Few samples of the handwriting of Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones survived the death of Peoples Temple, and even some of the writings purporting to be those of Jones may in fact be dictation of his words taken by a secretary. The three examples presented here are likely genuine.
- The first is an undated note to Earl Jackson, a Temple parishioner, which Jones wrote on letterhead from a Temple enterprise in Indianapolis. If the stationary is contemporary to the letter, the note is from an eight-year span of Peoples Temple’s existence in Indianapolis from 1957 to 1965; several references to a Christian God make it more likely the note predated Jones’ departure for Brazil in 1961.
Note to Earl Jackson, RYMUR 89-4286-1099, pp. 6-7
My beloved brother in Christ, concern for you kept me up praying the entire night! I [am] going to speak sincerely and frankly! God sent you to People’s Temple and you must not release yourself. I know there are things about the Message that you may not see but it is God. As long as we love Christ we have unity and understanding to compensate for all the little things you & I might disagree on. Earl you will be making a serious mistake if you leave our Temple that God has ordained and declared you to be a part of. Don’t go out to see the proof of what I just said. Hear me as a voice crying to you from the depths of love & fondness for you. “Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.” Don’t go back on the light! I know you wouldn’t intentionally but if you leave the place that Christ has set you in[,] much sorrow and heartache will be the result. God impressed my mind strongly in every prayer in the early hours before dawn that you would be making a terrible mistake to leave. Please hear my counsel which I give with a heart full of love for you!
Yours in Him,
Pastor James Jones
[at the top of page 1] P.S. I called last night but you were asleep. I’ll be in contact by person or phone with you soon! My prayers & love go out for you!
- The second is a single-page will dated 22 June 1968, written within four months of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. – to which the will makes reference – and less than a month following the assassination of Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles. The will was likely written in Redwood Valley.
Will of 1968, RYMUR 89-4286-1099, p. 4
On this 22nd day of June in the year of 1968 while in sound mind in every sense of the word, I do speak by intuition that my wife Marceline Mae Jones is to be my successor as pastor, President of the Peoples Temple non-profit inc, and spiritual leader of People’s Temple in all matters. It is made clear to me that she, as is the case of Mrs. Martin Luther King with her late husband, will ably succeed me in all matters. Even the messenger of God will give her guidance on occasion as was so frequently the case with me. When this messenger makes contact with her, she will accept that Divine Guidance. Marceline Jones is to be consulted about all church decision[s] for in her their [there] is absolute integrity. You as a congregation conveyed to both of us the absolute right to relegate all funds and this I Divinely bequeath to her also. Love, Jim W. Jones
- The third is a single-page will “written on the morning of the 17th of Sept. 1975.”
Will of September 1975, RYMUR 89-4286-1099, p. 8
Last will and testament written on the morning of the 17th of Sept. 1975: I designate that Marceline Jones be the [illegible] successor to my office and Stephan G. Jones be groomed as next in line if he is willing. I believe all of my Sons should be given responsible positions of leadership under Stephan and that includes Jim John Prokes & John Stoen. Moreover Carolyn Layton should be Chairperson of the Planning Commission. I sign this [illegible] sound mind as [illegible].
Jim W. Jones
The complete PDF of RYMUR Serial 1099 from which these notes are taken is here.