Meet B.C.’s first dentist a Black miner from Barkerville

Meet B.C.’s first dentist a Black miner from Barkerville

Dr. Jones was one of many Black pioneers who performed an necessary position in B.C. historical past

British Columbia’s historical past consists of the tales of many Black pioneers who got here to this province looking for a life stuffed with alternative and promise.

A type of pioneers was Barkerville’s William Allen Jones who was additionally the primary dentist in B.C. to be granted a license underneath the British Columbia Dental Act.

Guests strolling the streets of Barkerville Historic City and Park will discover a signal that reads: “Painless Tooth Extraction: Dr. Jones will extract enamel and carry out quick operations with out ache.”

Dubbed “Painless Jones” in commercials on the time, he carried out dentistry providers for folks within the bustling city of Barkerville which was booming through the Cariboo Gold Rush.

“Effectively, sadly, we do not truly know a complete lot about him. The knowledge we do have about him is sparse,” mentioned Mandy Kilsby, curator at Barkerville.

“We all know he was a dentist right here. We all know he was the primary particular person in B.C. to formally follow as a registered dentist once they began licensing.”

Kilsby mentioned that dentistry on the time was practiced extra like a commerce earlier than the Dental Act was handed in 1886.

“He had been working towards beforehand however once they launched a brand new dental act, he went and obtained his license and continued to follow.”

Jones was granted a license on June 26, 1886, though he could have been working towards dentistry as early as 1865. 

He was born in North Carolina in 1831 to his mother and father Allen and Temperance Jones. It’s reported that Allen purchased his household’s freedom from slavery for $5,000 and ultimately moved the household to Ohio.

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Jones and three of his brothers then attended and graduated from Oberlin Faculty in Ohio.

After he graduated in 1859, Jones and his brothers moved to Salt Spring Island, B.C. after which Jones and his brother Elias headed north to Barkerville when gold was found there.

Their brother John Craven remained on Salt Spring Island to ascertain a college. 

In Barkerville, Jones labored as a miner and stayed ultimately changing into referred to as the Barkerville’s Dentist or “Painless Jones”.

“He marketed within the newspaper, the Cariboo Sentinel as painless Dentistry so he would have used the patent medicines on the time to assist make the method much less painful for his sufferers,” added Kilsby.

He returned to america after the Civil Conflict resulted in 1865 the place he visited Oberlin to proceed the dental research that he had began earlier.

Whereas his brother Elias opted to remain within the U.S. after returning, Jones determined to enterprise again to his life in Barkerville.

The B.C. Black Historical past Consciousness Society says he discovered a house and the sort of life he wished in Western Canada.

The society says that almost all Black settlers got here from western states the place they have been going through restrictive authorities laws, ambivalence in direction of slavery and beatings, insults, and legalized injustice. 

On the time, B.C.’s first colonial Governor James Douglas, who was the son of a Creole girl, promised Black immigrants that they might be topic to the identical legal guidelines as each different free citizen of B.C., in addition to the identical primary rights and liberties.

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“Jones’ household had emigrated from america and on the time Barkerville and the gold rush was bought as a chance,” mentioned Kilsby, including that undoubtedly Jones would have nonetheless confronted discrimination in Barkerville.

“Nevertheless it was an opportunity for a brand new life, new alternatives – for plenty of folks that did not essentially have them wherever dwelling was – and sort of the identical causes that everybody got here right here.”

Different notable Black residents of Barkerville included barber Wellington Delaney Moses, identified for being a witness within the well-known homicide case in opposition to James Barry who was discovered responsible of killing Charles Morgan Blessing, and Rebecca Gibbs who labored as a laundress however had poetry revealed within the newspaper.

When Barkerville was restored as a gold rush city vacationer attraction, the workplace of Dentist Jones, full with chair and devices grew to become a characteristic on the primary avenue.

“The exhibit itself is a reconstructed constructing and the exhibit was put along with the help of dentists and historic instruments that they might have used on the time,” mentioned Kilsby.

“So, it isn’t essentially something that immediately belonged to him, but it surely’s meant to been to characterize what would have been accessible to him.”

Jones died of pneumonia in 1897 in Barkerville and is buried there within the Williams Creek Cemetery.