Judge John Marvin Jones
(1882 - 1976)
Photo taken about 1920. He was
about 38 years of age.
Perhaps Valley Views greatest bid for distinction is the success of native son Judge John Marvin Jones who was
born in Valley View on February 26, 1882. (His tombstone has January 26, 1882.) He was the son of Horace and
Theodocia HAWKINS Jones. He attended Elm Grove School and a public school in Miami, Texas, before
graduating from Southwestern University with a B. A. in 1905 and the University of Texas with an LL.B. in 1908. He
completed the three-year course in two years and in 1908 opened a law firm with his brother Delbert in Amarillo.
He then practiced law in Amarillo with Leonidas Barrett and Ernest Miller until defeating John Hall Stephens in the
election of 1916 for a United States congressional seat. He represented the Thirteenth District as a Democrat. As
a protege of John Nance Garner and close friend of Samuel T. Rayburn and Hatton W. Sumners, Jones became a
member of the House Agriculture Committee in 1921. He became chairman in 1930 and remained in that post until
he resigned ten years later to become an associate justice of the United States Court of Claims. In agricultural
legislation Jones generally specialized in farm finance that cut across commodity interests. He wanted low interest
loans and mortgages, soil conservation, farm subsidies, agricultural research, and new markets for farm products.
As a result he helped found the Farm Credit Administration and the Federal Farm Mortgage Corporation.
Additionally, he played important roles in the Jones-Connally Act; the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act;
Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustments Act of 1935, the first guaranteed annual appropriation for agriculture in
United States history; the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenancy Act; and the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938.
During the Great Depression Jones ardently supported the construction of public buildings and urged the location
of federal agencies in Amarillo. As a practical politician he supervised the passage of more
significant agricultural legislation than any previous House agriculture chairman.
Before he quit Congress, Jones accumulated 13 pens with which three presidents - Coolidge, Hoover, and
Roosevelt - had signed into law the bills he had written.
To regress in this writing about Jones in his earlier life while still a school boy he must have been a very good
athlete playing for his home town of Valley View. Jones received this mention from Robert Ewing Thomason who
grew up at the neighbor town of Era, Texas (7 miles west of Valley View) and Thomason also became a member of
Congress and a Federal Judge wrote the following which is recorded in the Era Centennial Book published in 1977.
"In those days the great sporting event was the annual baseball game between Era and Valley View. We did not
like them anyway for they were "stuck-up" because they lived on the railroad. I was an inferior first baseman and
the star of the Valley View team was Marvin Jones, who has been a prominent member of Congress for many years
from the Amarillo district."
I will also make mention that Jones was briefly married but records seemed to have been removed which was not
uncommon in those days because it was not favorable politically to be divorced. He was thus regarded as an
"official bachelor." (MARVIN JONES The Public Life of an Agrarian Advocate, By IRVIN M. MAY, Jr., page 62, notes)
Marvin Jones with President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt on the rear platform of Roosevelt's private train,
Washing D.C., January 20, 1933. Roosevelt was about to leave for Warm Springs, Georgia, after
conferring with outgoing President Herbert Hoover.
(MARVIN JONES The Public Life of an Agrarian Advocate, By IRVIN M. MAY, Jr.)
After 1940 Jones served on the United States Court of Claims. He took leave of absence (request of President
Roosevelt) from June 29, 1943 to June 30, 1945, and during these two years he brought stability to the strife-torn
War Food Administration by leadership that was principled and centered on public service rather than bureaucratic.
He championed increased production of food and fibers, and the WFA, aided by favorable weather, was reasonably
successful in meeting its production goals during World War II.
After the war he returned to the court and President Harry S. Truman nominated him to be Chief Justice of the Court
of Claims in 1947. He served in that capacity until 1964. In his opinions he refrained from judicial activism and tried
to balance law, congressional intent, and his own concept of quality, which was deeply rooted in his Texas heritage.
As a judicial administrator he helped reestablish the Court of Claims as a constitutional court and supervised the
construction of a new courthouse.
Chief Judge Marvin Jones
He secured the Veterans Administration Hospital for Amarillo and was instrumental in establishing the Helium Plant
near Soncy Road, and a Small Lakes program for the western states. Lake Marvin near Canadian was named for
him. From 1964 until his death he served as senior judge.
In 1966, Jones was named the "Sugar Man of the Year" by sugar industry leaders in Washington, D.C. In 1971,
Jones fell ill and after that spent most of his time in Amarillo, penning his memoirs in 1973. He was honored by the
International Christian Leadership as a "minister of justice in the spirit of Christ."
In 1968 in appreciation of his contributions to the court of claims, friends gathered there for an unveiling of his
portrait, Jones attended and was accompanied by his sister, Metze.
After his death in 1976, two congressmen presented a joint eulogy on the floor of the House of Representatives. In
1980, President Carter signed a bill naming Amarillo's federal court building after Jones.
Jones was a devout Methodist who contributed generously to religious causes and provided scholarships at many
Texas universities. He died in Amarillo on March 4, 1976 and is buried in Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Potter County.
Judge Jones made many contributions over his lifetime to the Valley View United Methodist Church of which his
parents were founding members. Fluorescent lights were installed in the church in 1941 because of a generous gift
from Marvin Jones that was in honor of his mother. Then in 1942 he gave the beautiful pulpit and chairs that are still
in use today.
An interesting event that happened in Valley View was the marriage of Sam Rayburn, “Mr. Sam”, the long time
speaker of the United States House of Representatives to Metze Jones, (pronounced as "Meets") the sister of his
good friend Marvin Jones. The marriage took place in the United Methodist Church in Valley View on October 15,
1927. Metze whose father had passed away the year before was given in marriage by her brother, Marvin Jones.
Here is how they met: Marvin Jones and Sam Rayburn first met in 1907 at the University of Texas, and this
friendship was resumed when Marvin was elected to Congress in 1916. Marvin and Sam roomed together at the
Washington Hotel, across the street form the Treasury Department. This brought Marvin into close relationship with
the Rayburn family and Sam into contact with the Jones Family. At the time they lived together Sam became
acquainted with Marvin's 18 year old sister, Metze, and despite the fact that he was more than twice her age at thirty-
seven, Sam started writing letters to her. They corresponded for the next 8 years this way. In 1927 when Sam's
mother died he finally gave marriage serious consideration. Sam was 45 when they married and Metze was a
attractive 26 years old.
After three months of marriage in Washington the only noted complaint anyone noticed was her dislike for Sam's
drinking. Sam complained to a friend that Christmas of 1927 was the driest Christmas he ever remembered. She left
Washington on January 7, 1928 to return to Valley View for a visit with her family. She didn't return to Sam and
finally sent word that she had taken a job at Neiman-Marcus in Dallas and wanted a divorce.
Sam never forgot Metze. She later married a Amarillo insurance man named Jeff Neely and became a mother of two
children a son and daughter. The daughter contracted polio and Sam arranged to have her go for treatment to
Franklin Roosevelt's Warm Springs Foundation in Georgia. This daughter is now deceased but the son is still living.
This is my favorite picture of Judge
J. Marvin Jones Federal Building in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas.
This old post office sits just
north of the Potter County
Courthouse. It today acts as
just a Federal Courthouse. It
was built in 1938 with the
designs of architect Wyatt C.
Hedrick; it was renamed the J.
Marvin Jones Federal Building
in 1980, by President Jimmy
Off the primary subject and speaking of this courthouse - A very high profile trial conducted in Amarillo at the J.
Marvin Jones Federal Building in recent memory is the Oprah vs. the Catlemen. The following will be a excert that I
have taken from an article when Oprah was the winner of the Women's History Month (WHM) - March, 2007.
Oprah vs. the Cattlemen. Winfrey probably received the most press in the 1990s when she became embroiled in a
lawsuit with Texas cattlemen. In an April 1996 show about dangerous foods, vegetarian activist Howard Lyman
explained that feeding ground-up animal parts to cattle could spread mad cow disease in the United States. Winfrey
exclaimed that the information stopped her from eating another burger.
Cattlemen in Texas, led by Amarillo rancher Paul Engler, alleged that the broadcast caused the cattle industry to
lose millions of dollars in the beef futures market. Engler and six other plaintiffs brought suit under Texas's False
Disparagement of Perishable Foods Products law. The suit claimed that Winfrey knew the information presented on
the show was false and misleading. The case was to be the most significant test of so-called "veggie libel" laws to
date, but U.S. District Judge Mary Lou Robinson ruled that the case would not proceed under the "veggie libel" law,
but would be tried as a business disparagement case. In this instance, then, cattlemen had to prove that Winfrey
maliciously and intentionally sought to harm the beef industry. Attorneys for the cattle men argued that Winfrey had
knowingly produced a show that was unfairly biased against the beef industry. Winfrey's attorney countered that the
case was actually about the First Amendment. On 26 February 1998 the jury decided the case in favor of Winfrey,
determining that the statements did not constitute libel. After the verdict, Winfrey exclaimed, "Free speech not only
lives, it rocks!"
Story created by;
Norman L. Newton
January 9, 2008
Extensively Revised: 3/23/2013
Primary Sources used;
History of the Valley View United Methodist Church
Handbook of Texas Online
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Marvin_Jonesones Federal Building
History Makers of the High Plains
Jones, Marvin. Marvin Jones Memoirs 1917-1973: Fifty Years of Continuing Service in
all Three Branches of the Federal Government . Edited and annotated by Joseph M.
Ray. El Paso: Texas Western University Press, 1973; May, Irvin M. Marvin Jones: The
Public Life of an Agrarian Advocate . College Station: Texas A.&M. University Press,
Jones, Marvin. Marvin Jones Memoirs 1917-1973: Fifty Years of Continuing Service in
all Three Branches of the Federal Government. Edited and annotated by Joseph M.
Ray. El Paso: Texas Western University Press, 1973.
May, Irvin M., Marvin Jones: Agrarian and Politician. Agricultural History 51 (April
Marvin Jones: The Public Life of an Agrarian Advocate. College Station: Texas A&M
University Press, 1980.
Marvin Jones: Representative Of and For the Panhandle, West Texas Historical
Association Year Book 52 (1976): 91-104.
Women's History Month (WHM) - March, 2007
Death Certificate: FamilySearch Record Search
Website: Find A Grave
Gainesville Daily Register
Sam Rayburn LIbrary & Museum, Bonham, Fannin County, Texas
Oral history interviews with Marvin Jones, 1970
Most sources have his birth as February 26, 1882. Photo: Find A Grave
Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Potter County, Texas
Metze Jones Neely the younger sister of Marvin Jones. Photo: Find A Grave
Llano Cemetery, Amarillo, Potter County, Texs
This picture is from micro-film at the Gainesville
Daily Register, the afternoon edition on
10-15-1927, with an article on the marriage of Sam
Rayburn and Metze Jones.
Metze Jones Rayburn
This picture provided by the family of
Metze Jones Neely. NLN
In conclusion with this story I have put together and will leave with this ending note. I had wondered for many
years if Sam Rayburn and Metze Jones Neely had ever had a face to face talk after she left Washington DC. I
finally found my answer to that question in some oral history interviews that was done with Marvin Jones. When
"Mr. Sam" was very ill in the last months of his life he had said to Marvin that he wished Metze would come see
him. Marvin told Mr. Sam he would see what he could do. Marvin phoned his sister, Metze and told her that Sam
wished to see her. She responded that she would think about it and Marvin told her, "Don't wait to long." Metze
came to Washington DC and Marvin took her to Sam's office. After entering Mr. Sam's office and greetings
exchanged Marvin excused himself. I found much satisfaction to learn of this.
Hope you enjoyed this story. NLN