Helen Buchanan was born in Washington, D. C., on April 9, 1888, and had at least two brothers, John and Francis. Her father, James A. Buchanan (1843-1926), was brigadier general in the United States Army and was the first military commander of the Puerto Rican Regiment (1st U.S. Volunteers) in the Spanish-American War. Helen attended school in Rome, Italy, between 1909 and 1910, and traveled widely in Europe. She lived at her family's residences in Washington, D. C., and Upperville, Virginia, before marrying Walter M. Jones in the spring of 1916. She then joined him at his coffee plantation ("Hacienda Limon") near Villalba, Puerto Rico.
Walter McKnown Jones was born in Boston in 1833 and later moved to Puerto Rico, where he was involved in local politics. He was mayor of Villalba, Puerto Rico (1917-1919), and a member of the island's legislature (1922-1928). He and Helen advocated for Puerto Rican independence, and she was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in the 1940s. Walter Jones died in 1944, and Helen Buchanan Jones died in 1980.