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History of the John L. Jones Family

This week I am going to relate a small portion of the history of the John L. Jones Family in Kimble County with info that was submitted by the late Lemuel Jones:


The John L. Jones family had its beginnings in Louisville, Kentucky, as it was in Kentucky that John A. Jones, the father of John L. Jones, was born, Sept. 16, 1821. Sometime in the late 1830's the family,  noted horse breeders, trainers and horsemen, raising what would become known years later as Quarter Horses, moved to Missouri, settling near Neosho in the southwestern corner. It was there John A. married Mahalia Capps, and there their first two children, Sam H. and James I. Jones were born.


Mahalia Capps was the only daughter of John Capps and Mahalia Yadon Capps. She was born in Granger County, Tennessee, April 24, 1825. Her grandfather, Joseph Yadon, was a Veteran of the Revolutionary War, serving as a Drummer Boy at the Battle of Bunker Hill, and then as a soldier in later battles. In the late 1840's the John A. Jones family along with several of Mahalia's brothers began the long trek to Texas, arriving and settling in Bexar County a few miles north of San Antonio, in about 1850. While there John A. Jones was a member of the Minute Men Militia under Capt.  John Tobin, serving during several Indian and Mexican uprisings.


On Jan. 31, 1858, John L. Jones was born to John A. and Mahalia. In 1863, John A. Jones' family moved to Bandera Pass on Myrtle Creek, three miles south of Bandera Pass. Among his proudest possessions were his horses, the descendents of the fine horses the family had  brought from Kentucky.


John L. grew up on his father's ranch working for his father as a cowboy. By his early teens he had accumulated a few cattle and registered his first brand. On June 4, 1874 he joined Company F, Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers under Capt. Neal Coldwell. The Muster Roll of Company F of that date has the following description: John L. Jones, age 18, height six feet, blue eyes, light complexion, brown hair. He purchased a rifle and pistol from the State for $37.50, the cost to be taken out of his pay. The age given must have been required for enlistment since his actual age was 16. He was discharged along with many other Rangers about three months later due to failure of the legislature to allocate the necessary payroll funds.


Shortly after leaving the Rangers, he left Bandera County to join his brother James I. Jones who had settled in 1868 on Little Saline Creek just over the Kimble County line in Menard County, and established a cattle and horse ranch. He brought with him thirty head of cattle, two horses and a mule. From this small nucleus he was to build one of the largest ranches in this part of the state.


Shortly after his arrival on Saline Creek in 1874, eight Comanche Indians made a raid on the Saline Settlement, running off most of the horses in that valley. According to peace officer Dee Harkey in his book Mean As Hell, a party consisting of John L. Jones, Jim Ike Jones, Pete Weaver, Sam Weaver, Doug Brown, Henry Pearl, and Joe Harkey took to the trail of the Indians and horses. They caught up with them on the head of Little Devils River near the Kerr County line and in the ensuing fight killed the eight Indians and recovered all the horses without the loss of a man.


About the time of this Indian raid, John L. and Jim Ike both took out homestead preemptions south of the Main Llano River in Kimble County. This was the start of the Jones Ranch which was to grow in the next twenty-five years to over twenty-five thousand acres of deeded land. At one time during this period, the brothers controlled the grazing rights to over one hundred thousand acres. During the late 1870's they sent thousands of cattle up the trail. In one year alone, John L. drove or sent forty thousand cattle to Kansas. Part of this ranch is still owned by descendants. In the late 80's John L. bought out his brother, Jim Ike, who gradually made his way West, finally settling in Arizona.


In December, 1879, John L. and Elizabeth Stevens were married in Bandera, Texas. In the ensuing years John L. and his wife, Elizabeth continued to expand their land and livestock holdings. During this period he built a "drift fence" of rock running for miles along the southern portion of his ranch, portions of which are still standing.


In 1896 John L. answering the pleas of his fellow ranchmen, ran for and was elected Kimble County Sheriff. During the two years he served in this office, he  was credited with cleaning up the county of cattle rustlers and outlaws who were making life miserable for the ranchers and townspeople alike. Among those  stealing horses and cattle in the county were the remnants of the Dalton Gang.


On Feb. 6,1897, Jones and a posse made up of John Turman, Tom Taylor, Oscar Latte, John Gardener, T.W. Frazier, and Bob Owens caught up with the outlaws on the head of Bear Creek in northwestern Kimble County. In the fight that took place just over the line in Menard County, two of the rustlers were killed and a third wounded, captured and sent to prison. John L. refused to run for another term as sheriff stating the two years he spent as sheriff cost him over fifty thousand dollars through neglect of his livestock and ranch operations. 


About this time he became one of the organizers of the first bank in Kimble County, known as the Kimble County State Bank, serving on the board of directors. During these busy years, his wife Elizabeth was equally busy assisting her husband with the day- to-day ranchwork, keeping house and taking care of their growing family. Their first child, Maud, was born Oct. 30, 1880. Maud married James Turman and they had two children, Loma and Lily Gertrude. Lily Gertrude  died when she was an infant. Loma married Walter "Pete" Lindsay of Mason. They had two children,  A.J. and Beth (Mrs. Preston Wright).  Maud died Oct. 18, 1929.


John L. Jones continued to operate his ranch and livestock operations until his death on March 28, 1912. After his death, his widow Elizabeth by sale and by gift to her children disposed of all but the headquarters ranch. She continued to manage that thirty-five hundred acre ranch until her death on July 29, 1936.

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