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William Early Jones (1808 or 1810-1871)

Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas, 1843-1846

Little is known of the early life of William Early ("Firey") Jones, except that he was born in Georgia in 1808 or 1810. He was married in Hancock, Georgia in 1827, and he and his wife went on to have five children. Jones was editor of two Augusta, Georgia newspapers, and he served in the Georgia legislature before relocating to Gonzales, Texas in 1839 or 1840.

Jones represented Gonzales County in the Sixth (1841-42) and Eighth (1843-44) Congresses of the Republic. In 1842 he was attending a court session in San Antonio when the Mexican army stormed the city. Jones was among the Texas officials taken prisoner by the Mexicans, marched to Perote Castle in the state of Veracruz, Mexico, and held in its dungeons until his release was negotiated in March of the following year.

In 1844 Jones was appointed judge of the Fourth District court following the resignation of fellow Perote prisoner Anderson Hutchinson. Under the constitution of the Republic, this appointment also made him an associate justice of the supreme court. Following annexation, Gov. Henderson appointed him a judge of the Second Judicial District. Jones relocated to Guadalupe County, where he was a founder and trustee of Guadalupe College. In 1851 he resigned his seat on the bench and relocated to Comal County.

Although he had opposed annexation and was a slaveholder with nine slaves, Jones opposed secession. When the Civil War broke out, however, he served two years as a captain in the Confederate Frontier Company in South Texas.

Jones was the first editor of the San Antonio Express when it became a daily newspaper in 1866. In 1870 Gov. Davis appointed Jones judge of the Thirty-Second Judicial District. He was presiding in court in Llano when he had a seizure and died on April 18, 1871. He was buried in Georgetown.

Notable opinions

Wooster v. Wakeman, 65 Tex. L. Rev. 377 (Tex. 1845) (affirming District Court judgment upon finding of no error in record of proceedings).

Keller v. Webb, 65 Tex. L. Rev. 377 (Tex. 1845) (dismissing appeal on grounds that record showed no final judgment rendered in lower court).

Sources

Campbell, Randolph B. Jones, William Early, Handbook of Texas Online (last updated June 6, 2001). http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/JJ/fjo67.html

Jones, Fred Riley. San Antonio Prisoners: The True Story of the 1842 Invasion of San Antonio and the Imprisonment of Its Citizens, San Antonio Lawyer 8 (March-April 2008).

McKeehan, Wallace L. Sons of DeWitt Colony, Texas (visited July 6, 2006).
http://www.tamu.edu/ccbn/dewitt/augustusjones.htm

Extended bibliography

Huson, Hobart. District Judges of Refugio County 62 (Refugio, Texas: Refugio Timely Remarks, 1941).

The Encyclopedia of the New West 579. William S. Speer, ed. (Marshall, Texas: the United States Biographical Publishing Co., 1881).

Texas Legislature, House of Representatives. Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832-1845, 118.

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

Additional information available in Southwestern Historical Quarterly as follow:
Volume 12, page 320
Volume 13, page 292, 295, 298, 306
Volume 23, page 102
Volume 43, page 504
Volume 44, page 368
Volume 58, page 531, 533
Volume 60, page 17
Volume 67, page 123, 469
Volume 68, page 366
Volume 70, page facing 420
Volume 78, page 10n

Brown, Frank. Annals of Travis County and of the City of Austin 30:35. Archives Division, Texas State Library (Austin, Texas).