Jones, Kittie Phelps(born: December 1859 - died: February 28, 1910)
Jones's first name is spelled as both Kittie and Kitty in various newspaper articles and in legal documents.
In 1888, Kittie P. Jones became the first African American notary public and pension agent in Lexington, KY. She continued at this line of work for 22 years, assisting African American widows and soldiers to gain their pensions and benefits. On her death certificate, her occupation is listed as "Pension Attorney."
Her work as a pension agent predated her certification as a notary public in February 1902. Three weeks after her certification, Kittie Jones was in court filing a subpoena against Othello R. Marschall, a Sulphur company owner, forcing him to produce documents pertinent to her case. The two parties had filed countersuits against each other. There was another case in 1904; George C. Webb v. Kitty P. Jones was on the Fayette County trial docket. Kittie P. Jones was often in court.
She was also active in the community. She was a member of the Sons and Daughters of Zion and a continuing supporter of the Colored Orphan Home in Lexington. Her name is listed among the many who gave donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
Kittie Phelps Jones was born in Baltimore, MD, according to her death certificate and the census records. She had come to Kentucky around 1885. Her exact age is not known, although her birth date was given as December 1859 in the 1900 U.S. Federal Census. Jones was said to be a widow when she died. She had been the wife of George Jones, who was about 35 years older than Kittie. They were married in 1887, according to the 1900 Census Record, and Kittie was to be George's caretaker, including handling his finances, as well as his wife. Kitty was listed as the head of household that also included a boarder, Alice Brown, who was divorced, and Alice's young daughter, Imogene. Alice Brown was employed outside the home as a servant.
Kittie's husband, George Jones, had served during the U.S. Civil War. The couple was together for about 20 years before they divorced in 1908. Kittie had sued George for the divorce, and they were back and forth in court because George did not pay the court-determined alimony. The following year, George sued Kittie, claiming that she had used his pension money ($900-$1,000 per year) for her own gain (property investments) and not his care, as they had agreed as part of their marriage arrangements. George Jones died July 12, 1912 and is buried in African Cemetery #2. He outlived Kittie (even though she is listed as a widow on her 1910 death certificate).
Kittie P. Jones appeared to have owned a bit of wealth. It was not verified whether her wealth came from her husband's pension money or from her earnings as a pension attorney and notary public. When she died, it was estimated that she owned personal property valued at $1,829.41 ($53,262.20 in 2021) and had a life insurance policy with the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company valued at $1,003.06 ($29,203.72 in 2021). Kitty had used her money to buy and sell property that had a total value of $82,465.92 in 2021 as estimated by the City of Lexington.
Kittie Jones died unexpectedly in 1920 after suffering a stroke at her home, 332 Corrall Street. Her funeral services were held at Congregational Church under the auspices of the Sons and Daughters of Zion, of which she had been a member. She is buried in African Cemetery No. 2 on 7th Street in Lexington. Her death notice was published in newspapers beyond Lexington, including the Public Ledger newspaper in Maysville, KY, March 1, 1910, p. 4. Kittie P. Jones was respected and liked by many people.
“She was widely known, having devoted most of her life to the securing of pensions for widows and colored soldiers. She had given much of her earnings to educating a grandson [Harry R. Hardin] at Hampton Normal School in Hampton, VA after he had graduated from Chandler Normal School, Lexington.” -- "Kitty Jones," Lexington Leader, 3/1/1910, p. 2.
After Kitty Jones's death, Julia Richardson was one of the complainants who filed a claim against the estate. The Commissioner's Notice was placed in the local newspaper in September 1910. Richardson was an African American woman who sold and bought property lots in Lexington. Her name appeared in the newspapers in 1903 when she filed suit to divorce Theodore Richardson, her husband of 38 years (they had 15 children). Julia Richardson had an amended petition added to the suit to keep her husband from denying her a share of the properties he owned that were valued at $4,000 ($125,722.27 in 2021).
Julia Richardson was often in court fighting for what she felt was due to her. The courts denied her a divorce but granted her a legal separation in 1905. Julia Richardson was relentless; the couple went back and forth in court because Theodore failed to pay the court-determined alimony. Finally, in 1908, Julia and Theodore Richardson were granted a divorce. They were said to be among the most "well-to-do" African Americans in Lexington.
When Julia Richardson filed a claim against the estate of Kittie P. Jones, she was asking that the debt of $575 ($16,740.91 in 2021) be paid. Over the years, she had loaned Kittie money and Julia had the notes as proof. It was also revealed that Kittie Jones had owned property with Alice Brown, the woman who had lived with Kittie and her husband at 332 Corrall Street. The home and lot had been purchased by Kittie and Alice from Alice's ex-husband, David Brown.
Alice Brown was the informant on Kittie P. Jones's death certificate. The two women had continued living at the home up to the time that Kitty died. In early February 1912, all household items belonging to Kittie Jones at 332 Corrall Street were sold at an Administrator's Auction. Nine days later, Kittie Jones's real estate properties were sold at a Commissioner's Sale: the home and lot at 332 Corrall Street; houses and lots at 260 and 262 E. Fifth Street; and two lots on Mosby Street.