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Jim Jones, People's Temple Leader and Founder, Part I

Updated on October 21, 2012
Jim Jones
Jim Jones | Source

Many of us remember Jim Jones, who was born James Warren Jones, on May 13, 1931. Those of us who were too young have probably heard of this cult leader who was responsible for the mass suicide of 914 members of the People's Temple in Jonestown, Guyana and 5 other people at a nearby airstrip.

Over 200 children were murdered, by drinking a cynanide-laced beverage, which is how most of the people died. The tradgedy in Jonestown is considered to be the largest mass suicide in history. Actually, it would most-likely be considered, for most of the victims, a forced suicide/ murder.

Leo Ryan remains the only congressman killed in the line of duty in the U.S. Congressman Ryan had made a visit to Jonestown to check the place out, but never returned.

Jim Jones was born in a rural area of Randolph County, in Indiana, near the Ohio border. His father was James Thurman Jones (May 31, 1887 to May 29, 1951). He was a World War I veteran. His mother was Lynetta Putman (April 16, 1902 to December 11, 1977. She believed she gave birth to a messiah. Jim Jones was of Irish and Welsh descent. He later claimed partial cherokee ancestry through his mother, but this may or may not be true.

His family moved to Lynn, Indiana in 1934. His family was rather poor. He grew up in a shack with no indoor plumbing. A friend of Jim Jones claimed that Jim's father was associated with the KKK.

A childhood aquaintance claimed that Jones was weird. and was obsessed with religion and death. He held funerals for small animals.

Later-on, his parents were seperated and Jim moved with his mother to Richmond, Indiana. He graduated with honors in December of 1948. He married a woman a little older than himself, by the name of Marceline Baldwin, in 1949. She was a nurse. They moved to Bloomington, Indiana, where he attended Indiana University.

In 1951 they moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he attended Butler University. He received a degree in secondary education in 1961. In 1951 he also became a member of the Communist Party USA. He attended meetings and rallies in Indianapolis. In 1952 he became a student pastor at the Somerset Southside Methodist Church. He left because some leaders barred him from integrating blacks. Around this time Jones saw a faith healing service at the Seventh Day Baptist Church. He saw that it attracted people and their money! He figured that with money from the healings he could accomplish his social goals. He soon started his own church. He later moved-on from the communist party.

Jones and his wife adopted several children, from atleast partial non-caucasion descent. They were referred to as the "rainbow family." They adopted three children of Korean/American descent. Their names were Lew, Suzanne, and Stephanie. In 1954, they also adopted Agnes Jones, who was partially native American. She was 11, at the time of adoption. Suzanne was six, when they adopted her in 1959. In June of 1959, the Jones had their only biological child, who was named Stephan Gandhi Jones. Two years later, in 1961, they became the first white couple to adopt a black child, James Warren Jones, Junior. They also adopted a white son, named Tim. The birth mother was a member of the People's Temple.

In 1965, Jones claimed the world would be over-taken by nuclear war on July 15th, 1967. So he claimed that he and his followers had to move to Northern California. So he, his family, and many followers moved to Redwood Valley, California.

By the early 1970's, Jones began saying that traditional Christianity was a "fly away' religion. He also started preaching that he was a reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, Father Divine, as well as Jesus of Nazareth, Buddha, and Viadmir Lenin.

It seems that as time went on Jim Jones only became crazier and crazier!

Congressman Ryan
Congressman Ryan | Source

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    • profile image

      Marcia Ours 4 years ago

      Thank-you! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for publishing this great Hub! I find it very interesting and well written too. I enjoyed reading it. Well done!

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      mours sshields 4 years ago from Elwood, Indiana

      Yes, I was surprised to, when I was researching Jim Jones that he was a member of the communist party. But, on the other hand, he was pretty nutty! Anyway, thanks for reading and sharing!

    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 4 years ago from Chicago IL

      I had no idea that Jim Jones was a member of the communist party before founding his church / cult. I guess it makes sense because of the way they were living in Jonestown. I found this very interesting. Although I knew of the story, I didn't know much about his beginnings. Look forward to reading the other parts of this hub! Rated up and shared.