Jones, Orin F.

Born: 1833-XX-XX Ohio

Flourished: 1857 Tolono, Illinois

Orin (Oren, Orrin) F. Jones came to Illinois from his native Ohio about 1853. In 1857 he was living in Tolono, where he worked as baggage master for the Illinois Central and Great Western railroads and was an agent for both the American Express Company and the United States Express Company. When an express package consigned to the American Express Company containing $509.15 went missing that year, Jones was arrested on suspicion of theft. Jones was released due to a lack of evidence and he and his wife went to Ohio to live. The money was subsequently found in the possession of the couple, and they were arrested and brought back to Champaign County. Orin F. Jones claimed responsibility and pled guilty, although his supporters blamed the woman described as his wife, to whom he may not have been legally married, and suggested that she was either the actual thief or that she had pressured Jones to steal the money. He was convicted of larceny in Champaign County Circuit Court in April 1858 and sentenced to one year in prison. Jones served his sentence from April through November 1858 at the Illinois State Penitentiary at Alton, then was transferred to the newly-opened penitentiary at Joliet for the remainder of his term. A petition for a pardon was circulated on Jones’ behalf, but Governor William H. Bissell delayed pardoning Jones until April 26, 1859, just prior to the completion of his sentence, so that his rights were restored but his prison term was not shortened. At the time of his incarceration, Jones reported that he had a wife in Chicago, and gave his profession as railroad engineer. He was able to read and write, professed himself to be a member of a temperance society but not of any church, and proclaimed himself to be not guilty of the crime for which he was convicted. Jones registered for the draft in 1863, but there is no further evidence that he actually served in the Civil War. At the time of his draft registration, he was living near his mother in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and reported that he was married and working as a painter.

McKinley requested Lincoln’s assistance in obtaining pardon, Martha L. Benner and Cullom Davis et al., eds., The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition, 2d edition (Springfield: Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, 2009),; Chicago Daily Tribune (IL), 15 December 1857, 1:4; Illinois Department of Corrections & Predecessor Agencies, Register of Illinois Prison Records, Illinois State Prison (Alton), 4:548, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; Illinois Department of Corrections & predecessor agencies, Register of Illinois Prison Records, Illinois State Prison (Joliet), 1:4, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865 (Lehi, UT: Operations, 2010).