On Feb. 18, a fascinating photo of an advertisement showed up on a Greater Things About Westfield Facebook page's timeline with the question "Does anyone know anything about this?"
The photo was titled, "J Frank Shaw Furniture, Mattresses, and Undertaking, Westfield NY." The ad states Shaw's business is "Opposite Jones Hotel. Main St., Westfield, N.Y."
Never having heard of a Jones Hotel on Main Street in Westfield, and noting the undertaking part of the ad showed a drawing of a horse-drawn hearse driven by the undertaker in a stove-pipe hat, I suspected this ad was from a post-Civil War time frame. Also, possibly, this Jones Hotel may have been one of the precursors to the Minton House.
This advertisement for J. Frank Shaw Furniture, Mattresses and Undertaking brought up the history mystery what is the “Jones Hotel”?
The first response that appeared expressed, "My family had the Jones Livery but I have to ask if they also had a hotel... The livery was on the corner of Clinton and Market and the stables are still there beside the house." So began a conversation and a search for answers to a new "history mystery."
The first significant item discovered in the historian archives was an advertisement in Westfield, N.Y., July, 1874, "The Parhelion" Vol. 1, No. 3, reading in part, "J. Frank Shaw - keeps at his Furniture Depot, (opposite the Jones House, Westfield.)." There is a drawing of some parlor furniture, then the ad continues, "Parlor and Chamber Suits...Chairs, Bureaus, Tables... Footrests, etc. Caskets and Coffins... All kinds of Repairing."
Next searched were the 1867 and 1881 Chautauqua Atlas maps for the Village of Westfield, and some surprise discoveries were made. There was a narrow alley-like street continuing on the north side of Main Street across from where Union Street junctions Main Street, and which continued all the way through to Clinton Street. Although it did not continue north to Washington Street, if it had, it would have connected directly to Franklin Street, which continued from Washington Street north, crossing Jefferson Street and ending at English Street paralleling the Lakeshore Rail Road, later New York Central.
The office of the Westfield Historian is located at 117 Union Street, in the small green building on the north side of driveway. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9 to 11 a.m., or by appointment. The Westfield Historian phone number is 326-2457, and the email mail address is email@example.com.
At the southeast corner of the Union-Franklin Street-Alley at Main Street is the American Hotel. The directory next to the 1867 map lists "J. S. Griswold ... Proprietor American Hotel, Main Street." Across Main Street, on the northeast corner of Union Street, are two buildings on a single lot labeled J. M. Shaw.
The 1881 map shows the American Hotel has become the Minton House hotel. The short street on the 1867 has all but disappeared, leaving an alley next to the Minton House allowing access to a livery stable in the rear, only extending halfway between Main and Clinton Streets. In 1881, the two buildings across Main Street at Union are J. F. Shaw's furniture store on the corner, with his cabinet shop next door to the east.
So "circumstantial evidence" would suggest the American Hotel, which was built just after the Civil War in 1866 with J. S. Griswold Proprietor and which later became the Minton House, must have gone through at least one other name change and proprietor to have been known as the Jones Hotel or Jones House.
There are other names and buildings on the 1867 and 1881 maps which could lend even more credence to the above suggestion. In 1867, east of the American Hotel on Main Street, was a large vacant lot, then a house and property owned by D. M. Jones, then another large vacant lot, then a house and property owned by I. A. Skinner, and immediately east of that the small brick law office of Austin Smith and next his large brick mansion with the white pillars that we now call the Tennant House. By 1881, starting at the Minton House, there is still the large vacant lot to the east, then a house that is now owned by Dr. O. Jones, next a small vacant lot with the recently constructed Methodist Episcopal Church, the law office and Austin Smith's mansion.
Research on the names of D. M. Jones and Dr. O. Jones led to the following information. Dr. Oscar Jones is listed briefly in the 1921 History of Chautauqua County for Westfield, but no dates are given. Ancestry.com's U.S. Census records for Westfield show in 1850 the family of Carlton Jones, who is listed as a doctor, and wife Louisa includes a son, Oscar Jones, also a doctor, and another son named Delos Jones. Military records show both sons served in the Civil War. The 1870 Census lists Oscar Jones as a drug store clerk with a wife named Addie. Also on the 1870 Census is Delos Jones living with his mother Louisa, apparently in the house on Main Street near the American Hotel-Minton House as one of his neighbors is Austin Smith. This would account for "D. M. Jones" on the 1867 map. Delos Jones' occupation is listed as billiard saloon, so perhaps he is getting practice in the "hospitality industry" to become a proprietor of the "Jones Hotel" or "Jones House" by 1874, most likely what was the American Hotel prior to this.
Searching the 1870 Census for hotel proprietors located three names: Asa Farnsworth, hotel keeper, who was a long-time proprietor of the Westfield House at the northwest corner of North Portage and Main Streets; Paul Persons, hotel keeper, who was a proprietor of the Old Stone Tavern as early as 1850; and Daniel Mosey, hotel keeper, who is listed with his family and a number of boarders at what is labeled "hotel" on the 1870 Census page 49. Nearby names on the Census correspond with some of the property owners on the north side of the village between Main Street and the Railroad at English Street, so it is possible Mosey was proprietor of the American Hotel at that time.
By 1877, according to an old map, what had been the American Hotel was now labeled Minton House, James H. Minton, proprietor. And in 1882, an article in the "Westfield Republican" states his son, W. L. Minton, had leased the Minton House.
As for Dr. Oscar Jones, he appears on the 1880 and 1900 Census, and is neighbor to Austin Smith. So this corresponds to the Dr. O Jones on the 1881 map.