Oil Field Engine News

Golden Rule Jones

| February 2008


Samuel Milton Jones, often referred to as "Golden Rule Jones," was born Aug. 3, 1846, in north Wales, United Kingdom. He and his family emigrated to Lewis County, N.Y, when he was 3 years old. He grew up in New York until he moved to Titusville, Pa., and as an 18-year-old, he worked in the oil fields of Pennsylvania. There, 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 Lima, Ohio seeking change. In 1886, with his headquarters in Lima, 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, Ohio, family. In 1892, they married and settled in Toledo.

Jones work in the oil fields led to his inventing the sucker rod, which permitted deep-well drilling. He patented his invention and began to manufacture it, but in 1893, shortly before Jones opened his factory, economic catastrophe struck America. Stocks plunged, banks failed, businesses collapsed and millions of people were thrown out of work. It was the worst depression in the nation's history.

Jones' business plans were not affected by the massive downturn, but his soul was profoundly altered. Contemplating the tramps camped on the outskirts of town, the desperate men who begged him for a job, the upsurge of petty crime and the angry demands for law and order from the pulpit and city hall, Jones began to ask himself if there were something fundamentally wrong with America.

The big Welshman had been brought up on the bible by his parents. Was it the failure to practice the teachings of Jesus that had created these terrible problems? Of all the teachings of the man from Nazareth, the one that had made the deepest impression on Jones was the Golden Rule.

Jones decided to see if the Golden Rule could be practiced in business. When he opened his factory, workmen discovered a sign on the wall: "The Rule that Governs This Factory: 'Therefore Whatsoever Ye Would That Men Should Do Unto You, Do Ye Even So Unto Them.'"

Jones' place was different from others. There were no foremen or time clocks. Everything was done on the honor system. For very little money the workers could buy stock in the company, unheard of at the time. To give his employees a sense of community, Jones sponsored picnics and outings to nearby lakes. And each Christmas every worker received a bonus, along with a letter from Jones.