Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Mary. K. Jones, 1825-1896

by Kate Byars, student, University of Kentucky

Mary Keturah Taylor was born in Lexington, Kentucky on April 5, 1825 but spent her childhood near Newport, which her father's family had helped to settle. She was the daughter of Colonel James Taylor, a land broker, and Susan Lucy Barry, whose father served as Kentucky Secretary of State. Mary, the couple's oldest child, attended school in Cincinnati, Ohio and spent many summers during her childhood in Washington, DC. She wed Colonel Thomas Laurens Jones, a distinguished lawyer and politician from North Carolina, in 1848. A Democrat, he served in the Kentucky State House of Representatives as a representative for Campbell County from 1853 to 1855. He also served in the United States House of Representatives from 1867 to 1871 and again from 1875 to 1877. The couple had four children.

As the wife of a respected politician, Jones was well known throughout northern Kentucky and attended many society gatherings. She was a devout Catholic, known for her writing skills. She was an acknowledged Kentucky historian, author of many historical magazine articles, and an organizer and manager of the Kentucky Historical Society. She was especially known for her work compiling and writing about the history of Campbell County, Kentucky as part of the nation's 1876 centennial celebration. Jones was also an active member of the Newport chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). She ties extending back to the Revolutionary War on both sides of her family, including Keturah Moss Taylor for whom the Newport chapter of the DAR was named. She served as the organization's Historian and was praised as one of its "most esteemed, efficient, and beloved members."

Jones was a prominent figure in the early days of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association (KERA). In 1893 she and Mrs. Sarah G. Humphreys led a petition campaign urging the state legislature to raise the age of consent from 12 to 18. Jones was very active in KERA in the ensuing years. She had a particular interest in enacting laws protecting young girls and extending the property rights of women. Jones served as third vice president of KERA in 1894. At this convention she read a paper and led a discussion. In the following year, 1895, Jones served as second vice president of the Newport ERA. In Josephine K. Henry's article "The New Woman of the New South," Jones was quoted as saying, "I want to vote because the ballot in woman's hand will purify society." Like many suffragists, Jones was also a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). At the State WCTU Convention in Owensboro in 1893 Jones gave an address on enfranchisement for women.

Active in suffrage circles until the end of her life, Jones died at 71 on February 17, 1896 in Newport, KY. She had suffered from illness for several months before she passed. Jones is buried in the Evergreen Cemetery in Southgate alongside her husband.


Mary Keturah Jones in the U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current.

Georgen Baird Hodge Bailey, "In Memoriam," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, vol. VII. (1896): 905-907.

"Colonel James Taylor," The Biographical Encyclopedia of Kentucky (J. M. Armstrong, 1878),

David Allen Bennington, "Thomas Laurens Jones," Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, 6 vol., edited by William S. Powell (University of North Carolina Press),

Thomas Laurens Jones in the U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current.

Mary K. Jones in the 1880 United States Federal Census.

Thos. L. Jones in the 1880 United States Federal Census.

United States Congress, "Thomas Laurens Jones (id: J000253)," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

Louisville Courier-Journal:
"In and About Kentucky." December 8, 1893.

Josephine K. Henry, "The New Woman of the New South," The Arena, vol. XI. (1895): 353-362.

KERA Minutes, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

The Lexington Daily Leader:
"Convention Notes," October 25, 1894.

The Owensboro Messenger:
"White Ribbon Brigade," September 24, 1893.
"Want to Vote, Strong Minded Women Are in Lexington to Exchange Their Views," October 25, 1894.

The Earlington Bee:
"With the Women of Kentucky," February 27, 1896.

The Cincinnati Enquirer:
"Deaths," February 19, 1896.

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