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Jones, Charles Edward (1852–1935)

C. Robert Haywood Biography Entry

Charles Edward Jones, buffalo hunter, merchant, Indian trader, teamster, and rancher, son of James J. and Esther T. (Clarke) Jones, was born at Neenah, Wisconsin, on August 10, 1852. He was given many nicknames in his varied career-Dirty Face, Chief Coffee, and Farmer, among others. As a young man he was employed by a Wisconsin firm to go to Kansas to hunt buffalo and ship the hides back. He arrived in Dodge City in 1872 and joined the slaughter; he once boasted that "he had killed 106 buffaloes before breakfast." When the hunters moved south with the declining herd, Jones began hauling supplies to them in the Panhandle and returning hides to Dodge City. He gained a reputation on the plains for being fearless and self-reliant, whether hunting or freighting. Many tall tales about him have survived in popular history and literature. He organized the first caravan of wagons to haul goods and supplies for Adobe Walls and helped build the picket structures there. He was on a return trip to Adobe Walls when he heard of the massacre of Joseph H. Plummer's crew, and drove a six-mule team ninety miles without sleeping or unharnessing in order to take ammunition to the traders and hunters. He served briefly as a scout for Frank Dwight Baldwin under Nelson A. Miles's command, and then joined Emanuel Dubbs's hunters in their attempt to return to the Panhandle after the second battle of Adobe Walls in 1874.

In the fall of 1874 Jones and Joe Plummer, who also served under Baldwin, built a cottonwood-picket store on Wolf Creek in Ochiltree County, at a site near present U.S. Highway 83. The trail they marked to Dodge City, the Jones and Plummer Trail, became the major freighting trail south until the railroads reached the Panhandle in the late 1880s. From 1874 until the last decade of the century, the trail was a major influence in welding a three-state region into a community of common business, economic, and social interests. Jones bought his partner's share in the store in June 1878 and continued as Indian trader, teamster, and rancher until he sold his holding to the Barton brothers. Eventually, the store became headquarters for H. W. (Hank) Cresswell. In 1889 Jones purchased a ranch four miles east of old Fort Supply, Oklahoma, where he farmed and raised horses and mules. He spent his declining years in Woodward, Oklahoma, and died there on June 3, 1935. He never married.

He is not to be confused with Charles Jesse (Buffalo) Jones, another hunter not associated with Texas.

T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Wayne Gard, The Great Buffalo Hunt (New York: Knopf, 1959). James L. Haley, The Buffalo War: The History of the Red River Indian Uprising of 1874 (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1976). C. Robert Haywood, Trails South: The Wagon-Road Economy in the Dodge City-Panhandle Region (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1986). Charles E. Jones Papers, Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas. J. Wright Mooar, Interview by J. Evetts Haley, July 28, 1937, Haley Collection, Midland. Henry H. Raymond, "Diary of a Dodge City Buffalo Hunter, 1812–1873," ed. Joseph W. Snell, Kansas Historical Quarterly 31 (Winter 1965). Woodward (Oklahoma) Daily Press, June 4, 1935


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Exploration
  • Traders

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

C. Robert Haywood, “Jones, Charles Edward,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 06, 2021,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995
June 11, 2020