Ensenada 1882: A Prickly Rose

Rosa minutifolia photo by Barbara Eisenstein

Jones earned a reputation for his volatile disposition early in his career, after a controversial 1882 botanizing expedition to Ensenada, Mexico. Jones was then a young botanist, accompanied on the expedition by Charles Parry and Cyrus Pringle, both established figures in the field of botany.

Part of this controversy arose from the discovery on April 12th of a new species of rose, Rosa minutifolia, which Parry and Jones both claimed to find first. This accordingly became a source of bitter disagreement between the two men, as Parry was ultimately credited with its discovery. However, Jones’ original type specimen of the rose remains at the Herbarium of Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden.

Tensions came to a dramatic conclusion in Tijuana when Jones pulled a gun on his driver, Charles Orcutt, and his brother. Though the reasons for Jones’ transgression remain unclear, the Orcutts claimed that Jones was unwilling to travel on a Sunday for religious reasons, and had become indignant at the Orcutt’s insistence to depart for San Diego on Sunday, April 15th.  Jones replied to this accusation by stating that he had first been threatened by the Orcutts, though he never completely denied the charge.

Both incidents hindered Jones’ early success, as Parry was eager to sabotage Jones’ reputation among other botanists, making it very difficult for Jones to find people willing to publish his writings.

Articles from Jones' records published in the San Diego Sun, April, 1882.
"Pious Professor" is the Orcutt's original charge, "A Card from Mr. Jones" is his response.

Orcutts San Diego Sun