The Addams Family's Carolyn Jones:
A Descendant of Geronimo?

By James Pylant

Posted 22 May 2007; Revised 27 May 2007

Actress Carolyn Jones is forever remembered as the ghoulishly captivating "Morticia Addams" in The Addams Family. The avant garde television series lasted only two years (1964-1966), yet it lives in syndication as a cult classic. The actress subtly stole scenes in her roles of the smoldering "Morticia," the suspicious "Mrs. Moore" (the wife of a slave master in Roots), and the ruthless "Myra Clegg" in Capitol.

Reportedly, Carolyn Jones was one-eighth Native American, and she was a descendant of the famous Apache chief Geronimo.1 I asked the late actressís sister, Bette Jones Moriarty, about that claim, which she dismisses as a Hollywood "publicity stunt."2 Harlyn Geronimo, great-grandson of Geronimo, also finds the claim doubtful. "As far as I am concerned, my immediate family and I are his only descendants," he tells me.3 Research into the family background of the actress has failed produce any evidence of an Apache connection or yet another claimed Native American bloodline — Comanche.4

Carolyn Jonesís birth date was the 28th of April, but the year varies in biographical sources. Internet Movie Database gives 1929,5 while The Handbook of Texas gives 1933.6 Several websites, including the Internet Movie Database, incorrectly state her birth name was "Carolyn Sue Baker." According to her birth certificate, Carolyn Sue Jones was born on 28 April 1930 in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas. Her fatherís name is recorded as Julious A. Jones, who was listed as a thirty-four-year-old barber. Her mother, whose maiden name was recorded as Cloe Jeanette Southern, was a twenty-six-year-old housewife. At the time of Carolynís birth, her father was living in Midland, Texas. (A duplicate of the certificate filed two months later changed the spelling of Carolynís name to Carrelyn.)7

Carolynís parents had a troubled marriage, and her father, Julius Alfred Jones, abandoned the family in 1934. "He left me twice, and I left him twice; so we were even," Jeanette told her daughter, Bette.8 Carolyn, many years after becoming an established star, received a telephone message from a man claiming to be Julius Jones. She refused, however, to return the call.9

Eleven days before Carolynís birth, her mother — then separated from her husband — was enumerated on the 1930 Census at 2132 Hayden Street, in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas. She is listed as Chloe Jones, the twenty-three-year-old daughter to the head of the household, Charles W. Baker, age forty-four, born in Wisconsin to a New York father and a Vermont mother. Mr. Bakerís occupation is listed as Assistant Manager, Implement Company. His wife, Emily Caroline, age forty, was born in Texas to a Mississippi father and an Alabama mother.10

Chloe Jeanette (Southern) Jonesís birth date is recorded as 28 April 1906, meaning she turned twenty-four on the day her daughter was born.11 Her birthplace was Jericho, Donley County, Texas.12 The 1910 Census of Kiowa County, Oklahoma, lists Cloah R. Southern, age five, born in Texas to Texas parents, as the "adopted Daughter" of Levi M. Southern and his second wife of eight years, Mallie [Mattie]. Mr. Southern, age sixty-two, was born in Georgia; Mrs. Southern, age thirty-eight, was born in Arkansas. Also living with the family were his son, John R. Southern, age forty, and mother-in-law, Sophia Campbell, age seventy-eight.13 At age fifteen, Chloe Southern, a Texas native, was living with her adoptive parents in Gray County, Texas.14

Chloe Jeanette had a close relationship with her adoptive father. "She loved him dearly," says Bette Moriarty. She was not, however, as close to Mrs. Southern, and that troubled relationship led Jeanette to run away from home. (The Southerns were then living in boardinghouse in Mineral Wells, Palo Pinto County, Texas.) She eventually lived with her biological mother, Emily Caroline "Callie" Ray, the wife of Charles Baker.15

Bette Moriarty remembers her grandmother, Emily Caroline, as "a wonderful, elegant, very beautiful woman."16 She was born on 2 August 1888 and died on 5 December 1966 in Orange County, California.17 Her husband, Charles Waterman Baker, was born on 22 June 1885 in Wisconsin and he died on 15 March 1953, also in Orange County.18

Emily C. Ray, age twelve, appears on the 1900 Census of Donley County, Texas, in the household of her widowed father, Benjamin B. Ray, whose age is unlisted. He was a farmer, born in Alabama to Georgia parents. Emilyís older siblings were Benjamin, age twenty-four (born in June, 1895); Joseph, age twenty (born in November, 1879); Jennie I., age fifteen (born in December, 1884); and John F., age fourteen (born in January, 1886). She had a younger sister and brother: Matilda P., age ten (born in March, 1890) and Thomas R., age six (born in July, 1893). All of Benjamin B. Rayís children were Texas natives.19

Benjamin B. Ray died of pneumonia on 22 February 1932 in Wichita Falls, Wichita County, Texas.20 He was buried at Jericho Cemetery, Donley County, near his wife, Mattie, who was born 21 March 1850 and died 9 December 1895.21 A daughter-in-law to the couple identified Mrs. B. B. Ray as the former Mattie Bryant.22 However, in an interview for A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill County, Benjamin B. Ray stated he married Martha Prestridge, daughter of J. M. and Emily Prestridge, in 1870.23 This surname is also given for motherís maiden name on the death certificate of Emily C. (Ray) Baker.24 B. B. Ray and J. M. Prestridge both lived in Barnesville, Johnson County, Texas, and their names appear in Farmersí Directory of Johnson County, Texas, for 1879-80.25 B. B. Ray was born 12 March 1848 in Talladega County, Alabama, and his interview identifies his parents as James Ray and the former Caroline Bennett.26

Chloe Jeanette Southern Jones died 16 November 1979 in Los Angeles, California.27 Actress Carolyn Jones survived her mother by less than four years, dying of colon cancer on 3 August 1983 in Los Angeles.28 She had married four times: first to Don G. Donaldson, second to Aaron Spelling, third to Herbert Greene, and fourth to Peter Bailey-Britton.29

Carolyn Jones had appeared in more than a hundred movies and television episodes30 by her death at age fifty-three, though all are overshadowed by the iconic "Morticia" in The Addams Family. Bette Moriarty says the dark-humored role was closest to her sisterís offbeat sense of humor. "It was made for her!" she says.31

  1. "Jones, Carolyn Sue," The Handbook of Texas, online <>, downloaded 9 December 2006.
  2. Interview with Bette Moriarty by James Pylant, 24 February 2007.
  3. Interview with Harlyn Geronimo by James Pylant, 20 May 2007.
  4. Carolyn Jones Biography, Internet Movie Database <>, downloaded 9 December 2006.
  5. Ibid.
  6. The Handbook of Texas, online, downloaded 9 December 2006.
  7. Carolyn Sue Jones, birth certificate, no. 37561, Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  8. Interview with Bette Moriarty by James Pylant, 24 February 2007.
  9. Ibid., 19 May 2007.
  10. Chas. W. Baker household, 1930 U. S. Census of Potter County, Texas, population schedule, Amarillo, enumeration district [ED] 184-R; supervisorís district [SD] 1, sheet 21A, dwelling 495; family 538; National Archives [NA] microfilm T625-2384.
  11. Jeanette Jones, no. 482-10-5954, Social Security Death Index, online <>, downloaded 20 February 2007.
  12. Carolyn Sue Jones, Texas birth certificate, no. 37561.
  13. Levi M. Southern household, 1910 U. S. Census of Kiowa County, Oklahoma, population schedule, Cooper Township, ED 163, SD 5, sheet 7A, p. 89, dwelling 76, family 76; NA microfilm T624-1257.
  14. Guy [Levi] M. Southern household, 1920 U. S. Census of Gray County, Texas, population schedule, McLean, ED 87, SD 18, p. 30, sheet 1A, dwelling 2, family 2; NA microfilm T625-1800.
  15. Bette Moriarty to James Pylant, 24 February 2007.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Emily C. Baker entry, California Death Index, online <>, downloaded 25 February 2007.
  18. Charles W. Baker entry, California Death Index, online, downloaded 25 February 2007.
  19. Benjamin B. Ray household, 1900 U. S. Census of Donley County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 1, ED 24, SD 3, sheet 2B; dwelling 31, family 31; NA microfilm T623-1628.
  20. B. B. Ray, death certificate no. 9270 (1922), Texas Department of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Austin.
  21. Jericho Cemetery, online <>, downloaded 20 February 2007.
  22. Joseph Jackson Ray, death certificate no. 38987 (1941), Texas Department of Health, Austin.
  23. [Anonymous], A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill County (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Co., 1892), pp. 597-598.
  24. Emily C. Baker entry, California Death Index, online, downloaded 25 February 2007.
  25. A. J. Byrd, History and Description of Johnson County and It Principal Towns (Marshall, Texas: the author, 1879), pp. 196-197.
  26. A Memorial and Biographical History of Johnson and Hill County, Texas, pp. 597-598.
  27. Jeanette Jones entry, California Death Index, online.
  28. Carolyn Sue Jones, death certificate no. 0190-034858 (1983), State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Department of Health Services, Sacramento, California.
  29. Bette Moriarty to James Pylant, 24 February 2007.
  30. Carolyn Jones Biography, online Internet Movie Database, downloaded 9 December 2006.
  31. Bette Moriarty to James Pylant, 24 February 2007.

_________________________ - © 2000-2015
| About | Contact Us |