Ed Jones was a native of Yorkville, Tennessee, the eldest of three boys born to Will "Gabe" Jones and Sibbie Hortense Pipkin. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Junior College (now the University of Tennessee at Martin) in 1932 and attended the University of Tennessee, majoring in agriculture. His father was a laborer who worked odd jobs for local farmers. He instilled a strong work ethic in Jones from an early age, requiring him to work after school and on Saturdays.
When Jones' father was unable to pay his medical bills, he began doing odd jobs for Dr. Finis Ewing Wyatt, the local country doctor. Jones would marry Dr. Wyatt's daughter, Llewellyn, in 1938, and they had two daughters: Mary Llewellyn Jones (died 1977), and Dr. Jennifer Jones Kinnard, a retired nephrologist. Ed and Llew Jones inherited the farm after the death or Llew's parents and renamed it "Oak Haven Farm."
On May 22, 1980, Congresswoman Marilyn Lloyd of Tennessee welcomed Jones into the "grandparents club" with an address on the House floor shortly after the birth of his only grandchild, Meghan Elisabeth Kinnard. Known professionally as Meg Kinnard, she's a political and legal affairs reporter for The Associated Press.
Jones was a dairy farmer and remained so throughout his lifetime - even during his 20 years in Congress. In the late 1990s, Jones developed dementia after open heart surgery, and died on December 11, 1999 in Dyer, Tennessee.
In 1934, Jones took a job as an dairy inspector for the state of Tennessee. He remained as inspector until 1941 when he began working as a supervisor for the Tennessee Dairy Products Association. In 1944, he became an agricultural agent for the Illinois Central Railroad, a job he held until 1969, except for four years when he was Commissioner of Agriculture. This public role was pivotal in helping to make him a public figure in West Tennessee.:6–7