History article by John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard
William Henry Jones, Jr., Kentucky’s 32nd Adjutant General, 1927-1931
William Henry Jones, Jr., Kentucky’s 32nd Adjutant General, was born May 25, 1895, in the community of Freedom, where his parents made their life together.
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His father, William, Sr., supported he, his mother, Mollie Bell, and his two sisters, Annie and Bell, by working in general merchandise from 1880-1901, near their home in Barren County, Kentucky.
In 1891, he was elected as a
Republican to the Kentucky State Senate.
His father would later go into the
newspaper industry, acquiring The Glasgow Republican in 1901, which would
become the family business.
The Jones children grew up in comfortable
surroundings and were educated in Barren County schools.
At the age of 21, Jones, Jr., was serving
as a Private with Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment when the unit
was activated for service on the Mexican Border. Jones and his fellow
Kentuckians served approximately six months on the border, providing security
Upon returning from the border mission,
Jones returned to Glasgow. Together, with his life-long friend, Carleton C.
Collins, they started Glasgow’s first daily newspaper, The Morning Sun. However, the venture was short-lived when
military service once again called Jones to action.
This time he would not serve with his old Kentucky
Guard unit. Instead, on May 8, 1917, Jones was selected to attend the Officers’
Reserve Training Camp at Fort Benjamin Harrison located near Indianapolis, Indiana.
In August, he successful completed the course and commissioned a second lieutenant
in the U. S. Army. By September, he was on duty at Camp Zachery Taylor in
Louisville, where he was assigned to the 326th Machine Gun Battalion before
being sent to France. At the conclusion of the First World War, he served in
the Army of Occupation on the staff of Stars
and Stripes, and on the organizational staff of the Inter-Allied Games.
Jones then returned to Kentucky as a reporter
for The Louisville Herald.
On January 29, 1922, he married Nina Grace
Beaty of Pulaski County. To this union three children were born, named Mary
Jane, William Beaty and Martha Bell.
The newlyweds returned to Jones’ family home
in Glasgow and resumed the family’s newspaper business.
Jones would become active in the
Republican Party and serve as commander, adjutant and service officer for the
Barren County American Legion Post at Glasgow. He remained in the Army’s
Officers’ Reserve Corps, and in 1925 was promoted to the rank of Captain.
On December 14, 1927, the newly elected governor,
Flem D. Sampson, made his first cabinet appointment, William Henry Jones, Jr.,
Kentucky’s 32nd Adjutant General. Jones would hold this position throughout most
of the Sampson administration. During his service, Jones was also appointed member
of the newly organized Kentucky Air Board and the Armory Commission of
Jones attended many military, political
and social functions with Governor Sampson. The National Defense Dinners,
Military Field Days, G.O.P. National Conventions, and the inauguration of
President Herbert Hoover topped the list.
In office, his efforts helped develop a
state promotion program and a Mammoth Cave National Park tour. The park was
eventually listed with the National Park Service in 1941, which, partially, may
be attributed to his previous work.
In December 1928, Jones traveled with the
governor to Washington to gain support for a new hydro-electric plant to be
built on the Cumberland River.
In 1929, Jones and members of the Aviation
Board fought for and secured the first air route into Kentucky.
In February 1929, Jones announced that the
Kentucky Guard had been authorized to stand up a new unit, the 123rd Cavalry
Regiment, to be headquartered at Glasgow and commanded by Henry J. Stites.
Jones later announced on March 21, 1929,
the release of the first issue of the Kentucky Guardsman, a monthly publication
devoted to the interests of the Kentucky Guard. At the same time, he stated
that a Kentucky National Guard news bureau was being organized. Today the
Kentucky Guardsman has been replaced with the Bluegrass Guard magazine and the
news bureau with the Kentucky National Guard’s Public Affairs Office.
During his time in office, two major
events occurred in the Commonwealth.
The first event was the flood occurring in
spring of 1929, which affected various locations across the state. During March
of that year, floods threatened Hickman and other points along the Ohio and
Kentucky Rivers. Jones made personal visits to a number of communities to
assess how the Guard could provide the best support, then sent Guardsmen with
tents and other supplies to these communities in need. A large refugee camp was
established at Barbourville, providing shelter and feeding more than 200
During their service along the Cumberland
River, Cpl. Smith Carroll, of Company G, 149th Infantry, saved three
individuals trapped by the flood waters. On April 10, 1929, General Jones
issued a General Order to recognize and commend Carroll on his heroism. This
was the second time in Kentucky National Guard history that the heroism of an enlisted
man had been recognized by an Adjutant General. In the early 1950s, the
Kentucky Guard established the Kentucky Medal for Valor to be awarded to
individuals who performed a heroic action while on State-Active Duty.
Due to the flood, Jones established 13
emergency and relief depots in cities around the State. Each site was dedicated
to serving and supporting their community in a time of disaster.
The second test of Jones’ leadership came
in 1931. Disorder in the coal fields of Harlan County during the spring
resulted in a call for military assistance. On May 6, units from all of the
Kentucky National Guard regiments were called in, together with detachments
from the hospital and military police companies. The Troops quickly took charge
and succeeded in restoring order. The last Troops left the area in the end of
On December 8, 1931, General Jones retired
his position as Adjutant General, just prior to Governor Ruby Laffoon’s
administration taking office. Henry H. Denhardt was then appointed the
succeeding Adjutant General.
Jones tried to remain in the Kentucky
National Guard, reverting back to his rank of Captain and serving in the 123rd
Cavalry. However, three days after his retirement from adjutant general, Jones
tendered his resignation as Captain of Cavalry.
In his resignation letter, Jones referred
to published reports of promotions, appointments and transfers made by General
Denhardt. Because of the inference he said was contained in the report of the
announcement, Jones wrote, “undue and unnecessary political recognition might
have been practiced in effecting such orders, and that insofar as the order
effecting myself was concerned that no doubt took unethical advantage of my
position as Adjutant General to issue such an order, I therefore do now
respectfully tender my resignation as Captain of Cavalry.”
General Denhardt refused to accept the
resignation unless Colonel Henry Stites recommended it. Eventually, Jones was able
to be released from the Kentucky National Guard.
Once again, William Jones returned to the
family’s newspaper business at Glasgow.
On December 26, 1932, the Glasgow
Republican Building caught fire and was destroyed. Jones and his family, living
in the building, escaped in their night clothes. Jones would rebuild The
Republican from the ashes.
In January 1933, four indictments were brought
against Jones while service as the Adjutant General, two charging embezzlement
of National Guard funds and two charging conversion of public property. Due to
illness, the trial was passed until April term of the Franklin Circuit Court.
In April, trial was once again passed. On September 11, 1933, all charges
against William Jones were dropped when the commonwealth’s attorney, W. B.
Ardery, stated that the commonwealth had been unable to obtain a conviction
against Jones. It was believed by many that the charges brought against Jones
were politically motivated, by fellow Guard officers.
In 1935, he was elected to the Kentucky
Senate from the 19th Senatorial District, and served in that capacity for two
In 1937, he was recipient of the Outstanding
Citizen’s Award, presented annually by Barren County Post No. 28 American
Legion on Memorial Day.
Jones wrote a letter expressing his
appreciation on receiving the award. His words below give the reader a better
understanding of him and his philosophy:
“It is with a feeling of sincere humility that the
writer acknowledges receipt of the American Legion’s ‘Distinguished Citizens’
Award at annual Memorial Day exercises of Barren County Post . . . and with the
same humility and grateful appreciation has difficulty in finding words for an
appropriate expression of such appreciation of his recognition by comrades of
the American Legion.
“If, by act or innuendo, the recipient may have been,
or is believed to have been, of any benefit to his beloved community, then such
benefit or appreciation, is reward enough, the with knowledge of friends that
such service was not performed for selfish gain but solely as the obligation of
a loving and appreciative citizen, thru a creed that was instilled early in
life by a loving and indulgent father who practiced that a man lives only to
serve his God, his Country, his Family, and his Friends. In such creed there is ample opportunity for
life and the enjoyment of its brief span with the knowledge that when one has
crossed the ‘Bridge’ he leaves behind more than he takes.
“As empty as such honor may appear to some, I assure
you fellows that I sincerely appreciate your manifestation of confidence and
comradeship and trust that in the years remaining for me to be of service that
I may have the opportunity to serve my beloved community in a manner befitting
a devoted citizen, and so, truly justify, the recognition accorded by your
act. Sincerely, William H. Jones, Jr.”
In mid-1939, Jones and Colonel Henry
Stites attempted to organize a National Defense League.
In this act, Stites resigned his
commission as Colonel in the Kentucky National Guard because he disagreed with
the War Department’s policy on national defense. This new National Defense
League would develop a definite, concrete and permanent national defense plan, by
use of a citizen army, properly equipped and trained, and functioning with the
smoothness with which a modern military machine should move.
Membership in the organization was limited
to those who served in the Armed Forces of the United States since World War I.
During the Kentucky Department, American Legion’s 1939, the Department voted
down a proposal to endorse the aims of the Defense League. Nothing else is
heard of the establishment or further proposal of the new National Defense
During World War II, upon the
establishment of the Selective Service System, Jones served as clerk of the
draft board, from its inception until 1946.
On June 1, 1943, at the age of 43, Nina
died. Until her death, she had operated an antique shop in Glasgow, called
“Nina’s Nifty Nook.” William never fully recovered from the shock of her death.
He never remarried.
William H. Jones, Jr., lived in Glasgow
the remainder of his life rebuilding and increasing the circulation of the
family newspaper. On April 17, 1959, he died of a recurring heart condition at
Clinic Hospital. His remains were buried with full military honors by the
Barren County American Legion Post at the Glasgow Municipal Cemetery, Glasgow,
Kentucky. At the time of his death the City of Glasgow issued the following
“William Henry Jones, Jr., a resident of this city his
entire life departed this life on April 17, 1959. He was a good Christian and
businessman of our community. He served his country in the armed service in
time of war and served in time of peace as Adjutant General of the State of
Kentucky, and as publisher of a newspaper in Barren County for a long number of