NEWS | May 28, 2020

Meet Ky’s 32nd Adjutant General, 1927-1931

By John Trowbridge Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs office

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.

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 and training.
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 Kentucky.

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 people.

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 July.

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 terms.

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 League.

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 Grace (Beaty) Jones 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 resolution:

“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 years.”

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