The Loyalty of Johnny Moss Brown

There was no shortage of loyalty within the walls of the Jonestown complex. Jim Jones counted on many people to carry out the various tasks he needed done. If you were one of those persons, that meant he considered you loyal to him.

One person who I would always see by Jim’s side was Johnny Moss Brown. He was always on the move. I can’t tell you how often I would see Jim hand him papers or whisper something in his ear, and he would take off.

Johnny was head of security in Jonestown, so I would quite often see him strolling the complex after hours making sure all was okay in our little world. I was a part of the security team in Jonestown which meant he was my boss. I would always make sure when he was around that I was on my job and fulfilling my duties as required.

His loyalty did not begin in Jonestown. He was just as loyal in the States, so much so that Jim began to refer to Johnny as his son and to call him by the name Johnny Jones.

Johnny’s loyalty was also with his family. He was married to Ava Cobb Jones, and adopted a daughter Stephanie Morgan Jones. Like a few others in Jonestown, they also adopted a Guyanese baby, Marchelle Jones; his brother Tim Jones and sister-in-law Sandy Cobb Jones adopted Marchelle’s twin Monyelle.

Johnny was not a loud man, nor was he a show-off – he was quiet and subdued at times – but when he spoke, there was no mistake he meant business.

And Johnny was respected by everybody, from Jim to the rank-and-file members. He would conduct some of the meetings when Jim had left for Jonestown and others were waiting to leave for Jonestown. He would deliver powerful messages on behalf of Jim Jones messages to keep us motivated to make the move to South America, always showing the slides and making sure everyone could see the beauty of the place we were going.

If he were here today, I’m sure he would probably be involved in a political career or something involving strength and loyalty. But it would be his power that would shine for him and not for someone else.

(Dawn Gardfrey was in Georgetown with her grandmother, Ruby Neal Johnson, on November 18. Her other articles in this edition of the jonestown report are My Friend, Sonje Regina Duncan, Keeping in Touch through the World of Social Media, and Surviving November: My Life After Jonestown Moves Forward. Her previous articles are here. She can be reached at