"History of Logan County, Illinois", published 1886.
Logan County Bar
Hon. Wm. B. Jones. - the following sketch of the life of Hon. Wm. B. Jones, who has resided in Lincoln since the year 1866, has been furnished by a gentleman who has been intimately acquainted with him, before and since his removal from Kentucky to Illinois.
During Mr. Jones's boyhood and youth he labored on a small farm, and obtained a good education, of the character afforded by such country schools as prevailed in Southern Kentucky, where he was born and reared, embracing only such branches as are taught in common schools. At the age of twenty-one years he seriously considered the question of selecting a line of work for life, and was much inclined to become a machinist. His love of books and thirst for knowledge, however, turned the scales, and he selected the legal profession. He studied law with Hon. Franklin Govin, a prominent attorney of Glasgow, Kentucky, his fellow-student being Hon. John G. Rogers, now one of the judges of the Circuit Court in Chicago. For the last forty-five years Mr. Jones has been engaged in the legal profession in Kentucky and Illinois, with occasional migrations into the field of literature, and is a writer of more than ordinary ability. During the time that he practiced law in Kentucky the bar of that State was coposed of men of more than ordinary ability, including Hon. F. Govin, Hon. Joseph R.
Underwood, Hon. Wm. V. Loving, Hon. Henry Grider, Hon. F.M. Bristow, Hon. Elijah Hise, Hon. Wm. Sampson, and numerous other, who had filled high and honorable positions in the United States Senate, in the Lower House of Congress, and upon the bench of the Supreme and Circuit Courts of the State. With that class of men Mr. Jones, as an attorney, was in constant contact, and his ambition promped the effort ot reach the plane in his profession which they occupied. He was always a close student, and his mind being more logical and analytical than brilliant, his ascent to the head of his profession-which position he finally reached-was not suddenly attained. Prior to 1859 he engaged mostly in civil practice, and was specially partial to land suits and the preparation of business in the equity branch of the courts. Having no taste for politics he never sought any political office. In 1859, however, he permitted his friends to place him before a convention for congressional nomination. There being three other candidated, and the controversy becoming somewhat heated among thier respective friends, the convention wisely refused to nominate either, and selected Hon. F.M. Bristow, the father of Hon. B.H. Bristow, late Secretary of the United States Treasury. During the ssame year, Mr. Jones was elected attorney for the commonwealth, in a large district, composed of ten counties; and in 1862 was withouth opposition re-elected to the same office. From 1859 to 867 he discharged the duties of that office with signal ability and success, this period embracing the entire time of the war, when the politics of Southern Kentucky arose to fever heat, entered into the channels of private and social life, and crime became rampant. With a cool head and sound judgment he impartially and faithfully discharged the duties of criminal prosecutor
during that time in such anner as to never leave the law unvindicated, and yet never to procure an unjust conviction. In his impartiality as a prosecutor the people of the district had absolute confidence. Under a law of Kentucky, which authorized the bar to elect a judge pro tempore, in absence of the regular judge of the court, Mr. Jones was very frequently called to the bench, to preside in the trial of civil causes, and as judge gave universal satisfaction. In politics Mr. Jones adhered to the Whig
party, so long as it existed, and in 1860 supported the Bell and Everett ticket. As early as 1859 and 1860, seeing, as he believed, the threatening clouds of secession looming up the political horizon, he made a number of speeches, not of a political horizon, but to impress upon the minds of the people a sentiment of patriotism and devotion to the Government, and
perpetual union of the States. When in 1861 hostilities actually commenced, he promplty connected himself with the Republican party, as the only party in the South pledging itself to sustain the Government. During the entire war he boldly and publicly declared his uncompromising devotion to the union of the States, and opposition to disunion. He gave his entire influence and much of his means of promote the Union cause; atteneded his courts and transacted his official business, often under protection of a guard, furnished by the Federal military authorities; was once arrested by the order of a drunken General named Hindman, of the Confederate army, promptly condemned to be hanged, and saved by the intercession of personal friends, who were secessionists, made to General Hardee who was Hindman's superior in command and rank, and during the latter part of the war, to avoid guerrilla arrest or assassination, frequently sought the protection afforded by a
forest near his residence, where, wrapped in a blanket, with mother earth for his bed, he spent the night. His adventures, given in detail, many of them of a thrilling character, would read like a romance, and fill a volume. Mr. Jones has been an answering advocate of temperance and has delivered many lectures, in advocacy of the principles contended for by temperance workers. He is a member of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, and is a quiet, unostentatious Christian gentleman, a social companion and true friend, kind, sympathetic and charitable. This sketch would not be complete without mention of his excellent wife-a kind, Christian woman, of rare good sense and diversified accomplishments, who has for nearly forty years been
his cmpanion through the visissitudes of his checkered life, assisting him to build up a reputation, rejoicing with him in prosperity, and sympathizing with him in adversity. Together they have toiled up life's ascent, passed its summit, and, with affection undiminished, are descending the downward grade to thier final rest.
Submitted by Tina Hursh, great-great-great granddaughter.