Young Doctor Jones
Sarah Jones, Anson's mother, died when Jones was 19. Shortly thereafter, the family splintered. Jones was unsure what he wanted to do with his life and allowed his family to pressure him into studying medicine, a course he later regretted. His older brothers paid for him to apprentice with a doctor in Connecticut. He bounced around to several doctors before finally finding a mentor who helped him master the basics of medicine. In 1820, he received his license to practice and opened a small office in Bainbridge, New York. The town already had a doctor, and Jones was unable to attract much business. He moved to Norwich and opened a drugstore, which failed when some of Jones's creditors seized his stock of goods to pay off debts from his student days.
Hoping to make a new start, Jones headed for western Virginia but was overtaken in Philadelphia by his creditors and stripped of everything he owned, even his watch, in order to satisfy his debts. Destitute, he opened a medical office in a small apartment. He knew no one in the city and was too shy to make any friends. The business was another failure.
By 1824, Jones decided he had nothing to lose by taking a gamble on adventure. He moved to Venezuela and set up a medical practice in Caracas, where there were very few physicians. For the first time in his life he had a taste of success. His services were in demand, and he was able to save several hundred dollars in Spanish gold, enough to return to Philadelphia to attend Jefferson College and receive an M.D. degree.
Jones tried to improve his life by overcoming his shyness. He joined the Masons and the Odd Fellows and volunteered for leadership roles. Unfortunately, Jones had developed a new style to compensate for his old timidity, coming on as cold and abrasive. He alienated both prospective patients and the other men in his fraternal organizations. In 1832, again feeling himself a failure, he abruptly decided to abandon the medical profession. He and another Philadelphia man went into partnership to open a mercantile house in New Orleans.
Jones arrived in New Orleans in the middle of two devastating epidemics of cholera and yellow fever that had decimated the city. His troubles continued when his business partner turned out to be a crook and skipped town, leaving Jones in debt and facing multiple lawsuits from the failed business.
He opened a medical office just to make ends meet. Depressed and desperate, he found himself gambling and drinking heavily. It was at this time that he met Jeremiah Brown, a sea captain who commanded the Sabine, a Texas trader. Brown told Jones that the Brazoria settlement was in need of a physician. Jones took stock of his life. He had $32 in cash, $50 worth of medicines, and owed $2000. On October 14, 1833, Anson Jones dug into his pockets, counted out the $15 fare to Texas, and sailed into the unknown.