Jones, James Athearn
- Robert L. Gale
Jones, James Athearn (17 October 1791–07 July 1854), novelist, poet, and folklorist, was born in Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the son of Ebenezer Jones, a farmer, and Susanna Athearn, the daughter of a county probate judge in Tisbury. Several bands of Gay Head Indians lived within a few miles of the Joneses. Young Jones’s grandfather had a lonely coastal farm, where the boy was born and lived, where Indians were employed as field hands, and where an Indian nurse cared for him until he was fifteen. Her stories about fabulous Indians inspired his lifelong fascination with Native-American folklore. Denied formal schooling by the remoteness of his home, he read voraciously and studied under ministers at Tisbury and nearby Edgartown. He visited the West Indies on a few occasions and also sold or bartered food and other items with sailors anchored off Martha’s Vineyard. Jones has been described as tall, slender, a little vain and quarrelsome, and in later years slightly deaf....