Last President of Texas
Jones was born on January 20, 1798, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. There is no information between his birth and 1820. In 1820, Jones was licensed as a doctor by the Oneida, New York, Medical Society, and began medical practice in 1822. However, his practice did not prosper, and he moved several more times before finally being arrested in Philadelphiaby a creditor. He stayed in Philadelphia for a few more years, teaching and practicing medicine, until in 1824 he decided to go to Venezuela.
Later, Jones returned to Philadelphia, earned an M.D., and reopened his practice. He never had much success as a doctor, and in 1832 he renounced medicine and headed for New Orleans, where he entered the mercantile trade. Once again, though, Jones's dreams were thwarted. Though he safely weathered two plagues, his business efforts never met with any success and within a year he had no money.
He was a member and Past Master of the Masonic Harmony Lodge #52 of Philadelphia. He was a Past Grand of Independent Order of Odd Fellows Washington Lodge no.2 and Philadelphia Lodge no.13 in Pennsylvania and a Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
During the Texas Revolution, Jones served as a judge advocate and surgeon to the Texas Army, though he insisted on holding the rank of private throughout the conflict. After the war, Jones returned to Brazoria and resumed his medical practice.
Upon his return to Brazoria, Jones found that James Collinsworth, a fellow Texas patriot and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence from Brazoria, had set up a law practice in Jones's office. Jones evicted Collinsworth and challenged him to a duel (though the duel never occurred).
Just a few months before the revolution, on March 1, 1835, Jones met with four other Masons at Brazoria and petitioned the Grand Master of Louisiana for a dispensation and a charter to form the first Masonic lodge in Texas. In December, when the lodge was set to labor, Jones was elected its first Master. The charter for Holland Lodge No. 36 arrived during the final days of the revolution, and Jones carried it in his saddlebags during the decisive Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836. At the formation of the Grand Lodge of the Republic of Texas in December 1837, he was elected its first Grand Master. He also became the first Grand Master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Texas.