May 13, 1931 — James Warren Jones born in Crete, Randolph County, to James Thurman and Lynetta Jones.
By 1934 — The Jones family moved to Lynn. His mother works in factories in Lynn and Richmond while his father, who suffered health problems after serving in World War I, spends his days closer to home. A neighbor takes young Jones to the Nazarene church.
1948 — Jim Jones moves to Richmond with his mother, who separates from his father. He becomes an orderly at Richmond High School while completing his education at Richmond High School. He meets senior Reid nursing student Marceline Baldwin, a 1945 Richmond High School graduate.
1949 — Jim graduates from Richmond High School mid-year and begins classes at Indiana University in Bloomington.
June 12, 1949 — Jim Jones and Marceline Baldwin marry in a double ceremonywith her sister, Eloise Baldwin and Dale Klingman, at Trinity United Methodist Church. The newlyweds move to Bloomington.
1951 — Jim’s father dies. Jim and Marceline move to Indianapolis. Jim continues to take college courses, and Marceline works in nursing.
1952 — Jim decides to enter the ministry and starts as a student pastor at Somerset Methodist Church in Indianapolis.
1952-1953 — Jones launches a campaign to build an interdenominational recreation center for youth. That same year, Jim and Marceline adopt Agnes Jones. He speaks at a denominational convention in Columbus, Ind., and his speech energizes the audience.
1954 — Jim sells monkeys door to door to supplement his income and he becomes the focus of a front-page story in The Indianapolis Star when he refuses an air shipment of monkeys because many are sick or died en route.At about the same time, Jim leaves the Somerset church and rents a building at Hoyt and Randolph streets in Indianapolis, calling it “Community Unity.”
By 1956 — Jim moves his church to 15th and New Jersey streets, calling it “Wings of Deliverance.” Later that year, he moves the church to a former synagogue at 10th and Delaware, which becomes known as the “Peoples Temple.”
1958 — The Joneses adopt two Korean orphans, Stephanie, 4, and Lew Eric, 2.
May 11, 1959 — Stephanie dies in a car accident while returning to Indianapolisfrom Cincinnati. The Joneses arrange to adopt a friend of Stephanie’s, 6-year-old Suzanne, who had lived at the same orphanage.
June 1, 1959 — Stephan G. Jones is born to Jim and Marceline Jones. Soon after, the Joneses adopt a black baby, naming him James Warren Jones Jr.
1960 — The church opens a soup kitchen for the needy and expands its social outreach programs. The church is accepted by the Disciples of Christ denomination. Jim is ordained and around the same time graduates from Butler University. The Joneses open a nursing home, and Marceline’s parents — Walter and Charlotte Baldwin — come from Richmond to help.
1961 — Jim is appointed the first director of the Indianapolis Human Rights Commission. Jim is hospitalized for a week with an ulcer condition. Because he had a black doctor, he is mistakenly placed in a black ward, earning publicity for integrating the hospital. Jim begins to fear nuclear holocaust.
1962 — Esquire magazine list the nine safest places in the world to escape thermonuclear blasts and fallout. Jim Jones moves to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The Peoples Church continues in Indiana without him, a he researches a resettlement spot for the church. He and his family later move to Rio de Janeiro, and Jim teaches English part-time at a university.
December 1963 — The Joneses return to Indiana.
1965 — Jim and Marceline move to Ukiah, Calif., and about 140 Hoosier church members join them.
By 1967 — The church is growing again, building its own pool and sanctuary in the Redwood Valley.
1969 — Peoples Temple membership is listed at 300.
By 1971 — Peoples Temple uses buses to recruit members from around the region and buys time on religious radio stations across the country. The temple begins using its political powers.
1972 — Peoples Temple establishes congregations in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Busloads of Peoples Temple members begin touring the country.
1973 — Peoples Temple membership is listed at 2,570. That year, eight members leave the church.
October 1973 — By vote, the church’s board of directors authorize establishment of a branch church and agricultural mission in Guyana. By December, the first plans are in place. In contrast, the church grounds in Ukiah begin to look more like a military installation, with fences, floodlights and an armed guard.
1974 — The first Peoples Temple crews arrive in Guyana to create Jonestown, and more follow.
1975 — Jim is named one of the top 100 most outstanding clergymen in the nation by Religion in American Life magazine.
April 1975 — Marceline Jones returns to Richmond for her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary celebration and shares news of the efforts in Guyana.
1976 — Jim receives the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Los Angeles Herald newspaper. He also is appointed chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority. He visits Jonestown twice.
June 1976 — Jim returns to Lynn with 12 busloads of temple members.
1977 — Trouble begins with reports of Peoples Temple members’ mistreatment and a custody battle over a temple child. Jim plans to move with a majority of the congregation to Jonestown. By September, nearly 1,000 have migrated.
December 1977 — Lynetta Jones dies shortly after arriving in Jonestown.
1978 — In Jonestown, Jim begins the “White Night” suicide drills and talks about threats to the church. The Concerned Relatives gain the ear of U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan of California.
Oct. 31, 1978 — Marceline, accompanied by her parents, returns to Jonestown from the United States after a visit to Richmond.
Nov. 6, 1978 — The basketball team, including the Jones’ natural son, Stephan, and adopted sons, Jim Jr. and Tim Tupper Jones, leave for Georgetown, Guyana.
Nov. 13, 1978 — Congressman Ryan and his delegation, including Concerned Relatives and media representatives, board a plane for Guyana.
Nov. 15, 1978 — Ryan’s party arrives in Guyana; Marceline’s parents depart, returning to Richmond.
Nov. 17, 1978 — Ryan and his group visit Jonestown in the afternoon. They spend the night in Port Kaituma.
Nov. 18, 1978 — Ryan and his group return to Jonestown. About 5 p.m., as they are about to leave the Port Kaituma airstrip with about 16 departing members, shots are fired by temple members arriving in a tractor-pulled wagon. Ryan and four others are killed, and others are injured.
Jim calls a White Night — a mass suicide — and four temple followers at the Georgetown headquarters immediately follow through. In all, 913 temple members die either voluntarily or through intimidation, including about 300 children. Jim Jones, 47, dies of a gunshot wound. Also dead are Marceline, 51, and their adopted children, Agnes, 36, and Lew Eric, 22, along with Agnes’ and Lew Eric’s children.
In the aftermath, Jim Jones is cremated and his ashes are scattered in the Atlantic Ocean. Marceline’s body is returned to Earlham Cemetery in Richmond for burial Jan. 8, 1979. The cremated remains of Agnes and Lew Eric are later buried beside her. The grandchildren are buried in a mass grave in San Francisco with other Jonestown children.
Today — Four of the Joneses’ children survive: Stephan, Jim Jr., Suzanne and Tim Tupper Jones.
We appreciate your support
One way in which you can support us — at no additional cost to you — is by shopping at Amazon.com.
Our website includes affiliate links, which means we get a small commission — at no additional cost to you — for each qualifying purpose. For instance, as an Amazon Associate Religion News Blog earns from qualifying purchases. That is one reason why we can provide this service free of charge.