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Jones, J. Logan, the Jones Store, 911 E. Linwood Boulevard

Here Lies Kansas City by Wilda Sandy

“Born in a wigwam and died in a mansion” read one thumbnail biography of John Logan Jones, progenitor of today’s Jones Store Company and Kansas City’s indomitable merchant prince at the turn of the century.

Jones was born in a wigwam when in 1859 his young parents were in a wagon rain en route from Franklin County, Illinois to Lawrence, Kansas. In Ottawa Indian territory, on the banks of the Marais de Cygnes, his expectant mother was taken to the wigwam of an Ottawa Indian Chief named, coincidentally, Jones. There the infant dry goods tycoon first saw light of day.

His parents soon pressed on to Lawrence where they farmed for two losing years before heading back to Illinois. There J. Logan grew up, was educated, taught school and at age 20 set forth from, on his first retailing venture. One by one his Jones stores progressed across Illinois to Kansas, and ultimately to Kansas City.

As We See’ Em J Logan Jones

From As We See’ Em; A Volume of Cartoons and Caricatures of Kansas Cityans, ca. 1908.

By 1895 J. Logan Jones had parlayed his humble beginnings into the gigantic seven-story Jones & Company store at the corner of 12th and Main streets. The largest department store in town, it sold groceries, oil, coal, bedding, hardware and clothing, featuring the latest services: a café, art gallery, customer banking, and an employee roof garden.

From his baronial mansion “Thornycroft” at 301 East Armour boulevard, the ascetic Jones walked downtown each morning until the financial depression of 1910. It was then, after 15 star-studded years, that his retail fiefdom collapsed into bankruptcy. Jones lost everything—his grand store, its warehouse, thriving mail order business, and his imposing home. In 1912, the Jones & Company store was assumed by New York interests.

The philosophical merchant lost his store but not his spirit. Within three years he had regrouped. And in 1915 at age 56, the feisty little fighter was back in the “rag” business, this time selling close-outs at a newly opened bargain center he called Logan Jones Dry Goods Store (to distinguish it from his “lost Lenore.”) Located near 7th and Main streets in the city’s “graveyard” area north of the 8th street viaduct, Jones’ new store undersold its competition amid a blitz of newspaper advertising studded with J. Logan’s little homilies and words of wisdom.

Jones made a financial come-back, retiring 20 years later to Long Beach, California. While on a visit here, he died October 21, 1945 at age 86.