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I Iones (Jethro Jones)  Planes

Jethro Jones (1733-1828)

Medway, Wrentham, Holliston, Leicester, Blandford, MA

1781 toolmaker

Probable links to Cesar Chelor and Sambo Freeman.

Jethro's documented residences are; Medway, Wrentham, Holliston, Leicester and Blandford. The sequence of the three imprints has not yet been established. However, based on the residences, a working order is Medway followed by Holliston. The I Iones imprint is more complicated as it might overlap with these two locations as well as aligning with Jethro's time in Wrentham. 



Previously published material is found in GAWP5, The Chronicle 42-4 (Rich De Avila) and The Chronicle 66-3 (Mike Humphrey). Addition information is added here, and hopefully new information can be added as it becomes available. 


This timeline contains material on Cesar Chelor and Sambo Freeman as F&I War rolls and tax records provide evidence of linkages to Jethro Jones. On the tax lists, Jones follows entries for both Chelor and Freeman which likely indicates direct relationships with each. It should be noted that with both Chelor and Freeman, Jethro is likely the younger, junior "partner" or "employee" as in almost all cases he has minimal comparative assets based on the real estate and personal evaluations. This holds true for the 1765 and 1766 Wrentham tax documents with Chelor and the 1770 and 1771 Holliston tax documents with Freeman. The 1771 document stands out, as Sambo Freeman has acreage and a house with a shop while Jethro has neither. This strongly suggests that Jethro was living with Sambo and using his shop.

Jethro Jone observations and notes.


Rich De Avila and Mike Humphrey have covered much of what we know about Jethro Jones in their two Chronicle articles. There was one theme that remained fairly consistent over Jethro's life .... Jethro didn't stay in one place long unlike either Cesar or Sambo. So, in this review, it makes sense to divide what's known about Jethro and his family into the list of towns he and his family lived in.



In general, little is known about his early Medway years, aside from his F&I War records. It should be noted that the May 1758 company rolls do not provide the name of the town each soldier was from. The 1761-1763 service records, however, do provide the name of enlistee's towns of residence. There are some uncertainties about whether he lived exclusively in Medway during the early 1760s as three enlistment documents from 1761, 1762 and 1763 have his respective residences as Medfield, Medway and Medford. These records may be accurate, but the possibility exists that the recorder simply mis-identified the town of record. Medfield is right next to Medway during this period (so that remains a viable possibility) while Medford is more distant ... north of Boston (less of a possibility?). Based on these enlistment records, Jethro spent only a few months outside of military service for the 1761-1763 period. This may of been true also for the years between 1758 and 1761 ... we just don't know. (It should be pointed out that the card files summarizing his service for the years 1761, 1762 and 1763 stated that the original documents were not dated ... but instead, they were endorsed sometime later. However, a search through the actual document images did yield dates...which are provided in the timeline.)


Jethro's presence in Wrentham was documented in the years 1765 through 1767. GAWP5 records a tax record from 1764, but this has not yet been found by the author. Period town records (Dedham and Wrentham) place Jethro in Wrentham in 1765. Tax lists from 1765 and 1766 place Jethro next to Cesar Chelor indicating a direct linkage between the two men. On the Meeting House tax for 1765, Cesar had real estate and personal tax evaluations, while Jethro did not. A similar pattern was found in the 1762 tax list between Sambo Freeman and Cesar Chelor. In the 1766 Wrentham tax list, the tax liability was split between Cesar and Jethro.

The last Wrentham record for Jethro involved his 1767 marriage to Juda King.


Five Holliston tax records were found for Jethro and four of them involved Sambo Freeman. Three of the four had Jethro following Sambo on each of the lists, suggesting a personal connection. The list from 1771 is particularly important as it lists Sambo as having a house with a shop, real estate, personal estate and yearly farm income while Jethro does not. Jethro does have a cow and a pig. The fact that Sambo has a home and a shop implies that not only was Jethro living with Sambo, Jethro was also using his shop as evidenced by the planes marked I Iones / Living In / Holliston.

A search of Holliston town records from 1767 to 1777 did not yield any entries for Jethro.

Leicester, Worcester County.

Jethro moved the family from Holliston to Leicester sometime between 1772 and 1777, the time in which Jethro and Juda had at least two of their five children. 

Leicester was recorded as Jethro's place a residence in Revolutionary War rolls and lists dating from the years 1777 to approximately 1780. In Jethro's pension application, he states he was in Blandford when he re-enlisted in the Fall or Winter of 1780. 

The RW pension application states that Jethro was at the surrender of Burgoyne following Saratoga in the Fall of 1777. Five rolls, from February to June 1778 place him at Valley Forge. The RW pension then records he was at the Battle of Monmouth later in June 1778, following Washington's removal from Valley Forge. He re-enlisted in 1780/1781  and served until 1783 where he primarily served his time as a "servant" to Rufus Putnam. He was discharged by Knox on 12-24-1783. Within the years 1777 and 1783, Jethro was in the army for about six years and two months .... all but a month or two. 

Jethro Jone's Co. Roll, dated March 5, 1778 at Valley Forge. 

Two entries in the Leicester town records, one dated 1779 and a second dated 1780 place the family there as well.

Importantly, in an enlistment document dated 1781, Jethro's personal details are given; age 45, black, 5'6" and his occupation a toolmaker.

It is not known if Jethro continued making tools while in Leicester or in Blandford, Hampden County, his next and last move. One possibly of this being the case, lies with the existence of the one late plane marked I Iones which has markedly different chamfer and wedge details. (Another alternative is possible; one of Jethro's sons, Jethro Jr. or Jason could have made the late I Iones plane?)

Blandford, Hampden County.

As mentioned above, Jethro's RW pension application places him in Blandford in the Fall or Winter of 1780, some three years before he was discharged. Jethro and family were recorded in Blandford from 1790 US Census until Jethro's death there in 1828. Two deeds record Jethro and Juda in Blandford. One deed dated 1791 mentions the homelot of Jethro and Juda as forming part of the border of a neighbor. (No prior deed was found that would associated with this property.) A second deed, from 1807, records their son Heckeliah leasing to them a 25 acre farm for the rest of their natural lives. Heckeliah and Jethro are listed as yeomen.


The RW pension application dated 1818 provides added details.  Aside from a review of his service record (Monmouth and Burgoyne below), Jethro stated that he and his wife were in a reduced state with few assets ... which totaled $3.01. In addition, he mentioned that his health did not permit his continued work as a farmer.

Altercation at Jethro Jone's house.

Pittsfield Sun 10-13-1819

The planes.


The planes will be presented in the order found in GAWP5 which is generally supported by the town sequence as previously noted.  The chamfer styles and the wedge styles are summarized in the hope that such efforts will cast light upon the date progression.

Chamfer Stops.

The design of chamfer stops (and associated chamfer stop progressions) on the ends of the body is usually a definitive tool in establishing the relative age of an 18th C maker's molding plane. Planes by Ce Chelor form such a progression which is well documented*. With the charts below as a rough reference, # 5 is Cesar's earliest form and # 1 with a tipped step is Cesar's last form. Reviewing the chart and using the town sequence as a guide, I Iones doesn't follow the same order of complex to simplified, which at best, is unexpected. Based on the town / stamp sequence the apparent order for Iones is # 1 as the earliest form, #'s 2, 5 and 6 as the next forms and #'s 2, 3 and 4 being the last forms. (The author did not expect the # 1 chamfer stop form to be the earliest and the # 5 form to be later.)

* 4-2024 note. Several planes by Chelor have been recently recognized as having wedge finials and chamfer stops that closely resemble those found on Jone's Medway planes.  (Mike Humphrey and the editor.) These planes may well have been made by Chelor about the time Jones was in Wrentham. Follow-up reporting is planned for these Chelor planes once they have been studied further.


Unlike the chamfer stops, Ione's wedge finials seem to follow a more expected progression in style over time. The wedges on the Medway planes have finials with the most relief and in general, are close in style to early Cesar Chelor wedge finials. (Information courtesy of Mike Humphrey.)  The Holliston wedges have finials which have greater height and have limited finial relief. The I Iones wedges have finials with a style and relief that fall in between the Medway and Holliston examples. The late I Iones wedge is similar to the Holliston finial relief and is swept back similar to D^H wedge finials which are post ca. 1810 in date. (See "Daniel Hutchinson Wooden Planes" by Tom Whalen and Art Gaffar, The Chronicle, Vol 75 No 2, 2022.)

Based on the I Iones wedge finials falling between the wedge finial styles of the Medway and Holliston planes, it is the author's tentative position that the I Iones planes date primarily from the Wrentham period. As was stated earlier, narrow I Iones planes could have been made during his Medway and Holliston residencies and so caution is needed when assessing an I Iones plane. (The wedge finials should be an important factor in such an assessment.) Additional examples should help refine our understanding.

I Iones / Living In / Medway

Simple turnout chamfer end

I Iones

Narrow lamb's tongue chamfer end

(tipped line, turnout and recurve with continuous flute (Wrentham elements)

I Iones and I Iones / Living In / Holliston molders with numerals on the toes. The same set of numerals were used but the meaning of the numerals is unknown. (The "6's" are constructed from separate die's. )

I Iones / Living In / Holliston 

Late example, I Iones, 10" long.

Decorative escapement design. A majority of the known Iones molding planes have a decorative escapement element usually found only on rabbet planes. This feature is sometimes seen on Ce Chelor molding planes. It is not yet known how this detail fits within Jethro's timeline, but it has been suggested that it might represent a somewhat later feature. IE, the rarer standard escapement design was used by Jethro early in his planemaking career. (Author; the late plane also has this standard escapement design and thus is counted amongst this rarer sub-set.)  

I Iones 7.25" long gunstock plane with the decorative escapement element. Courtesy of Mike Humphrey.

Previously shown I Iones / Living In / Medway molder with the decorative escapement design.

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