James Washington Winters, Jr., soldier, was born in Giles County, Tennessee, on January 21, 1817, the son of James Washington Winters, Sr., and Rhoda Creel (Beal) Winters. After sojourning in Memphis for a time, Winters's father moved his wife and numerous children (as many as sixteen) to the Vehlein colony in present Montgomery County in 1834. In company with George A. Lamb, they settled on Winters Bayou in the Big Thicket between the forks of the San Jacinto River twelve miles below the site of present Huntsville. For a time Winters apprenticed to a blacksmith in Montgomery. In late 1835, with his father and brothers, he volunteered for service at the siege of Bexar. Upon reaching San Felipe de Austin, however, the party learned of the surrender of Martín Perfecto de Cos and so returned to their farm. On March 18, 1836, Winters enlisted in Capt. William Ware's company of independent volunteers. Also serving in this company were his brothers, Sgt. William C. Winters and Pvt. John F. Winters. Ware's company tried to hold Dewees's crossing on the Colorado River against the army of Mexican general Antonio López de Santa Anna, but was ordered to fall back by Sam Houston, who was retreating from the Colorado. Ware's company then joined Houston's army and was designated the Second Company of Col. Sidney Sherman's Second Regiment, Texas Volunteers. All three of the Winters men took part in the battle of San Jacinto, where William C. Winters was severely wounded.
In 1837 Winters served under Capt. Jerry Washam in pursuit of a group of Indians who had raided near present Anderson. At Montgomery on September 14, 1837, he married Pearcy (Percy) Z. Tullis, a native of Jackson, Mississippi. By 1840 the couple owned 177 acres in Montgomery County. In 1842, in response to the Adrián Woll raid, Winter joined Capt. Albert Gallatin's company of Brig. Gen. Alexander Somervell's Army of the South West and took part in the Somervell expedition. He returned from the Rio Grande with Somervell, declining to take part in the infamous Mier expedition. About 1848 Winters moved his family to the site of present Wimberley to help his brother William build a saw and grist mill. He then went into the mercantile business in Prairie Lea, Caldwell County, but that venture was unsuccessful. Winters next opened a store at the site of present Moulton in Lavaca County. In 1852 he moved to a ranch on the Nueces River east of the Live Oak County community of Oakville. In August 1861, following the outbreak of the Civil War, Winters organized the Oakville Precinct Reserve Company, which later became part of the Twenty-ninth Brigade, Texas State Militia. During the war Winters served as enrolling officer and provost marshall for Live Oak and McMullen counties. After the collapse of the Confederacy he moved his family to Tuxpan, Mexico, where he built a sugar mill and farmed for eight years. In Mexico Winters lost two of his eight children and his wife, who died on February 7, 1874. Winters returned to Texas and settled in Beeville for two years, then bought a farm near Bigfoot, eighteen miles north of Pearsall in Frio County.
In 1901 the Daughters of the Republic of Texas asked Winters to help them identify important points on the San Jacinto battlefield for the purpose of erecting historical markers. At that time several DRT members interviewed Winters about his early life and his experiences during the Texas Revolution. Winters's responses were recorded by Adina de Zavala and Adele L. B. Looscan and published in the Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association (later Southwestern Historical Quarterly) in October 1902. After the death of his first wife Winters married Elizabeth Weir (Wier), who died in 1894 or 1895. Winters died near Bigfoot on November 13 or 14, 1903, and was buried in Brummett Cemetery, three miles northeast of Bigfoot. One of the last survivors of the battle of San Jacinto, Winters served as second vice president of the Texas Veterans Association from 1902 until his death. Three of Winters's sons served in the Confederate army.