Thomas Austin Jones (1820 - 1895)

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Death: Died
Managed by: Doug Robinson
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About Thomas Austin Jones

Lincoln Assassination Figure, Chief Agent of the Confederate Secret Service in Maryland.

He lived on a high bluff overlooking the Potomac River on Pope's Creek in Charles County with the Virginia shore across the river. He was appointed by Colonel William Norris, Chief of the CSA Signal Bureau, to this position. Jones married Jane Harbin at St. Mary's Church, in Bryantown, Maryland on January 8, 1845. They had eight children.

Jones was forty years old when the Civil War started with a large family. Southern Maryland and Charles County was a stronghold of Confederate sympathizers. Jones started a ferry across the river, going back and forth several times a night if need be ferrying mail, people, soldiers, and ammunition across to Virginia. There were Union boats patrolling but he was never apprehended while on the river. By his own words, he never lost the mail. He was in constant danger of being arrested. He did spend six months in the Old Capital Prison from September, 1861 to March, 1862. Boats from Virginia would come across and deposit their mail in the fork of a dead tree on Jones' property. Jones would cross right before sunset when shadows concealed a small boat. Even though he had a large family, he would only take a small amount of money, usually less than a dollar, for ferrying people across to Virginia. Jones moved to a smaller farm, Huckleberry, on the property during the war after his wife died and left him with eight young children.

Lincoln Assassination

His foster brother, Col. Samuel Cox, owner of Rich Hill several miles from Huckleberry, asked him to come over on the night of April 16, 1865. He had visitors, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold. Cox, who was also a Confederate sympathizer, asked Jones to be totally responsible for the protection of Booth and Herold. Jones took the fugitives to a pine thicket on the Bel Alton/Newtown Road where he hid them for six days and nights. He brought them food, whiskey, and most importantly, newspapers for Booth to read about what the country thought about his deed of assassinating President Abraham Lincoln. On the evening of April 21st, Jones brought the fugitives out of the pine thicket, past Huckleberry, and to the Potomac River down a steep cliff. Both Jones and Herold supported Booth on the grueling and painful trip down to the water. Jones sold Booth a 12-foot flat bottom boat for the sum of $17.00 in greenbacks. Booth's last words to Jones were: "God bless you my dear friend for all you have done for me." After going to wrong way on the river, and ending up back in Maryland at Port Tobacco, Booth and Herold finally made their way to Mrs. Quesenberry's house on Machodoc Creek in Virginia.

Jones and Cox were arrested and taken to Bryantown and held on the second floor of the tavern. Later they were taken to the Old Capital Prison in Washington, DC. He was kept seven weeks and released on the testimony of Cox's slave Mary Swann.

After the war Jones settled in La Plata and became a Justice of the Peace. In 1893, Jones wrote a 126-page book telling his part in the Lincoln Assassination. (bio by: Janet Greentree)

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Thomas Austin Jones (Confederate Secret Service)'s Timeline

1820
October 2, 1820
1895
March 5, 1895
Age 74
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