John M. Hansford came to Texas from Glasgow, Kentucky, in 1837 and settled near Jonesville, Harrison County. He represented Shelby County in the House of Representatives of the Third and Fourth congresses of the Republic of Texas (1838–40) and in the former was chosen speaker of the House. After Fannin County was organized in 1840 he presided over its district court. On January 31, 1840, he was appointed judge of the Seventh District. On January 19, 1842, Hansford left office to escape impeachment for his failure to bring a leading regulator to trial during the Regulator-Moderator War, which was then at its peak in that area. The articles of impeachment were withdrawn. After leaving the bench Hansford retired to his farm near Jonesville. In January 1844, as he and his wife were returning from church services one Sunday morning, a mob of regulators appeared at his house and demanded possession of some slaves that he was holding under a writ of sequestration. When the judge refused to submit to their demands, he was shot and killed. Hansford was among the organizers of the Constantine Masonic Lodge at Warren on November 3, 1840, and was named junior deacon pro tempore. Hansford County, established in 1876 and organized in 1889, was named in his honor.