Jones family burial ground at Biltmore honored by Sons of American Revolution

LIVING HISTORY: A musket volley salute was fired over the burial ground by the Sons of the American Revolution color guard during the dedication of the Jones Family burial ground. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Along a quiet back road on the western side of the Biltmore Estate, a burial ground dating to the early 1800s lies peacefully among a grove of trees and tangles of periwinkle. The grave markers themselves are nothing more than fieldstones turned on end, now punctuated with orange plastic flags.

The sleepy resting place of Revolutionary War veteran Joshua Jones and his family turned uncharacteristically lively on Sept. 9, as a memorial dedication ceremony hosted by Jones’ direct descendants brought family members, Biltmore staff and historical re-enactors to the site.

After gathering in the parking lot of Inanda Baptist Church on Brevard Road near the WNC Farmers Market, about 60 descendants of the Joshua Jones family rode a shuttle bus to the burial ground.

Paul Cashion of Inman, S.C., is Jones’ sixth-great-grandson. A member of the Daniel Morgan chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, Cashion addressed the crowds outfitted in traditional Continental Army uniform. He recounted the results of research he and Jones family historian Kenneth Israel had undertaken using records from the Daughters of the American Revolution and other sources.  Jones immigrated to the colonies from Ireland around 1750, originally settling as a child with his family in the Priddy’s Creek area of Albemarle County, Va. He was recorded as wounded during the Battle of Kings Mountain in 1780.

Jones settled in Buncombe County near the mouth of Hominy Creek with his wife, Elender, and their family in 1795. “He was 47 years old, and he may have remembered and thought, ‘Here’s a place like home that we should stay,’ and they did,” Cashion said. “They lived out the rest of their lives in the beautiful mountains that we see today. Both [Joshua and Elender] passed away circa 1839 and are buried behind us on a knoll of the Long Branch and French Broad River.”

Mark C. Anthony, National Society SAR Color Guard vice commander, explained, “What a lot of these families of the time would do, generally, they would just turn a fieldstone up and that would be it. That’s why we are dedicating a cenotaph. It’s a memorial marker that denotes this area and designates Joshua Jones as a recognized patriot of the American Revolution.

“This site is unique in that Patriot Jones is the only known patriot to be buried on land that is tied to the Biltmore Estate,” Anthony continued. “The dedication ceremony allows the SAR to bring to the attention of the public the patriotic service that was essential to the founding of the nation — both by picking up arms and by providing an oath of allegiance to the early patriot government in this region.”

The cenotaph, a large granite stone listing the names of Joshua, Elender and their nine children, was purchased and placed by their descendants in 2003. The memorial lies on what was originally a portion of Jones’ land on the west side of the French Broad River. The property was eventually purchased by George Vanderbilt and became part of his estate. The site is within a stone’s throw of what is now the Biltmore Sporting Clays Club. Even before the ceremonial musket salute rang out, the sound of gunfire resounded in the background throughout the event.

Israel thanked the Cecil family and estate staff for making the cemetery location accessible to his family. He especially noted the assistance of Bill Alexander, Biltmore’s landscape and forest historian. “I want you to know that I designed this stone and paid for it and had it placed here. Bill Alexander saw that we had help, people and even bulldozers, that came and put the stone in place. People were lined up all the way down Long Valley as far as you could see. There were so many of us, it was just absolutely thrilling.”

Alexander also welcomed the assembled family on behalf of Biltmore and shared a bit of historical detail about the research he and his staff had done while working with the families to coordinate the care of the site. “My roots go back to the founding of the county, and my family has a lot of history here, so it’s kind of been a labor of love for me all these years, a little bit at a time,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily a part of my job at the beginning, but I sort of built it into my job description.”

In his opening to the ceremony, Anthony remarked on the importance of this and similar memorial events: “If the past is indeed a prologue, then a glimpse from the past can provide a source of inspiration and wisdom for the future.”

Photo gallery by Cindy Kunst.


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11 thoughts on “Jones family burial ground at Biltmore honored by Sons of American Revolution


    Joshua Jones is my 6th great grandfather through his son Russell Jones who moved to Del Rio and married Sara Hayes

    • Mary w Gilreath

      Good Morning. My name is Mary Gilreath and I’m doing geneology on Joshua Jones who married Elender Medley and their childrenStephen, Israel, Jackson, William, Russell, Thomas, Nancy, Frances and Joshua. I’m descended from Frances who married Abraham Penland about 1812. I’m doing research for DAR and want to know what information you have on Joshua and Elender and if he served in the Revolutionary War. I appreciate any help that you could provide on Joshua.

      • E S Davis

        Mary, I’m related via Joshua Jones, Jr. the youngest, down to Ruth Elmira Jones, married to the Rev. Francis Marion Fanning, of Mills River. Also trying DAR research for a supplemental patriot, but can’t find him in their database. If you receive this, please email me at if you have any leads. Thanks, E

    • Donna White

      My grandmother was a Jones and was from Del Rio. She was born in 1908. She and her entire family moved to South Carolina except for a sister Abbie who married a Ball, she has grandchildren that still live in the Del Rio area. I would love to see the genealogy for your family.
      A cousin has done genealogy but it got difficult to follow census records. Any thing would be great.

  2. Barbara Lynn Henderson

    Joshua Jones is my 6th great grandfather thru his daughter Frances Elizabeth Jones > son William Cathey Penland > son Steve A Penland > William Cathey Penland > Elisha Athus Penland > daughter Vivian Marie Penland > son David Ray Dorsett the myself, Barbara Lynn (Dorsett) Henderson.

  3. Anthony Jones

    I’m a dependent of his and am still a Jones we didn’t hear about this until now we had done research up to his grandson Colonel Joshua Jones who was in the Civil War but didn’t know much past that just that his dad was William and grandad Joshua. But were still direct jones’ all the way down and live in Black Mountain NC we never moved out of Buncombe County. Would love to reach out to so.e of you to learn more.

    • Lea Faulkner

      My name is Lea Faulkner and Joshua Jones is my great grandfather, my grandmother was Adelle Jones Smith.


      Mr. Jones, I am looking for A .T. Jones, around 1900, in the lumber business. I believe he lived/worked in Inanda.

  4. Alfreda Ann Nash

    Joshua Jones is my 4th great grandfather, his daughter Frances, his granddaughter Ellen Elvira Penland, his great granddaughter Cynthia Young, and my grandmother Ludy Elvira Grisham, and my dad William Elmer Tomlinson. The best I can tell Joshua Jones is NOT the son of the Congressman, Willie Jones as many online have listed. Only 5 of Willie’s children survived to adulthood, and only his daughters married and had offspring, stopping the Jones name with him. I can find no record of Willie Jones two sons’ names. If anyone has that information, I would appreciate knowing it. Joshua is not mentioned in any of Willie’s will, or census. It seemed to be a trustworthy site that mentions the sons, but no names and said they did not carry on the family name. It gave daughters’ names and who they married.

  5. Brian Jones

    Joshua Jones is my 6th Great Grandfather and I just found out about the burial ground today and would love to take my wife & kids to visit this.

    Joshua A Jones
    Eleanor Ellender Medley
    1750-1839 LXWM-9H8
    Joshua A Jones
    1748-1839 KL78-G5Z
    Jackson Elias Jones
    1775-1871 GXRX-3J8
    Jonathan “Jack” Jones
    1805-1876 LYR3-L4M
    George Jones
    1829-1862 L12J-7P6
    Thomas B. Jones
    1854-Deceased L162-8HW
    Edmond Jones
    1891-1964 L162-7Y7
    Johnny Lowell Jones
    1924-1985 L24J-4Q6
    Johnny Lowell Jones Jr
    1948-2014 G5KR-TM9
    Brian Jones
    1976-Living G5KR-7B9

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