Marker: Home of the Jones Diamond
Peterstown, West Virginia
Grover Cleveland Jones and his family were celebrities in 1940. They were invited guests to the New York World's Fair and they got to meet Mayor LaGuardia and have dinner with President Roosevelt. That's because Grover and his wife, Annie, had produced 15 consecutive sons, and all were alive and well. The family's endorsement was sought by a number of companies, but Grover refused and the Jones's went home to Peterstown. That must have been a difficult decision, as Grover struggled as a county school teacher to support his vast family.
He needn't have bothered -- although he didn't know that at the time. In a cigar box, in a tool shed behind the Jones house, was a 34.48 carat blue-white diamond, the largest ever discovered in North America. Grover and his eldest son, "Punch," had kicked it up in 1928 while pitching horseshoes in their yard. They had thought that it was just a piece of quartz -- until Punch went to college in 1942 and showed it to a geology professor.
Punch was killed in combat in 1945. Grover and Annie had yet another boy, and then finally a girl, and then called it quits. Grover lent the diamond to the Smithsonian for several years, then brought it back to West Virginia and kept it in a safe deposit box in a local bank. He never sold the Jones Diamond -- but the family did, in 1984, ten years after he died.
Is there another big diamond lying in the dirt of Peterstown? The marker that briefly tells the Jones story was placed near their home, so you might want to bring some horsehoes and scuff up some soil when you visit....