Friday, 25 May 2007

Sam's Great Great Grandmother's Brother

John Roberts Jones, the brother of Sam's great great grandmother (Eleanor Edith Jones) , was born in Bodfeirg, Ynys Mon (Angelesey) on the 25th July 1867. He died in Chile February 18th 1911. This memorial stone still stands in the station in Arica.

He came to Chile as an engineer supervising the construction of the Arica - La Paz railway (which now no longer runs).

Here is what Eleanor, Sam's mum has found out:

The 20th February 1911 issue of the paper La Epoca of Arica, Chile had an
article "Death of the Engineer, Mr. J.R.Jones". It said he drowned in the
Lluta river. He studied the ways of communication to La Paz in Bolivia to
make tenders for construction of the railway for the Jackson-Griffiths firm.
At five P.M. on the 18th he was crossing the Lluta, near Molinos, to inspect
the water tanks supplying Campamento Central, when his mule lost its footing
and threw him into the river. "Mr. Jones, being a man of great muscular
strength, swam more than 500 metres, struggling fiercely against the
current. Overcome by this he struck his head against a projecting rock and
died shortly after. ---- Today his body has been buried at Puquios ." A
large memorial cross was erected there.
It bears the inscription :-

to the Memory
John Roberts Jones
Son of the Late
John Roberts Jones
of Bodfeirg, Anglesey, Great Britain.
Born July 25th1867, Died February 18th 1911.
This Stone stands as a mark of the esteem
And affection of his comrades.
" One of the best of Pioneers as True as Steel."

However in his 1997 book "Full Circle" published by BBC Books, Michael Palin
wrote of waiting at the station at Arica, in Chile, for a train to La Paz.
"On the tiny platform there is a memorial to one 'John Roberts Jones,
Ingeniero, who oversaw construction of the line into Arica and died of
Maleria on the 18th February 1911' ".

Mr Palin seems to have made up the malaria element, as the memorial stone makes no mention of malaria.

I arrived in Arica, the most northern town in Chile, just south of the border with Peru late on Sunday, the purpose being to fix up a tour to the Chilean Altiplano, and particularly the two national parks Isluga and Lauca.

Arica is Bolivia's access to the sea, and sits at the end of Chile's coastal cordillera. A huge flag flies from the cliff, which is the end of this range.

Arica was very quiet, as the following day, the 21st May, was a public holiday to mark Chile's victory in the Pacific War with Bolivia and Chile, whereby Chile gained Arica, Iquique, and Antofagasta, the rich nitrate areas.