Dr. Thomas W. Jones returns to Manatee County as the featured speaker at Manatee Genealogical Society’s Winter Seminar on March 16. He will be speaking in familiar terrain because several generations of his family have called the area their home.
Dr. Jones’s father (also named Tom Jones) was born in Palmetto in 1919 and grew up in Manatee. Jones’s parents, both graduates of the Bradenton High School’s class of 1937, were married at the Baptist Church in Bradenton in 1941. Jones’s grandparents settled in Palmetto in 1910. His Grandfather managed the Oaks Hotel in Palmetto and after that worked as a grocer and also a state game warden. His grandparents were active in the Manatee Baptist Church and were buried in the Palmetto city cemetery. His aunt Camille and her husband, Mason Parker, had a ranch near Old Myakka but eventually settled at Terra Ceia, which Jones loved visiting. Dr. Jones’s extended family became even more important when his father died in 1951. Although Jones moved to Cocoa, Florida, in 1953, he continued to visit Bradenton several times a year to visit his grandfather and maternal and paternal relatives. His maternal grandfather, Jesse Leach, who lived in Bradenton became like a father to Jones and his brothers, and his grandfather’s house became like a second home and Bradenton, a second home town.
Jones’s family helped him gather the family history and encouraged his pursuit of genealogy. He began researching his family’s history in 1963 and has never stopped, even while earning his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of South Florida College of Education (1969), Master of Arts degree at Vanderbilt University’s George Peabody College for Teachers (1973), and Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of Pittsburgh College of Education (1978). He is a Professor Emeritus at Gallaudet University, where he retired in 2008 after a thirty-year career in higher education. Dr. Jones is also a nationally recognized genealogist, editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, and award-winning author of the books Mastering Genealogical Proof and Mastering Genealogical Documentation.
The March 16 Winter Seminar will be held at the Manatee Technical College, 6305 State Road 70 E., Bradenton, is open to the public. Dr. Jones will present four sessions during the all-day event. The seminar includes complementary continental breakfast and refreshments, door prizes, and Q&A with Dr. Jones on genealogical issues. The registration fee is $45 for members and $55 for non-members.
Full details of the seminar, schedule, and registration information are on the web site: mgsfl.org.