The Life and Adventures of Henry Jones


Henry Jones. Photo by Fort Bend County Texas, A pictorial History.

Historically, notable people who are identified with Stephen F. Austin’s “Old Three Hundred” colony are credited to be the first settlers of Fort Bend County. Researchers explore information to better understand the trials and tribulations the early pioneers went through to find a new place to live and to nurture a family. Henry Jones, one of the first who decided to live in Fort Settlement, traveled many miles to find his home and had exciting stories to tell that are filled with dangerous, life-threatening encounters.

Jones was born in Richmond, Virginia on March 15, 1789. All his life, he aspired to travel and to see the world. In 1817, at the young age of 19, he left home in the company of his brother, John, to embark on an adventure of a lifetime. They traveled down the Mississippi River on a flat boat to New Orleans for supplies and ammunition. Returning to the White River, they were joined by Martin Varner to explore new lands and to become trappers and hunters.

The 1830s Jones Stock Farm at the George Ranch Historical Park.

Their journey lasted for two years. The group explored parts of Arkansas and camped on the Washita River, trading with friendly Indians and having a good time. Unfortunately, while camping on a tributary of the Washita, they encountered hostile Indians and were wounded and separated. Jones found his way back to his companions, but they had to cross a deep creek, and he could not swim. Jones held on to Varner until they reached a safe place to recover from their injuries. They went back to civilization for a period of time until they heard about Austin establishing a colony to settle in the wilds of Texas. The brothers and Varner joined the group and headed to Fort Bend County.

In January 1821, Jones married Nancy Styles, and their first child, born in the camp in 1822 under a live oak tree, was the first in Austin’s colony. They traveled to Fort Bend County and the Brazos River eight miles from Richmond to make it their home.

In 1824, they received a league consisting of 4,428 acres. In exchange for the property, Jones paid a total of one hundred ninety dollars in fees to the state, the land commissioner and the surveyor for the writing of the deed. They built a log cabin and developed a prosperous plantation.

In 1836, Jones was assigned to guard the fleeing families on the Runaway Scrape. These were residents fleeing the Mexican Army of Operations during the Texas Revolution when Antonio López de Santa Anna began his attempted conquest of Texas. Jones fell ill and was taken by wagon from his plantation before the arrival of the Mexican Army. By the 1850s the log cabin was replaced by a beautiful plantation and named “Old Prairie Home.”

The Jones family grew to twelve children. They lived near a public road and many strangers, friendly Indians and military officers made the planation a stopping place during their travels. The Jones family did not charge for food or for caring for the animals; everyone was treated with respect and hospitality. Unfortunately, in 1888, Old Prairie Home was lost to a fire, along with many artifacts and historical treasures.

Nancy Jones died in 1850 at their home and Henry at the same place one year later. Their children continued to carry on the family heritage. Their great-granddaughter, Mamie Davis, married A.P. George and lived in George Ranch House where the Old Prairie House once stood. Henry Jones’ life and vivid stories will forever live in the history of Fort Bend County.