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Jones, Mary Smith (1819–1907)

Richard L. Himmel Biography Entry

Mary Smith Jones, wife of Republic of Texas president Anson Jones and first president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, was born in Lawrence County, Arkansas Territory, on July 24, 1819, to John McCutcheon and Sarah (Pevehouse) Smith. After Smith died in 1833, his wife and her five children moved to Texas and settled in January 1834 in Brazoria. There Sarah Smith married John Woodruff, a widower with six children. In April 1836 the Woodruff family and other Brazorians lost their homes when a division of Santa Anna's army forced them to flee toward the Sabine River. The Woodruffs found shelter in the timber of Clear Creek, eight miles from the battlefield of San Jacinto. After December 1836 the family resided in Houston.

On July 23, 1837, Mary Smith was married in Houston to Hugh McCrory, a soldier in the Army of the Republic of Texas. McCrory died suddenly seven weeks later. In Austin on May 17, 1840, Mary married Anson Jones, a prominent doctor and politician from Brazoria. Jones's political career eventually included a two-year term as senator from Brazoria, service as secretary of state under President Sam Houston, and election as president of the Republic of Texas in 1844. That year the Joneses built their plantation house at their estate, Barrington, four miles from Washington-on-the-Brazos. The estate was later sold at a loss, and after Jones's suicide in January 1858 Mary and the children were destitute. They moved to Galveston, where Ashbel Smith helped Mrs. Jones to buy his brother's 460-acre farm on Goose Creek, near the site of present Baytown. She moved to San Jacinto in 1871 and to Willis in 1874. In 1879 she returned to Houston, home of her son Cromwell, chief justice of Harris County. After his death, she lived with her daughter.

One of her driving ambitions in later years was to rectify what she considered gross misrepresentations of her husband's role during the annexation controversy. To that end she repeatedly contacted authors and publishers in an unsuccessful attempt to produce a favorable biography of Anson Jones and to publish his book, Republic of Texas. Her major means of support during these years was the sale of family land in Matagorda, Bastrop, Bexar, and Goliad counties. Mrs. Jones served, largely in a symbolic role, as the first president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas from 1891 through 1907. She was a Democrat and Episcopalian and was influential in establishing a church in Washington and St. Paul's College in Anderson. The Joneses had four children. Mary Jones died on December 31, 1907, at the residence of her daughter in Houston. She was buried at Glenwood Cemetery, Houston.

Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Founders and Patriots of the Republic of Texas (Austin, 1963-). Herbert Gambrell, Anson Jones: The Last President of Texas (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1948). Houston Daily Post, January 1, 1908. University of North Texas Archives.

Categories:

  • Women
  • Founders and Pioneers
  • Pioneers

Time Periods:

  • Mexican Texas
  • Texas Revolution
  • Antebellum Texas

Places:

  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Richard L. Himmel, “Jones, Mary Smith,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed December 05, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/jones-mary-smith.

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