Jones, William E. (1808–1871)

By: Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell

Type: Biography

Published: 1952

Updated: March 1, 1995

William E. "Fiery" Jones, legislator, lawyer, judge, and Unionist Republican, was born in 1808 in Georgia. Nothing is known of his family or early life, but he edited the Augusta Chronicle and Sentinel and the Constitutionalist and served in the Georgia legislature before moving to Gonzales County, Texas, in 1839. He quickly became active in politics and represented Gonzales County in the Sixth Congress of the Republic of Texas during 1841–42. In September 1842, while attending a session of the district court in Bexar County, Jones was among those captured by the invading Mexican army commanded by Gen. Adrián Woll. He served as one of the commissioners who arranged the surrender of San Antonio. Jones and other Texans attending the court session were marched to Perote Prison in Mexico, where they arrived on December 22, 1842. In late March 1843, Waddy Thompson, United States minister to Mexico, arranged the release of Jones, Samuel A. Maverick, and district judge Anderson Hutchinson.

Jones returned to Texas and represented Gonzales County in the Eighth Congress in 1843–44. He considered running for the vice presidency of the republic in 1844 but chose instead to accept an appointment in February of that year as judge of the fourth district court. Under the Constitution of the Republic of Texas, district judges also served as associate justices of the Supreme Court, so Jones held that position as well until annexation. In April 1846 Governor James Pinckney Henderson continued Jones's career on the bench by appointing him to a six-year term as judge of the Second Judicial District. Jones moved from Gonzales to Guadalupe County in 1845 and lived there until 1851. He was a founder and trustee of Guadalupe College and a trustee of the Guadalupe High School Association. The Census of 1850 reported that he and his twenty-seven-year-old wife, Kezziah, had two young sons, and that he was moderately prosperous, owning nine slaves and $6,800 in real property. Jones moved to Comal County in 1851 and apparently as a consequence of that move resigned his district judgeship. In 1858 the region of Comal County in which Jones lived became part of Blanco County, and the state legislature named him the commissioner to hold the first elections and organize the new county. Jones's county of residence changed again in 1862 when Kendall County was formed in part from Blanco County.

Jones supported the American (Know-Nothing) party during the mid-1850s, probably because he agreed with its Unionism. He opposed secession in 1860–61, but served toward the end of the Civil War as captain of a company of state troops defending the Texas frontier. Following the war Jones remained politically active, first as a Unionist and then as a member of the new Republican party. The Radical Union Caucus of the Constitutional Convention of 1866 nominated him for the state Supreme Court, but he did not win election. In 1870 Governor Edmund J. Davis appointed him judge of the Thirty-second Judicial District, which included a large number of counties to the northwest of Austin. Jones died of "paralysis" at Llano on April 18, 1871, having won the respect of conservatives as one of Davis's "best" appointments. His family at the last census before his death (1870) consisted of his wife, four sons, and a nine-year-old daughter. Jones's oldest son, William, was a postmaster in Kendall County in 1870.

John Moursund, Blanco County Families for One Hundred Years (Austin, 1958). Texas House of Representatives, Biographical Directory of the Texan Conventions and Congresses, 1832–1845 (Austin: Book Exchange, 1941). E. W. Winkler, ed., "The Bexar and Dawson Prisoners," Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association 13 (April 1910).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, “Jones, William E.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995