Biography of Jones, Henry

Henry Jones, one of the “Old Three Hundred” of Austin’s colony was born in Madison County, Virginia, near the “Blue Ridge,” in 1798. In 1817, when but nineteen years of age, he left home in company with his brother, John, and went on a trip of adventure. They came down the Mississippi in a. flat boat to New Orleans, and there laid in supplies and ammunition and returned to the mouth of White River and was here joined by Martin Varner, Creason and two other young men of like temperament as themselves. They now laid their plans -to explore strange countries and became trappers and hunters and commenced at this place, trapping for fur animals, and killing deer, bear and other game for their pelts. In this way they remained two years, traveling over parts of Arkansas, Indians Territory and other places, part of the time being in camp on the Washita River, trading with friendly Indians.

During all of these rambles, and having a good time generally, they had not met or been molested by hostile Indians. Finally, however, while in camp on a tributary of the Washita, they discovered signs of hostile Indians. They detected that these Indians were not friendly by seeing where they had killed deer and other game, but could never get sight of them; while, on the other hand, if they had been friendly disposed, they would have come to their camp. The boys had a dog along which they had trained to growl, but not to bark, when anything unusual disturbed him. One morning, about daybreak, not long after these Indian signs had been discovered, the dog awoke them by growling and walking to and fro between their pallets and the log fire, which had been replenished through the night. Varner raised up, and, seeing a band of Indians near the camp and about to attack them, said, “Boys, here are Indians,” and raised his gun to fire at them, but before he could do so the Indians, who were also armed with guns, fired a volley into their midst and wounded all of them except Creason. Varner was shot in both wrists and his gun stock shot in two. Henry Jones was struck with a bullet which went through his body, just grazing the backbone, as he sprang up and was stooping to get his gun, and the other two, whose names cannot now be given, were severely wounded, but not as bad as Jones. All now ran away to save themselves, if possible, by flight. Henry Jones ran about one hundred and fifty yards, tripped in some vines or briars and fell; the others, thinking that he had fallen dead from the effects of his wound, ran on and left him. He thought his time had come, and lay there, face down, for a few moments, imagining he could hear the Indians breathing close behind him; but as they did not come at once to scalp him or run a lance through his body he raised his head to look, and none were in sight. With renewed hope now, although badly hurt and bleeding profusely, he regained his feet and ran on after his companions, but they had disappeared in the timber and brush, and he feared to call to them on account of the still near proximity of the Indians. They had another camp fifteen miles below and this was the objective point now of the routed hunters.

About noon Henry Jones ascended a hill and discovered his companions in the valley below. He yelled, to attract their attention to himself, as he was nearly exhausted, but they ran, thinking it was the Indians still after them. In running and looking back over their shoulders, however, they soon discovered that it was their wounded companion, and then stopped and waited until he joined them and all went on together. They had to cross a deep creek to reach their camp, and as Henry Jones could not swim he held on to Varner, who was six feet and six inches in height and could wade it, and thus passed over safely.

On reaching their camp they remained a long time, dressing their wounds as best they could until they healed and they were able to travel again. The first thing they did then was to go back to the camp where the Indians attacked them. Their little dog had never showed up and they were satisfied he was dead, which was verified on reaching the spot, by finding his remains in the camp. It is likely the dog was struck down by a shot when the volley was fired, but the Indians had also terribly mangled his body in revenge, probably, for causing them to loose the scalps of the five young hunters, by his timely warning growls, as otherwise they could have approached and placed the muzzles of their guns against their heads and made certain of their destruction. The Indians had taken everything in the camp except that which was the most valuable the furs and pelts; but it was not their fault that these were left, but the foresight of the young hunters. They had dug a hole in which they placed them, filled it carefully and compactly, and then made their campfire over the spot. After this unfortunate affair the young men disposed of their furs and pelts and returned to civilization. They did .not remain long, however, in the settled districts. Stephen F. Austin was making up a colony to settle in the wilds of Texas, and the two Jones brothers and Varner joined it and came with the first installment, first settling in what is now Washington County. Varner afterwards had his league of land located in Brazoria County, on what is now “Varner’s Creek.” He was killed there some years later by a Mexican; after receiving the mortal wound, he induced some of his friends to catch the Mexican and bring him within his reach, and he then and there, with a sharp knife, cut him in pieces actually skinning him alive from head to foot.

In Red River County Henry Jones married Miss Nancy Styles. William Jones, their first child, was born in 1822, in what is now Washington County, near the present town of Independence. They had no house completed at that time, and this child, the first in Austin’s colony, was born in camp under a live oak tree. In this same year Henry Jones and others came on down into what is now Fort Bend ‘County, looking at the country, as yet having located no land, and one day on the Brazos River, thirteen miles below the present town of Richmond, they dismounted, and hitching their horses, went down under the bluff to get some water. While there they were very much surprised to hear oars striking the sides of a canoe, hid from view by a bend in the river. At first they thought it might be Indians and looked well to their firearms, but when the party came in view it proved to be a white man and a Negro. The white man was Captain Randall Jones. He landed and the party had dinner together. Captain Jones and Henry Jones, on learning each others name, had a long talk, but could trace no kinship. Randall Jones boat was loaded with one barrel of whiskey and several boxes of tobacco bound for Fort Bend, where he had located and settled.

Henry Jones, liking the country, located his land on the Brazos River eight miles below the present town of Richmond. He wanted, and had selected a league of land just below the present town, but learning that Mrs. Jane Long wished this location for her grant, gave way to her and went further down the river. Before improving his place, however, he settled in the bend, and during this occupancy he and others made a journey to the mouth of the Brazos after salt.

In the meanwhile a band of friendly Indians, from the Trinity River, had a battle with the Craunkaway Indians, one mile below the present town of Richmond, in which the Trinity Indians were the victors, killing ten of the others and taking their scalps. Some think that these Indians from the Trinity were instigated by the white settlers to come and attack the Craunkaways and kill or drive them away in order to get rid of them, as they were a constant menace to the colonists of Austin. Others believe that the Craunks had made a raid on the Trinity Indians, who were likely Cooshatties or Osages, and carried off some of their stock, and the pursuit and battle was to re-dress ‘their own wrongs. The main camp of the Craunks was on Big Creek, seven miles below Richmond, and it was to this place the Indians from the Trinity were making their way, when they fell in with this band, which they fought and killed all of them except one. Now, about dark on the same day that this battle was fought, Henry Jones and his party were getting back from the mouth of the Brazos and were in three miles of Fort Bend, when, in the dusk of gathering darkness they saw an Indian pass, them on a pony at full speed, making his way towards Big Creek where his tribe was in camp, to inform them of the presence of the hostile Indians from the Trinity, he being the only one left to tell the tale. Soon after a terrible storm set in with such violence and floods of rain that Mr. Jones and his party were compelled to leave the prairie and seek shelter in a point of timber, where they spent the night. This storm also prevented the Trinity Indians from getting to their enemies, and they went on up the river to the white settlements. The Craunkaways, however, being warned, fled from their camp and left the country, going west across the Colorado.

Next morning, after the storm, when Henry Jones arrived at home, he was very much surprised to find his yard full of Indians and his wife, alone, except their two little boys, James and William. They, however, met him with extended hands of friendship, told him of the battle, and said they wanted beef and then have a war dance. The beef was furnished and the feasting and dancing commenced, which lasted several days, and Mr. Jones had to kill two more beeves before he could get rid of them, but finally they mounted their ponies and went off yelling to-ward their country. While their dancing was in progress the scalps of their enemies were hanging on a pole, around which they circled, sang and yelled. Also during this time Mr. Morton, near by, had two Craunkaway Indians a squaw and little boy; the Trinity Indians hearing of it, some of them mounted their ponies, and, dashing up to Morton’s house, killed the squaw and carried the boy away captive, saying they were going to make a good warrior out of him.

During the passage of the Mexican army through Fort Bend County and the families were fleeing before it, Henry Jones was sick and had been for some time and was hauled in a wagon on a mattress in the “Runaway,” and was therefore unable to take any part in the battle of San Jacinto and many other stirring scenes which were transpiring at that time. His family at that time consisted of his wife and five or six children. They came back over the battlefield of San Jacinto and viewed the dead Mexicans, and while doing so discovered an old sow eating one of them. Some of the Jones boys picked up scopets and sabers and brought them home. These relics were lost when the Henry Jones homestead was burned in 1888. At the time, however, the property belonged to Mrs. Mary M. Ryon, and the guns and swords had been left there in the garrett. Mrs. Jones died in 1850 at the “Old Prairie Home,” and Mr. Jones at the same place in 1861, both being buried in the old family burying ground, side by side. They had twelve children, and all lived to be grown, except one, and all married except two. The children were: William Styles, James, Mary Moore, John Henry, Hetty Ellen, Virginia, Elizabeth R., Susan E., Wiley Powell, Emily, Laura H., and Thomas Walter.

William, the first born and the first in Austin’s colony, married Mary Barnett and died in 18T5. His children were: Fannie, Thomas, William, Nancy, Sarah, Johnny and James. The two last named and Thomas are still living. James married twice, first Miss Martha Little, and of this union only one child lived, Walter, who married Miss Archie Davis. His second wife was Miss Fanny Hill and only one son by her lived, James Jones, who married a Miss Brown. He died in 1857. Mary married Colonel William Ryon, one of the captains in the Mier expedition. They had ten children and only three lived to be grown. James married Miss Josie Dagnell; Lizzie married Judge J. H. P. Davis, now a banker in Richmond; Mildred married first J. B. Wheat; he died and her second husband was Freeman I. Booth. John Henry never married, and died about 1850. Hetty married four times, first, James Roper; second, Samuel Wheat; third, Henry McElroy, and last Robert Hill. Virginia married John Barnett. Elizabeth was married twice, first, Seth Little, last Charles S. McElroy. Susan married Richard W. Neeley, now residing in Kentucky. Wiley P. married twice, two sisters, Sallie and Mattie Bailey. Emily died at four years of age. Laura married Lafayette Herbert, and resides in Montgomery, Alabama. Thomas W. married Miss Nancy Slavin. He died and she now resides in Kentucky.

When one of the daughters of Henry Jones married he gave her, as the saying is, a “big send off” or “blow-out.” Everybody was invited to the wedding and Jones was prepared to feed them. He had pits dug, over which mutton, veal and pork were barbacued, and a long table filled with everything that was good which could be procured, and the table was kept spread all the night so that every one could, at any time, eat if they were hungry.

He lived near the public road leading from Richmond to Columbia and Brazoria, and many people, strangers and acquaintances, made his house their stopping place in their travels to and fro, and no one was ever charged a cent for lodging or what their horses ate. The stranger and his horse were as well cared for as that of a bosom friend; it made no difference, his hospitality and generosity reached all alike. People of that day and time were not selfish. As the saying is, they did not worship the “Almighty Dollar.” They had plenty. It grew to them naturally. The broad prairies were dotted with their cattle, and when they needed money all they had to do was to round up a. bunch of beeves and drive them to the New Orleans market and get the cash for them. Peace to the ashes of these kind of Texans.



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