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Townes, John Charles, Jr. (1886–1948)

Clay Bailey Biography Entry

John Charles Townes, Jr., attorney, was born in Georgetown, Texas, on July 4, 1886, the son of Kate Rector (Wildbahn) and John Charles Townes. From 1903 until 1906 he was a student in the liberal arts department of the University of Texas; he entered the university law department in 1906 and received the LL.B. degree in 1909. Townes married Helen Markle of Palestine, Texas, in 1910, and they had three daughters. Helen died in 1941, and Townes married Mozelle Barnhart on June 9, 1944. Between 1909 and 1917 he practiced law in Houston. During World War I he served with the rank of major in the infantry and was sent to Texas as supervisor of the Selective Service. In 1918 he was called to Washington to serve in a committee rewriting the draft law. He was employed as a lawyer for Humble Oil and Refining Company (see EXXON COMPANY, U.S.A.) in May 1919, and became general attorney before leaving the firm on January 1, 1929. Thereafter he practiced privately. Townes attained a position of national prominence in the area of oil litigation. He was a longtime active member of the State Bar of Texas and served one year as its president. He also served in official capacities for the Houston Chamber of Commerce and the national organization of the American Legion. He died on February 22, 1948.

Houston Post, February 23, 24, 1948. Texas Bar Journal, February 22, 1955.


  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Lawyers
  • Oil and Gas and Natural Resources Law
  • Oil and Gas Industry
  • Politics and Government
  • Judges

Time Periods:

  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression


  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

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

Clay Bailey, “Townes, John Charles, Jr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 06, 2021,

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July 14, 2017

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