Grayling man confirms his roots date back to relatives who came to the country on the Mayflower
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:26pm caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
After several years doing genealogy research, a Grayling man recently leaned that his relatives were Pilgrims who came to America sailing on the Mayflower.
In early August, Kenny “Ken” Jones was contacted by a Connecticut representative from the Mayflower Society to inform him that his research confirmed he was related to Pilgrims who traveled to the country 400 years ago.
Jones was later notified by a representative from a Michigan chapter of the society.
“The Society of Mayflower Descendants in Michigan is proud to announce that Mr. Kenny Louis Jones of Grayling, Michigan has successfully completed the necessary documentation of his ancestry to qualify for membership in the Society of Mayflower Descendants,” said Larry Hewartson, a public relations contact for Society of Mayflower Descendants in Michigan in a press release. “He was able to trace his heritage to passenger John Alden, who arrived in the harbor near Plymouth, Massachusetts on the ship Mayflower in November, 1620. Mr. Alden was one of 41 adult male passengers on the Mayflower who signed the immortal Mayflower Compact on the 11th of November (Old Style) 1620. They had come to settle in a new land and to find a new home and government, for the benefit of themselves and their posterity. Their struggles and hardships, which in the first year after their landing carried off one-half of their number, necessitated years of continued bravery and fortitude against innumerable trials of the severest kind. Their acts and example of perseverance have been instrumental in the establishment of Civil and Religious Liberty throughout the land.”
According to the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, which was formed in 1901, the organization traces the lineage of descendants of Pilgrims:
• To preserve their memory, their records, their history, and all facts relating to them, their ancestors, and their posterity.
• To cherish and maintain the ideals and institutions of American freedom.
• To transmit the spirit, the purity of purpose, and steadfastness of the pilgrim fathers and mothers.
• To secure united effort to discover and publish original matter.
• To authenticate, preserve and mark historical spots made memorable by Pilgrim association.
Jones was born on September 19, 1957 at the Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina. His mother, Virginia Marie O’Connor, was from Grayling and his father, Jack Edward Jones, was from the Mio area. The family moved back to Grayling in 1969, and Virginia worked as a secretary for the Crawford County Avalanche.
Jones graduated from Grayling High School in 1975. He then served four years in the U.S. Air Force as a radar technician.
Jones then returned to Grayling and worked for 20 years for Ralph Stevens at Carlisle Paddles. He then assumed a position at Camp Grayling’s ammunition supply point and served in various Michigan National Guard units.
In 2015, Jones retired at the rank of Sergeant First Class, when he reached the mandatory retirement requirement.
“I’ve been retired and I’ve been trying to stay out of trouble ever since,” he said.
In 2004, Jones’ brother, Craig Jones, started doing genealogy research after he married a woman from Germany while he was stationed there with the U.S. Army.
That piqued Ken’s interest. He started doing research though the website Findagrave.com. He was able to contact a relative, who gave him information about family who served in the Revolutionary War. Their names are Peleg Potter, Benjamin Potter, and Uriah Persons.
“It’s kind of neat when someone tells you’re related to someone who fought for the country during the Revolution,” Jones said.
He started digging deeper into his ancestry, and was able to go back and find birth and death certificates dating back eight generations.
Jones then submitted his records to the Mayflower Society.
“They’re pretty detailed oriented,” he said. “They kind of want to have records to prove it.”
He was informed that he was related to John Alden and Priscilla Mullins, dating back 11 generations. Priscilla sailed on the Mayflower with her parents, William and Alice Mullins, who date back 12 generations.
“It’s kind of neat when you do all this work to have someone validate it,” Jones said. “I’ve really got into sharing history.”
On March 14 of this year, Jones joined the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Robert Finch Camp No. 14 Traverse City, which covers 19 northern Michigan counties. He learned of the organization through Marion LaMotte at a genealogy meeting held at the Crawford County Devereaux Memorial Library.
Jones learned that his second great grandfather, George H. Willobee, served in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Through his affiliation with the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Jones has discovered 78 Civil War veterans who lived and were buried in Crawford County.
“It’s been a real eye opener to me,” he said.
Six other Civil War veterans were buried in the county, but were not recognized with headstones.
“So far, it’s lost in time as to who it actually is,” Jones said.
Jones has cleaned up many of the Civil War headstones that have weathered over time.
“You go to something you can’t read to over time it becomes that original bright white marble,” he said. “It seems like the least I could do.”
Jones said he appreciates being able to share information with others as he becomes more knowledgeable about genealogy.
“What’s the sense in doing all the work if you don’t share it with someone else?” Jones asked.
Jones continues to serve local veterans by giving them rides to medical appointments in a Disabled American Veterans van based at the Crawford County Veteran’s Affairs Office.
“You get to talk with these guy and they all have different stories,” Jones said. “It’s an amazing experience.”
Jones said it is an honor to help veterans get the benefits and medical care they have earned.
“I might need it someday so it’s kind of like paying it forward,” Jones said.