John Jones, Grand Rapids, Wis., member of G. A. R. Post No. 22, was born April 15, 1836, in Kredshra, Norway.
He came in youth to America with his parents, landing at New York and proceeding to Racine County, Wisconsin, where he was brought up on a farm and he has been engaged in agricultural pursuits all his life. He is the owner of a farm situated 20 miles from Grand Rapids in Juneau County. His father died when he was 11 years old and he was apprenticed by his mother to learn the fuller's trade with William Hovey, a woolen manufacturer of Waterford, with whom he remained until the property was destroyed when he returned to his mother and took a farm. He went from Racine to Adams court, where he "entered" a farm in company with his mother and, when it was sold, "entered" another place in Wood County near Grand Rapids. Three years later, he sold the farm and went into the lumber woods.
He enlisted Sep. 14, 1861, at Grand Rapids in Company G, 12th Wisconsin Infantry, for three years and received final discharge July 16, l865, at Louisville. He went from Camp Randall to Quincy, Ill., crossing the river to Hannibal, proceeding thence to Weston, where he made a stay of three weeks and was engaged in a fruitless expedition of three days after the guerrilla Gordon. He went next to Fort Leavenworth and started for Fort Scott, marching to Lawrence and wading a swamp 12 miles in length. He went next to Fort Riley, expecting to go to New Mexico, but returned to Fort Leavenworth and went down the river expecting to fight at Pittsburgh Landing. But the battle was over and they stopped at Columbus and during the stay there two distinct shocks of earthquake occurred. The next service of Mr. Jones was to Sabine River where he was on guard duty on railroads and many, of the command became infected with the malaria of the swamps. Whiskey was ordered for the men and the abstainers made over their rations to the drinkers who determined to have more whiskey, and stole a barrel of it, which they hid in the river. The doctor concluded that the command was cured and this medicine was cut off. The next removal of Mr. Jones was to Humboldt, Tenn., where the summer was spent in scouting and skirmishing. The 2nd Tennessee Cavalry, stationed there without arms, were under their protection.
Mr. Jones was in a scouting expedition under Captain Langworthy of Company G, and went to Huntington to disperse guerrillas, who were annoying the Union people. Mr. Jones was taken sick and was left at Huntington and stated at the house of a Dr. Hutchinson three days. He then started on a mule for Humboldt, 70 miles distant to travel alone through an unknown country in which rebel and Union skirmishing parties were abundant. In the forenoon of the first day he encountered seven men who took his equipments from him. It was proposed to take him prisoner, but one of them remarks that they had no use for a sick Yankee and he was released. He camped that night in the woods, not daring to apply at a house and he suffered greatly from exposure. He started at daylight and traveled until noon, having had no supper or breakfast. He was compelled to apply at a house for relief and the inmates treated him with great kindness, urging him to remain with them until he was better. The man of the house was a refugee and he remained there three days, when he started again on his journey, provided with food. After he had traveled about three hours he encountered three rebels, who took his mule and blouse and compelled him to go back nearly 10 miles, when he became so sick, he could go no farther and they threatened to shoot him. They became convinced that be was going to die and left him, after taking his last corn dodger from his pocket. He managed to, crawl to a negro hut about a mile away, where an old negro woman made him some gruel and kept him through the night. She divided her corn bread with him in the morning and he started again for Humboldt, encountering the Union picket line of cavalry. His illness increased and he was sent to the hospital at Bolivar, Tenn., and three months later rejoined his regiment at Camp Butler near Memphis. During his stay at Bolivar, VanDorn threatened the place and the convalescents were place under arms for its defense.
The command was sent to join Grant before Vicksburg and precede thither by way of Milliken's Bend to Grand Gulf, 28 miles below Vicksburg. The mortar boats that had run past the batteries were shelling Vicksburg. When the mortars were discharged the concussion of the air seemed to lift the men from their feet and they could read a paper in the light of the firing. The regiment moved to the rear of Vicksburg, participating in the siege and after the surrender proceeded to the capture of Jackson. Mr. Jones was again taken sick and was in the field hospital three months, after which he was in the destructive movement known as the Meridian expedition. On the return, the command captured and destroyed railroad stock, including nine locomotives and brought the bells to camp for fun. The winter of 1863-4 was spent in skirmishing with guerrillas, during which Mr. Jones was in all expedition under General Gresham. In January, 1864, he veteranized and in April received his veteran's furlough, and on rejoining his regiment made connection with Sherman's army at Ackworth and passed through the actions subsequent and prior to the siege of Atlanta, including several hard battles about Atlanta and those at Big Shanty, Marietta and Jonesboro, after which he was in the chase of Hood and went thence to Savannah and through the Carolinas and Virginia to the termination at Washington.
He returned to Grand Rapids and engaged in farming. He was married August 2, 1860, to Jane E. Ward and they have six children, named Nellie A., Dana M. William T., Minnie, Arthur and Edith. When Arthur was 14 years old be was accidentally wounded, his right leg being shot off. Silas H. Ward, brother of Mrs. Jones, was a soldier of the 7th Wisconsin and was wounded at the battle of the Wilderness. A brother-in-law, Alpheus Coon, was in the 18th Wisconsin and was killed at Pittsburgh Landing. Mrs. Jones was born in Mercer Co., Pennsylvania. In 1866, Mr. Jones went to Iowa and located on a farm where he remained until 1879, when he removed to his farm in Waushara county and, in 1886, removed to Grand Rapids to educate his children. His farm is under advanced improvement with good buildings and is well stocked. While stoning up a well in Iowa, Mr. Jones was injured and lost his right eye. He is the son of Ole and Arena (Jensen) Johnston. He acquired the name of Jones through the perversion of his father's name and has been known by it in America. After the death of his father, his mother returned to Norway.