Samuel J. Jones – Pro-Slavery Sheriff of Douglas County

Samuel J. Jones, pro-slavery sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas.

Samuel J. Jones, pro-slavery sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas.

Samuel J. Jones was a notorious character during the early border troubles of Kansas and the first sheriff of Douglas County, Kansas.

Jones was born in Virginia about 1820. In the fall of 1854, he arrived at Westport Landing (now Kansas City, Missouri) on the steamboat F.X. Aubrey, accompanied by his wife and two young children. After making a trip through Kansas, he took charge of the post office at Westport, Missouri.

On March 30, 1855, he led the pro-slavery mob that destroyed the ballot box at Bloomington, Kansas and as a reward for his activity, he was appointed as the first sheriff of Douglas County on August 27, 1855, by the acting Governor Daniel Woodson. He was also one of the contractors for the erection of the territorial capital at Lecompton. As sheriff, he arrested Jacob Branson in November 1855, which started the Wakarusa War.

The following April he attempted to arrest Samuel N. Wood, and about that time was shot and wounded by an unknown person. This no doubt made him more bitter toward the Free State advocates and on May 21, 1856, he led the so-called posse in the Sacking of Lawrence. On January 7, 1857, he resigned from the office of sheriff because the governor would not furnish him with balls and chains for certain free-state prisoners.

He then moved to New Mexico, where in September 1858, he accepted an appointment as Collector of Customs at Paso del Norte. He eventually purchased a ranch near Mesilla, where he was visited in the summer of 1879 by Colonel William A. Phillips, who found him suffering from the effects of a stroke of paralysis that affected his speech. He later died on his ranch in 1883.

The Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, May, 1856.

The Sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, May 1856.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated June 2021.

Also See:

Bleeding Kansas

Douglas County Photo Gallery

Lawrence, Kansas – From Ashes to Immortality

Sacking of Lawrence

Territorial Kansas & the Struggle For Statehood