Jones, George Washington (ca. 1828–1903)

By: Thomas W. Cutrer

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: April 27, 2019

George Washington (Wash) Jones, politician, was born on September 5, 1828 (1833 according to some sources), in Marion County, Alabama, and spent his boyhood years in Tipton County, Tennessee. He moved to Texas with his parents in 1848, settled on the Colorado River some ten miles below Bastrop, and taught school and farmed for two years. He moved to Bastrop in 1850, read law in the office of attorney Phil Claiborne, and was admitted to the bar in 1851. In 1853 he was narrowly defeated in the race for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, but in 1856 he was elected Bastrop County district attorney, an office he held until the outbreak of the Civil War. He also failed in an attempt at the state Senate. During this period he is said to have shot and killed a fellow attorney named Rose on a street in Bastrop. Although reputedly a brilliant and forceful speaker, Jones was said to have been "addicted to drink-the spree kind."

He was a Unionist and supporter of Stephen A. Douglas, but joined the Confederate States Army as a private-"a foolish undertaking," he declared, "but I will fight it out with my people." On June 9, 1862, he was elected lieutenant colonel of Robert T. P. Allen's Seventeenth Texas Infantry. After the battle of Milliken's Bend, Jones rose to command of the regiment and in September 1864 was promoted to the rank of colonel. According to Oran M. Roberts, he was "a valiant and popular officer in the discharge of his duty to his command and to the country."

After resuming his law practice in Bastrop, Jones was elected to the Constitutional Convention of 1866 and was the candidate for lieutenant governor on James W. Throckmorton's ticket in the election of 1866, in which he polled 48,908 of the 57,622 votes cast and overwhelmingly defeated Livingston Lindsay. He served until he was removed by Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, commander of the Fifth Military District, as an "impediment to reconstruction" on July 30, 1867. After an unsuccessful independent campaign for Congress in 1876, Jones won election as a representative from the Fifth Congressional District of Texas in 1878, with support from the Greenback and Republican parties. He narrowly won reelection and served in Congress until 1883. He ran independent campaigns for governor in 1882 and 1884 and lost both races to John Ireland. Jones mounted a Populist-backed independent campaign in 1898, but lost to Albert Sidney Burleson. He died in Bastrop on July 11, 1903, and is buried there in Fairview Cemetery.

Kerek Darren Hogg, Wash Jones: The Life of George Washington Jones, Economic Radical and Political Dissenter (M.A. thesis, Texas Tech University, 1993). Kenneth Kesselus, History of Bastrop County, Texas, Before Statehood (Austin: Jenkins, 1986). Dudley Goodall Wooten, ed., A Comprehensive History of Texas (2 vols., Dallas: Scarff, 1898; rpt., Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1986). Marcus J. Wright, comp., and Harold B. Simpson, ed., Texas in the War, 1861–1865 (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1965).

Time Periods:
  • Civil War
  • Reconstruction
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Texas

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

Thomas W. Cutrer, “Jones, George Washington,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 08, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

April 27, 2019

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