Mount Olivet is home to a few heroes whose names have appeared in the national history books. We have Francis Scott Key, Barbara Fritchie, Thomas Johnson, Jr. and “Casey” Jones. Now, anyone who knows their local history should have flinched on the last offering in that list—“Casey” Jones. The real “Casey” Jones is actually buried in his hometown of Jackson, Tennessee, but Mount Olivet contains at least two gentlemen known by the same moniker.
First things first, many folks may not be familiar with “Casey” Jones in the first place. I will start by saying that he wasn’t a baseball player (as some may mistakenly think), a mighty player who struck out for the third out in Mudville’s ninth inning. That “Casey” was the star of a poem written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer.
No sir, we are talking about a real human being who sadly "struck out" in the game of life 12 years later in 1900. Born John Luther Jones on March 14th, 1864, in Missouri, “Casey” Jones was an engineer during the heyday of the American railroad and is considered an American folk hero.
"Casey" Jones is best known for his tenacity in keeping trains on schedule, but more so for courage shown as he sacrificed his own life in a terrible accident. He died tragically in the early morning hours of April 30th, 1900 in Vaughan, Mississippi, when he collided with another train. Just before impact, Jones kept one hand on the brake to slow the train and his other on the whistle to warn others who might be near the train.
A ballad written by Wallace Saunders entitled "The Ballad of Casey Jones" made Jones a permanent figure in American folklore. The song became a vaudeville favorite in the early 20th century, inspiring American rock’s legendary band the Grateful Dead to write the song “Casey Jones,” which appeared on their 1970 album Workingman’s Dead. (NOTE: In connection with the Dead song, I will add that cocaine had nothing to do with the 1900 accident... but it is a "notion" that commonly crossed the minds of these latter song artists, of course).
Now I have to come clean in saying that the actual John Luther “Casey” Jones is buried in Mount Cavalry Cemetery in Jackson, Tennessee and not Frederick, Maryland’s Mount Olivet. We do, however, have buried here two individuals who held the nickname of “Casey” Jones and another who quite possibly could have been professionally acquainted with John Luther Jones.
James C. Clarke
He’s definitely a story for another day, but Frederick resident James C. Clarke could have met or known “Casey” Jones, perhaps just missing a chance to serve as the famed engineer’s big boss earlier in his career. Clarke served as president of several railroads during the late 19th century, including the Illinois-Central from 1883-1887.
In 1888, Clarke went to the Mobile & Ohio Railroad and served as its Vice President and General Manager. Ironically, “Casey” Jones began his railroading career with the Mobile & Ohio, but switched to the Illinois-Central in March, 1888 for the promotional opportunity to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming an engineer. This occurred in 1891.
Two of Clarke’s legacies are still evident today in the form of an ornate fountain in front of Frederick's City Hall, and his namesake street located a block from Mount Olivet’s front gate—Clarke Place.
Charles Edwin Jones
Charles Edwin “Casey” Jones was born in Middletown (MD) in 1871, the son of Charles and Isabelle Clay Jones. Around the year 1910, he got a job with the interurban, electrified trolley system of the old Frederick Railroad Company, an offshoot of the Potomac Edison Company. This endeavor went into business in the late 1890’s and eventually connected Frederick City with Hagerstown and a slew of municipalities and other local spots—primarily Braddock Heights, Middletown and Thurmont. The company would come to be known as the Hagerstown & Frederick Railway.
Mr. Jones served as a motorman, and like the legendary “Casey,” our local resident was known for making up lost time on the rails caused by delays caused with earlier trolley runs. He would eventually take the Thurmont run by 1920, and can be found living on Carroll Street extended in the 1920 US Census.
Frederick’s Charles E. “Casey” Jones retired from the railway in 1943. Shortly thereafter he took on a job as janitor for the C. Burr Artz Library.
A few months back, I stumbled upon two specific newspaper articles which shed light on this man Fredericktonians called “Casey” Jones. I’d like to refer to these articles as “Strike1” and “Strike2” to return back to a baseball theme. Thankfully, our “Casey” never struck out!
Charles Edwin “Casey” Jones passed away on May 24th, 1950 at the age of 79. He was laid to rest in Mount Olivet’s Area OO/lot 132.
G. Arthur Jones
While I was researching information in old newspapers and our cemetery archives about Charles E. Jones, I came upon yet another "Casey" Jones in Frederick. This was the person of George Arthur Jones.
G. Arthur Jones was born in the city on November 7th, 1895. His father, James Alonza Jones (1870-1939), headed Frederick City’s police department from 1901-1910 and was elected Frederick County Sheriff in 1921. He also served as superintendent for the Montevue Home for the Aged before, and after, his term as sheriff.
From what I could glean, George Arthur grew up in a house located at 635 Park Place. When George grew up, he married Frances Wills and the family lived just a few doors down from his former home at 631 Park Place. Both these dwellings, as well as several others that comprised the block, would eventually be demolished to make room for an expanding Frederick Memorial Hospital.
G. Arthur would spend his entire working career at the Ox-Fibre Brush Company, starting in 1911. He began as a machinist, eventually becoming the supervisor of the machine shop. He served as Plant Superintendent for 24 years and would retire in 1964. All in all, he spent 53 years with Ox-Fibre. He may not have engineered a train or trolley, but he was as loyal and hard-working to his company as John Luther Jones was to the Illinois-Central Railroad. He certainly deserved the nickname of “Casey” for sure.
George Arthur “Casey” Jones died on April 20th, 1971. He was buried in the cemetery’s OO Area in Lot 136. Ironically, both Mount Olivet’s “Casey” Jones are located just six yards apart! A pretty amazing circumstance, especially since I could not find any relation between both gentlemen and families.