JAMES L. JONES, M. D., deceased, was one of the most prominent, honored and greatly loved physicians that has practiced in Denison, and no history of the city would be complete without mention of his life and work. He was born in Cleveland, Tennessee, November 18, 1840, and with his parents came to Texas while yet a small lad, the family home being established near Palestine in Houston county. When a young man he came to Grayson county in 1868 and entered upon the practice of medicine with Dr. F. N. Cutler. He took up his abode in the neighborhood where his remaining days were passed, being one of the first practicing physicians of Grayson county. He followed his profession in this locality, and all along the border of the Indian Territory before Denison was established and incorporated and before the building of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad through this part of the country. He was a splendid example of the high principled and highly cultured country gentleman and physician, and was loved by his patients and his neighbors for his charitable nature and kindly spirit. He never refused to accommodate a neighbor or friend if it lay within his power to do so, and his home was celebrated for its generous hospitality throughout this section of the state.
No man was better beloved than Dr. J. L. Jones, no man was more generous and no man more charitable. There are today many who could tell tales of his ready and helpful assistance. He gave of his strength and skill for the alleviation of human suffering, oftentimes without hope of pecuniary reward, but content in the knowledge of duty well done. None ever called on him in vain, for his sympathy responded readily to the need of a fellow man. In the early days when settlements were widely scattered no call, however distant, was unheeded by him. He was every ready to go through rain, storm, heat or cold to aid in checking the ravages of disease and restoring health, and he not only took with him professional skill, but also a sympathy as broad as human needs. Moreover, Dr. Jones was a successful business man and at his death left a large estate, consisting of a fine farm east of the city and also a drug store at No. 225 West Main street, which he had conducted for more than a decade.
At the time of the Civil war Dr. Jones espoused the cause of the Confederacy, becoming a member of a Texas Cavalry regiment, commanded by Colonel J. B. Liken, and he was a charter member of Denison Camp No. 885, United Confederate Veterans, in the work and aims of which he ever took an active and helpful interest. He was likewise a member of the Denison Medical Society, which he joined on its organization, and he was ever interested in whatever tended to promote the efficiency of the medical fraternity and broaden their knowledge and skill.
Dr. Jones was twice married. He first wedded a daughter of William and Martha (Clark) Lankford, and her death occurred in 1879. By this marriage there were two daughters and a son. One daughter, Lillie H., a graduate of St. Xavier Academy, now deceased, was the wife of Edward Ringer, and had one child, Thelma, born November 27, 1894. The other daughter was Rosalie M. Jones. For his second wife Dr. Jones chose Miss Sophia A. O’Dell, a daughter of the late Enoch O’Dell, who was one of the prominent farmers of Desvoign, Texas, and one of the substantial citizens of Grayson county. He came to this state at an early day before the town of Denison was founded and he accumulated considerable land and other property interests in the county. He was always an enterprising and business-like farmer and a man of most excellent character and of sterling honesty and integrity, so that all who knew him were his friends. He reared a large family of children, who have become prosperous, energetic and valued residents of this section of the state. By his second marriage Dr. Jones had one daughter, Miss Frances S. Jones. Rosalie M., the elder daughter by his first marriage, died July 5, 19093, at the age of twenty-four years and eight months. She was reared in Grayson county, about four miles east of Denison, and was a young lady of superior intellectual and aesthetic culture. She was liberally educated by her father, whose pride and ambition were centered in her, and she graduated first at St. Xavier Academy. She displayed decided talent for music, and, after completing her literary course, was sent to the Nashville Conservatory of Music, where she attained high proficiency as a musician, completing her course with honors. She then returned to Denison, where she at once proceeded to make use of her talents and musical education. She was the composer of several excellent piano selections, the last of which was the Galveston-Dallas News March, which attracted wide attention for its merit as a musical composition, and for which Miss Jones received the thanks of the proprietors of the News. They published the selection and received a large number of congratulatory letters from the best musicians of the south. Miss Jones also engaged in teaching, finding great enjoyment from her work. She became one of the foremost representatives of the art of music in this section of Texas, but the work which she voluntarily undertook—from choice, not from necessity—proved too great a strain upon her and undoubtedly hastened her death. The surviving daughter of the second marriage of Dr. Jones is Miss Fannie Seay Jones, who was born in Denison, October 24, 1885. She graduated in 1903 in St. Xavier Academy, in both the literary and musical departments, and was awarded a gold medal by the faculty. She is particularly proficient in music and is a young lady of much local renown in musical circles. The death of Dr. Jones occurred December 30, 1903, when he was sixty-three years of age. His memory is enshrined in the hearts of those who knew him and they cherish the record of his noble life, his kindly deeds and lofty purposes. His name is inseparably interwoven with the history of Denison and this section of the state and it stands as a synonym for business integrity, professional skill and for the highest traits of manhood.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. I, pp. 627-628.