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Alexander, Kathleen Jones (1885–1979)

Kathleen Jones Alexander, philanthropist, businesswoman, and rancher, was born on November 8, 1885, to William Whitby Jones, an oilman, hotel owner, and South Texas rancher pioneer, and Lou Ella (Marsden) Jones, third president of the Corpus Christi Woman’s Monday Club, in Bee County, Texas. She had three siblings: Allen Carter Jones, Lorine (Jones) Spoonts Lewis and Alice (Jones) Eshleman. Kathleen Jones married thrice to Lee Blanchette, Clarence Hocker, and Donald Alexander. Her grandfather Allen Carter Jones, Jr., is credited with the founding of Beeville, and her great-grandfather Allen Carter Jones, Sr., immigrated to Texas in 1826.

Kathleen's father began his ranching operations in South Texas in 1898 and created the Alta Vista Ranch, which was located partially in Jim Hogg County and partially in Brooks County. The family moved from Beeville to Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1905. After finishing her education, Kathleen returned to Corpus Christi where she became a member and the president of the La Retama Club, a literary study group and women’s club. Under her leadership, this organization raised funds to build the first public library in Corpus Christi. The library opened in 1909. That year the Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs appointed Alexander secretary of the organization’s fifth district. On December 21, 1911, Kathleen Jones married Lee Blanchette, a well-known banker from Beaumont, in a Methodist ceremony at her parents’ home in Corpus Christi. The couple lived in Beaumont until her husband’s death in 1921, after which she returned to her parents’ home in Corpus Christi.

On June 29, 1927, Kathleen Jones Blanchette married Clarence McElroy Hocker, an attorney with experience as president of multiple gas and oil companies. The couple established their residence in San Antonio. In the 1930s W. W. Jones and Lou Ella Jones bequeathed to their four children approximately 200,000 acres of land to establish a family-run oil company, the Mesteña Oil and Gas Company (see OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY). The four Jones siblings and Clarence Hocker became the company’s original board of directors. The first meeting of the organization took place on January 17, 1935, in San Antonio. Clarence Hocker served as company president until his premature death in March 1937. Kathleen took her late husband’s place as president and remained in San Antonio. In 1945 she married Donald Alexander of Philadelphia, and, although they lived in Philadelphia, she continued her leadership in the Texas energy business, ranching, and real estate management. After his death in 1959, Alexander returned to San Antonio.

Kathleen Jones Alexander became one of the first women to lead an oil company in the male-dominated petroleum industry of Texas. She served as chairman of the board and president of the family corporation from 1937 to 1969. In 1969 she stepped down as company president but served an additional three years as chairman until 1972. During her years of service, the company focused primarily on leasing its mineral interests to other corporations such as Standard Oil of California and Sun Oil. In 1938, a little more than a year after she became president, she negotiated the lease of 134,000 acres in Brooks and Jim Hogg counties to Humble Oil (see EXXON COMPANY, U.S.A.). Crews operating on Alexander’s leased lands often named wells after her, including the Humble No. 1 Kathleen Jones Hocker and the N. B. Hunt No. 4 Kathleen Jones Alexander.

Alexander also devoted time to philanthropy, business, and ranching. In 1937 she and her sister, Lorine Jones Lewis, established the Jones Educational Fund. During World War II Alexander contributed in Bexar County to the Red Cross Special War Fund and was on the board of directors of the Nueces Hotel which served as a meeting place for war workers and personnel of the U.S. Navy stationed in Corpus Christi (see NAVAL AIRSTATION, CORPUS CHRISTI). In 1944 the Charity Association of San Antonio selected her as one of the organization’s directors. Over the years, Alexander made substantial donations to hospitals, schools, and the arts, including the Driscoll Children’s Hospital, the Ada Wilson Hospital for Crippled Children, and the Corpus Christi Heritage Society in Corpus Christi; the Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Lenkenau Hospital in Philadelphia. In San Antonio, she contributed to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, St. Mary’s Hall, the Southwest Foundation for Research and Education (see TEXAS BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE), Trinity University Press, the Southwest Craft Center, the McNay Art Institute, and the San Antonio Museum Association. She also gave to Christ Episcopal Church in San Antonio, St. James Episcopal Church in Hebbronville, St. Phillips Episcopal in Beeville, and the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

Throughout her life she operated her own ranching interests and co-owned the family ranch with her sister, Lorine Jones Lewis. Her interest in ranching included the purchase of Hereford bulls and cattle. Alexander also belonged to many organizations such as the Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners Association, the Desk and Derrick Club of Corpus Christi, and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

Kathleen Jones Alexander died at the age of ninety-three on May 17, 1979, in Corpus Christi. Although she was still a resident of San Antonio, she had come to Corpus Christi to attend Buccaneer Days and see two of her great-nieces, who were members of the royal court for the festival that year. She was buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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Jessica Brannon-Wranosky, “Founding Forces,” Corpus Christi Public Libraries (http://obc.cclibraries.com/laretama/foundingforces.htm), accessed July 10, 2019. Brownsville Herald, April 4, 1938. Corpus Christi Caller-Times, March 18, 1941; April 27, 1941; May 2, 1943; September 22, 1946; September 3, 1950. Galveston Daily News, May 23, 1909. Lubbock Morning Avalanche, September 17, 1937. Mesteña 1935: Mesteña History (https://mestenallc.com/mestena-history/), accessed July 10, 2019. Mesteña 1935: Ranch History (https://mestenallc.com/ranch-history/), accessed July 10, 2019. San Antonio Express, November 26, 1944. San Antonio Light, December 30, 1941. Victoria Advocate, November 12, 1957.

Categories:

  • Business
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Oil Companies
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen
  • Religion
  • Methodist
  • Women
  • Women's Clubs

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Great Depression
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • World War II
  • Texas Post World War II

Places:

  • Central Texas
  • San Antonio
  • Southeast Texas
  • Gulf Coast Region
  • Corpus Christi

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Robin Borglum Kennedy and Marcus Golding, “Alexander, Kathleen Jones,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 06, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/alexander-kathleen-jones.

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October 31, 2020
June 4, 2021

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