James and Hetty Jones, Part of the "Old Three Hundred" Colonists 

 

James Jones, brother of Captain Randall Jones, was a native of Georgia and came to Texas as one of the first installment of Austin's colonists. The first contract with Stephen F. Austin, made with the Mexican government to bring American colonists to Texas, was for 300 families, and as he afterwards contracted for others, the first was called the "Old Three Hundred." These were the first ones that crossed the line into Texas, and it was quite an honor and distinction in after years to be known as one of the "Old Three Hundred," and their descendents to this day are proud of the fact.

The colonists came by different routes and did not arrive at the same time even of this first contract, but James Jones and his brother, Randall, were among the first to arrive and go into camp on the west bank of the Brazos River on January the 1St, 1821, at New Years Creek, now in Washington County. They afterwards settled in Fort Bend County, where their lands were located. On their way to the Brazos these two brothers rescued Mrs. Jane Long at Bolivar Point, who had been left there by her husband, General Long, while he went on his unfortunate expedition, in which he lost his life, the facts of which are more fully explained elsewhere. The James Jones league was located in Fort Bend County near the present town of Rosenberg. Hefty Jones (wife of James Jones) was Miss Hefty Styles, born in Kentucky, and came to Texas with her parents in company with Henry Jones and his family. These were also of the "Old Three Hundred" and came with the first installment. They, however, moved from Fort Bend County in the early '50s, and settled in Guadalupe County near the San Marcos River, and not far from the boundary line of Caldwell and Guadalupe Counties. Here they prospered and raised a large family, both dying at an advanced age, the wife surviving her husband a number of years. Their children were Thomas, Elizabeth, Robert, Austin (named for Stephen F. Austin), Richard, John (Shack), and Walter (Watt). Thomas married Caroline Boone and died in Guadalupe County. Elizabeth married John Boone and is now dead also. Robert died in Uvalde County, and Richard moved to the Rio Grande, settling at Eagle Pass, and there met with a most tragic death. Several of his small children had excavated a considerable cave in a sandbank and were using it as a playhouse. This bank partly caved in on the children in such a way that they were unable to escape, but their cries soon brought the brave and devoted father to their rescue, but only to die with them. While he was crawling and making his way to them the balance of the bank caved in and all were smothered.

During the civil war the Jones boys made good soldiers. No better sons of the South followed the stars and bars than they. Austin was wounded at "Gaines' Mill," and he also has the distinction of being the man who turned General Lee's horse around and led him back from the front at the Wilderness; at the time, this incident was a most critical one. The battle of the Wilderness was a fearful engagement. Men were falling by thou-sands on both sides, and the day seemed to be going against the Confederates. General Lee was very solicitous as to the result, and forced his way on horseback ("Old Traveler") to the front, and halted between the contending lines. The Texans discovered him and commenced crying out, "General Lee, to the rear! General Lee, to the rear!" and refused to charge as long as he was thus ex-posed, and continued to cry out as above stated. General Lee sat his horse unmoved while the whizzing bullets filled the air around him. At this juncture Austin Jones dropped his musket to the ground and, deliberately advancing to the General, seized his bridle by the bit and led his horse back to the rear. He then picked up his gun, resumed his place in the ranks, and the Texans moved off through the smoke with leveled bayonets upon the Federal line. Austin Jones was a tall man, standing about six feet four inches in height.

Some years ago the question arose as to who it was that turned General Lee's horse around at the Wilderness. Austin Jones had told of the circumstance when first re-turning from the war, but some others were inclined to claim the honor. Finally Richard Burges, who was also in the battle, but did not witness the incident, wrote to a man in Richmond, Virginia, who he was satisfied knew, and asked him the question. His reply was that the man was a Texan named Jones ; that he belonged to the 4th Texas, Hood's Division.

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