Jonah Church is the aging mayor of Matewan. Raised in a family that was at best avoided by others, Jonah grew up with a strong sense of independence and no allegiances to any particular group, a trait that would serve him well as he rose through the ranks of the Matewan Law Offices. A well-respected member of the community, Jonah has become a master at juggling between the warring factions in Matewan. Although he is in his mid-life, Jonah still tries to serve his community by going out on investigations, maintaining a good public image, and personally training every new member of the Law Offices.
Jonah was born of an atypical union between Nahum Church, a Caintuck leader cast out for first proposing the revolution that would eventually create the Hill Farmers Union; and Marianne Stephens, the widow of a traveling coal salesman for the Tug Fork Traders. Marianne first met Nahum when she nursed him back to health after he was badly beaten in a fight with two large Hatfield men who insulted his ancestors. Nahum didn't expect such kindness from a "townie", nor the civility with which she treated him despite her affiliations with the company that was preventing his people from trading in town. Marianne had been left to fend for herself after her husband's death, as the Tug Fork Traders were not willing to aid a young widow who had nothing to offer them, and she immediately saw the advantage of having an able-bodied man to care for her.
And so Jonah was brought into the world. He was raised to be a farmer and was taught by his parents not to trust any one group too much. Both Marianne and Nahum both had ties and affection for the groups that they had once been connected to, but they knew all too well the problems with trusting organizations so completely so as to be blind to their faults. Yet they both had a sense of hope in the constant improvement of their situation and of the value of the entire community. Although the family rarely had callers, the result of the proudly-Caintuck Nahum, they were still able to trust that, in times of hardship, their neighbors would help pull them through. They passed on to Jonah a sense of the value that a strong community has and a trust in the nature of their fellow man, but they tempered this trust by forging in him a sense of solidarity and the ability to rely on himself, so that only in the most dire of times would he need to rely on others.
And so Jonah's early years passed, working on his family's small plot of land with his parents. He would remember it as an idyllic childhood, despite the times of famine, hardship, and death that any post-nuclear survivor had to deal with, coupled with the taunts of local children about his parentage and the cool disdain of adults. Jonah's life, however, took a turn for the unexpected when his father's health began to deteriorate.
Rite of Passage
As Nahum grew older, his health began to deteriorate, a result of his years of hard living, and he was soon confined to his bed. As Marianne was forced to take on a greater share of the farmwork, Jonah had to go into town to trade for supplies and medicine. Not long after one such trip, a group of Caintucks from the Church clan, Nahum's native clan, arrived at his doorstep and entered the house. They administered last rites to their brother, then asked a favor of him: could they take Jonah into their care to be raised as a Caintuck? Although Marianne was suspicious of the tribals, Nahum consented, and soon after, Jonah was taken to live with the Church clan a few days' hike from Matewan.
Jonah did not fit in well. Although he was relatively skilled in working the shelves of earth on which the Churches grew their food, he was weaker and slower than the other youths his age, a result of his comparatively easy life in Matewan. However, as time went on, Jonah began to toughen up, growing stronger and more skilled at farming, scavenging, and defending the town from wild animals and raiders, all vital skills for Caintucks. Eventually, through hard work, Jonah became, if not accepted, then at least tolerated by the Caintucks, who attributed his good qualities to his "good ol' Church blood".
Eventually, Jonah was trusted enough and skilled enough to take part in a serious undertaking. A group of Church men were traveling to attend the wake of an allied clan leader, and Jonah was to be counted among their ranks. The wake went well, but, on their way back, the group was ambushed by a war party from a rival clan, who sprung a trap by dynamiting a section of the roadway, forcing the Churches into a narrow passage, where they were exposed and easily picked off. Jonah, during the fighting, was knocked out by a club-wielding enemy warrior. Left for dead and with several broken bones, Jonah nevertheless managed to limp back to the Church homestead and tell them what happened. He still bears a slight limp from the broken leg he worsened while struggling to get back to the home.
Although Jonah found himself living comfortably with the Churches, he eventually began to miss his home in Matewan. He worried about his mother, about his farm. He felt like he had abandoned his blood relatives in favor of a distant clan that he didn't know, and he regretted it. Eventually, he decided to head home. He told the Church clan patriarch, Zeke Church, who understood his reasons and told him to go home. After hiking home through the mountains, Jonah returned to find his home long empty and the town in a state of turmoil. A large, unruly clan of Caintucks from the east had swarmed the town, trying to steal its coal, and the Law Offices were hard-pressed to push them out. Feeling some sort of kinship with Matewan, Jonah volunteered to help.
After a two-day course on the bare essentials of teamwork and combat, Jonah was sent out, along with a small party of farmers, to help combat the Caintucks in the streets. The volunteers were to serve as cannon fodder, drawing fire from the officers and only being able to make a real difference through pure luck. They expected that the farmers would turn and run, or be slaughtered. They had not counted on Jonah. Not only was he relatively skilled in combat after years of training and fighting in bloody clan feuds, he understood how Caintucks were likely to fight, trying to use elevation and the scarce cover on the outside of town as they pushed forward, a time-tested battle tactic. Using ingenuity and the resources he could mobilize, Jonah managed to get the drop on the approaching tribals, setting up traps where they were likely to move to and hiding the farmers in the brush. When battle came, Jonah's leadership managed to hold the group together and push back the Caintuck war party. Furthermore, as the Caintucks drew more of their men into the area where Jonah's men were, trying to make them break and run to prove that the Caintucks were superior, they drew valuable men from the flanks, allowing a group of riflemen with the officers to sweep around, take out the tribe's leaders, and send the tribals running. The town was protected, thanks in part to Jonah's leadership.
Jonah was welcomed into the officers after that with open arms, and he further honed his skills in battle after years on the beat. He also discovered that he had a talent for diplomacy, as his general affability and character encouraged people to act according to his wishes. He found that men were more likely to support him because he was good-natured. He did not have a silver tongue, but his honesty and his willingness to help made a favorable impression on those he came into contact with and encouraged them to help in return. Thus, Jonah rose through the ranks over the years, and, when the time came for the current mayor to step down, Jonah was picked to lead in his place. However, unlike those who had been mayor before him, Jonah was not willing to sit behind a desk for the rest of his life. Jonah still worked alongside the town's farmers and junior officers, and he always tried to be personally available to train the new recruits to the Law Offices, even when other men could do the job. He found that working with the Law Offices was something he enjoyed, earnestly and completely, and, although he regretted leaving his tribal brothers in the Church clan, Jonah was generally happy with his job, and still is.
Jonah is of average height, but broad shouldered. His face is all angles and rough edges, and his brow has a slight furrow in it. He usually wears an old suit with a bulletproof vest on top of it, and he moves with a limp on his right leg.
Abilities and Skills
Jonah is of average intelligence, but he has a certain charm about him that makes him an above-average negotiator. He is not particularly fast, but he is strong and tough, traits that have served him well in the line of duty. Despite his seeming easiness of forming trust, Jonah is fairly perceptive in reading people and situations, which has served him well on the front lines.
Besides his aptitude for negotiation, Jonah's other real skills are in combat. Despite his age and injury, Jonah is still a talented marksman and fighter. His fighting skills come primarily from his training as a Caintuck warrior and a Law Officer, and he has become skilled in a variety of weapons and in hand-to-hand combat. Most of his skills in unarmed fighting come from a mixture of boxing, wrestling, and dirty fighting tricks, all of which have been passed down over the years by the Caintucks and the citizens of Matewan.
Jonah also is fairly skilled with a pair of bones, but that is the extent of his musical talent.
Jonah typically carries a repeater rifle and a revolver as his weapons, although he does keep a pump-action shotgun underneath his desk and a double-barrel by his bed. He also carries a Bowie knife or a hatchet by his side. For protection, he wears an old worn suit with a bulletproof vest over it and a wide-brimmed hat to keep the sun out of his eyes.