1928 - Alderson High School - 1968


Punch Jones and His Rock
John McCurdy 08

            In the spring of 1928, Punch was pitching horseshoes with his daddy in a vacant lot near their home in Peterstown, West Virginia. A short sixteen years later he was killed in action on the Rhine River in Germany!

            On this happier day in 1928, his horseshoe dislodged an object, oddly shaped and about three quarters of an inch in diameter. Punch put it in his pocket, and later, before going into the house, he left it on the front porch behind one of the posts. His mother, finally tiring of sweeping around it, and after sweeping it off the porch a few times, moved it to a window ledge. Every now and then, Punch would show the neighboring kids his "diamond", as he called it!

            Many years later one of the Jones kids attended VPI and took a Geology course, he learned about the "scratch test" of minerals and crystals. When he got home he tried Punch's rock; it scratched everything he tried!

            When the stone was taken to Dr. Roy Holden of the Geology Department at VPI, it was pronounced, after testing, that the stone indeed was a diamond! Not just a diamond, but one of good color and relatively free of imperfections!  The 34.5 carat alluvial, (brought by glaciers), diamond was the largest ever found in the United States!

            It was loaned to the Smithsonian Institution and there it remained for a number of years. Punch Jones, the finder of the stone, had grown up, gotten married, gone to war, and lost his life.  

            Pretty much by general agreement, the stone was considered the joint property of William "Punch" Jones and his father Grover Cleveland Jones. Upon the death of Punch, his share, of course, was his wife's, she subsequently sold her share to one of Punch's brothers, who also acquired his father's share of the stone.

            Sometime later, the diamond, still referred to as, "The Punch Jones Diamond", was reclaimed from the Smithsonian and embarked on a round of fairs and expositions. A small home-built trailer of about five by eight feet became the diamonds exhibition hall. At the West Virginia State Fair in the 90's one could, for a entry fee of a few dollars, gaze on the wonderful stone, reposing on a black velvet cushion, safe behind glass, closely guarded,  behind a rope protecting it from sticky fingers.

            I am unsure of the whereabouts of the "Punch Jones Diamond" today, my guess is that it is safe somewhere maybe lying on a black velvet pillow. I'm almost sure it isn't lying on a window sill!   

The family of Grover Cleveland Jones and his wife was remarkable. The couple had 18 children, all boys, and then they had a girl! Mr. Jones was a teacher and all of the 19 children had to be considered over-achievers. All were teachers, attorneys or other professionals, most possessing advanced degree's. They, along with their mother and father were guests of the Worlds Fair in NYC and appeared in Ripley's "Believe It or Not"!

Most of the surviving siblings still live in Monroe and the surrounding counties of West Virginia and Virginia! - JCM

Related Story: More on Jones' Diamond - This was submitted by Linda Cohernour of Union, WV.