History of Fleming Jones Homestead

fleming jones portraitGOLD! The cry brought many to El Dorado County in search of riches and the Jones family arrived in time for then infant Fleming Jones to join the coveted Territorial Pioneers of 1849 and 1850 in later years. Father, Napoleon B. Jones had been a miner in Wisconsin and he returned East to fight in the Civil War where he died. Mother, Minerva kept the ranch going and left the “Jones Ranch”, as this land was known locally, to Fleming and his brothers. He bought out his three brother’s shares and formally homesteaded this ranch in 1891 (Certificate No. 753) under the Homestead Act. Cattle were raised here and summered up at Lake Audrain (8.5 miles west of Lake Tahoe). Placer gold claims surround this land and pretty golden flecks are often seen in our soil as well as crystals. But Fleming’s gold was his family and a highly successful butcher shop downtown Placerville called the City Market with five delivery routes. His philanthropic nature was clearly inherited by granddaughter, Fay Jones Rupley Gunby Cannon, who donated the Fountain and Tallman Museum to El Dorado County.

Fay inherited the Jones Ranch from her grandmother via father, William Albion Jones. She not only spent many years growing up here, but sold the ranch and befriended Janice Condit (the previous owner) sharing family stories with her. Jan opened the Fleming Jones Homestead Bed and Breakfast in 1980 and we purchased the FJH B&B from her in 1999. Bay area ex-pats, we spent roughly a year going through the government process to formally reopen our Placerville bed and breakfast in 2001. Thank heavens we followed the advice of PAII (the Professional Association of Innkeepers International) and had “kept our day jobs” in the pharmaceutical/medical device industries while trying out this innkeeper thing to make sure it was something we wanted to do – as September 11th was devastating to the travel industry. After a few more years in the corporate world and innkeepers by weekend, we finally retired completely to Placerville doing some consulting here and there. And raising American Miniature Horses. We raised, sold and showed minis to the World level Championships and over the years have scaled back that occupation to match the more manageable size of industry standard (under 14 horses) with a significant number having become therapy horses and as far flung as England and Hawaii.

The two elderly boy Donkeys are all that remain of the original four that came with the property. The two mom donkeys, Maria and Carob, have since passed away. Cappuccino and his half-brother, Sebastian provide delightful entertainment for our guests and both can be naughty. From playing tug of war with our hoses to stealing paintbrushes, these two mischief makers love carrots, pears, apples and all kinds of yummy treats!

The other tall four legged creatures you would think are more closely related to horses and donkeys that wander through our yard nightly are deer. More closely related to cattle, however, these beautiful creatures are careful to avoid us while reshaping our summer rose bushes to resemble sticks with leaves and flowers only above “head height”. They are not good at mowing the lawn or eating weeds, but they are handy at cleaning up any leftover alfalfa hay the donkeys and horses might leave behind.