Tribute to the Sheepmen
The Johnny Jones Legacy
By Teddy Khteian-Keeton
June 29 was one of the hottest days this year, but that didn’t deter more than four hundred people from gathering in the shade of trees to witness the dedication of a monument commemorating pioneers who brought the sheep industry to the Hagerman Valley.
From their rows of folding chairs, the audience had a clear view of a triangular- shaped piece of park next to Highway 30 that had been freshly landscaped to include a new mound, upon which bronze figures were assembled. The sun cast shadows at the feet of a tall shepherd leading his saddled horse, while a small dog crouched alongside, guarding a string of eight well-fed sheep.
The Hagerman Sheep Monument, created by renowned Idaho sculptor Danny Edwards, had been donated to the town’s historical society by J.W. “Bill” Jones, Jr. and his wife Deloris, to honor the pioneers and the lifetime achievements of Bill’s parents, prominent sheep ranchers Johnny and Ethel Jones.
The story behind this gift to the community goes back to the arrival in the Hagerman area of Johnny Jones in 1904. He had come from Wales, where he and his sister lived with their mother, who was separated from their father. As soon as he “could hold a pitchfork, he became a stable boy and a carriage boy to a lawyer, who was his mother’s employer,” according to a biography prepared by the Hagerman Historical Society. When Johnny was only twelve, he went to live with a relative in London, where he delivered eggs and milk for only twenty-five cents a day.