Mr. Evan Jones

Evan Jones, 65, was a Welshman and naturalized American citizen from Ottumwa, Iowa, United States, lost in the Lusitania disaster on 7 May 1915. He was planning to retire to his native homeland. His death aboard the Lusitania triggered a massive court case over the rights of his illegitimate daughter, a native-born British subject, to inherit his estate. Jones had built a life for him in the United States, in Wapello County, Iowa. He moved to the United States in 1883, when he was 33. He left Wales was because of bastardy proceedings which had been instituted against him by the mother of his illegitimate daughter. He came over on the same ship with the wife and children of David P. Jones, presumably a close relative. At the time, David was living in Oskaloosa, Iowa, where Evan also went. After David's death, Evan married David's widow, who subsequently died in January 1914. In 1896, Evan Jones was naturalized in the district court of Wapello County, Iowa, and thereafter voted at elections. Evan Jones was a coal miner, described as industrious, hard-working, and thrifty, who accumulated a considerable amount of property.  By 1915, his property consisted of two farms and some city real estate. In 1915, Evan disposed of his property. He had retired and was planning to moved back to Wales permanently. His brothers and sisters still lived in Wales, as did his illegitimate daughter, who was born and raised in the United Kingdom. His banker advised him to leave the greater part of his money in a bank at Ottumwa until he got to Wales, and did so. Jones purchased a draft for about $ 2,000, and left some $ 20,000 on deposit in the bank, and also a note and mortgage for collection, and left with the banker the address of a sister in Wales, stating that he intended to live with said sister. He sailed from New York on 1 May 1915, aboard the Lusitania, and was lost when the ship was sunk by the German submarine U-20 on 7 May 1915. Thereafter, Evan's brothers and sisters secured the appointment of an administrator, J. J. Smith, in Wapello County, Iowa. Various proceedings ensued. The question for the cases to determination was whether Evan's domicile (legally different from "residence") at the time of his death was in Wapello County, Iowa, or in Wales. If his domicile at the time of his death was legally in Wales, then under the laws of the British Empire, his illegitimate daughter would have no stake in his estate. On the other hand, if Evan's domicile at the time was legally in Wapello County, Iowa, then under Iowa state law, the property would pass to his daughter as his sole heir. The ruling of judges C. W. Vermillion, C. J. Evans, Arthur Stevens, and J.J. De Graff  determined in October 1921 that Evan's domicile was in the state of Iowa until a new domicile was actually acquired in Wales. Since no such domicile had been acquired at the time of his death on the Lusitania, his personal estate must be administered according to the laws of Iowa. Therefore, Evan's illegitimate daughter was recognized by the state of Iowa as his lawful heir. The Mixed Claims Commission, however, decreed that since Evan's surviving relatives were British subjects and not United States citizens, they did not have the legal standing to be awarded compensation from the German Government through an American commission.

Related pages

Evan Jones at the Mixed Claims Commission

Links of interest

Adams v. Smith (In re Estate of Jones) -
Contributors: Zachary Schwarz References: Docket 2191. Mixed Claims Commission, page 481. Adams v. Smith (In re Estate of Jones). Online. Accessed 22 May 2013. <>.

About the Author