“Golden Rule” Jones
Samuel Milton Jones, often referred to as “Golden Rule” Jones, was born August 3, 1846 in North Wales. He and his family emigrated to Lewis County, New York, when he was three years old. He grew up in New York State until he moved to Titusville, Pennsylvania. When he was eighteen years old he worked in the oil fields of Pennsylvania. Here he studied different methods of oil production and became a producer himself in 1870.
Depressed by the death of his first wife, he moved to Ohio seeking a change. In 1886, with his headquarters in Lima, Ohio, he operated oil fields. He made a big strike near Lima in 1886. That same year he met Helen W. Beach, a lady from a prominent Toledo family. In 1892 they married and settled in Toledo.
In 1893 Jones invented the “sucker rod.” This permitted deep-well drilling. He patented his invention and began to manufacture it. In 1894 he began Acme Sucker Rod Company. His factory was open during a time of depression and Toledoans sought work there. In his company he enforced the Golden Rule. He treated his employees well and paid them a fair wage. He also had workers keep their own time, gave employees paid vacations, had company insurance plans, and allowed employees to be active in profit sharing.
Jones was elected mayor of Toledo on February 25, 1897, after having lived in Toledo for only five years. He was a progressive mayor who preached Christ’s teachings, supported the idea of equality of men, and focused on establishing a uniform three-cent fare on streetcars, as well as solving problems of unemployment and poverty. A campaign promise was to establish public parks and playgrounds. He believed this was important and, as an example, he purchased vacant ground that adjoined his factory and equipped it with everything necessary for a playground. This area, named Golden Rule Park, was created three years after he was elected mayor.
Jones was elected again in 1899, 1901, and 1903. He died before his fourth term expired on July 12, 1904, at the age of fifty-seven. Fifty-five thousand people viewed his body and five thousand people from all walks of life attended his funeral. He was survived by his three sons, Percy, Paul and Mason, and his wife Helen.