Elizabeth’s father, John Tilley, came over on the Mayflower in 1620. Now how is that for a bloodline? I think my ancestors were run out of Scotland for being horse thieves. Well, so much for ancient history.

Donald’s grandfather, James Jones, went into business with his brother-in-law John Groff at the turn of the century and as their letterhead stated they were dealers in “Agricultural Implements, Seed & Feed.” Their address was 102 Race St., Cambridge, and their telephone number was 185-W. Donald’s father, Arthur Jones, served in World War I and after the war was over he was a member of the first class of Maryland State Troopers. When he found out that he was being transferred across the Bay after he had been told he would stay in Dorchester County, the law enforcement career was put to rest. He lived to be the last survivor of the original class.

About 1930, Jones Implement Co. was established by Arthur Jones & John Groff. Later the business was moved to High Street in 1936. Stables were built, and horses and cows were traded. Mr. Jones had done baling all over the shore and this continued even after the John Deere business was begun. Mr. Jones and Mr. Groff had a difference of business opinions concerning the amount of horses that were to be bought. Mr. Jones told John not to buy any more horses or somebody had to be bought out. The next day Mr. Groff bought some more horses and Mr. Jones bought him out for $10,000.

The business continued to prosper, and during WWII Mr. Jones used German POWs to help with the labor needed in the baling work. Many of the customers in Dorchester County were of German descent. The names Malkus, Luthy, Schnoor, and Knauer are still the names of some of the local folks that used the German prisoners. Now when those home-cooked meals were probably part of the package for the workers you can bet they said the hell with Adolph. Although there was a POW camp established at Snow’s Turn in Cambridge, Mr. Arthur got his help mainly from the camp at Quantico in Wicomico County.

In 1954 the Jones Implement Company was opened on Rt. 50. In 1960 Donald Jones and his brother-in-law Pete Maddox bought the business from Arthur Jones. In 1964 Donald Jones bought out Pete Maddox and this exchange laid the foundation for the modern-day Jones Implement Co. Donald married Carolyn Faye Vickers and they had four children by this union, Donnie Jr., Dennis, Debbie and Mike. The entire family at one time or another worked at the business.

Donald always had a good group of mechanics that worked for him. Two of the old timers that Mr. Jones talked about were Herman Metz and Levin Molock. Herman worked at Jones Implement for over 30 years and could fix anything. One of the best machines for combining lespedeza was the small combine running off the power take off. Mr. Metz was able to cut down on the air moving through the machine and was thus able to save more seed. He did this with sheets of cardboard. Later on when more of the crop was harvested by the self-propelled combines more acreage was established. Down in the Neck District this was the crop that paid for the farm.

We had an International 303 that had no cab but a nice platform that you could stand on so that all the dust was able to go through your lungs. In the late fall at harvest time we always made the big trip down to Uncle Donald’s farm at Todd’s Point to help get the lespedeza cut. When the grain was ready you had to try to cover as much ground as possible each day. Some days there would be a stream of seed coming out of the tank auger as big as a man’s arm. If a strong wind came up that night there might be a finger size flow — most of the seed was on the ground.

I can remember bagging up the good clean seed for the Scarlett seed truck that took it to Baltimore each day. In Cambridge, Carroll W. Thomas bought seed, but the old Fairbanks scales were overworked and the dust made 20/20 vision nearly impossible.

Levin Molock was another long time mechanic that Mr. Jones reminisced about. Levin owned some of the best farmland in Fork Neck and also had rental property in Cambridge. At the end of the day, no matter what time it was, Levin would always ask Donald if there was anything that was needed to be done. Levin was a good Christian man who was a top mechanic with one hand — most of the other was lost in a piece of farm machinery.

Since the day I started farming I have always dealt with the Jones family and I can attest to their help in all types of situations. If George or I broke down and needed a piece of equipment, Donald Jones would keep us going. I remember one day on a farm we were tilling at Aireys, we had all our horsepower working. We had three moldboard plows turning the soil, George had a Farmall M pulling three fourteens, Dad had his 350 pulling three fourteens, and I had the Super M pulling three sixteens. The dirt was flying.

All of a sudden I saw George pull out of the field and head down Aireys Road towards Cambridge. I figured something had tore up as usual and he was going to Jones’ to get it fixed. After a little while George came back down the road with a brand new John Deere 4020 with five sixteens. When he threw her in that clay ground in fifth gear I just stopped and looked. Dad went home and got the cows in the barn, George told me to follow him and get the milking done. Brother plowed to 10 o’clock that night, lights just a shining on Uncle Rob Johnson’s store. Uncle Rob never had so many customers stop that late at night. When Dad found out the 4020 and plows cost $6,500 he told George he must be crazy. George wouldn’t even let me sit on the new 4020, but I would when he was in town.

In 2004 Atlantic Tractor was formed by the merger of six ownership groups in 12 locations. Jones Implement now became one of the 20 largest John Deere dealerships in a group. Today all the Atlantic Tractor dealerships are owned by a man from Florida who sold his beer distributorship. Now after this gentleman orders about 12 brand new John Deere combines at $500,000 each — one for each dealership, he will need a truckload of beer to settle his nerves. Especially since they must be ordered at least two years in advance.

Mr. Jones told me many stories about his lifelong involvement in agriculture, from the horse stables in Cambridge to the new dealership on Chateau Road. His retirement is now several years past. He remarried after his wife Carolyn passed and he now lives in a beautiful home in Cambridge. He was born at the end of Pig Neck Road and lived at Paw Paw for many years.

Every day when he went to work he rode past the Jones Family Cemetery located at Ralph Jackson’s farm on Pig Neck Road. The name Jones Implement Co. may no longer have its sign up on Rt. 50, but the family behind the business will always be remembered.

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