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Texas | Columns | "Wandering"

Keeping Up
with the Anson Joneses

by Wanda Orton
Wanda Orton

His name is not as famous as that of his grandfather, Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, but Charles E. Ashe made a name for himself as a lawyer and judge.

From 1900 to 1936, he presided over the 11th District Court in Houston, and he was a founder and first president of the Lawyers Library Association.

His biggest claim to fame came in the ruling he gave in a Texas case against Charles Ponzi, accused of financial fraud. Ponzi's name today is synonymous with such words as swindle and scam.

Born at Cedar Bayou - now part of Baytown -- in 1866, Ashe was the son of R.G. and Sallie Jones Ashe. R.G. Ashe served in the Terry Texas Rangers during the Civil War.

The Jones family moved to Goose Creek before the Civil War in the wake of a tragedy. Suffering from severe bouts of depression after Texas became a state, Anson Jones committed suicide in 1858 at the Capitol Hotel (site of the future Rice Hotel) on Main Street in Houston.

Survivors included wife Mary and four children, Charles Elliott, Sam Edward, Cromwell Anson, and Sallie.

Too quickly, Jones had sold their home -- Barrington at Washington-on-the-Brazos -- for one-fourth of its worth. His widow and children relocated to Galveston for a brief time after his death, but they needed financial stability and emotional support.

Ashbel Smith provided both. A longtime friend who had presented the eulogy at Jones' funeral, Smith made arrangements for Mary and the children to move to Goose Creek. (Like Cedar Bayou, Goose Creek is in present-day Baytown.).

With diligence and determination, Mary Jones established a successful farm and provided a normal life for her family.

That lady was tough. With little time to dwell on her husband's demise, she concentrated on running the farm and caring for her children.

Whatever became of the Jones Four?

After the Civil War, Sam Edward became a successful dentist in Houston. Sam's middle name had been Houston, but Anson Jones decided he no longer liked the man or the name. After he and his former friend, Sam Houston, had a falling-out, Sam Houston Jones answered to his new name, Sam Edward Jones.

Jones had named another son after Charles Elliott, the British charge d'affairs to the Republic of Texas. He had worked with Elliott during the planning stage of Texas statehood, and they became good friends.

Charles Elliott Jones died in the Civil War. He and his brother, Sam (middle name Edward, not Houston), along with Sam Houston Jr. had joined the Bayland Guards, a Confederate unit led by Ashbel Smith. The Guards drilled at Smith's Evergreen plantation before marching off to war.

As far as I know, history has not recorded how the Jones boys got along with Sam's boy in the Bayland Guards - whether the animosity that had existed between their fathers ever affected them.

Cromwell Anson Jones was too young to serve in the war, but he made his mark in county politics. He presided over Harris County Commissioners Court after elected county judge in 1876.

Eventually, Mary Jones left Goose Creek and moved in with Sallie and her son-in-law, R.G. Ashe, and then to the community of Willis in Montgomery County. The widow of Texas President Anson Jones also would become known as the mother of Harris County Judge Cromwell Jones and the grandmother of District Judge Charles Ashe.

And as the first president of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Mary Jones made a name for herself, too.



Wanda Orton Baytown Sun Columnist
"Wandering" June 9 , 2016 columns

See Anson Jones | Baytown |
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