Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center (WNJ) is home to a team of dedicated and caring professionals who deliver quality healthcare to all we serve. A facility with 214 licensed beds, we care for families in four counties of North Texas and Southern Oklahoma. We’ve been doing so for over a century, and our mission to care for the ill and improve the health of our communities has never been stronger.
We at WNJ look forward to serving you and fulfilling our promise of quality care delivered one-to-one: Individuals caring for individuals. Together.
Our History — Wilson N. Jones and his Hospital
Ever wondered why this hospital is named Wilson N. Jones? Take a look at the history of our facility.
Wilson Nathaniel Jones was born in the Choctaw Indian territory of Mississippi in 1827 or 1828, the son of Choctaw-white parents.
Wilson N. Jones’ family was one sent west on the removal caravans in 1833. It was an arduous journey and nearly half the Indians died along the way. Upon arriving in the Territory, the Joneses settled in the Little River area in present-day McCurtain County in Oklahoma. Wilson’s father, Captain Nathaniel Jones, was an annuity captain in charge of distributing government payments to Choctaws in his district. Nathaniel also served on the tribal council in its early years in the Territory. Nathaniel Jones died sometime before the Civil War.
Making the Range Pay
Wilson built up control of an estate of over 17,000 acres, 600 of them under cultivation and the rest in pasture. On that land he raised 5,000 head of cattle and as many as 300 horses, and inventory which made him one of the largest cattlemen in the Territory. Even after the land law was changed in 1883, restricting an individuals fenced holdings to 1,000 acres, Jones still kept his 27 square miles of land since the law was not retroactive.
It was inevitable that a man with that much wealth, business savvy, and connections would get involved in politics. Jones made his first run for the office of Principal Chief of Choctaw Nation in 1866 – and got one vote. His first real political position finally came in 1844, when he was elected school trustee of the Pushmataha District. That same year, Wilson also attended the first General Council of the Nation at their new capital in Tuskahoma. In 1887 he was elected the nation’s Treasurer.
He ran for Chief again one year later and finally won the first of his two terms in 1890. He won despite the fact that he was largely uneducated and could barely write his own name, and spoke broken English.
Wilson N. Jones was passionately interested in education. During his four years as Principal Chief, three new schools were built, one of which was named Jones Academy in his honor. He also insisted that Choctaws run the schools.
Wilson N. Jones’ home in Sherman was located at the corner of Crockett and Washington Streets. He purchased the house in 1894 from its builder, Judge Thomas J. Brown, a member of the Texas Supreme Court. The house was later moved from the site and subsequently burned.
An End and a Beginning
When Wilson N. Jones died in 1901 at the age of 74, his estate was conservatively estimated at more than $200,000. His lengthy will began by describing him as “an Indian and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation,“ even though he had been living in Sherman since 1894.
He had outlived all his wives and his children. His only heir was a nine year old grandson, Nat Jones. Nat would receive the bulk of the estate in increments: only personal expenses until he was 21, a lump sum of $10,000 at the age of 21, a further $25,000 at 24, and the remainder when he turned 30.
If Nat died before then without leaving legitimate issue, the estate would go to “a trust fund for the establishment and maintenance of a hospital in the city of Sherman, Grayson County, Texas to be known as Wilson N. Jones Hospital… (it) shall be a hospital established and maintained primarily for the benefit of the City of Sherman and its citizens and in which the sick and wounded of the City shall receive surgical and medical aid and attention and proper food, care and nursing…”
Why did he choose to endow a hospital rather than a school? Family legend says he made the decision after a relative was turned away from an Oklahoma hospital because he was an Indian. And why a hospital in Texas? The pragmatic answer to that one may be that Texas laws at that time strictly governed hospitals, while Territory law did not.
Nat received more than $35,000 before he died at age 29 in 1916. But Jones, and later his Trustees, had invested wisely and the estate grew during the years of litigation that followed his death. Despite court suits and settlements, the trust quadrupled in size by 1928.
Establishment of WNJ
By the time Jones’ estate was settled in 1928, there were already two hospitals in Sherman. St. Vincent’s was organized in 1901 by the Catholic order, the Sisters of Charity. Two years after Nat’s death, in 1918, the Sisters had proposed that the trust be used to establish a ward for “Jones Fund” patients at their facility. They estimated that the $100,000 in the trust at the time would endow a ward of 13 beds. The Trustees denied the proposal since a lawsuit was then pending against the estate.
Dr. J. Neathery, born in Van Alstyne, organized the second facility in 1913 as the Sherman Hospital Company. Over the next year, the Company built a 42-bed facility on what is now known as Hospital Hill. In 1928, in fulfillment of Jones’ will, his estate Trustees purchased the Sherman Hospital and its nursing school from Neathery for $100,000 and renamed it Wilson N. Jones Hospital.