Grinstead, Jesse Edward (1866–1948)

By: Rebecca J. Herring

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: January 1, 1995

Jesse Edward Grinstead, newspaper editor, publisher, and author, son of William and Elizabeth (Priest) Grinstead, was born on October 16, 1866, in Owensboro, Kentucky. The family moved to Central Missouri when he was one year old. His formal education was brief; he attended a district school only three months a year between the ages of eight and fourteen. In 1884 the family moved to Indian Territory. There Grinstead learned the newspaper trade, first as a printer for a newspaper in Ardmore, then as publisher of a weekly newspaper, the Oakland News. In 1899, lured by the reputation of the Hill Country in Texas as a health resort, he moved to Kerrville, planning to stay only a few months in order to find a cure for his ill wife. Although she died within a few months after their arrival, he remained in Kerrville, impressed by the area's scenic beauty.

Grinstead soon became a leading citizen and strong promoter of the town. He bought the Kerrville Paper in 1900 and changed its name to Mountain Sun. He served as its editor for seventeen years and gained a reputation for clean, honest reporting. In his editorials he expressed his fearless opinion in a bold, entrancing style, and the newspaper columns advertised the merits of the town. He is given credit for coining the term Hill Country to describe the region surrounding Kerr County. Grinstead served as mayor of Kerrville from 1902 to 1904, when the first streets of the town were paved. In 1907 he was elected to the state legislature, where he authored a bill to establish a state tuberculosis sanatorium at Carlsbad. During World War I he worked as chairman of the local draft board. He also served as a member and later as president of the local school board during a fifteen-year period.

He retired from the newspaper business in 1917, when he sold the Mountain Sun to the Terrell Publishing Company. He thereafter devoted his time to writing fiction and gained widespread recognition as a western author. He contributed numerous short stories to magazines and wrote over thirty western novels under the names William Crump Rush, Tex Janis, and George Bowles, in addition to J. E. Grinstead. Some of his stories were purchased by motion picture companies; Scourge of the Little C was produced as Tumbling River by William Fox in 1928. From January 1921 to December 1925, Grinstead temporarily put aside his fiction to write and publish a monthly magazine entitled Grinstead's Graphic. Its purpose was to raise the flagging spirits of Hill Country ranchers, who were experiencing a financial recession. He ceased publication and returned to story writing when the financial situation of the area stabilized.

Grinstead married twice, but both the dates of those marriages and the names of his wives are unknown. He had children, including sons who served in the armed services during World War I. Grinstead died in Kerrville on March 8, 1948.

Bob Bennett, Kerr County, Texas, 1856–1956 (San Antonio: Naylor, 1956; bicentennial ed., rev. by Clara Watkins: Kerr County, Texas, 1856–1976, Kerrville, Texas: Hill Country Preservation Society, 1975). Kerrville Daily Times, Centennial Edition, April 25, 1956. Matilda Maria Real, A History of Kerr County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1942). San Antonio Express, January 15, 1928.
  • Journalism
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Publications, Journals, and Magazines
  • Journals and Publications
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Dramatists and Novelists
  • Fiction

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

Rebecca J. Herring, “Grinstead, Jesse Edward,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995