JOHN E. GEORGE, the popular and efficient ex-sheriff of Clay county, and a gentleman who has been identified with the county’s agrarian interests for more than a quarter of a century, is he whose name heads this personal sketch. Situated near old Newport, and four and a half miles southwest of Vashti, his farm is numbered among the larger ones of his community and its owner one of the progressive and energetic men of that locality. Although still a young man Mr. George has had much to do with the public affairs of Clay county, and it was by the voice of the people at the polls that he was called upon to assume one of the responsible positions within their municipal gift. And so well and faithfully were his duties performed that again and again was he recalled to administer upon their affairs, having conferred upon him the unusual honor of serving three consecutive terms in a public office.
In Hot Springs county, Arkansas, John E. George was born March 16, 1862. In 1870 his father, John George, settled on a rather new farm thirteen miles, southeast of Fort Worth, in Tarrant county, Texas, and proceeded with his occupation as a farmer. He was not destined to aid conspicuously in the development of his adopted county in the development of his adopted county for death claimed him two years later at forty-eight years of age.
John George’s birthplace was in the state of Georgia. His parents died when he was a child and he was bound, according to law, to one Johnson, who took him into Louisiana, there to rear him. Becoming dissatisfied with his new location, Mr. Johnson determined to return to Georgia, contrary to the wishes of his new ward. Although the boy had been separated from his brothers in the old state he had no desire to return there and, to avoid being forced to, he “ran away” from his master and began the battle of life alone. How he managed and what he did for a livelihood while coming to maturity is not known, but it is fair to presume that he was always associated with the labor of the farm. He married, in Louisiana, Margaret Henderson, who survives, a resident near Vashti, at eighty years of age. The issue of their union were: Sallie, who died in Arkansas as the wife of James Deer, leaving a family; Betty, widow of David Goza, of Clay county; William, who died in Tarrant county, without issue; Bascom, of Clay county; Florence, wife of E. G. Tims, of Vashti, deceased; Alice, deceased, married L. J. Walker; John E., our subject, and Lee, of Vashti, Texas.
John E. George knew only the life of a farmer boy in childhood and youth. His education was neglected and he was launched into manhood with only a meager knowledge of books. His mother and her children left Tarrant county in 1879 and settled in the south part of Clay county where their efforts as farmers have ever since been known. While he was employed much as a farm hand at a monthly and daily wage, his mother’s home was his own even after his first years of married life. His rural residence was interrupted by his removal to the county seat to assume public office, and for six years he was separated from his real home and farm. Upon retiring from office he returned to Vashti and took up the industrial thread where it had been severed in 1896, and nothing but a conflagration and the loss of his little abiding-place has caused him to leave it since. Mr. George is the owner of a farm of nearly eleven hundred acres, arranged for both pasture and farm and it is stocked with one hundred and sixty-five head of cattle, and one hundred and seventy acres are under plow. In the month of May, 1904, his comfortable and cozily- furnished home was burned—without insurance—the family barely escaping with their lives.
September 8, 1890, Mr. George married, at Vashti, Eva, a daughter of Francis and Lucinda (Jones) Evans. Mr. Evans went from Georgia to Arkansas, thence to Texas, while Mrs. Evans was a native of the Lone Star state. The father died in Washita county, Indian Territory, in 1891, at sixty years of age, while the mother died at Vashti in 1881 at the age of twenty- eight. Their children were: Mrs. George, born February 9, 1871, in Cherokee county, Texas; Dumas, of Washita county, Indian Territory, and Rufus of the same place.
The issue of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. George are: Zella, born September 7, 1891; Flake, born September 17, 1893; Dallas, born May 2, 1896; Johnny, born February 3, 1899; Willie, born June 26, 1902, and Alice, born July 17, 1904.
In his political career Mr. George has been a somewhat unique character. His candidacy was an instance of a man without party affiliation, being elected to public office in this day of modern politics. While his candidacy, the first time, was endorsed by the peoples’ party he was not a Populist and had manifested no special interest in their professions of faith. In this contest in November, 1896, he was chosen by a majority of one hundred and eighty-nine votes, and in 1898 he was elected as an independent by a majority of eighty- nine votes. In 1900 his candidacy again met with a popular response and his majority over the regular Democratic nominee was two hundred and forty-two. A fourth time he was induced to make the race, in the face of the growing sentiment in favor of “two terms and quit,” and he was defeated by less than eighty votes, showing the hold he had on the affections of the people and clinching the fact of his satisfactory service as a public officer.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 504-505.