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 Jim Jones

Jim Jones

Original Name James Warren
Crete, Randolph County, Indiana, USA
Death 18 Nov 1978 (aged 47)
Jonestown, Barima-Waini, Guyana
Burial Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea
Memorial ID 1452 · View Source
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Minister and leader of the People’s Temple. Born James Warren Jones in Crete, Indiana, near Lynn, he was the son of James and Lynetta Thurman Jones. In the 1950s, he became a preacher and founded a church in Indianapolis, Indiana, called the “Wings of Deliverance,” which he later renamed the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church.” In 1964, he became an ordained minister in the Christian Denomination Disciples of Christ. This church was noted for its equal treatment of White and Black Americans, and preached racial equality and social justice. Moving to San Francisco, Jones became known to his followers as “Dad.” Jones also began moving the church away from the mainstream church teachings, adopting traditional cult teachings, such as making the church the solution to all of the problems of society, and making belief in Jones himself as their savior. George Moscone, then the mayor of San Francisco, appointed Jones to the city’s Housing Commission, to help the city with meeting demands for social equality in its housing policies. In 1977, Jones moved the 1,000 members of his church to Guyana, to create an agricultural utopia in the jungle, free from racism and based upon socialistic principles of common sharing. Jones named the settlement Jonestown, after himself. Jones told his followers that he was the reincarnation of Christ and God, and belief in him could cure cancer, heart disease and other illnesses. Despite stories of beatings, murders and other cult practices, Jones was praised for setting up a racially mixed church that helped the disadvantaged and impoverished. He would have his followers practice mass suicide by calling upon them at all hours to practice drinking harmless liquids (usually cool-aid) to show their devotion (they were not told if the drinks were harmless or lethal). Some of the church members complained to relatives in the US that Jones was drug addicted and was keeping them from leaving under threat of death. In November 1978, Congressman Leo Ryan led a fact-finding mission to Jonestown, to determine if the reports of sexual slavery, death threats and other stories of mistreatment were true. After three days of interviewing the residents, Ryan’s party started to leave, taking along with them 20 People Temple members who also wanted to leave, and drove to the airstrip near Jonestown. As they were boarding the airplane, a truckload of Jones’ guards arrived and began shooting at the Ryan party. Killed were Congressman Ryan, a reporter from NBC News, two photographers, and one of the defectors. Several others ran into the jungle to escape the onslaught, while those remaining were taken back to Jonestown. At Jonestown, Jones called his congregation together, and ordered them to drink cyanide-laced Cool-aid. A total of 914 people died that day at Jonestown in a mass-suicide, including 276 children, although later investigation indicated a number of the people were murdered by shooting or by forced lethal injection. Jones himself was shot in the head while sitting in a deck chair. An autopsy on Jones revealed that he had a level of the barbiturate pentobarbital that would have killed a normal person, thus indicating that he had built up a long-term habit to using the drug. His son, Stephen Gandhi Jones, who was not present in Jonestown that day, would later confirm his father’s drug addiction. The US Army and the US Air Force mobilized graves registration teams to move the bodies back to the US for burial by their relatives, in a mass casualty operation.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 1452
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jim Jones (13 May 1931–18 Nov 1978), Find A Grave Memorial no. 1452, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.