Jones, Evan (1846–1899)

By: Bruce Palmer

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: February 1, 1995

Evan Jones, Populist spokesman and farmer, was born on June 19, 1846, in Woodford County, Kentucky. In 1857 his parents moved to Schuyler County, Missouri, and his father died soon after. Jones acquired an education and in 1866 became a Methodist. On November 12, 1868, he married Mary C. Meador. Though he learned tobacco processing as a boy, he farmed all his life. By 1876, when he homesteaded land on Green Creek in Erath County, near Dublin, Texas, he had two children.

By 1883 Jones had joined the Farmers' Alliance. He was president of the Erath County Farmers' Alliance from 1884 to 1888. In 1886 he led an independent ticket to victory in the county elections. On January 18, 1887, the Texas Farmers' Alliance elected him president, and he served until the fall of 1888, when he was elected president of the rapidly expanding Farmers' and Laborers' Union of America, the product of the merger of the Agricultural Wheel and the Farmers' Alliance. In the fall of 1889 he declined to run for national president again and was reelected president of the Texas Farmers' Alliance; he served until the fall of 1891. He was again president of the Texas alliance from 1895 to 1896.

Jones's advocacy of political action on the part of independent farmers and laborers made him an early leader of the more radical political wing of the Texas alliance. From 1889 to 1891, as president of the Texas alliance, he helped the radicals persuade numerous members of the alliance in Texas and the South to move toward third-party politics. He was nominated for governor in July 1888 by the Union Labor party, a precursor of the People's party, but declined because of his work as alliance president. He joined the Populist party when it was formed in Texas in 1891, and in 1892 he ran unsuccessfully for the United States Congress from the Eighth Congressional District. In 1896 he ran unsuccessfully for railroad commissioner on the same ticket. He continued into the late 1890s to work for the Farmers' Alliance and the Populist party, especially in Texas. After a four-week speaking trip to east Texas in December 1898, he returned home tired and in ill-health. He died at home in Dublin four weeks later, on January 26, 1899. His wife survived him.

Lawrence Goodwyn, Democratic Promise: The Populist Moment in America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1976). Roscoe C. Martin, The People's Party in Texas (Austin: University of Texas, 1933; rpt., University of Texas Press, 1970). Robert C. McMath, Jr., Populist Vanguard: A History of the Southern Farmers' Alliance (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1975). W. Scott Morgan, History of the Wheel and Alliance and the Impending Revolution (Fort Scott, Kansas: Rice, 1889).

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Politics and Government

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

Bruce Palmer, “Jones, Evan,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995