Title: Manager of Mount Moriah Cemetery; farmer, real estate developer
Birthdate: January 13, 1905
Death Date: October 29, 1966
Plot Location: Section D, Range 1, Lot 9, northwest part
Each of the officials of Mount Moriah Cemetery Association (the organization that founded Mount Moriah and ran the cemetery until it closed) led noteworthy lives, and through their individual life stories the history of this hallowed ground is revealed. Follow the links provided to see how each life story connects with the others, and learn more about the unique place entrusted to their care.
The life stories of Horatio Jones and his son, Horatio Jr., follow a course that is much different from the Connell family members who developed and managed Mount Moriah Cemetery. The Jones men were similar to the Connell superintendents in that they had other business interests, but their involvement in day-to-day cemetery business was much more detached.
There was geographic detachment because they lived out of state. There was also a detachment due to not being able to push back against the disturbing circumstances that gradually forced the cemetery’s closure. Their detachment was sadly apparent in both of their obituaries, which failed to even mention their association with Mount Moriah.
Horatio Sr. was the middle child of James Woods Jones and Mary Ellen Long. He had an older brother named James and his younger sister was Maude. They were all baptized in 1911 at St. James Kingsessing, an Episcopal church at 68th and Woodland Ave., a few blocks south of Mount Moriah. They certainly knew the many members of the Connell family who were also involved there.
Horatio was named after his father’s uncle who was also his father’s employer at the cemetery, Horatio P. Connell. Mr. Connell’s title was secretary/treasurer on the board of directors, but he had the authority of a chief executive officer. (Horatio’s Notable life story can be found here.)
James Woods Jones was the cemetery’s foreman for many years and became superintendent sometime after Horatio P. Connell died in 1927. In the 1920s the Jones family lived at 2114 South 63rd Street, which means James would walk less than a third of a mile to work at the cemetery. In 1927 Horatio Jones married Edythe Kirlin at her church in the Haddington section of West Philly. Their daughter Patricia was born the following year, but the marriage soon fell apart. The 1930 census reveals Edythe and Patricia were living with her parents back in Haddington.
There are no records to confirm Horatio’s occupation in the 1920s. He most likely started working after high school at the cemetery and became the office manager in short order. His obituary (below) incorrectly claimed he had lived in Delaware since 1926 but it was actually 1936.
Records from New Castle County indicate his father owned some property in Brandywine Hundred, the area between Wilmington and the Pennsylvania state line. That’s where Horatio may have begun working with his father on some real estate deals, but his day job and his residence remained in Philly.
The document showing Edythe’s divorce from Horatio in 1936 gave the cause as “indignities to the person.” A few months later he married Henriette Charlotte Ravier. She received the same divorce decree in 1936 from her marriage, and brought her two daughters, ages 7 and 8, to the new Jones family. In January of 1938 she gave birth to Horatio Connell Jones Jr.
This photo captured James with his son and James’ newborn boy later that year. These are the three generations that managed the cemetery for the next 65 years.
Home in Delaware
There were several transactions in those years showing the newlyweds bought some land and sold some land in Delaware. Then in 1939 they took possession of a 49-acre dairy farm for $8885, which they expanded to 200 acres. The 1940 census lists the parents and three children living there along with Henriette’s mother. The live-in help included a maid and three farm hands. Horatio’s occupation was confirmed; he was office manager at the cemetery. It was also the first census to ask about a person’s income for the previous year. It shows he drew a surprisingly modest salary of $1560 in 1939.
Comparing salaries with his neighbors, a clerk and a bricklayer made $1300 a year, while a toolmaker and electrician made $2000. But in answer to the next census question, whether he had other income, he said yes. And what about his father’s compensation as superintendent at Mount Moriah? James earned an upper executive’s salary of $3620 in 1939 and he also said he had outside income.
One more interesting feature of this census was that it asked if the person was living in the same place in 1935. Horatio reported his legal residence in 1935 was in Philly. James and Mary Ellen Woods, meanwhile, were at the same place, and that place may have been the residence on the right side of Mount Moriah’s gatehouse. It didn’t have a street address which would explain why they used the office address, 6201 Kingsessing Ave. and the census lists them there as renters. They must have moved in when James took over as superintendent in 1927. He died just after New Years in 1941.
Was it pre-arranged by James that Horatio would take over, with the board giving a simple nod of approval? Perhaps by this time the board consisted only of Jones family members and cousin George Connell, who had become secretary/treasurer after his father died.
Horatio wasn’t about to give up his home and life in Delaware. Big changes were coming for cemetery leadership as the second world war began. First, George Connell suffered a stroke and went into convalescent care in 1943. He may have given up any active role after that.
Secondly, between then and 1946 Horatio hired a live-in superintendent, Sam Bilotta, to run the daily operations. He lived with his wife and three children in the right half of the gatehouse and created a new address, 6299 Kingsessing Ave.
Sam worked there until he died in 1959 and might have even been a board member. His wife was one, after he died, and she remained in the house until leaving in 1972 to live with one of her daughters.
On the left side of the gatehouse was the “men’s house” for groundskeepers. The 1950 census lists a “gravedigger” named Thomas McGowan with the address 6299½ Kingsessing. Horatio’s mother, Mary Ellen Jones, lived in the apartment above the office at 6201 Kingsessing until she died on April 17, 1950, just 12 days after the 1950 census was taken. A night watchman was hired in 1958, and he and his family lived above the office until around 1980.
Meanwhile, Horatio was free to devote most of his attention to business in Delaware. The Brandywine Hundred area went from farmland to suburban sprawl over the next two decades, particularly in the Naamans Road corridor and its convenient access to what became Interstate 95. One single lot that Horatio and Henriette bought in Naamans Manor in 1938 sold for $7500 in 1945, nearly as much as they paid for 49 acres before the war.
In the 1950 census, Horatio listed his dual careers, farmer and cemetery superintendent. What he had really been was an astute land speculator. The farm hands were no longer listed as residents that year but the maid was.
His brother, James Richard Jones, lived across the state line where he was the manager of a Nabisco cereal plant (“Wheat Honeys”) in Chester. It was probably in the 1950s that the two brothers used a portion of Horatio’s land to build a strip shopping center on Naamans Road about a hundred yards from Horatio’s house.
The farm became a large housing development. In one subdivision there, known as King’s Ridge, is a street named Jones Lane. James moved into his new house on that street in 1960, but died in 1962.
Horatio died from an aneurysm four years later at a Wilmington hospital. Henriette lived another 23 years. Her obituary mentioned the name of the dairy farm they had once owned and operated, Triple Blue Farm. The shopping center they created at Foulk and Naamans Roads is known today as F&N Shopping Village.
The most revealing fact in her 1989 obituary was that she had been the president of the cemetery’s board of trustees. That is further evidence that it was just a “figurehead” board in later years, composed mostly (if not solely) of family members.
Businesses have different stages of life. At some point, business owners must take a cue from the old poker saying about knowing “when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.” And while for-profit cemeteries aren’t put on the market that often, there was a time when that option probably should have been considered. By the 1960s it was too late.
The fate of Mount Moriah fell into the lap of Horatio Jones, Jr. Read his story here.
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