Samuel Milton “Golden Rule” Jones, Toledo Mayor and Progressive Businessman

Posted on April 4, 2019

by Laura V

Who was Sam “Golden Rule” Jones?

Portrait of Samuel M. Jones

Samuel Milton Jones was the mayor of Toledo, Ohio from 1897 until his death in 1904. He was born into poverty to a Welsh family that emigrated to Pennsylvania when he was 3 years old. At the age of 22, he made money investing in the Pennsylvania oil fields. And he continued to work in and invest in the industry until he moved to Toledo in 1892.

In 1894, he developed a sucker rod used in units to pump oil out of the ground and opened the Acme Sucker Rod Company on Segur Avenue in Toledo. The Acme Sucker Rod Company was the model for workplace reform. A progressive businessman, Sam Jones was disturbed by the number of indigent families in Lucas County at the time. He believed in paying his workers a living wage and gave benefits such as paid vacations and subsidized cafeteria food. He lived by the “Golden Rule,” thus the nickname Samuel “Golden Rule” Jones. He practiced what he preached: he believed that all men were created equal and should be treated as such.

Community Means Everything

Unlike any other business at the time, the Acme Sucker Rod factory provided education and entertainment for employees and their families. The factory compound contained the Golden Rule Park used for Sunday outings and lectures. And a kindergarten classroom was established to give young children of employees a head start in education and to teach children to respect all others.

The Acme Sucker Rod Factory - photograph from the 1800s in Toledo, Ohio
Golden Rule Park - 1800s photograph
Kindergarten Class - photograph from the 1800s in Toledo, Ohio

Samuel Jones was also a believer in promoting physical fitness. He was photographed showing students at a boys’ school in Grand Rapids, Michigan his moves. As mayor of Toledo he instituted the eight-hour work day for city employees, developed a park and playground system, and reformed city government. Jones died in office on July 12, 1904. As a beloved businessman, lecturer, and mayor, his funeral procession was attended by many.

Samuel Jones exercising - photograph from the 1800s in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Brand Whitlock and Samuel Jones - photograph from the 1800s
Workers pictured outside the Acme Sucker Rod factory in Toledo, Ohio

You can view more photographs of Sam Jones and his family on our Ohio Memory website.

Want to learn more about Toledo history?

Explore our Digital Collections online.

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