Arthur Gray Jones
Arthur Gray Jones (1868-1929) was pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, Texas from 1895-1921, a member of the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees from 1899-1920 (chair from 1907-1920), and professor of systematic theology from 1921-1927. During World War I, Jones ministered to the soldiers at the base in San Antonio and worked with the War Work Council.
Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on December 19, 1868. He earned a BA from Arkansas College in 1888, then attended Union Theological Seminary of Virginia from 1888-1890. He was ordained in Arkansas Presbytery in 1890, and served as a pastor in Batesville while he earned his MA at Arkansas College (1892) and also taught at Arkansas College. In 1895 Jones moved to San Antonio where he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, a post he held until 1921 when he moved to Austin to teach at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary (1921-1927). Jones became ill in 1927, moved back to San Antonio, and died there on May 1, 1929.
In this letter, Rev. Jones gives an update on his day-to-day work with the men stationed in San Antonio. He describes Bible classes, social events, musical performances, and dinners hosted by the church. Challenges of the work include coordinating the work of multiple denominations, a large number of requests for speaking engagements, and letters from mothers across the country asking him to check on their “boys,” as well as restrictions on religious activity in the camps. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
Rev. Jones received many cards and souvenirs from soldiers with whom he worked at Camp Travis and his congregation. This card has a 1918 calendar printed on the back (in English and French) and is signed “Best Wishes from John B. Bartlett, Somewhere in France, December 1917.” From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
This map shows the locations of Army and National Guard camps in the south where young men were trained before being sent overseas, including Camp Travis in San Antonio. The General War Work Council used letterhead like this to raise money for their ministry to the troops on the home front during the war. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
This heartfelt poem was handwritten by a soldier, Pat George Bright, of Merritt, New Jersey, to his girlfriend. It found its way into Rev. Jones “soldier file,” perhaps because it was left behind in the church or sent to Jones for safekeeping. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
The Community House was a recreational club for soldiers stationed in San Antonio. It was run by War Camp Community Service and directed by the Playground and Recreation Association of America, a part of the War and Navy Departments’ Commission on Training Camp Activities. In this letter, they ask Rev. Jones to lead his congregation in singing the first verse of the Star Spangled Banner at the conclusion of each service in June in preparation for San Antonio becoming the first city in the United States with its entire population singing the national anthem together on the fourth of July. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
Here Rev. Jones writes to one of his parishioners on behalf of his wife, who is concerned that she hasn’t heard from him in several months. Jones reminds Green of their connection, gives some news from home, and exhorts him to write to his wife as soon as possible. While Jones spent considerable time serving the men who were temporarily stationed in San Antonio, his work with his home congregation (both those sent overseas and those who remained in San Antonio) was central to his ministry during the war. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.
A Christmas greeting to Rev. Jones in poem form from a soldier on the Western front. From the Arthur Gray Jones papers.