Obituary of Cornelius J. Jones

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Typed obituary of Cornelius J. Jones.



Jones, Cornelius J., 1858-1931; African American lawyers

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In Warren County, Vicksburg, Mississippi, on August the 13th 1858, was born to Cornelius Jones and Hannah Jones, a son in the person of Cornelius J. Jones, the decedent.

He attended the common schools of that city, and finished in the highest grades thereof, and in 1872 entered the Alcorn University in Jefferson County, Mississippi near Rodney. That institution at that time was not an agricultural school as it has since become, but was a college with a classic curriculum throughout. He graduated there and left its grounds in 1878 and went into the world teaching school as a profession. He was the youngest of three children of his parents, having two sisters his seniors. In 1881, he married the only daughter of one of the old families of his native city and state, in the person of Miss Betty Julian, the daughter of Mr Claiborne Julien, her mother having died some years before, Mr Julien married a second time.

There were two daughters born to this family, Gertrude and Quincella Jones. In 1884 the wife died leaving these two daughters, who were raised by the mother of Mr Jones, who cared for them until womanhood of each, and marriage of them into their respective families.

Mr Jones began the study of law in 1880 under the tutorship of ex Supreme Court Justice of Louisiana, Judge Burnes, and having continued this tutorship for two years while teaching school in Louisiana, he returned to Mississippi and continued the study of law under the tutorship of the McLaurin brothers, the senior of whom was Senator McLaurin.

He was admitted to the Bar in 1888, after eight years of constant study. He took up his residence in Issaquena County, Mississippi and was elected to the Legislature of that State from that County in 1889 for the constitutional term of two years. He was a member of the famous session which passed the Bill calling the Constitutional Convention of 1890, which Convention adopted the famous Disfranchisement clause, obstructing the exercise of the right of suffrage of the negroes of that State, but this was done over the bitterest protest from Mr Jones, which was a strong speech against the Bill.

In 1895 he prosecuted the case of John Gibson Vs the State of Mississippi to the Supreme Court of the United States and was the first colored lawyer to make an oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States, in March, 1896.

In 1896, he was made the republican nominee for the 3rd Congressional District of Mississippi, although counted out by the Democrats, he made a contest of the seat of the Democratic member, but the committee on Elections failed to make a report before the 54th Congress adjourned, in July 1897.

In the following year for election of a representative from the 3rd District of Mississippi, Mr Jones was again nominated for Congress and while the election resulted as before, he made the second contest against the same democrat, T. C. Catchings of Vicksburg.

In 1898, being the year of the declaration of the war against Spain, the interest in the contest before Congress that session was absorbed in the enthusiasm of the war, and hence there was no report from the committee on the Elections number 3; but each time all expenses for the contest were allowed Mr Jones.

In 1889 Mr Jones was employed in another celebrated murder case, Henry Williams Vs the State of Mississippi, and he brought that case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

One among the measures which he put through the Legislature of Mississippi, was an appropriation of $50,000 for Alcorn College, his Alma Mater.

In 1903, he moved his residence to the Indian Territory, and was there located when that territory was admitted as a State in to the Union. He was nominated by the Republican party to the first Constitutional Convention of Oklahoma as a delegate from Muskogee County. The record made by him as a jurist covers a wide range and a multiplicity of important cases both civil and criminal. He was admitted to be one of the foremost men and ablest lawyers of the race.

Mr Jones leaves to mourn his loss, one daughter, Quincella Willis, Gertrude having passed away June 18th, 1930; one sister; a widow and a host of distant relatives and friends.

On March 16th 1931 - at about 7 o'clock am, Cornelius J Jones departed this life at the age of 73 years 7 months and 3 days, a life well spent




“Obituary of Cornelius J. Jones,” Mississippi State University Libraries, accessed September 22, 2023,

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