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William Jefferson Jones (1810-1897)

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Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1840-1845

The long and multifaceted life of William Jefferson Jones began in Caroline County, Virginia on September 27, 1810. When he was fifteen years old he began working as the recorder of deeds in the Caroline County clerk's office, where his brother was clerk. He studied law, obtained his license in 1829, and set up a law practice in Loudoun County, where he became acquainted with former U.S. President James Monroe. On Monroe 's advice, Jones traveled a bit before moving west. His travels included Charleston, South Carolina; Baltimore, Maryland; and Washington, DC. In Washington he obtained his license to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. In Georgia he met Mirabeau B. Lamar, future president of the Republic of Texas, and worked briefly at Lamar's newspaper office. He then moved on to Alabama, where he founded the Mobile Morning Chronicle, which he ran from 1836-37.

In late 1837 Jones moved to Texas and managed Lamar's campaign for president. When Lamar was elected, he commissioned Jones to raise a battalion to protect the frontier. In 1839 Jones fought in the Cherokee War. He also served as editor of the Houston National Banner. He was married, and he and his wife eventually had eleven children.

In 1840 Jones became a Texas Supreme Court justice when he was appointed judge of the Second Judicial District, and served in that position until 1845. He and his wife moved to Columbus, where he practiced law and raised cotton and cattle, and in 1852 they moved to his estate, Virginia Point, which he established as a town. Jones was instrumental in developing the Galveston, Houston and Henderson Railroad, which provided daily service to Virginia Point.

Following the Civil War, Jones divided 320 acres of his land into smaller tracts which he sold to freed slaves in return for payment ten years later. The black community of Highland Station developed in the vicinity. Jones died May 10, 1897 at the age of eighty-six and was buried at Virginia Point.

Notable opinions

Haynie v. Republic, 65 Tex. L. Rev. 379 (Tex. 1845) (affirming jury verdict in land title dispute where no bills of exception or statements of facts found to warrant disturbance of verdict).

Sources

Benham, Priscilla Myers. Virginia Point, Texas, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/VV/htv7.html

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 163 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Williams, Amelia W. Jones, William Jefferson, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated May 13, 2005). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/JJ/fjo68.html

Extended bibliography

Ericson, Joe E. Judges of the Republic of Texas (1836-1846) 163 (Dallas, Texas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1980).

Geiser, Samuel Wood. Horticulture and Horticulturalists in Early Texas 55 (Dallas, Texas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1945).

2 Texans and Their State, a Newspaper Reference Work 23 (Ft. Worth, Texas: Texas Biographical Association, 1918?).

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 23, page 267
Volume 24, page 90
Volume 26, page 137
Volume 27, page 89
Volume 56, page 269
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 67, page 123

2 Biographies of Leading Texans 391. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).