West Virginia family with 17 children (16 consecutive sons!)

The Jones family of West Virginia (in 1942)
The Jones family (in 1942)

From the late 1910s to the mid-1940s, Grover Cleveland Jones and Annie Grace Jones (née Buckland) of Peterstown, West Virginia, welcomed 17 children — 16 boys in a row, followed by a single girl.

Here are the names of all 17 siblings, from oldest to youngest:

  1. William Pinkney (born in 1917)
  2. Robert D. (b. 1919)
  3. Richard Buckland (b. 1920)
  4. Thomas L. (b. 1921)
  5. John (b. 1923)
  6. Paul Leslie (b. 1924)
  7. Woodrow Wilson (b. 1925)
  8. Tad (b. 1928)
  9. Willard Wilson (b. 1929)
  10. Pete (b. 1930)
  11. Rufus B. (b. 1932)
  12. Grover Cleveland, Jr. (b. 1935)
  13. Buck (b. 1936)
  14. Franklin D. (b. 1938)
  15. Leslie H.
  16. Giles Monroe (b. 1942)
  17. Charlotte Ann (b. 1946)

The odds of having 16 babies of the same gender in a row are approximately 1 in 65,500.

After boy #15, the family became relatively famous. They were invited to the White House, for instance, and had lunch with Eleanor Roosevelt (“because President Roosevelt was at a war meeting”).

Surprisingly, though, this wasn’t the only thing the Jones family was known for.

In 1928, dad Grover and oldest son William (whose nickname was “Punch”) were pitching horseshoes in the yard when they came across an unusual diamond-like stone. They put it in a cigar box in the tool shed, where it stayed for the next 14 years — right through the Great Depression.

At the start of World War II, Punch got a job at a nearby army ammunition plant. Working with carbon (one of the components of gunpowder), he was reminded of the diamond-like stone (as diamonds are a crystalline form of carbon) and decided to send the stone to a geology professor at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute for analysis.

The professor concluded that the stone was indeed a diamond — a 34.46-carat blue-white diamond that happened to be the largest alluvial diamond ever discovered in North America.

In 1944, Punch sent the diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., where it was put on display near the Hope Diamond.

Sadly, Punch was killed in action in Germany the very next year.

The diamond was returned to Jones family in 1968. It was stored in a safe deposit box until 1984, when it was sold at auction for an undisclosed amount.

P.S. Thank you to Destiny for letting me know about the Jones family a few months ago! (Destiny also gave us an update on the Schwandt family of Michigan, which currently consists of 14 consecutive boys followed by a single girl.)


Image: Clipping from the Detroit Times (27 Sept. 1942)

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